Preview: Conker: Live and Reloaded (XB) Hands-on

Publisher: Microsoft / Developer: Rare Ltd. / Genre: Action / Release Date: March 2005

If you’ve ever played Conker’s Bad Fur Day, you may recognize Conker Live and Reloaded. The old WWII feel of the game is similar to its predecessor but the graphics have been spiffed up a great deal. Conker’s come a long way from the Nintendo 64. You can play Conker’s Bad Fur Day in new high definition on the Xbox or go forward to the new campaign mode awaiting you. The graphics are smooth and use a lot of lighting techniques to give you a great atmosphere. From the bloody water at the beginning to the flame thrower robot that’s ready to fry your every misstep in the underground portion of raiding the Tediz base, you’re sure to notice the leap of graphic quality from its predecessor.

Ah yes, the Tediz. How can you take a game seriously when the hero is a spunky squirrel and your arch enemy a teddy bear? The whole feel behind Live and Reloaded is screaming “spoof!” From the very beginning it was a rip off of the D-day intro in Saving Private Ryan that made you wonder if they were really going for the dramatic edge. Of course the fact that all of the characters were squirrels with buzz cuts, you realized that it was meant to poke fun at everything. Rumor has it that you’ll see familiar scenes that poke fun at other top box office movies as well. Conker’s got plenty of quips and suggestions the entire time you’re controlling him, too. In the playable demo you come across some pretty bloody looking surgeon bears that are speaking with an educated tone. When they see Conker they exclaim, “It’s the @#*! squirrel again. Quick! Get into character!” Then they proceed to turn into mindless hack and slash bears that growl at you. And let’s not forget the cut scene so long that Conker himself takes out a magazine waiting for it to end.

Even though your character is a cartoony looking squirrel, this is far from being a kid’s game. Conker’s got a bad attitude and the graphics go from mildly blood splattered to downright gory. From a severed arm, a bullet wound in a head to an eyeball hanging out of it’s socket you can’t say this game is mild. Not only are the graphics for mature audiences but the scripting itself uses innuendoes and funny little ironies that are definitely made for adults. I was genuinely surprised at the lengths the game went to in order to make things funny. The most inappropriate things really do make the best humor because I caught myself grinning and at times laughing out loud. “That’s terrible!” I’d exclaim and go right on smiling.

I was frustrated with the controls at first. The beginning of the demo was tough because it relied heavily on timing. You weren’t blowing your enemy out of the water. They were the ones shooting at you. Ducking, running and jumping were the key to getting past the first portion. Of course Conker ends up on his own to raid the Tediz base after his whole squad is wiped out. Once you get into the hang of things, it turns into a shooter where your enemies are at close range.

If you’re not sure you like the WWII theme, Conker moves on to play in a prehistoric war and a future war. The Tediz are always there to be dictators and Conker’s going to show them who’s boss. Dinosaurs and giant prehistoric creatures along with Tediz and light swords are only a small selection of opponents you can face in these many different scenarios.

What new game would be complete if it didn’t offer multiplayer online? That’s the big selling point for gamers who’ve played the N64 version. If you don’t like playing by yourself there are online multiplayer campaigns that you can find your way into via Xbox Live. There are different character classes to choose from and you can even choose a vehicle to man your way into victory. If you don’t feel like a cooperative campaign mode, there’s also a Deathmatch online mode that you can brutalize your way through.

You may look at this game initially and wonder how you can get into a game with a furry animal on the cover. From the sliver of the demo that I played, I think that Conker: Live and Reloaded has something for those adult gamers out there. It takes a lot to get me to laugh at humor in video games these days. It definitely bizarre, but I think that it’s also entertainment. What else are video games for?