It's been a good couple of years for platforming games on the Xbox. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Ninja Gaiden are nearly gaming perfection, and launched a new wave of well-done platformers. Conker: Live & Reloaded looks to be the next title to join this illustrious bunch.
Conker: Live & Reloaded comes in two distinct forms. There's Conker's Bad Fur Day, which is a remake of the 2001 Nintendo 64 title, and a third-person platforming game. The Live & Reloaded portion of the title refers to the story-driven multiplayer, which is nearly a separate game unto itself.
Conker's Bad Fur Day lets you assume the role of Conker, last name The Squirrel. He lives in a dysfunctional world that's reminiscent of the early Warner Brothers cartoons. Most of the animals are cute, wonderfully fuzzy, thanks to a stellar graphics engine, and incredibly twisted. There's smoking fire demons, depraved bees, killer wasps, and a variety of other interesting fauna. Conker himself has a drinking problem and is at times both jaded and naive. Four-letter (and sometimes more) words abound, though carefully bleeped and edited out of text boxes. Conker is out to earn it's M rating, that's for sure.
Conker's Bad Fur Day is platforming at its simplest, though that doesn't mean easiest. You'll have to solve puzzles, fight enemies with your trusty spiked bat, and defeat a number of bosses in original ways. Context-sensitive pads give you even more options as the game progresses, be it turning into an anvil or tossing toilet paper at a giant poo monster. Tricky jumps are made easier by a fully controllable camera. This is kind of a joy in an age where camera angles tend to be the true villains of video games.
"But," you say, "what if I played Conker four years ago on the N64?" Well, that's what the multiplayer portion of the game is for. It's an entirely new, story-driven, class-based, third-person shooter. You can choose either the SHC or the evil Tediz, pick between six different classes and go at it via a number of gameplay modes in single-player, system link, or Xbox Live. Every class has its own distinct advantages and weaknesses, which introduces a bit of strategy to the game. Each stage features a fully rendered introduction and are parodies of everything from Terminator 2 to Halo. The fighting is fast and tends to focus on the fun instead of beating you over the head with an "innovative" feature.
Rare's designers are working the Xbox's graphics card pretty hard. Furry animals are actually fuzzy, while the environments are large, brightly colored, and well-detailed. The animation is smooth and sensible, even down to individual characters' facial expressions.
Conker: Live & Reloaded is shaping up to be one heck of a game. It's got platforming and high impact third-person shooting. Conker is facing some tough competition in both of those genres, but it's looking to make a very nice showing. Keep an eye out for our full review later this month!
Copyright (c) 1998-2009 ~ Game Over Online Incorporated ~ All Rights Reserved