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February 2023

Conker: Live and Reloaded

Platform(s): Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Rare


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Xbox Preview - 'Conker: Live and Reloaded'

by Corey Owen on Oct. 21, 2004 @ 3:32 a.m. PDT

Gaming's notoriously naughty squirrel, Conker, arrives on Xbox with a bang in an all-new Xbox Live-enabled team-based shooter "Conker: Live and Reloaded." Featuring intense deathmatch and campaign storyline modes via Xbox Live and System Link, "Conker" allows players to compete as one of six combat specialists across multimission campaigns covering Old War and Future War. The warfare promises to deliver the nonstop action, humor, gratuitous violence and innuendo for which "Conker" is famous. Also included is the Conker's Bad Fur Day single-player game" completely recreated for Xbox with stunning graphics and unparalleled attitude.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Rare
Release Date: March 21, 2005

We all have those games: the ones we keep telling ourselves we're going to get, but never quite get around to. Conker's Bad Fur Day was one of those games for me. Luckily, I don't have to pay for my mistake because it is being re-released for the Xbox some time this winter, sporting a vastly improved graphics engine and Xbox-Live enabled multiplayer. I recently got to sit down and try out a portion of the single player game, but even with such limited playtime, I came away mightily impressed with Conker: Live and Reloaded.

Having never played the original game, I assumed that Conker was a stone cold killer who had been bred for combat. As it turns out, he is unwillingly thrown into battle against the squirrels' long time nemesis, the "Tediz" (teddy bears). Conker wakes up on a boat, not knowing where he is or what he is doing there, and little does he know that he is heading towards impending doom. The door drops open, the boat is peppered with machine gun fire, and it's on! Clearly, the emphasis of this game is on intense action because from this point forward, you are almost constantly inundated with gunfire.

If you are lucky enough to make it up the beachhead past all of the machine gun nests, you are greeted by a barrage of Tediz who are hungry for blood. This is where you bust out your own death dealer, and the carnage really begins. The version I played only had the machine gun to test out, but I wasn't disappointed. After laying waste to those fools, I headed inside the bunker, where I was greeted with yet another barrage of enemies, all the while trying to navigate through laser trip mines. This made matters somewhat more difficult. After clearing dozens of Tediz from the hallways, I made my way into what can only be described as a combination medical laboratory/morgue. Apparently I stumbled upon some secret experiment that was not for my eyes, because the Tediz doctors took a disliking to my presence and began to hurl their scalpels at me. What I thought was going to be a relatively simple battle became quite intense, as more doctors began to spring up out of the woodwork. In addition to this new wave of foes, I faced my first boss. I don't want to spoil this battle – or the comedic event that occurs shortly afterwards – for anyone, so suffice it to say that it required plenty of dodging and a hell of a lot of gunfire.

The action was intense, but the graphics were certainly no slouch either. What impressed me right off the bat were the textures. In most games, when you zoom in on a character, you can see that the textures aren't nearly as high resolution as they appear from a normal distance. In Conker, you get an extremely close-up view of the characters during the opening sequence, and the textures look great. If you have seen any of the screens, you already know that the fur shader is very impressive. This is definitely the closest a game has come to mimicking real fur, and even outdoes Star Fox Adventures, which Rare also developed, so they have had a couple of years to perfect their techniques.

The blood, while a little over the top, is another standout feature in Conker. If you manage to fire off a headshot, a fountain of blood erupts from the cavity that has just been created. Even after dozens of times, this animation is still satisfying. In fact, the entire visual style of the game is unique and sets it apart from other games of the genre. The idea of having a lovable little squirrel engaging in deadly combat with thousands of teddy bears is incredibly original and very comical. If you are a graphics fan, you have check this one out.

Immediately upon starting the game, you can tell from the audio that this is going to be funny. Conker's voice fits perfectly with his personality and even with his look. The other squirrels have equally fitting voices, each sounding like a different personality type you might find on the battlefield, while somehow still managing to sound like the squirrels that they are. The sound effects encapsulate the feel of a WWII battlefield as good as, if not better, than most games set solely in that time period. Gunfire surrounds you as you assault the beach and explosions are going off at your feet. The sound effects quickly immerse you in the game, and they never let you go.

As you can tell, I had a blast with what little time I had with Conker. This experience, along with my multiplayer experience during E3, has left me wanting more of this game, and I must admit, I'm a little impatient for March 2005 to roll around. Note to MS: please send multiplayer beta immediately!

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