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Conker: Live and Reloaded

Score: 88%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Rare
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 16
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Conker is more or less the grim reaper of consoles. Last generation, the N64 fell victim to his deathly touch before its death and now, with the release of the Xbox 360 looming on the horizon, he’s visiting the Xbox.

Conker: Live and Reloaded hits the Xbox with the expected graphical upgrade. After all, would you really want to play with N64-era graphics? Didn’t think so. The entire Conker world has been re-imagined and really throws the power of the Xbox behind it. Everything still has the cartoon feel as in the original, though with a few more “realistic” touches, most notably, fur. The improved graphics also mean sicker special effects, some of which will make your stomach churn. Just don’t ask what’s dripping down the screen while in the dung beetle’s area…

Sound has also received a makeover. In addition to everything sounding much clearer (and cleaner), a few sound effects have been redone to take further advantage of the Xbox’s sound capabilities. Music ranges from jazzy tunes to stark wartime themes to even a few… let’s just say “gassier” melodies; all of which fit the mood of the area you’re currently in. Dialogue is voiced, making reading an option, not a necessity. Some voices can become grating, but the acting is still well done.


Conker: Live and Reloaded takes a much different approach to game design than most games. The typical method for game development is to work on the single-player elements and then go for multiplayer. Conker takes a different approach since the single-player mode is really just thrown in as a bonus, making multiplayer the core game element. This isn’t much of a surprise, especially for fans of the original. As memorable an experience the single-player mode was in the N64 version, multiplayer was what gave the game its lasting appeal.

Multiplayer in Live and Reloaded unfolds similar to Counter-Strike. Players take sides as either a bunch of furry, woodland creatures or evil teddy bears called the Tediz. Each side offers a selection of solider types. Aside from the typical heavy weapons and machine gun wielding soldiers, you also have access to flame-thrower troops, stealthy ninjas and a pilot class (which is the only class able to use the two flying vehicles). Just so the rest of the classes don’t feel left out, three ground vehicles and a few stationary turrets are also available.

The limited number of maps (eight to be exact) is one of the game’s few failings. However, Conker takes multiplayer in a slightly different direction by giving teams goals that they must accomplish in order to win. This usually boils down to capturing key locales on the map, but even that is a little harder than it sounds since getting to a command point usually requires fighting off other players and sometimes having to complete other goals (like dropping a bridge or knocking out a shield). Not every map is a strategic event, some are really just a flat area with lots of guns; yet, even these levels get pretty hectic due to claustrophobic level designs.

Conker’s story mode remains unchanged from the N64 version except for a few minor gameplay tweaks to either fix areas that didn’t work especially well in the original, or to keep players, and Conker, on their toes (the latter of which Conker is rather vocal about). Everything from the original makes it to the Xbox version, including the foul language and crass humor. Even though many of the jokes are still funny, a few elements, namely references to movies like “The Matrix” and “Saving Private Ryan”, feel a little stale; a side effect of the single-player side getting little more than a graphical touch-up.


While the real fun happens online over Live, Conker’s multiplayer games can be played against A.I. opponents. A.I. bots offer a nice challenge, at least until you figure out their tendencies, but even then A.I.-controlled bots will get in a few lucky strikes.

When playing the story mode, Conker can be quite the challenge. The game’s core elements are firmly planted in the genre of platforming games, though shooting and adventure aspects pop in every once in awhile. All of the core elements are strong, but gummed up by goofy design decisions. For example, the "recovery" animation after being hit is a little long; time that bosses will capitalize on, giving them a few cheap hits.

Game Mechanics:

Camera control is, without question, Conker’s biggest flaw. For the most part, the camera angles are usable. However, finding the right camera angle can become a bit of a problem since you may not hit that sweet spot or may have to turn your attention to other things, namely survival. As I played through the game I couldn’t help but wonder if stationary camera perspectives would have been a little better, or at least during a few of the trickier moments. The best example of this would be a section where you have to swim down a narrow pipe and dodge rotating fan blades. Locking the camera would have really helped during this sequence, rather than having you fight with the camera to get a good view on where the spinning blade is.

A few technical issues also hamper Conker. I didn’t run into too many issues, though I did hit one or two places where the camera would become stuck on a certain angle or sound would skip. I also came across glitches where things wouldn’t appear in their designated area, such as a group of enemies not showing up. Thankfully, this only happened twice, and was easily fixed by resetting the game.

As with the original, Conker: Live and Reloaded is a game that will be remembered more for its crass humor and fun multiplayer. Still, even with a few flaws in execution, the single-player game is worth a go if you haven't already played it.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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