As a child, I wasn’t really aware of Rare being bought out by Microsoft. I didn’t keep up to date with big developments in the gaming world. This meant that when I saw Conker: Live & Reloaded in the shops, I was concerned to see Conker (who I thought of as a Nintendo character due to Diddy Kong Racing) appearing on an ‘enemy’ console.
Since then, my childish console war mentalities have faded and I’ve been able to enjoy games on all consoles; including this remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Here are the changes, good and bad, that I noticed:
- Visually everything has been enhanced. Instead of the old blocky Nintendo 64 art style, the whole game has a much more realistic aesthetic. I’m on the fence about this: on the one hand, it can be quite beautiful, especially with the improved lighting, but on the other, it feels a lot less colourful and loses the aspect of “Isn’t it strange for this children’s character in an N64 game to be in such extreme situations?” because it looks very different to the N64 classics.
- The soundtrack has been enhanced and is now clearer. No arguments here, it’s a good improvement.
- More swearing is bleeped than was the case previously. Some people are outraged at this censorship, others find it quite funny. Personally, I was just a bit annoyed that the odd sentence was harder to follow.
- The controls have all been sharpened and improved. Again, no arguments, this was a good change.
- More enemies have been arbitrarily added to some of the emptier areas. Killing them feels a bit like a pointless hoop to jump through.
- A few characters have been redesigned. I think I like all of the new designs just about equally.
- Sadly, there are now noticeable loading times when going to new areas which weren’t there originally.
You probably noticed that I didn’t mention anything about the new “Live” mode, but that’s because I felt it deserved more than a bullet point. Essentially, it’s a whole online multiplayer third-person shooter game of its own and, I believe, was originally intended to be the biggest selling point.
What I really appreciate about this is that, though it was an online game, Rare included an option to play with CPU controlled characters so that even those without access to Xbox Live could play and as that now includes everyone (as the original service has been discontinued) I’d call that good foresight!
I also like that a lot of effort has been made to add to the lore of Conker’s world. There are some really interesting military developments and storylines which stretch out into the far future. I love stuff like that. There’s a gritty little world that’s been created and I really enjoy exploring it while taking part in the shoot outs between furry animals.
What I don’t love, is the fact that the CPU players are terrible when they’re on your team. When you actually need them to cooperate with you in order to achieve a goal, you probably won’t be able to. In fact, I just gave up in the end and because of this reason. With humans, it could have been excellent, but the CPU is not smart enough.
Overall though, this is a pretty great remake. It adds a lot of good new content, though it does come at the cost of a few minor issues. What I did find, though, was that I felt much less emotionally invested in the story this time through. Was it just because it wasn’t ‘new’ to me anymore? I don’t know. I still recommend it, especially if its your first time, but I do think part of the story’s charm is how strange and unexpected it is, and knowing everything that happens makes it a little less fun, which means I’m going to give the game a slightly low score than the original.