Luckily, in this case familiarity brings the opposite of contempt. Once you know the maps, understand your mission and take the time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the various classes, running from pilots to snipers to bazooka-wielding dudes and ninja-types, Conker is a hoot. It’s fast-paced enough to keep the action flowing, but with ample room for tactics and genuine team-play. As usual, a lot depends on your fellow players and there’s no shortage of online buffoons who a) blow-up everything that moves, whatever the objective or b) whinge constantly about all the newbies who are blowing up everything that moves, whatever the objective or c) stop whinging and just bomb the newbies at their spawn points (Grrrrrrr). Still, that’s a given with any online, team-based game. If you want to make the most of the experience, the secret is a little practice offline. The game’s bots are reasonably intelligent, know what they’re doing, and before long you’ll know enough to proceed. Even then, it’s wisest to stick to the game’s straightforward maps – Beach Dead and T.M.S Spamano – before heading for the more complex missions.
Overall, Conker: Live and Reloaded might not drag the Xbox Live! hardcore kicking and screaming from Halo 2, but it won’t be for want of effort or accomplishment. The maps are brilliant, the characters are full of personality and the combination of cuddly furballs and mindless destruction stops it all from getting too serious. Whether you’re storming the beaches or freeing the Panther King from his Carbonite prison in a brilliant Star Wars themed mission, it’s easy to have a good time. Even if Conker’s Bad Fur Day came on its own, I’d be urging anyone with a passing interest in Xbox platform games to give it a whirl. As Live and Reloaded, it’s practically essential.
With graphics that rival anything on Xbox, Conker’s Bad Fur Day shows ample sign of Rare’s old platform gaming magic and holds-up brilliantly against the present day competition. Better still, the multiplayer component deserves to be a Live hit.