It’s only recently that I’ve been exposed to games that contain bad language. Actually, come to think of it, the first game with swearing I played was the recently banned (in Australia, at least) GTA: San Andreas, so you can imagine how surprised I was with the amount of profanities in that! Then I thought, well, if they can swear in movies, music, etc., why should video games be any different?
It all comes back to the myth that only impressionable young children play videogames. I mean, what’s to stop little Johnny from going out and buying something with foul language, or with graphic violence? If kids really want this sort of stuff, they’ll get their older brother or someone else to buy it for them should they encounter difficulties. And I mean, I’ve read stuff that pales in comparison to the violence, sex and swearing in video games (I’m looking at YOU, Irvine Welsh. Love your stuff, by the way!), and reading encourages imagination. It’s up to the parent to supervise and lay down the rules on what their children can and can’t play/read/watch, not some do-goody organization run by a bunch of lemons who wouldn’t know fun if it smacked them on the ass with a welder’s torch.
What has all this got to do with my review, I hear you cry? Well, correct me if I’m wrong (which I probably am), but swearing in video games has been around for quite a while now. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty damn sure it was Rare, in conjunction with Nintendo, who created the first foul-mouthed video game character. Nintendo? Not only condoning, but releasing, a game with curse words? Had the world gone mad?!
Quite simply, no. Conker’s Bad Fur Day was released for the Nintendo 64 back in 2001, not long before the 64 was due to be superseded by the oh-so-sexy GameCube. It was a massive success, with the main draw being its charismatic, drunken, violent, foul-mouthed, piss-funny main character, Conker. It pushed the 64 to its limits pretty much with the huge amount of speech, beautiful (back then) textures, and enormous areas to explore.
Nowadays, Rare isn’t working with Nintendo for one reason or another, which is why we’re seeing Perfect Dark advertised for the Xbox 360. This came as quite a large chunk of bad news, as Rare were responsible for some of the greatest games I, for one, have ever played. Though there seems something good has come of it: Conker has been given a makeover.
Now, let’s just get one thing clear straight away: Live and Reloaded is definitely NOT a straightforward port of the original N64 game. They didn’t just pretty up the graphics and release it. Sure, there are a lot of elements retained in this version (characters, missions, etc.) but there’s sooooo much more added to it! They even take the piss out of this fact in the opening couple of minutes, where Conker has to dispose of a gargoyle blocking his path. You try to smash him in the head with a heavy object, which worked in the original version. When it doesn’t work in the Xbox version, Conker looks at you and says something along the lines of, “The designers reassured me there wouldn’t be anything different about this game; what a crock of sh*t!”
This game, like the N64 version, is completely massive. There are sooo many different missions with sooo many sidequests and mini-missions to complete. Whether you’re blasting the heads off zombie squirrels, trying to ram a cow with the squits (that’s diarrhea to those who don’t know), or running around a warzone trying to stay alive, it’s pretty unlikely that the average gamer is going to find absolutely every secret contained within. And the (very) good thing about each level is, you never seem to get bored. Every challenge presented is fresh and entertaining. Something that’s missing in a lot of games today.
The visuals in this game are very, very, very pretty. Everything is clearly defined, and there are some amazing effects used throughout. Everything from shockwaves being sent through the playing area to disgustingly beautiful reflections off a big ball of poo you’ve got to roll around. (Yes, poo.) Rare clearly put a hell of a lot of effort into utilizing the power the Xbox presents them, and it comes across. I’m pretty sure I remember reading somewhere that this game has received a reward for technical excellence (don’t quote me, though), and I think it’s got a lot more awards coming, myself.
The sound is also an achievement, with a huge amount of speech, beautiful music that doesn’t grind on the ears after hearing it the fiftieth time, and some horribly accurate sound effects. For example, the aforementioned ball of poo. Now, I don’t know what it sounds like to roll an enormous ball of fecal matter uphill, but it sounds pretty much like I expected.
When it comes to controlling the disgusting little bastard, most of the time, it’s a breeze. There’s a few occasions where the camera doesn’t position itself conveniently (but that’s very rarely, and it happens in most games anyway!!). Other than that little niggle, the controls are easy to use, and explained quite thoroughly in the opening “training level”.
Once you’ve played it through, you’ll most probably want to play it again, as completing it once unlocks the swearing—meaning, instead of bleeping out the swears, and using *!$#@& characters in the speech bubbles, you get to hear and see the whole thing in its foul-mouthed fullness! I’m pretty damn sure you’d play it again anyway, just for the fun it provides. There’s also a multiplayer section which, as far as I’ve seen, consists of deathmatch-style competition, but, alas, my second controller is wrecked, so I haven’t been able to explore it properly.
Basically, if you love mindless violence, profane language, and toilet humor, mixed in with gorgeous graphics, beautiful aurals (no, not oral), and an insane amount of fun things to do, you could do a lot worse than to play with this little squirrel.