Five years ago, Conker's Bad Fur day was a hilarious genre bending romp featuring gaming's biggest bad boy squirrel. Compared to today's best games, however, this remake is, as Conker himself might say, "a pile of $#&%!".
In its original incarnation on the Nintendo 64, Conker's Bar Fur Day was ground breaking for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was wildly ambitious in its attempt to fuse together different genres of games. Secondly, it featured a lewd, foul mouthed protaganist on a gaming system otherwise inhabited by the squeaky clean Mario and his goody two-shoes brother Luigi.
The game begins with our wide-eyed, bushy-tailed hero sitting on a throne, surrounded by a motley group of characters. The game then attempts to explain how Conker got there, but at the end of the day the plot of the game is virtually irrelevant. Suffice it to say, it involves weasels, plenty of alcohol, a panther, a grim reaper with a high pitched voice and, perhaps fittingly, a giant talking poo.
The first taste newcomers get of Conker is controlling the inebriated squirrel through a training mission. Conker hiccups, slurs incomprehensibly (you'll soon wish your drunk friends all featured subtitles), drinks even more and staggers around at a snail's pace. Like talking to an old drunk lecher at a strange bar, this is fun for about five seconds.
Perhaps reflecting the nonsensical plot, players will often have no idea what they are supposed to achieve during the platform levels. Lacking a map, direction, and occasionally the will to carry on, players will flounder around through the level, hoping to accidentally stumble across the next clue.
The gameplay is functional if slightly simplistic. Conker was one of the first games to feature "context sensitive" buttons, a feature so common in today's games that it is laughable to see it even mentioned in the training stages. Running is achieved with the left thumb stick, while jumping is activated by pressing the A button. Rounding out the control options is the B button, which initiates the context sensitive actions as mention earlier.
Pressing the B button can also force Conker to pull out his weapon, which brings us to perhaps the weakest element of the game - combat. Combat in the platform sections of the game consists of pulling out a weapon, fiddling with the camera, hitting the opponent, running away and repeating. Faced with mindless gameplay like this, it's no wonder Conker swears so much.
Towards the end of the single player game, Conker Live and Reloaded suddenly takes a dramatic turn for the better and becomes a first person shooter, the mechanics and graphics of which constitute the multiplayer game.
Giving you the choice of six classes, with multiple weapons per character and vehicles, Conker Live and Reload's multiplayer functionality is a surprisingly well crafted first person shooter that unfortunately suffers from several glaring flaws.
The character classes, for instance, are poorly balanced, with the heavy artillery character (the demolisher) simply overpowering other players. The multiplayer mode is also guilty of not giving players enough direction and feedback. In particular, it is difficult to see whether you are hitting your opponents, a critical function in any shooting games.
It's difficult to see the appeal of Conker Live and Reloaded for today's audience. Notorious upon release for its adult content, the five years passed has seen Conker's once saucy content and humour become a lot more mainstream.
It's telling that one of the cheat codes available for Conker's Live and Reloaded quaintly unlocks swearing, while current badboy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is currently fighting reclassification because of a mod that allows players to view and (virtually) participate in simulated sex.
More importantly, whilst a noble attempt to fuse disparate genres together, no section of Conker Live and Reloaded stands on its own. If you're looking for pure platforming pleasure, spend some time with Prince of Persia. If you're after some furious multiplayer first person shooting, the XBox spoils you with choice from Unreal Championship to Halo 2. Alternatively, if you crave computer game characters that cuss like sailors, cruise through Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.
If, however, you absolutely loved Conker in its original incarnation, then perhaps you might want to pick up Conker: Live and Reloaded.
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