We get it. The Games with Gold offerings have been pretty poor in recent months - especially compared to the superior PlayStation Plus selection. Sure, we have Xbox Game Pass, but that's besides the point. It's still a service people pay for and customers are beginning to feel a bit turned away from it. That being said, this month has offered some great little gems, one of which is the fantastic original Xbox title Conker: Live & Reloaded.
If you've ever tried Rare Replay, you may have already checked out Conker's Bad Fur Day, but with Conker: Live & Reloaded you're essentially getting a full remake of the classic Nintendo 64 title. Admittedly, some things have been lost in translation, mainly due to a massive amount of unnecessary censoring. It's perhaps the worst point about the newer version as some of the original vision of Rare's insanity is lost - but there's still so much good in here.
Now that we've got the bad out of the way, let's focus on the positives. One of the biggest is the excellent version available on next-gen systems. The game was originally made an Xbox One X enhanced title, bolstering it up to 4K, but the Xbox Series X|S goes one step further. With the addition of Auto HDR, the world of Conker: Live & Reloaded comes to life unlike ever before. It's stunning, even for a 2005 title.
The vibrancy delivered in Auto HDR essentially makes the game feel like a remaster of the remake, and makes the Xbox Series X|S the definitive place to check it out. It's as if a crude and loud Pixar film has come to life. Conker himself looks absolutely wonderful, with brilliant fur physics and expressive visuals. If you were ever disappointed by the direction Rare took with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, then this feels like a classic platforming adventure from the team - complete with the looks you'd expect from a modern day release.
It still plays like a dream, too. Rare's classic platformers feel timeless, considering the Banjo-Kazooie series is just as joyous to play. Jumping feels tight and precise, the level design is consistently inventive, and the way Conker: Live & Reloaded constantly changes up its gameplay mechanics through a ton of pop culture references never gets old. The classic multiplayer is still there in the form of bot battles (unfortunately the Xbox Live servers are now closed), meaning you can continue the fun long after the credits roll.
It's a crime we never got another Conker game (no, Project Spark doesn't count!), but the fact that this remake feels entirely fresh through the incredible magic of Xbox backwards compatibility is the next best thing. Even playing it in 2021, it feels just as good to play as it did back in 2005. With Rare Replay also being an option to play the original game, Xbox feels like a great home for Conker, celebrating his history with two brilliant titles. While the Nintendo 64 classic is the best version narratively, there's a ton of fun to be had in Conker: Live & Reloaded, so don't miss out while it's free with Xbox Games with Gold until July 15.
Will you be checking out Conker: Live & Reloaded? Drop us a comment and let us know.