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Conker: Live and Reloaded

Many gamers have a particular soft spot for Rare and its unorthodox, though undisputedly brilliant, approach to creating games. When Conker preview code arrived on our desks in a flurry of profanity and offensive bodily functions, there was a mad scramble among the OXM team to get to grips with the swearing squirrel. And boy, we weren't disappointed.

We'd been under the impression Live and Reloaded was predominantly a multiplayer title, but we discovered there's just as much fun to be had for lone gunmen out there. The multiplayer is focused over two eras; Old War and Future War. The former is the familiar WWII-esque setting, while the latter is a futuristic flurry of laser cannons, missiles and ships strangely reminiscent of those in the Terminator films. In fact, the entire game is a running pastiche of countless films and games, all brilliantly funny. Players can choose from one of six character classes; Demolishers and Thermophiles are your heavy weapons specialists, Grunts your standard infantry, Sneekers and Lone Rangers more covert-orientated, and Skyjockeys your expert pilots. Much like the excellent Return to Castle Wolfenstein, choosing the right complement of different classes per team is vital. There are no medics, but infantry units have access to the Medi-gun for patching up battered team-mates.

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Tons of different game modes are available (including working through the fantastic Campaign mode with friends), and communication between you and your fellow players actually makes the game a hell of a lot more tactical than it may appear under its chaotic exterior. Every class also has a special ability of sorts (such as disguising itself or feigning death), which adds even more depth to the squirrel-shredding shooter. Players can play as either the SHC or the evil Tediz, so there's always tons of variation, and land and air-based vehicles add to the carnage.

However, Conker caters for squirrel soldiers going solo too. You can still work through the multiplayer campaign alone, thanks to the fantastic, and deceptively misnamed Dumbots instead of human counterparts. Great AI means they're never far from your side, and each class intelligently does their respective bit to get the mission done. Also included is the fantastic Conker's Bad Fur Day, the classic N64 title revamped for Xbox. Playing just as well as the original did, yet looking absolutely gorgeous, this platformer again typifies Rare's skewed sense of humour and obsession with double entendres and offensive language. Brilliant! Full review next month.

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