Ahhh, the golden days of gaming, when life was simple and health bars were standard. The Nintendo 64 was my first endeavor into gaming, and seeing that I now live and breathe games, it fittingly holds a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, all good things come to end. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and all that, and my beloved console was lost in a flood. While the material object is gone, I can still remember the good ol’ days. Ten years ago, Rare released their second most popular shooter on the console. Perfect Dark, while it lived in the shadow of GoldenEye, was so great that it’s regarded as one of the must haves from the N64 era. With help from 4JStudios, the game has been ported to the Xbox Live Arcade for this generation’s gaming pleasure. Does it have the lasting appeal as the original? Read this Perfect Dark review to find out.
Perfect Dark is about Joanna Dark, a British secret agent on the path to unraveling an alien conspiracy. While the story may sound interesting, the way it is delivered is anything but. No, the real reason to play through the 17 missions in this game is for the locales, weapons, and gadgets. It’s oddly saddening to travel this far back into shooter game history and realize that very few games, even modern ones, have come close to realizing how exactly to craft their protagonist’s tools of the trade. Need an example of how creative Rare got with this title? Two words: laptop gun. A gun, disguised as a laptop, that can be held like a rifle or set up as a sentry gun to mow down enemies. I rest my case. It’s hard for a plot to be distracting when these kind of weapons are available, even if that plot does include a painfully done, comedic relief-providing companion alien named Elvis.
While the port of the N64 game is basically a dressed up version with flashier graphics and better handling, there are most certainly several areas that could have been improved. The first thing I noticed was the terrible dialogue. I’m greatly thankful for the fact that the scripts for games have, for the most part, improved since 2000. But, in an attempt to keep the game original, I guess the developers had no choice but to leave the script intact. One thing they could have fixed, though, is the character models. While they may have been cured of their pointy face syndrome from their days of simpler graphics, they apparently have not learned the ability to open their mouths. As a result, every character that speaks will do so with nodding heads and flailing arms instead of using simple lip and tongue motions (god, that sounds dirty) to formulate words.
Although the online servers were not up for the time I had with the game for review, I did have a friend over to check out the split screen play. I can tell you, this game was meant for multiplayer back then and it still stands as one of the best classic shooters. I just wish this kind of quality could be seen in modern multiplayer games. Probably the coolest thing, and what I enjoyed the most, was the bots. It seems like every game that has bot support just doesn’t cut it, and the computer players are nothing like their flesh and blood counterparts. Not in Perfect Dark. The options are endless when it comes to bot support. Nearly every possible play type is present, from the pacifist, or the player who goes and collects every weapon for themselves, to the revenger, who will always attack the person who attacked him last.
Perfect Dark, although it sounds redundant, is perfect. While those that have been raised on the current generation of consoles will have a hard time realizing exactly why this is considered one of the building blocks towards the modern shooter, the people that grew up with that wonky N64 controller in their hand will want to pick this up for the nostalgia trip alone. Just getting a taste of this port has reminded me of all the memories I’ve had on my favorite console of all time, and now I actually feel like I need to play more, just so I can remember that much more of my young days. And when a game can incite that kind of reaction, you know you have a winner.
- The classic shooter in all its glory
- Graphics upgrade makes everything all shiny and pretty
- Multiplayer is as good as it was ten years ago
- Character models could use more work
- So could the voice acting
- Not much of a plot line
- Random Fact:
- Perfect Dark Zero, the other Perfect Dark game on the 360, was set to have a sequel in 2008. Unfortunately, budget cuts and downsizing caused the game to be canceled.
Perfect Dark was developed by Rare, ported by 4JStudios, and published by Microsoft. It was released on March 17th on the Xbox Live Arcade.