Review: Perfect Dark

Back in the year 2000, Nintendo published a title from Rare, developers of Goldeneye 007, that became the staple of FPS games from then on.  Nowadays, an FPS game on console has become the norm, but back in 2000, the genre reigned supreme on PC.  Goldeneye 007 was a very good first attempt, but it wasn’t until Perfect Dark’s release that we could see how fun an FPS could play on a console with its original and lengthy campaign, and insane amount of customization in its multiplayer mode.

After years of speculation, Perfect Dark has finally returned to this current generation of consoles on the Xbox LIVE Arcade.  The question is: Can a game that was released 10 years ago still be fun?

In Perfect Dark you play as one of the Carrington Institute’s top agent, Joanna Dark.  As Joanna Dark, it’s your mission to infiltrate the Carrington Institute’s rival corporation, dataDyne, who is attempting to sabotage the Carrington Institute.  The single-player campaign features 17 missions and for the most part has been untouched.  There are no new campaigns, nor new objectives to tackle.  Instead, Perfect Dark’s single-player campaign is a carbon copy of the N64 campaign.  The only addition is online leaderboards, which allows players to compare their completion times with their friends and others over Xbox LIVE.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start Perfect Dark is its new HD graphics.  The game supports 1080p running at a constant 60fps and its pretty impressive considering the source material.  Character models look less blocky from their N64 days due to the updated graphics, but their faces still have a pasted on look.  Enemies react to you as they originally did in the N64 version, ducking, rolling, and hiding behind cover as they try to take you out.  Perfect Dark certainly shows its age through the character animations and its audio.  The sound quality, music & voice acting sound like they’re straight from the N64 version, which isn’t too pleasing when Perfect Dark’s MIDI-like soundtrack is blaring through your 5.1 surround sound system.

There are 3 different control schemes in Perfect Dark that will please most FPS gamers.  There’s the original Perfect Dark control scheme, as well as two control schemes based on Call of Duty & Halo control schemes.  If you’re a fan of either title, then you’ll easily get a hang of these control schemes.  The auto-aim also makes its return from the N64 version, which I found to be helpful as turning it off can leave you to rely on aiming with the Left Trigger, which can be more miss than hit at times.  Overall, the controls translate very well on the Xbox 360 controller.

One of the major updates to this title is the ability to play over Xbox LIVE.  Up to 8 players can play through various multiplayer modes across all of the original Perfect Dark multiplayer maps.  All of the customization you remember from the N64 title are all here.  Want to play a deathmatch game with Rocket Launchers for 5 minutes with no radar? How about a one-hit kill game with fast movement and no weapons?  It’s all there and ready for you.  Aside from being able to play online, you can still play with 4 players on one console, just how we all experienced it in the original Perfect Dark.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to play with your friends instead of against, two-player co-op is available both through split-screen and over Xbox LIVE which the entire campaign can be played through.  There’s also a “Counter Op” mode which puts one player in the role of Joanna Dark, while the other assumes the role of enemies to attempt to stop her from carrying out her missions.

FINAL THOUGHT: Nostalgia certainly carries Perfect Dark on the Xbox 360 a long way. Everything you loved about Perfect Dark is here, along with some very nice enhancements to its graphics and support for online play.  When you factor in its price (800 MS Points / $10), it’s easily recommendable given how many hours of play are possible in Perfect Dark.  Those who never played Perfect Dark might not get its appeal, but that’s alright, because this is a game that’s specifically directed at those of us who used to play Perfect Dark until 4 in the morning with our friends while trying to keep the noise down less we get a whoopin’.


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