Review: Look out Bond, this one's Perfect
Ahhh...yes. After 3 years without a first-person shooter as memorable as GoldenEye 007, comes Rare Ltd.'s espionage action adventure, Perfect Dark. Being delayed multiple times, N64 owners can now rejoice with the fortunate experience of witnessing the captivating... Perfect Dark. Has it lived up to the hype? Perhaps it has. Read on for the details...
The visuals are easily an improvement over Perfect Dark's predecessor. The character models have been refined and look more detailed than ever, they being more smooth and realistic. The level designs are done adequately, but feature complexity in the early stages of your experience. Don't worry though; the multiplayer levels are just fine. As for the arsenal, they have never looked more realistic, but on the other hand, they are designed a tad too futuristic. The explosions, smoke, etc. have been refined also, and look rather nice. Too bad you can't experience most of the quality visuals if you don't have an Expansion Pak. So all in all, you won't be disappointed unless your N64 excludes Expansion Pak enhancements.
The audio of Perfect Dark easily rivals the likes of Capcom's survival horror, Resident Evil 2. PD is filled with speech that sounds crisp and clear, which is a nice change from most N64 games. The sound effects of PD are immensely detailed, from the quiet footsteps to the explosions courtesy of rocket launchers, remote minds, etc. As for the main music, realistically, every tune sounds like it was remixed from GoldenEye 007, but I guess that's a good aspect. A respectable job done by Rare Ltd is show here.
Well, the gameplay of Perfect Dark is well done, like the other areas of this game. The polished one-player adventure is very difficult in the first few levels. I wish it was more adaptable as the first time you've ever turned on GoldenEye, but you'll eventually get past them. After that, the missions become more understandable and simpler. PD, in solo, contains many cinemas that aren't that bad, that add more to the story line. Well, let me describe the story line. The story line is not as bad as critics say it is, though I do agree it's a bit too futuristic, just being 23 years after the new millennium. As well, we all know it takes some ideas from the X-Files, that it does. But that doesn't take too much away from the fun of the game. I'd also like to comment that the one-player adventure has lots of nice objectives, including escorting the President of the U.S. of A, etc.
Now moving onto the other modes, it is important mentions include that the co-operation and counter-operative features are well put together. The co-op mode is fun, what a lot of video game veterans wish for, and Perfect Dark doesn't let down. It is fairly decent, it allows 2 characters to combat the evil Data Dyne Corporation simultaneously. Although I wish the second character, Velvet Dark, would have some involvement in the story line as well. Let's see some of that in the sequel. Now to the counter-operative feature, it's an innovative idea put into a video game, the original concept in the excellent movie, The Matrix. Counter-operative mode can be a fun venture, with one character being Joanna, and the other being her opposition. But it could also be a breeze for the first character, if the second character uses suicide pills throughout the game. Be sure to stick to the way counter-operative was intended to be. The only disappointment is that there are many frame-rate issues - PD drops down to about 20 frames per second... but never gets to the point where it's unbearable.
Perfect Dark also contains a target practice option, which allows you to adapt to all the unique weapons. Target practice is a neat concept that adds to the replay value. Another option is challenges, which sticks you in an arena with many simulants, and to advance to the next challenge, you have to eliminate them. It's always nice to developing your skills. Other notables include some practice options in Carrington Institute that allows you to practice using devices, view weapons featured in GoldenEye, etc.
Next up, the multiplayer. PD allows endless options how to customize your own combat simulator. You can choose your type of arsenal, add in artificial intelligence simulators, add in extra modes just like in GoldenEye. You can have up to *gasp* 12 characters in one arena for the ultimate deathmatch... and slowdown. Expect multiplayer to drop down to 15 frames per second if all 12 characters combat simultaneously.
Now, there are a couple points where Perfect Dark's gameplay could be improved on. The multiplayer levels, some previously in GoldenEye, have been refined to be more futuristic and contain better textures, but what's with the Facility... errr...Felicity having no doors on bathroom? The element of surprise is gone. Another aspect I dislike about PD is the deadliness of the weapons; perhaps secondary functions should have been disabled in multiplayer. I really hate getting nailed by some one shot weapon in multiplayer, but I do like using the FarSight, so I can hunt down "campers", which I am. Oh, and obviously the frame rates need some fixing, and there are some glitches here and there, but the rest of the gameplay makes up for these bits.
Perfect Dark features 40+ different weapons, all with unique secondary functions. One of my favorites is the Laptop gun, which shoots like the RCP-90 and can turn into a sentry item that nails down your opponents with motion sensor capabilities. Perfect Dark features 4 bonus levels to go with the solo levels. There are also multiplayer levels to unlock while you progress through one-player. PD also features a lot of different features that make it better, but lets not name them all.
The replay is very high. There are 3 difficulties for each solo level, where the highest has the most difficult objectives. The combat simulator is probably the most replayable option of Perfect Dark evidently. Throw in challenges, target practice, and you have yourself a full fledge game - with slowdown. Lets hope these problems are resolved in the sequel.