Review by Zylo the wolf
"Nintendo 64 didn't need Samus Aran, it had Joanna Dark!"
If it wasn't for the support from British video game development company Rare the Nintendo 64 wouldn't have much to offer. Sure iconic characters like Mario and such characters appeared in a lot of fun party games, and the Legend of Zelda series did a great job and even Star Fox and F-Zero had their moments but that was pretty much all it. However unlike most of the other game developers Rare didn't betray Nintendo by making most of the exclusive games on the Sony Playstation, instead they remained loyal to Nintendo.
A few good examples of good games Rare released on the system are GoldenEye 007, the two Banjo games, Diddy Kong Racing and even the "adult themed" Conker's bad fur day. Their biggest hit was GoldenEye 007 thanks to the awesome multiplayer experience it offered with being able to play a FPS with a friend without linking two computers together, combined with a unique story mode where you had to complete different missions in order to beat a stage instead of just reaching a goal. Since it worked so well the first time, Rare decided to do it all over again. If it worked once why wouldn't it work again? I'm going that you guys already knew this, but Perfect Dark is considered to be a "spiritual sequel" to GoldenEye 007 since they are both made by Rare.
The game takes place in a futuristic world instead of the James Bong themed world we saw in GoldenEye, and the man who replaced good ol James was in fact not a man at all but a woman named Joanna Dark. She works as an agent for the Carrington Institute, a research center that studies aliens. As for the actual plot in this game, I have to be honest and say that I really didn't follow it much at all. To sum it up quickly it's a war between two alien species that takes place on earth in 2023 and humans are working to get some profit out this war. Hey it's an FPS so the story is not really that important in this game.
You play Perfect Dark as almost every other first person shooter. You fire your weapons with the Z-button, you swap between the different weapons you have picked up with the A-button and you reload and open doors with the B-button. If you hold down the A-button for a while you see all the items you have and you can quickly select which you want to use. You can look up or down with the C up and down buttons walk either to the left or to the right with the C right and C left buttons. You'll use the L and R buttons to aim, but then you can't run. Finally you can duck if you press L or R and the C down button.
In other words the control is exactly the same as in GoldenEye 007, so you'll be fine if you have played that game. If you haven't then I suggest that you try the games different tutorial challenges before you begin the actual game. You might even unlock something cool if you do.
Because the game is made by the same engine as GoldenEye 007, the game is almost a clone of it. In order to advance in the mission based story mode you have to choose between three different difficulties for each stage. The tougher difficulty the more missions are there that you have to complete in order to get to the next stage. It can be anything from killing a certain enemy to gain access to a computer, or maybe you have to blow something up or save a hostage. Sometimes you have a time limit to complete a task, sometimes you have make sure that your partner doesn't get injured. You have to complete all of the missions in order to advance to the next stage, and if you fail one mission then you have to redo the whole stage.
If you have finished the whole game on the least challenging difficulty, and then want to play through your favourite stage on another difficulty, then you have to play through all the previous stages on that difficulty as well. When you beat a stage you will see how well you did and how long you took to beat the stage. You will also see if you were quick enough to unlock a cheat. This gives the game a lot of replay value for those who just has to unlock everything, because there are a lot of things to unlock in this game.
But it wasn't when you played alone that GoldenEye 007 was one of the best, it was when you gathered a couple of friend to play with that the game really shined. Rare knew this so they decided to update this as well in this "spiritual sequel". First of all it's now possible to play through all the stages with a friend in an excellent CO-OP mode, assuming that you both are trying to complete the missions and not to just blow up everything that moves. Teamwork is important, but if you and your friend can work together then you will have a blast with this game.
But just because the game offers you to play through mission based stages together doesn't mean that you have to. Why not instead try a death match against a couple of bots instead? Just make sure that you don't add to many bots because the N64 is an old system, so the game actually gives you the option to add more players than what the system can handle, and then the game will lag a lot. There are many different modes you can choose from when you are playing with friends. Death match is the common just kill everything that's against you but you can also pick such things as King of the Hill, Capture the Flag or Hold the Briefcase. In the last mode you have to hold an item and just avoid getting killed.
So why didn't I give Perfect Dark a perfect 10? Well for starters I still miss the ability to jump. In fast paced action games I want to be able to move as much as possible, and it really bugs me that Joanna always has to stay on the ground. Another thing is that it's still not possible to run and aim at the same time. As I said in my GoldenEye 007 Rare could have easily fix this by letting you aim freely with either the C buttons or the D-pad while running, but I guess they didn't think that would make the game better.
What really surprised me is that even if the game is a GoldenEye 007 clone with a few new added things I really enjoyed this game a lot more. I didn't have the same problem with protecting NPCs and Joanna Dark felt a lot more badass than James Bond. I also really liked how the game went from the streets in Chicago to other planets. The game really surprised me, and you should now that even if this game only gets a 9, I'm not a big fan of FPS games at all, but Perfect Dark really surprised me. Your Nintendo 64 really needs this gem!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/09/10
Game Release: Perfect Dark (EU, 06/30/00)
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