Nostalgia is everything in this business. It is really one of the foundations that keep the video game industry going. Perfect Dark is a prime example of that. For months, fans of one of the original first person shooter were clamoring for this remake. They kept asking when it was coming out, and wanted to see what Rare would do, and if they would mess it up. Well, I can say with great confidence that they have not messed it up. It still proves that Rare was able to make outstanding shooters back in the day, and this one especially, is bursting at the seams with nostalgia.
From the moment I booted this game up, it gave me chills. The opening music alone brought back memories of me sitting in my basement, with a group of friends, trying to be quiet at three in the morning and not wake my parents. The menu system is streamlined, with you being able to pick between solo missions, co-op, counter op, combat simulator, and the Carrington Institute. All of these modes are exactly how you remember them, with the solo game having you playing as Joanna Dark through a series of missions, and the co-op and counter op being you and a friend (now on Xbox Live or split screen) and going through the same single player game.
The Carrington Institute is pretty much a training ground for you to explore, with the various characters from the game being there, as well as a shooting range to practice with the different weapons. All of these modes are pretty standard, with the campaign being pretty lengthy. The most fun way to play through the story mode however, is with a friend. The main gripe I have with the single player is that there is no checkpoint system. You are constantly retrying entire missions just to be able to get it right. Also, the objectives can be vague as you up the difficulty, because there are more of them to do. I’m sure if you have memorized this game from back in the day, this will not be a problem. For those of us who didn’t, this can be very frustrating. However, even with these two little complaints, there is certainly a lot of game here to enjoy for ten bucks.
You can be spending hours online in the combat simulator, which is now complete with matchmaking. The online play, however, does feel dated in most respects. It’s not surprising; this game is over ten years old. You cannot go into this game thinking it is going to be very competitive. It is a very unbalanced game for this day and age, but you couldn’t really have it any other way. When you play it now, it is purely just for fun, and you have to go into it thinking that. If you do, this mode can be a blast with a bunch of friends.
The gameplay however, really shows its age over everything else. The shooting feels good, but there is a ton of auto aim; you really only need to be in the general vicinity of where an enemy is to take him down. Headshots are few and far between, and it is very hard to really fine tune your aim. Also, in most modern FPS games, you need to barely touch the right stick to get your character to move his/her head. However, in the game you need to yank on the stick to get any kind of movement out of the character. Also, I know this is just nitpicky, and it is because of the age of gaming we are in, but some of these things could have been a little fine tuned before the game was put out. However, I’m sure much deviation from the original would have upset a lot of fans.
They have also cleaned up the graphics in many ways. Generally they look dated, but they have extensively cleaned up the textures, and there is also a very smooth frame rate. There is hardly any loading, which is great, because this is a very jump-in, jump-out kind of game. The same animations and bad voice acting return from the original, which is overall very cheesy. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, because it really harkens back to the original. The music is still good, and gives the game the same atmosphere as the original as well. The presentation and graphics overall are exceptionally well done for a port.
Perfect Dark is one of those games that when it is mentioned you think “Man I miss that game, times were so good back then.” Well, now after over ten years, you can finally take it all back in, and really experience the game all over again. Rare and Microsoft did an outstanding job with this port, and I hope that they continue to do more like this. They really took the game and put it out exactly how it was remembered, which is what they needed to do. They didn’t mess it up in any way, and all I can say is, if you are a fan of Perfect Dark or even Goldeneye, then you should absolutely buy this game. It is ten dollars well spent.
Review copy provided by publisher.