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Daniel Anderson

The Perfect Scoop at The Carrington Institute. Retro Review: Perfect Dark

August 27, 2019

Let’s go back to the time before the internet became mainstream, before the Xbox made its mark, before Disney started ruining the Star Wars and Marvel movies for everyone. Let’s go back to the year 2000, were everyone and their mother had a Nintendo 64 or a PlayStation. Rare studios in recent memory haven’t made very good games since Microsoft’s buyout of the studio. Their “Sea of Thieves” game wasn’t very entertaining (a matter of fact it was boring to many) and the last title they made for Nintendo was a Starfox game with Legend of Zelda gameplay. Rare was established in 1985 and gained traction in the early 90’s when they made the Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, and Conker games and didn’t peak until they developed GoldenEye 007 for the N64. That game sold very well and was one of the first examples of a 3D FPS game, sure Wolfenstein was the first-ever FPS game but it lacked story and was more of a tech test for DOOM, and neither was exactly 3D. Getting back on topic Rare wanted to copy the success of GoldenEye so they tweaked the gameplay engine a bit, added more features and gave the game voice acting(not the best but at least it isn’t holding a Guinness World Record for worst voice acting, that title is still held by the first Resident Evil game), that game is called Perfect Dark.
I haven’t played the original GoldenEye so I don’t know what they added or took away but of all the classic games from before I was even born that I’ve played Perfect dark would be at the top of the list. I don’t have an N64 so I had to rely on the Xbox 360 copy of the game to get a feel for the game, sorry you old beans but I can’t exactly tell you how well the N64 controls translate to the Xbox 360 controls. As far as I can tell the controls and mechanics in the game are crisp and clean, everything works exactly how they’re supposed to work, doors open, guns shoot things, and grenades and rockets explode.
As for the story, it’s like I said, the voice acting is not the best but that’s part of an old games charm. In the story, you play as Joanna Dark who scored so well on her training tests that she made a new grade of spy and was given the codename (you ready for this?) “Perfect Dark”… subtle. The game is set in the year 2023 and starts you off with Joanna infiltrating the Datadine headquarters and extracting their lead scientist Dr. Carlile who is later revealed to be an A.I./robot and escape which is broken up in three levels. Back in the day video games didn’t have a checkpoint system or regenerating health so you will have to start at the beginning of a level every time you die or fail an objective, also you have to find more shield modules to stay alive. I won’t go too far into the story so to sum it up to you uncover an ancient alien plot to win a thousand-year war against another alien faction. You infiltrate area 51 (pre-Instagram posts), save the president of the United States, and overthrow the Skedar with the help of a Mylan named Elvis that you rescue at area 51. You know, basic spy and 90’s action movie stuff, keep in mind this was in an era were most sci-fi or spy films were cheesy at best, and the plot’s didn’t really make sense. Best of all was the difficulty settings, these days difficulty just means that the A.I. can kill you faster and easier but back in the day it just meant adding more objectives to complete making the game longer. And if you didn’t want to tackle these objectives alone you can also play with a buddy in split-screen co-op which we are seeing a lot less of these days.
Multiplayer wasn’t as realistic as most shooters these days but boy is it fun as heck. I can’t even count the times’ someone yelled at me for using the FarSight XR-20 which can shoot through titanium walls and has an X-ray scope. You start in a random spot on the map and have to find your weapons, ammo, and shields (eat your heart out Fortnite) and every time you die you respawn with nothing but a need for revenge. Speaking of weapons the sandbox varies from snipers, automatics, pistols, SMG’s, and alien weaponry and you can choose which kinds spawn in the map using the weapon class options when setting up a game. The game also gives you an option to highlight players and items as well as turn on the radar so that you always know where the enemy is but where’s the fun in that? Each weapon also has an alternative use such as sentry guns and landmines, each one has its uses so don’t be afraid to experiment with what you can do. I may not have owned an N64 back in the day but I know that it didn’t have any online capabilities as home owned consoles were not advanced enough to connect to all of that data. This is not the case for the 2010 remaster of the game for the Xbox 360 (and only Xbox, sorry PlayStation fans) as you can join public matches and after completing a level you can see where your friends are on the leaderboard, keep in mind that you can only see your friends score. I assume that public online matches were the same as playing couch co-op but after testing the multiplayer servers of a game equally as old (Battlefield Bad Company 2) I wasn’t going to take the risk of waiting 20 minutes to find a match that’s barely filled with players (don’t worry this game has A.I. controlled bots).
All and all this was a good game to play but since no game is perfect, (no pun intended) I have to give this game a 9/10. When I’m playing the story or the multiplayer sometimes when I hover over a shield module or a weapon I want the pickup won’t register so I’ll have to hover over it 2-3 more times, even crouch to pick it up. As old as this game is the voice acting is still not the best but hey at least they made a good story that you can laugh at. This game has my seal of approval, and if you don’t have an Xbox 360 don’t worry it’s backward compatible with the Xbox One and is on Gamepass, which is how I first experienced this classic. Tell me what you think, did you think I missed a few things, did I convince you to buy it, or do you already have it and have a different opinion? Leave a comment down below and I will see you all on the field.

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