Perfect Dark (Nintendo N64, 2000)
|Ease your way through 17 missions incorporated in nine levels as Joanna Dark and save the world from the evil corporation dataDyne in Perfect Dark. Crouch, duck, lean, and drop from ledges as Dark, with a wide range of weapons. Damage taken during combat is location based in this intricately designed first person shooter game. The game also features three multiplayer systems, the co-operative, counter operative and the combat simulator. The screen splits both horizontally and vertically when two people play. Computer controlled players and simulators can also be used with each pre-programmed and assigned pre-set behaviors. Advanced weaponry and a range of gadgets make building your artillery collection an exciting adventure in itself.
The player has access to a wide range of weapons, including handguns, rifles, submachine guns, a shotgun, rocket launchers, combat knives, grenade launchers, various explosives, and several extraterrestrial weapons. Further weapons are unlocked during the training activities in the hub. Almost all of the weapons in the game have two modes of fire: a primary mode in which the weapon is used in a typical fashion, and a secondary mode which uses the guns in other ways, such as them being close-quarters melee weapons. Players can carry an unlimited number of weapons, and certain guns can be used in duplicate, one in each hand. Most weapons have a finite magazine and must be reloaded after a certain number of shots. Interaction with objects in the environment is via a single "Use" command. Enemies and players can disarm each other at close range, and the player can use this feature to steal weapons or knock foes unconscious. Damage taken during combat for the player and enemy units is location-based, with a shot to the torso causing more damage than a shot to a limb.
In each level, the player must complete certain objectives and then exit the stage. The requirements are varied, with many levels requiring the recovery and use of numerous high-tech gadgets. If Joanna is killed or fails an objective, the player must start the level again. Three distinct difficulty settings are available for each level, the choice of which will affect aspects such as the number of objectives that must be completed, enemy accuracy and damage, the effectiveness of the game's optional automatic aiming assistance, and the availability of ammunition and items such as protective shields. If all the levels are completed on the highest difficulty, an additional setting becomes available, titled "Perfect Dark". In this mode, players can customise various aspects of enemies, such as their health, their aiming accuracy and the damage they inflict. In addition to the main campaign, there are four bonus missions, with three enabling the player to control other characters with unique special abilities. Players can also unlock cheats by completing the levels within certain time limits. Some cheats can alternatively be unlocked by using the Perfect Dark Game Boy Color game and Transfer Pak.
Unlike GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark features three multiplayer systems. The first is a co-operative mode in which two players, or one player and up to three computer-controlled players, can tackle the missions together. If two humans play, the game uses a split screen display, with the option to split horizontally or vertically. Only one human player is required to survive the mission, but all the objectives must be completed. Additionally, the game features a "Counter Operative" mode in which one player plays the missions as Joanna while another takes over the role of an enemy and attempts to stop her. If this human-controlled guard is killed, the game continues with the Counter Operative player taking control of a different enemy in the level. The game does not tell the player controlling Joanna which enemy the Counter Operative player is controlling.
The third multiplayer mode is the Combat Simulator, involving up to four human players and eight computer-controlled players. Again, a split-screen is used if more than one human is playing. If three or four humans play, the screen is divided into quarters, with one quarter left blank if necessary. Players enter the game unarmed and with a certain amount of health. Weapons and ammunition are placed around the level in preset positions. Once a player is killed, they are regenerated elsewhere in the level, once again unarmed. The overall objective of the game is determined by the scenario being played. Scenarios range from the traditional deathmatch mode, where players score points by killing their respective enemies, to objective-based games, such as Capture the Flag or King of the Hill. Other scenarios include Hold the Briefcase, where players must take a briefcase and survive with it for as long as possible, and Hacker Central, a gametype where players score points by hacking a computer system using a data uplink. Aspects of each game can be customised, including the chosen map, the weapons available, and the winning conditions. Players can also be grouped into teams or compete individually. In a team game, the players can optionally be shown coloured according to their team. Each game can be customised to a greater degree than was possible in GoldenEye 007's multiplayer mode, such as free weapons selection and placement of shields.
Upon release, Perfect Dark received very strong reviews from magazines and websites. Critics praised multiple aspects of the game, particularly its graphics, sound and value. GameSpot reviewer Joe Fielder awarded the game a rating of 9.9 out of 10, making it the highest-reviewed first-person shooter of the site. He commented, "As a single-player or multiplayer [first-person shooter] experience, Perfect Dark is unparalleled on the console systems". Patrick Klepek, writing for Gaming Age, described it as "probably one of the best [first-person shooters] to be released in quite a while", while Chi Kong Lui of GameCritics criticised the game for its weak characters and unoriginal storyline, but nevertheless judged the "extraordinary amount of high-quality multiplayer modes and features", meant that "the game is still a blast".
The graphics were praised for their dynamic lighting, clean textures, and realistic and fluid animations. IGN journalist Matt Casamassina remarked that the levels are much more detailed than the ones from GoldenEye 007 and that the polygon character models and weapons are "wonderfully animated". Game Revolution highlighted the game's semi-realistic look, saying that it "adds to the depth and addiction of the game". The sound received similar praise, with Jonathan Nicklas of Gaming Target comparing it favourably to that of Capcom's survival horror title Resident Evil 2. The voiced cutscenes, amount of ambient noises, musical score, and Dolby Surround Sound capabilities were said to effectively bring the game to life. The music was described as a mixture between Vangelis' Blade Runner theme and the GoldenEye 007 soundtrack.
The gameplay was generally praised for the challenging artificial intelligence of enemies and varied level design. GameCritics credited the missions for their "nice mix of timed, patterned, and random events that makes playing through them different and refreshing each time". The enemies were admired for their use of squad tactics, for waiting for the player to come back instead of obediently chasing after them, and for ducking around a corner for cover. GamePro also gave high marks to the game's Counter Operative mode, noting that the player "never [knows] which of the random bad guys [the] opponent controls". The multiplayer and replay value were seen as the strongest features of the game. Reviewers noted that the flexibility of options, amount of game modes, "clever" weapons, number of unlockable features, and customisable Simulants give the game "endless replay value". GameCritics stated that "Perfect Dark is easily the most advanced, elaborate, and entertaining multiplayer gaming experience on any home console."
|Genre||First Person Shooter|
|Number of Players||1 - 4|
|ESRB Rating||M - Mature|
|ESRB Descriptor||Animated Blood, Animated Violence|
|Game Special Features||
|Game Series||Perfect Dark Series|
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