When Goldeneye for the N64 was released, FPS games had made a new name for it self, at least for the console market. While FPS games were already on the PC, it wasn’t exactly a mainstream. The term “shooter” elvovled into “FPS,” going from shooting in only 4 or 8 directions to virtually any direction in real life. On May 22th, 2000, Goldeneye’s “sequel,” was released, or at least it’s better half. While not exactly an outright “sequel,” Perfect Dark was basically Goldeneye 64 on steroids, but with a completely different theme. Goldeneye’s big brother, or sister if you will. Taking Goldeneye 64’s engine, Rareware took what made Goldeneye 64 so great and just went bannanas, pretty much making the “Halo” of the N64.
Perfect Dark introduced a lot of FPS things that we see today, things that we take for granted, and even some things that no other FPS has. At least, based on what I played, it was the first FPS to have an actual reloading animation, something other than just “bring the gun off screen and back.” It also had character leaning, the first weapon selection wheel and even a target range for each weapon. It had co-op play, something that not enough FPS games do. (Although it was quite funny as the second player was just an unimportant backup named “Velvet Dark” I believe, that for some reason never played a role in the game’s story, or showing up anywhere in the game’s cutscenes.) It even had “Counter-Co-op” play, a game mode that so far…only Left4Dead does. It’s the same as co-op only the 2nd player has the option of helping the 1st player, or playing as random enemy soldiers throughout the level. You had limited health, but your human intelligence and respawning hopefully would make up for it, especially when a 3rd or 4th person could jump in as enemy soldiers and start planning on how to stop the 1st player playing as Joanna. It’s a great feeling to try and blend in with the AI soldiers and gang up on the 1st player before he can find out which soldiers are AI and which are the other players. The game also had what it calls a combat simulator, it’s version of multiplayer. Now, I find it strange that despite all the advances Perfect Dark made to Goldeneye, in various magazine awards Goldeneye STILL won over it. Goldeneye is only fun when you had other people to play with, unless you constantly play a campaign which everyone has pratically memorized. Perfect Dark fixed all these with besides 4 player split screen, the addition to add up to 16 AI bots, ranging from extremely stupid to tough as nails. Granted playing against a bot is never as fun as playing against a friend, but Goldeneye was winning awards for it’s multiplayer presumably you always had company.
Let’s not forget PD’s weapon selection, which, I dare admit, is better than Halo’s, or any other FPS I’ve played. Besides various types of pistols, SMG’s, assault rifles, (unfournatly one shotgun) it also had unique weapons such as the laptop gun, a laptop looking gun that fires like an assault rifle but could also be deployed on a wall as a portable gun turret. Also throwing knives, crossbows, a “Gears of War like Lancer” gun called a Reaper, and a tranquilizer that causes your target’s vision to blur, or if you want to get really nasty, get up close an personal with it an “inject” them for an isntant kill. And the of course, everyone’s favorite cheapskate, the Farsight. The Farsight was the lazy man’s sniper rifle. The gun could not be fired accurately with the hip (or not at all I believe) but aiming it caused your character to enter a alien heat like vision and automatically track a random opponent, no matter where you where. If for example, you were hiding in one room and your opponent was 3 or 4 rooms nearby, you could bring up the scope and shoot him….through the wall….all 3 or 4 walls. It wasn’t “completely” cheap however, while the tracking did elimiante the need to actually find the player, you couldn’t control the tracking directly, and it wasn’t like the player would stop moving. Lose the track, and you had to reposition yourself. Also because it was splitscreen it’s not like the other player didn’t know you had them in your sights.
Perfect Dark will remain a classic for years to come, but the problem is it’s on a console that’s over 10 years old. Well not anymore. Hopefully, coming this winter in 09 Xbox Live Arcade will be re releasing Perfect Dark. The game is supposed to come with new features, but what features we don’t know. The only new enhancement anyone knows of is that it will be in 1080p and will support up to four in multiplayer. The shot above are the improved graphics, (the rest is from the original N64) but to be honest it doesn’t look like much of an improvement. I wouldn’t expect much though other than sharper textures. Now I never owned Perfect Dark Zero, and I haven’t played it enough to really find out what was so “bad” about it, but I’m wondering if the negative ratings for Zero will have any effect for this XBLA release. To one not willing to do the research, they’ll base their buying decision off of Perfect Dark Zero and won’t give the original a chance. As far as enhancements go, I can’t exactly imagine that much to enhance, but up to 4 multiplayer? What is this, the stone ages? Give us at least 8. And even if they don’t improve the graphics much, I also really despise the look of Joanna’s sneaking suit and her hair. Wearing her sneaking suit, you can really see the N64’s limitations. Essentially her character model is completly naked with a skin wrapped around it, and she’s built like a stick. Joanna’s hair in her CG artwork does not even depict what she looks like in-game as you can see below. The CG you see below is the promotional artwork designed at the game’s first release:
Now it could just be me, but she looks like G.I. Jane with slightly more hair. Really cut short, kind of looks like a boy if it wasn’t for the lipstick. It definitely does not match what the XBLA shot is depicting. I understand this is mostly due to the N64’s limitations, but there are other characters in the game that actually have depth in their hair, not this flat pasted on look that Joanna has.
I’m usually reluctant to buy remade versions of games I already own, but this one is an exepction. Let’s just hope the whatever improvements Microsoft plans to do are worth it.