Perfect Dark XBLA Review

Posted: June 30, 2010 in Review
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Perfect Dark XBox Live Arcade Review

In 1997, Rare shaped the future of console first person shooters forever, with GoldenEye, one of the most beloved games of all time. In 2000, they released the spiritual successor, Perfect Dark. True to its name, it was absolutely perfect, taking everything Goldeneye did right and improvement. To this day it remains one of the finest FPS experiences of all time.

So here comes the ten year anniversary edition of a classic, mercifully, rare and converters 4D have resisted the temptation to do a George Lucas and inset Hayden Christiansen’s face anywhere. Instead the most obvious (and the best) change to have been made to it is a slight updated of graphics – textures, faces and details.

In the year 2040, Carrington Institute operative Joanna Dark is assigned a relatively simple mission – to infiltrate the DataDyne building and sneak out a man who has asked for assistance, Doctor Caroll. In doing so, Joanna sets in motion a chain of events that threaten Carrington, the President of the United States and the entire world…

There isn’t much to say about the game that wasn’t said ten years ago. It still – unbelievably, still – rates as one of the finest FPS experiences any player will ever have. In fact, if the multiplayer on the Modern Warfare games wasn’t so good, this would outclass them by a mile. The game is tight, focussed and hard as nails.

In the single player story, each difficulty adds in a different set of challenges to be overcome, such as more enemies, tougher enemies, new areas and more objectives. Players who haven’t got ten years of memory stored away in their brains might find the objectives a tad obscure and the hints unhelpful, especially given that there’s no marker to follow. This is true gaming – as hardcore as it gets.

Everything that was present in the original game is here again, in full, high-definition glory. The single player, co-op gameplay, counter-op missions, the multiplayer and even those challenge levels that range from too-easy to oh-my-god-the-bots-are-evil! difficulty. It’s all present and correct, even the game’s many secrets, hidden cheese blocks and glitches, which serve to make this one of the most satisfying and unbelievably necessary purchases to have ever been released on the Arcade.

While nobody has dared to bugger about with what worked so well the first time around, there are a couple of issues – just minor ones, mind – that need addressing. Firstly, the online aspects. The multiplayer is still as flawless as it was back then – fast, hectic, completely brilliant and endlessly replayable. The downside is that, for whatever reason, the co-op and counter-op feel like they’ve been dipped in treacle.

Play with a friend or stranger online in the story and you’ll find a bizarre, almost jarring slowdown. There’s a noticeable delay between control input and movement onscreen, one that makes it near-impossible to play the game beyond getting the achievements for trying it out. It’s annoying, stupid and downright irritating – a black mark on a perfect record.

But that’s the only problem. This is still Perfect Dark. Untouched by Rare’s recent failings and unbesmirched by that appalling sequel-prequel, this is still an utter masterpiece. With the game looking like a slightly dressed-up version of its former self, it’s even more likeable than before. Shame about the co-op, though.

If you’ve never played Perfect Dark before, bash your head against a wall and download this. If you played it ten years ago, you’ve already got it all over again. Savour it, that wonderful taste of ten-year-old perfection.



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