Mark Mazzei

  • System: Xbox 360
  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Genre: Shooter
  • [extra data]

In 2008, 4J Studios surprised the Rare fanbase with enhanced ports of Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, Banjo-Tooie. Since their purpose was to introduce gamers to what Banjo was about before Nuts & Bolts, it was unknown if 4J would continue re-releasing games for the Xbox Live Arcade.

During the summer of 2009, we got an early answer through Twitter that, no, 4J would thankfully continue what they started with the N64 Banjo titles through a little title called Perfect Dark.

With online play, updated graphics, and better framerate, Perfect Dark may finally achieve the perfection that couldn’t be possible ten years ago.

A Dark Conspiracy

Joanna DarkPerfect Dark’s story begins in the year 2023. Two corporations by the name of Carrington and dataDyne have been monitoring signs of alien life. Daniel Carrington, from the self-named Carrington Institute, has been suspecting dataDyne of establishing contact. With the sole knowledge of a “Dr. Carroll” being held at dataDyne, Agent Joanna Dark’s (codename: Perfect Dark) mission at dataDyne is only the beginning.

Given that the game is a first-person shooter, the motives of the game aren’t complicated. You’re given guns, and those guns generally (with few exceptions) kill bad guys and aliens. Like GoldenEye before it, your task is to complete the objectives necessary in order to progress through the next level. Unlike other shoot-em-ups of that era, you’re not supposed to shoot everything. There are a few times where you’re either forced to knock out characters, or where stealth comes before shooting. In addition, Rare brought forth a new secondary feature for guns. Besides the standard shooting ability, players can switch the usage of every gun. This came in handy for quite a few guns; you could, to name a few examples, allow your gun to pistol whip, use an entire Cyclone magazine, or make the Laptop Gun a sentry turret.

No mention of Perfect Dark is complete without referencing its multiplayer. After wowing the world with GoldenEye’s revolutionary multiplayer, Rare took many steps forward with PD’s multiplayer modes. For starters, Rare included Sims (AI with different difficulties and habits) to add to the experience, whether alone or with friends. There was a lot to do in the self-titled Combat Simulator, including more than 40 levels to complete, and a lot of options to ensure a much more replayable game than GoldenEye. The level of customization is so grand, Rare’s own Perfect Dark Zero wasn’t even able to come remotely close.

Remaking the Dark

Interestingly enough, one only needs to take a look at the screenshots to realize the difference between PD and 4J’s previous ports: the graphics have significantly improved to the point of calling it an actual remake instead of a port. Although why Joanna Dark looks like R&B sensation Rihanna will be as eternal a mystery as the unobtainable cheeses in the game, 4J has done an amazing job at bringing PD’s graphics to a very acceptable level.

Just like BK and BT XBLA before it, Perfect Dark XBLA is pretty much guaranteed to offer a superior experience with nearly everything being revamped for the present day. While there are some mysteries yet to be solved (we’re guessing that Perfect Dark for the Game Boy Color can’t be used to unlock secrets for this version), there’s no question that Perfect Dark will be worth the wait. It may have taken ten years, but a game that was certainly ahead of its time will be coming your way very soon. Start saving up before the Skedar find you...

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