It was the year 2000. Clutching my pre-order receipt that I’ve been in possession of for over a year, I went down to the local video game store to pick up my copy of Perfect Dark. Its spiritual predecessor, Goldeneye, blew my mind with a great single player campaign and at the time, God-like multiplayer. I must have put in hundreds of hours into that game, easily. Everything from trying to unlock all of the cheats in single player to all-out assaults on my friends and loved ones in multiplayer. Looking back, Goldeneye is one of those games that defined that whole generation of gaming.
With that said, I had high hopes for Perfect Dark. Everything that I had read and seen about the game seemed like an improvement on what was my favourite game at the time. I was quick to pre-order it, which would come back to burn me when the game was delayed multiple times. The anticipation was killing me. By the time the game was ready to ship, the reviews for the game were glowing and I would almost shake at the thought of finally getting my hands on it.
Did the game live up to the hype? I know a lot of people dismissed this game when it first came out because it wasn’t Goldeneye 2, but they missed out on a game that was amazing for the time. Everything about it, from the graphics, to the controls, to the gameplay, trumped everything that Goldeneye had to offer. Single player had a lot more to offer in terms of mission variety and multiplayer was insanely customizable. To this day, Perfect Dark is one of the few FPS games with bots. Gears of War has horrible bots and Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t have bots at all. Between my cousins and I, this was the go-to party game for a long time. I’m pretty sure all of our profiles have over 100 hours logged in, easily.
The only things that held it back were two-fold: it wasn’t Goldeneye and it was a bit ahead of its time. Despite being the superior product, Perfect Dark did not have the charm of Goldeneye, which really hurt the game’s perception among the masses. Among gamers that played the game, some were turned off by the technical failures of the game. It wasn’t for a lack of tech-savvy on Rare’s part. This was clearly a side-effect of pushing the Nintendo 64 farther than it was capable of going, even with the ROM expansion pack. The frame-rate would dip dramatically in spots, particularly in co-op, which is practically unplayable.
Maybe when Perfect Dark gets released on XBOX Live this month with HD graphics and upgraded frame-rate, people can finally overcome its technical faults and see it for what it is. Though maybe what it is now, is an out-dated game that is light-years behind the Halo’s and Modern Warfare’s of today. My expectations for the re-release won’t reach the highs I felt about 12 years ago, but I’ll be ready to toss out Laptop Guns on day one when this comes out.