For years, I wished that this game would get a fair shake. It never got the love that Goldeneye did, even though Perfect Dark is arguably better. I also wished for a day where the game wasn’t bound by the technical limitations brought forth by the Nintendo 64.
Well, my friends, that day has arrived.
Perfect Dark returns on XBOX Live Arcade, remastered with HD visuals and an almost rock-solid frame-rate. That in itself should be enough for Perfect Dark fans to buy this immediately.
There are countless examples of movies and music being remastered, but that doesn’t really happen that much in games. At least I’m having difficulty naming others off the top of my head. What Rare and 4J Studios has done with Perfect Dark is just that. While the visuals now run in 1080p and are 60 frames a second 99.9% of the time, they did not change the graphics. You still get characters whose mouths don’t move and whose hands are always in the shape of a fist, but that’s part of the nostalgia. Perfect Dark fans will appreciate the fact that even with the polish, it still looks, sounds and plays like the Perfect Dark you remember.
Speaking of how it plays, this still controls very much like Perfect Dark, for better or worse. The addition of the second analog stick works wonders, and there are options for Call of Duty and Halo style button layouts, but it will still feel like you’re playing this on the Nintendo 64. The game features the same amount of auto-aim, and pulling the left trigger is detrimental in most situations, as your ability to move your view while in zoom is severely limited. As with the graphics, this is vintage Perfect Dark and probably how you would want it to play, anyway.
10 years have passed since the original release of Perfect Dark, and returning fans will still have fun with this one. The story is nothing to write home about, but it’s still a lot of fun to play through these missions again with polished graphics and a smooth frame-rate. Multiplayer in particular has seen the most buffs, which I don’t see fans of Perfect Dark hating on at all. Even by today’s standards, the original Perfect Dark has one of the most robust suite of multiplayer features, from a large number of maps and challenges, to full customization of the load-outs, to bots with customizable behaviour, which most shooters today don’t even have. This game now supports online play for up to eight players, and even allows for four people to play online on the same XBOX 360 against another four people. My brother and I have played some online Perfect Dark and it was a blast.
With all that said, I need to now mention what the (*) was for in the title. I love this game to bits. Rare and 4J took one of my favourite games and polished it up to work with this generation of consoles. If you’re like me and are a fan of the original Perfect Dark, you already bought this, plan on getting it, or want it really bad. I’d go as far as saying you can get rid of your Nintendo 64 copy of Perfect Dark if you wanted to, because this remake is the way to go. However, if you passed on this when it first came out, or didn’t start playing console first-person shooters until Halo came out, then you may want to touch this with a 10-foot pole. The new coat of paint and smooth frame-rate will not cover up the dated gameplay and quirks that make Perfect Dark what it is. For those players, this is not your replacement to Modern Warfare 2. It may serve as an interesting history lesson for gamers who want to see how much this genre has evolved since the days of Perfect Dark, but I don’t think the gameplay has the same timelessness as something like Super Mario 1.
Maybe my views on this remake are clouded by nostalgia, but this was made just for people like me. Haters can continue playing their Modern Warfare 2 and Bad Company 2 in peace. As for the rest of you, I’ll see you in the Facility with pistols.