Perfect Dark Review: Exploring the Classic Title on Nintendo 64
After three years of surprising the world with the groundbreaking first-person shooter Goldeneye, Rareware and Nintendo follow up with Perfect Dark for Nintendo 64. Comparable to the Bond game but featuring superior music, enhanced videos, increased action, over forty weapons, about forty stages, and more options than any PC game of that era.
Curious about how good Perfect Dark is?
Well, after investing around forty hours in gameplay and having only explored 30% of the game, I can confidently assert that it stands as the best game in history, with the nod to Zelda, of course. In my opinion, these two games are the sole ones that have fully harnessed the capabilities of the console's 64 bits. It's a fusion of Blade Runner, The X-Files, Mission: Impossible 2, and The Matrix. Let's break down Perfect Dark point by point.
You assume the role of Joana Dark, dubbed Perfect for your outstanding achievements at the Carrington Institute's academy. The institute's director, Daniel Carrington, is among the few who are aware that various extraterrestrial races have been monitoring humans for thousands of years. While the Maians represent the benevolent faction, the Skedar, another extraterrestrial race, collaborates with DataDyne to annihilate the human race and seize control of the planet.
The leader of the Skedar, known as Mr. Blonde, adopts a human disguise with blond hair, while Cassandra De Vries serves as his counterpart at DataDyne. Throughout the game, you encounter characters such as Dr. Caroll (a computer program), the President of the USA (whom you must rescue aboard the Air Force One), Elvis (a Maian with a vest featuring the United States flag, adding a touch of humor), your sister Velvet, and your comrade Jonathan.
Perfect Dark arguably presents the pinnacle of graphics for the N64. The animations are genuinely opulent, featuring real-time lighting that allows you to eliminate bothersome spotlights with a single shot, leaving them extinguished. The presence of blood adds to the immersive experience. The meticulously mapped faces seamlessly blend with reality, and the extensive weapon zoom enhances the overall visual appeal. The game's scenarios, both vast and diverse, merit special recognition.
However, the drawback of Perfect Dark lies in the low frames per second during multiplayer modes with numerous characters. This limitation has impacted its ratings in various reviews. Yet, one might ponder – would you have preferred to sacrifice the fantastic multiplayer modes (see below) if the console couldn't handle more? Another notable aspect is the prolonged reload time of weapons, necessitating strategic hiding, yet it's astonishing in its execution.
As anticipated, the sound in Perfect Dark is exceptional, making masterful use of Dolby Surround by Dolby. The soundtrack is fitting and, at times, exhilarating. One of the highlights is eavesdropping on enemies engaged in conversation or hearing their exclamations like "There is someone there" or "She's got a gun" upon spotting you. The sounds of bullet casings, explosions, or enemies screaming as they flee contribute to creating an audio masterpiece.
The game controller in Perfect Dark is as good as that of Goldeneye but with the added ability to fall from heights and a secondary function for weapons. Additionally, now you can crouch at two different height levels.
A diverse array of weapons from the history of video games is at your disposal. Among them, the ones I particularly enjoy are as follows:
- The Magsec 4, a futuristic pistol.
- The CMP150, capable of memorizing targets.
- A reaper.
- The rocket launcher, which, when locked onto a target, becomes guided.
- The Slayer, allowing you to transform into a missile and steer it towards your enemies.
- A sniper rifle with a telescopic sight.
- The Farsight, a weapon enabling you to see and shoot through walls Eraser-style.
- Remote, proximity, and timed mines.
- An anti-gravity motorcycle.
- A crossbow.
- The weapon PC, a PC that transforms into a submachine gun, and as a secondary function, you can place it on walls, turning anyone who approaches into Swiss cheese.
- The Camspy, a camera you control to spy on your enemies, or its variations, the Bombspy.
This element in Perfect Dark pleasantly surprised me the most. In total, it features over an hour of exceptionally spectacular, thrilling, epic, and intense videos that surpass, by far, those of any game on any platform.
Perfect Dark Playthrough
You can download the game's bezel or overlay by clicking here.
Perfect Dark provides a diverse gaming experience, allowing you to embark on missions solo, team up with a friend, or enlist the help of a console assistant across three difficulty levels that dictate the tasks you must accomplish. The Counteroperative mode introduces an exciting twist, enabling you to assume control of Joana in the missions while a friend adopts the role of one of the enemies, actively working to foil your plans.
For multiplayer enthusiasts, Perfect Dark offers a wealth of challenges through a combat simulator comprising approximately 20 stages. The game features a multitude of scenarios, an extensive selection of characters, and various team compositions involving humans and simulants. Simulants can be tailored to your preference, choosing their difficulty level and behavior type, whether peaceful, cowardly, or aggressive.
The depth of engagement extends further as you can issue commands to simulants during combat, directing them to cover you, hold specific positions, or pursue enemies. The game's enduring appeal ensures that boredom remains a distant prospect. Having spent two and a half years immersed in Goldeneye until the eve of acquiring Perfect Dark, I can confidently attest that the latter surpasses its predecessor. It delivers an abundance of action, intense shootouts, John Woo-inspired fights, stealth reminiscent of James Bond, and vast environments ranging from a Blade Runner-style Chicago to the Air Force One, an alien ship submerged in the sea, the DataDyne building, Nevada, a serene coastal residence, Area 51, and even a planet thousands of light-years away.
The future is dark...