Perfect Dark Zero had some impossibly large shoes to fill and, unfortunately, it falls short of the incredible expectations placed upon it prior to release. It isnt a bad game, but it is far from great, particularly when compared to some recent FPS games on the Xbox. With that said, however, it is still one of the best multiplayer titles available for the Xbox 360 and worth picking up with your new system even if it doesnt quite live up to the hype.
The basic gameplay has a familiar feel to it. Most of the major commands are mapped to the same buttons as Microsoft's other big FPS franchise so you can jump in and feel right at home. You cant jump and you dont have easy access to grenades, but using gadgets, smacking people with melee attacks, switching weapons, and shooting stuff is well done. There are a few special moves you can do which cause the game to rapidly switch from first person to third and then back to third person when you climb ladders or perform an evasive dodge move. You can also press the A button when you are close to walls and objects and the game will switch to cover mode so you can easily target enemies over obstacles or around corners while still staying safely behind cover. Your health recharges if you step out of the line of fire for a few seconds, but it doesnt always refill completely depending on how much damage you took which is a nice touch.
Weapons and Gadgets and Vehicles. Oh My!
One of the best things about the original Perfect Dark was the crazy amount of weapons and gadgets you could use and PDZero continues that trend nicely. Weapons include remodeled versions of PD favorites such as the Falcon, Magsec, CMP150, and Psychosis Gun among many others including more standard shotguns and assault rifles. What makes the weapons in PDZero particularly interesting is that they all have secondary functions. These extra functions include grenade launchers, magnetic rounds that go around corners, and sentry guns you can place wherever you want. The weapon variety is simply awesome.
You also have a large number of gadgets as well and each of them presents its own little puzzle. Setting explosives, for example, require you to activate it by solving a little puzzle that resembles the game Pipe Dreams. Your lock picking loctopus requires you to rotate the control stick until it rumbles and then hold it until the lock is opened (sort like in Splinter Cell). You also have sound scopes, hacking devices, and more.
There are also jet packs and hovercraft available to use. The jet pack has mounted machine guns while the hovercraft is a two person operation with a pilot and a gunner.
The single player campaign follows Joanna Dark before she joined up with the Carrington Institute and their fight against the DataDyne Corporation. This is a prequel and thus we have a younger, perkier, not quite as skilled, and most definitely not as British version of the female James Bond wannabe that we grew to love on the N64. Youll snipe enemies from rooftops, infiltrate top secret laboratories, sneak into a mansion, fight your way through a jungle and much more. There are various difficulty levels available and harder difficulties present you with more mission objectives along with harder enemies so it really is a different experience each time you play through the game on a higher difficulty.
There are some issues, however. The level designs arent really anything special and the mission objectives are lass than intuitive. Youll be thankful that the game makes use of help arrows that pop up if you wander around in the wrong direction too long. The AI is also an issue because enemy soldiers will just blindly charge into battle and friendly characters you are fighting alongside or escorting have a bad habit of standing in the line of fire and not moving. Single player is good, but nothing special.
Multiplayer is where the real meat of PDZero is at and Rare went all out to make it as fully featured as possible. You can play free for all and team deathmatch, capture the flag, and territories games and they all play pretty much like you would expect. We also get the Counterstrike-inspired Dark Ops modes of eradication, infection, sabotage, and onslaught where you have to buy weapons at the start of each round and you dont respawn when you die until the next round. There are only 6 maps available, but they are scalable and will shrink or open up depending on how many players there are. There is a surprising amount of different terrain on each map, so even though there are only 6 there are a lot of things to see and do. You can play with up to 32 players (16 bots and 16 humans) or as many as 32 humans and 15 bots if your connection can handle it. The bots dont have the same amount of personality as they did in the original Perfect Dark, but they provide surprisingly good opponents to practice against before you take your game on Xbox Live.
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