- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Rare / 4J Studios
- ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
- Genre: FPS
- Pros: Nice visuals; great music; best multiplayer around; tons of content; awesome weapons
- Cons: SP campaign a bit confusing; imprecise controls
Perfect Dark is the tale of secret agent Joanna Dark, top agent for the Carrington Institute. The CI has received a distress signal from a Dr. Caroll, and Jo is sent into the evil dataDyne corporation on a rescue mission. That is just the beginning of the adventure, though, and from there things get a little crazy. Just a note: Perfect Dark Zero, released for the Xbox 360 launch, is a prequel to this game.
What you really need to know about Perfect Dark, though, is that this game offers an insane amount of content. Seriously, modern FPS should be ashamed for shipping with their pitiful amount of stuff to do. Perfect Dark gives you a full single-player campaign, full co-op, full counter-op, a huge training area (the Carrington Institute) to run around in that is actually fun to use even if you don’t need training anymore, and multiplayer with a huge list of options to play around with. And on the Xbox 360, all of these things are available in both local play as well as online via Xbox Live. For 800MSP ($10), this is one of the best gaming values ever.
Perfect Dark follows a couple of other old-school design ideas in that you don’t have recharging health or shields, and you can carry a huge stockpile of weapons around with you instead of 2-3 like most modern games. This, again, makes the game feel radically different from most FPS released in the last 10 years (mostly since Halo came around and changed everything).
Some other gameplay elements include dual wielding (long before Halo 2 made it fashionable), the ability to shoot the gun out of an enemy’s hands, and the fact that most weapons have more than one function. One gun turns into a sentry turret. Another one can be used as a proximity mine. This puts yet another unique spin on the game and ensures the game never feels repetitive.
All of that is fine and dandy, but darn if it you won’t be confused as hell the first time you try to play a mission. You don’t have a map or anything to tell you what you are supposed to do other than some vague objectives. It is easy to get lost or fail missions because you don’t know what you are supposed to do. Don’t be put off by this, though, because by the second or third time though a level you figure things out and the game becomes like an epic, fun time trial test to see how fast you can do things. That is a key point, because in most modern FPS I rarely feel the need to play through the SP levels (other than a few select ones, looking at you “One Shot, One Kill”) more than once. But in Perfect Dark the varied objectives and the pace of the game and the time trial aspect of it all compels you to keep playing. By completing levels under specific times, you can also unlock cheats that give you unlimited ammo or all of the guns in the game (among many others) that all help to make the campaign even more fun and replayable.