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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Perfect Dark
By: | March 24th, 2010 | XBLA
Review |XBLA

Let me speak to you honestly for a moment about fashion. As much as it pains me to admit, I’ve never looked very good in retro goggles. Perhaps they just clash with the shape of my head, which is somewhere between a long rectangle, a rhombus, and a lampshade. Whatever the case, wearing them around is not only painful for me, but also for those who have to witness this fashion emergency.

But I’ve learned to live with this shortcoming, largely by sticking to a more modest style, one that is free from the restraints imposed by retro goggles. Every game I try on is a brand new experiment, and if it looks good on me, I’ll know that it’s truly a good fit and not just a pleasing pairing for my retro goggles.

So, when I tried on the throwback Perfect Dark style, I knew that could view myself honestly. And what did I find? Well, let’s just say that I might as well have gone with the Derelict style from Zoolander.

The honest-to-god truth is that I never played the original Perfect Dark anyway, so retro goggles weren’t an issue. In a way, I feel like that makes this review even more difficult, as I simply have to judge the game as a modern release, not a charming port of a game I loved as a youngster.

So let’s just get this out of the way: as a simple port, Perfect Dark is everything you could want. It faithfully represents the original game, making only the additions that you’ve come to expect from releases of older games on XBLA: leaderboards, multiplayer over Live, shiny HD graphics, and so on. Otherwise, nearly everything is the same. You’ll find the same levels that you remember, and, of course, all of the same old problems that the original suffered from.

The bottom line for fans of the original is that if you want to play this again, there’s really no compelling issue that would prevent you from enjoying the XBLA remake.

That just leaves those who never experienced the original, and for us, the story is quite different. See, Perfect Dark feels very much like you would expect a somewhat early console FPS to feel like, and many of the things that impressed about the original no longer impress at all.

Take, for instance, the shooting itself, which is still based heavily on auto-aim and extreme movement speed. After all, the limitations of the N64′s controller required an approach very different from what we’re used to today. The reticule doesn’t stay in the middle of the screen, but rather moves around as you turn your character, and the reticule will snap to enemies on screen if you look anywhere near them. This makes the shooting feel very awkward and unrewarding, as the game does most of the work for you. You do get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s any fun. And while most guns have a fine aim option, it’s mostly useless, as it too retains the imprecise control method from the N64 version.

The campaign, considering its short length, ended up being one of the more frustrating gaming experiences in recent memory thanks to some pretty terrible level design (by today’s standards, of course) and a lot of vague objectives. Levels are filled with labyrinthine corridors, many of which lead you in circles and away from any of your mission objectives. This wouldn’t be a problem if the game pointed you in the direction of your objectives, but in the vast majority of cases, you’re expected to figure it out on your own. And the objective descriptions are so vague that, before long, you’ll find yourself running around a level for the fifth time trying to figure out how to progress only to suddenly fail the mission for some silly reason. Then, of course, there’s the embarrassing writing and poor storytelling.

But this game was never loved for its single player campaign: it was all about the multiplayer. And there’s no doubt that the multiplayer modes, which include plenty of room for co-operation and competition, can lead to some ridiculous fun. But, even here, there are plenty of problems. Playing online can be problematic thanks to some lag and a striking lack of players. When it comes down to it, playing with friends on the couch is the way to go here, just as it was back in the days before online play.

The multitude of options available for multiplayer does support a lot of absolute insanity. The counter-operative mode, for instance, allows you to jump into a campaign level and completely jack up the good guys’ progress, which is a hell of a lot more fun than trying to slog through the single player yourself. And 8 player rocket deathmatch needs no introduction.

So, the question becomes this: do you have a set of friends who would rather play Perfect Dark over at your house than, say, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with you online? Similarly, would you? If the answer is yes, then you will absolutely find a competent video game in this package, and there’s no reason that you can’t get more than your money’s worth out of this $10 purchase.

But judged alongside the other games that scream out for your wallet’s attention, this just doesn’t offer what modern gamers are looking for. I had next to no fun with the single player, and next to no luck playing online. Let’s just say this: thanks to my unique fashion sense, in which retro goggles are not included, Perfect Dark was simply not a good fit, and if your situation is anything like mine, it won’t look any good on you either.

Rating Category
7.5 Presentation
You definitely won't mistake it for a modern game, but the updated graphics and steady framerate work to its advantage - and characters still don't move their lips, which is creepy and awesome.
How does our scoring system work?
6.0 Gameplay
Faithful but unexciting and frustrating, the gameplay does little to engage modern players, especially in the single player mode. Multiplayer fares better with varied modes and ridiculous action.
7.5 Sound
Some of the music is actually pretty decent and sounds good, and the terrible voice acting leads to a lot of unintended laughs. But the guns sound like crap.
7.0 Longevity
The game is short, but replaying levels on higher difficulties can add some playtime. If multiplayer grabs you, plenty of time could be lost there.
6.5 Overall
Unless you inject nostalgia directly into your veins, you'll find that Perfect Dark just doesn't hold up.

  1. I had never even touched Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64 when I purchased this game early last week. I can say that after about 5 minutes I was already unimpressed and wanting to do something a bit more productive with my time. I respect the acclaim that this title garnered back in the old days, but this is now, and I suppose I just can’t equip the nostalgia factor required to enjoy it.

  2. I’m a little disappointed that you gave it a 6.5 but it’s tottaly understandable considering it is a ten year old game and you’ve never played the original. A good review anyway.

  3. avatar ShoelessBob

    I’m going to play devils advocate here. This game is amazing, my four friends and I played this for DAYS when it was initially released way back when and were excited to see it come back. We’ve played it for many hours for the past several days and love reliving our childhood in a smoothed and polished rerelease. I absolutely love it, and you have to take this release with that in mind. This was done for the fans, and yes, it does lack modern mechanics like jumping and still focuses on stopping to really aim or having to rely on auto aim, but that’s also what made it challenging and fun. I think I agree more with IGN’s score(a 9.0) than here. It’s more fun right now than if we plugged in the old N64 and popped in the cartridge, mostly due to the better frame rate and smoothed/improved(if only slightly) graphics to help it look fantastic on an HDTV. That’s my two cents…so suck it…

  4. avatar Soochin

    Who is this guy claiming to be a game reviewer? Hey do me a favor, if your gonna be a critic try not to be such a spoiled little brat. Maybe then you can appreciate this game for what it is as opposed to comparing to game that were developed over a decade later. And since your such a “modern gamer” you should probably know that console FPS’s would be nothing without this game and its ancestor Goldeneye.

    I hope you serve me burgers someday.

    • avatar ToolBag

      You’re a tool, if only for calling Goldeneye an ancestor of Perfect Dark. And if a retro game is being updated for the modern market, it SHOULD be looked for what it is: a very mediocre FPS with poor controls, level design, and visuals. You may have fun with it because you thought it was king shit 10 years ago, but by today’s standards, you can find 10+ better shooters out there than this waste of XBox Live space.

  5. avatar Anon

    Firstly, “The honest-to-god truth is that I never played the original Perfect Dark anyway” which is then followed by the absolute statement “It faithfully represents the original game”. Can the writer not see the hypocrisy in their own writing? How can you claim is accurately represent the original if you never played the original?

    Having problems finding online games i here? why not try searching for a game now, or any time since the first 24 hours of the games release. Plenty of games.

    “This wouldn’t be a problem if the game pointed you in the direction of your objectives” clearly illustrates the writers naivety toward FPS video games, a consequence of baby-fed modern gaming always needing the game to help and provide the easiest answers to problems.

    “thanks to my unique fashion sense, in which retro goggles are not included” why exactly then did the writer attempt to do what he/she claims as ‘review’ a retro game?

    • avatar You'reAnIdiot

      You’re an idiot, simply for your last statement (as well as other things, I’m sure). When updating a “retro” game for the current generation of consoles, it’s going to be reviewed as modern game, and shouldn’t be given special treatment just because you loved jerking off to a shitty FPS 10 years ago. The game did not age well. Get over it.

  6. avatar Monkeywalk

    No fun with the single player? Is that because it doesn’t hold your hand around every corner? Because you have to figure things out for yourself? You poor poor thing, its ok go back to MW2 leave the masterpieces to the rest of us.

    • avatar ToolBag

      I was going to try to respond to your comment here, but when you referenced this as a “masterpiece,” my brain kind of exploded with the sheer amount of things wrong with that statement. Thanks for the laugh, though!

    • avatar Osis

      clouds5 / @segaatari25 and i feel sorry for them This is a great game! Graphics usually matetr like the first 30min for me.Then the gameplay takes over and this one shines with gameplay. It feels much more arcady and fun than something like Modern Warfare. And thats the reason i bought a Wii. I dont need pseudo War simulations (that are everything else than realistic) with Hardcore gamers. I WANT FUN. And Goldeneye Wii is so much fun mission acomplished.

  7. avatar Snarf

    This was the stupidest review I’ve read in a long time. If you hate classic masterpiece games then someone else should be reviewing them. Stick to reviewing cookie cutter EA games or something along those lines.

    • avatar ToolBag

      A game can’t be a “classic masterpiece” if an updated port of the SAME GAME doesn’t cut it anymore. Face it, the game aged awfully and you’re just a whiny little Nintendbot.

  8. avatar Awful Review

    Please stop reviewing games

  9. avatar FAIL!

    Wow what a horrible review…if you can call it that.

    I wonder how hard it is to become a game reviewer. If this guy is any indication I guess that means you don’t really have to have any experience with games. Hey you’ve played MW2? Your hired!!! Your such a hardcore gamer obviously everyone would want to know your opinion. What you don’t know a classic when you see it? Even better!!! I mean we all know games only started getting good with Halo right?…right?

    Shove off dude, don’t quit your day job.

    • avatar Fail!

      I like how everyone attacks the reviewer’s credentials….on a blog site. You fail right from the get go.

  10. I tried playing Goldeneye and Perfect Dark via emulators a year or so ago, and it didn’t matter how I mapped the controls, it was just horrible. I can’t imagine this being anything more than average.

  11. avatar JibaJaba

    I cant imagine you being anything more than a retarded fag.

    • avatar ToolBag

      I can’t imagine you being more than a 300 pound, 30 year old man who still lives with their parents.

  12. avatar ToolBag shut the fuck up

    First of all idiot Goldeneye is an ancestor of Perfect Dark. You see moron both games were developed by Rare. Secondly PD was developed as a sequel to Goldeneye without the James Bind License so yeah fail.

    Furthermore its obvious your a spoiled little modern gamer who thinks your taste means jack shit. Sorry to disappoint you but you opinion of whether or not a game is a masterpiece is irrelevant. This game was a pioneer of console FPS’s which paved the way for all others to follow. Fail #2.

    Finally I find it funny you need to respond to every post that doesn’t agree with your opinion. Who exactly are you trying to convince? There is a reason this game is loved and cherished by many gamers. I hate to break it to you but your ignorant opinion is in the minority. Triple Fail.

    Oh one more thing. I would think your response to JibaJaba there was kinda funny but that has to be one of the lamest insults I have ever heard.

  13. avatar ToolBag shut the fuck up #2

    Let me correct the typo since I’m sure your the kinda clever guy who loves to leave posts just to comment on other peoples spelling mistakes.

    *Secondly PD was developed as a sequel to Goldeneye without the James Bond license*

  14. avatar ToolBag says it all.

    Wow I never seen a someone fail so much in every post they try to make against other peoples opinions.

    First of all Goldeneye is an ancestor of Perfect Dark. You see both were developed by Rare, and PD was made as a sequel to Goldeneye with no James Bond License. Perhaps you should check your ignorance at the door before you comment on things you know nothing about kid.

    Secondly Perfect Dark is a game that paved the way for console FPS’s. And this was a decade before you brats started thinking Halo was somehow revolutionary in this regard. Also as good as Goldeneye was PD improved on it in every single way. Not only that but it is beloved by many gamers. I think that would qualify as a masterpiece wouldn’t you?

    Now then what kind of idiot seems to think that retro games should be judged next to modern games? So I guess that means FFVI isn’t a great game just because it doesn’t have the later installments improvements? Zelda a Link to the Past? That game is shit!!! I mean its no where near as pretty as Twilight Princess! Super Metroid? Oh please its not even in first person!!! You can see where I’m going with this. If not let me clarify. You are a spoiled child who seems to think that your opinion matters, it doesn’t. Kids the days wouldn’t know masterpiece id it bit them in the ass. Now before you even say it I am fully aware that this is an updated version. However its an exact duplicate of the original game with updated graphics and controls. That does not mean it should be held next to modern games. You have obviously totally missed the point. No shocker there really.

    …OMG did I say masterpiece again? I sure did.

    Lastly your opinion that this game doesn’t hold up anymore is just ignorant. Again your comparing it to games that were developed a decade later but not only that if you browse around the net you will see that this morons opinion as well as yours are in the minority. Hate to break it to you buddy but out of every comment on this review yours fails the hardest.

  15. avatar Oh one more thing ToolBag

    If this guys opinion somehow makes it onto Metacritic as an official review then his credentials as a reviewer are fare game. No matter if this is a blog site or not.

  16. avatar Whoa that was wierd.

    That guys post pretty much says everything I did yet it wasn’t there when I posted it…freaky.

  17. avatar Yulisa

    The reason plpoee think the wii sucks is becouse their looking at the bad games, their not looking at the winners like goldeneye. Xbox an ps3 are for serious single players and wii is for playing with friends. Also you are comparing the wii to black ops, not the system. If i show you gameplay of black ops, you would say AWSOME, but then I tell you the gameplay is from wii and suddenly you say OH NEVER MIND, WII SUCKS. Are you seeing this, all systems are the same but the name. Think about it.

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