Perfect Dark

Nintendo 64

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

perfectdarkn641.jpg (35836 bytes)Few games come out with as much hype as Perfect Dark (nor do this many ever give new meaning to the word "delay"), Rare's highly anticipated follow-up to the mega hit Goldeneye. It's games like this that have the entire fate of the console riding on it. With nearly three years of production under it's plastic casing, Perfect Dark excels in almost every category. Only a shaky frame rate damages the playability.

The game centers around Joanna Dark, the games main character attempting to unravel a corporations deepest secrets. This results in numerous different mission types from the straight run-and-gun to the more stealthy rescue operations. Being set in the future, the game offers up 40 different weapons, nearly every one of them having two different firing modes. Unlike the games spiritual predecessor, two guns can be handled simultaneously, allowing for easy disposal of even the most intelligent enemies.

If you don't own an N64 expansion pak, you need one, even if it's only for this game. It's amazing what four megs of RAM can do. The sheer variety and detail put into this game is unparalleled for the N64. The lighting effects can really blind a player at times adding a great sense of realism to an otherwise fantastical scenario. Each of the enemies and characters have individually modeled faces so you won't get bored blasting the face of the same guy repeatedly. Then again, once their face explodes from contact with your bullet, it really wouldn't matter anyone.

perfectdarkn642.jpg (39839 bytes)Hindering this and other categories is the above mentioned frame rate. There are some options included in the game to try and alleviate this problem such as lowering the resolution (this game gets ugly when you do this) or set the game into a widescreen mode (if you have a small TV, forget about it). With the expansion pak, widescreen mode, and hi-res, you'll have few problems, but these are some steep requirements for cash-starved gamers.

Controlling Joanna is a snap. Her moves may be limited, but this makes the game all the more accessible to anyone, even first time players. Again, beware of the frame rate. Even though the game has a semi-auto aiming mode, be forewarned that you could easily skip an enemy you're trying to hit when things get hectic. This really becomes a problem in later levels when the enemies defense sky-rockets.

This is one of the few N64 games to support in game Dolby Surround.  The voice work is outstanding and moves the storyline along both before and after a stage is completed. Enemies scream and shout in horror as their miserable digital lives are brought to an end resulting in some unintended humor for those who enjoy torturing them. Thanks to the cartridge format, the music loops quite a bit which can be annoying during some of the longer missions, but you'll most likely be engrossed in the flawlessly designed levels.

perfectdarkn643.jpg (31730 bytes)Anyone obsessed with Goldeneye's multi-player features (I.e., everyone), you'll never let go of Perfect Dark. Find the game too easy? Have a friend (or friends) take control of the enemies. Find it too hard? Tackle the game cooperatively. Oh yeah, even a few of the memorable multi-player stages have been included as an added bonus.  Players with four controllers and an expansion pak will never let this game leave their console.

Their really is no better word to describe this game than "incredible." It's obvious where three years of programming went. Had the N64 had a bit more power under the hood, we would have a game that deserves a perfect 10. As it stands, the hiccup with the frame rate causes just a bit too much agony at times, but you'll love the game anyway. This is one of those games you'll want everyone you know with a N64 to own. If they don't own one, you'll want them too.


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Last updated: Saturday, October 01, 2005 12:13 AM