Perfect Dark Hands-On

We took a trip down memory lane with the Xbox Live Arcade port of Rare's classic shooter.

Few games are as fondly remembered as Rare's GoldenEye 007, which was one of the Nintendo 64's most critically acclaimed games. Though it may be high on the nostalgia list for many, Microsoft's purchase of Rare in 2002 and licensing issues have so far prevented the game from making the transition to the current generation of consoles. Fortunately, its unofficial sequel Perfect Dark isn't tied to a licence, and 4J Studios has been hard at work updating the game for release on Xbox Live Arcade. We spent some time with the game at Microsoft's European headquarters in Reading where we discovered that Perfect Dark and GoldenEye fans have plenty to look forward to with this new version.

Perfect Dark has been faithfully transferred to the Xbox 360. You once again taken on the role of Joanna Dark as she battles soldiers, aliens, and the government in a race to save planet Earth. There are 17 missions, plus four bonus levels to fight through, and each of the missions can be played cooperatively split-screen, as well as via Xbox Live. Technology has moved on significantly since the N64 was released, and, thankfully, the controls have been updated to take advantage of dual-analog stick pads. Players can choose from three different control layouts: classic, spartan, and duty calls. Each control system feels great, and it's refreshing to be able to navigate Perfect Dark so easily without having to use tiny buttons to look up or down as you would on the N64.

The graphics have also been fully updated. The low-resolution textures and erratic frame rates from the original have been replaced with remodelled 1080p visuals running at a smooth 60 frames per second. Props, weapons, and character models have been upgraded with more polygons, which results in a noticeably smoother look. However, Microsoft was keen to point out to us that these modifications have been done subtly so as not to detract too much from the original look of the game. Indeed, the original character animations, sound effects, and some of the more famous glitches from the single-player campaign have been preserved.

It was a strange Catwalk at this year's fashion week.

Of course, the main attraction of Perfect Dark has always been the multiplayer, and it has been updated with full Xbox Live support. It now supports up to eight players online, which can be augmented with four computer-controlled players for up to 12 in total. Unlike the original, all the content is unlocked from the beginning, so you'll be able to jump straight into playing your favourite map or mode. A number of modes are available, including Team Classic, Team Solo, and Deathmatch. Each of those can be played with a different scenario, such as Hold the Briefcase, Hacker Central, or Pop-a-Cap. They're fully customisable, and you can toggle settings like fast movement, no radar, and auto-aim on or off.

Fans will be pleased to learn that weapons, game modes, and three of the maps from GoldenEye--Complex, Temple, and Facility--have made it across in their entirety to Perfect Dark, albeit with slightly revised names due to the aforementioned licensing issues. The maps still hold up after all these years and are a testament to how well they were designed originally. Four-player split-screen mode has also been brought across, and the frame rate is much more stable than in the original. Having four people in the same room just adds to smack-talking fun, and you can take the game online should you want to battle it out with others. Leaderboards have also been incorporated for the single and multiplayer elements of the game, so you can check up on a friend's progress to make sure he or she isn't showing up your gaming skills. Perfect Dark is set for release March 17 on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 points.

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markypants

Mark Walton

Mark is a senior staff writer based out of the UK, the home of heavy metal and superior chocolate.
Perfect Dark

Perfect Dark

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82 comments
vincentnyc
vincentnyc

Oooops..... I stand corrected. I wasn't an N64 player so I didn't realize Perfect Dark on XBOX 360 was a sequel.... thanks for the heads up.

davejudge
davejudge

PD was such a huge dissapointment I really loved the RARE games and have fond memories of PD on my N64 as well as Banjo but the 360 port/was rubbish and should never have been released as a launch title horrible graphics,linear,sad AI all in all a very sad excuse and one that I suppose reflects the results of a great comapny being bought and sold. MS just get yourself a N 64 and play the damn games ....

Clutch_Cascade
Clutch_Cascade

Love this game. I never played the original, but my girlfried begged me to get this because she loved it some much. Hell, one of THE best arcade games I purchased since buying Shadow Complex. Either of us have yet to complete the story mode because multiplayer is so darn fun! I hope Rare gives us Goldeneye, that would be awesome!

AlphaJez
AlphaJez

Hells yeah, that kick-ass soundtrack takes me back!

musicmaniac544
musicmaniac544

got this game and love it! played so much that i beat it on perfect agent :)... lets just say I'll probably keep playing till, if they, come out with a new version of golden eye which would be awesome! Totally a steal of a price at the marketplace. Such a good game should be higher in price (because it's awesome), but the guys who made it are cool. So far got two copies of it. One for n64 and xbox 360. Sweet game i give it a 9.0!

Royal_status
Royal_status

They might make a golden eye remake then again i doubt it...perfect dark is clearly better than golden eye in more than one way...graphics, gameplay, replay value, multiplayer, and the amount of things that can be done in the games..i jsay perfect dark is an upgraded version of golden eye...the game has its own game and golden eye all in one game if u ask me..the multiplayer has some of golden eyes maps and guns that can be used in both..perfect darks solo missions are set up alot better..plus u can punch instead of karate chop ppl and u actually see the gun load instead of the gun jus going up and down and bullets magically appear in ur gun..not to mention the fact that no1 talks...and no perfect dark isnt trying to copy off of golden eye it is its own game that pays respect to golden eye..because everyone knows that golden eye is a classic..however perfect dark is kind of like a legend..alot of shooters now took alot of perfect darks ideas

wario96
wario96

come on rare! you know we all want, GOLDEN EYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

blueliquidplus
blueliquidplus

I remember when Perfect Dark was going to have a system in it that allowed you to take a picture using the GameBoy Camera and load it into Perfect Dark putting your face on any of the multiplayer models. Ahh good times.. :) I'll get this soon as I got 800ms laying around lol

dovonob
dovonob

my grammar and sentence structure is idiotic ;o)

dovonob
dovonob

ok one last comment, the guy who wrote that review is an idiot, it's not call of duty: mw2 because it was made years ago before they made computer games for dumb people, you had to use your own brain rather than a flashing arrow holding your hand like some sort of special needs carer so it's not really a good comparision. and it's not hard to aim, use a bit of common sense and turn the sensitivity down if it's too twitchy. the idiot should have tried using an N64 pad back in the day to try and aim with, this version is spufftastic.

dovonob
dovonob

oh dear lord i didn't notice that gamespot gave it 7.5...............they really have no clue do they. in fact i'm so insulted by that i shall start using IGN again.

dovonob
dovonob

ah man well don't know about anyone else but i was up till 4am and then 3 hours late for work today. i think i may even of got a semi on for the first time in years at some point during the evening. If only someone would update Xwing Alliance (obviously never going to happen) and put it up on the arcade then i wouldn't have to leave the house ever again.

pistolscope
pistolscope

they ewnt with perfect dark because there is no movie studio to buy off

Don_Cairo
Don_Cairo

I love how this game is cheaper than a map pack for MW2 w/ only 3 new maps, lol

Don_Cairo
Don_Cairo

Goldeneye > Perfect Dark I want Goldeneye!

pigman239
pigman239

@vincentnyc if you were alive in a crazy time called the "nineties," you may recall a little system called the n64 and one of its best games, Perfect Dark. Different from that Perfect Dark Zero garbage.

dovonob
dovonob

i'm still at work so can't confirm this but does anyone know if offline multiplayer you can only have 4 bots rather than if memory serves me correctly the 8 that was on the N64?

causticjones7
causticjones7

Think Vince is getting confused with Perfect Dark Zero. Am as excited about this as any full price game. Waiting years to finally complete on Hard as was on last level on N64 and the machine died.

hduncanebc
hduncanebc

vincentnyc you don't know what you are talking about. Perfect dark was a N64 title, as the story above details. stop being a tool and check your facts before you speak.

vincentnyc
vincentnyc

Dear author: "Perfect Dark has been faithfully transferred to the Xbox 360" The game was a launch title on the XBOX 360 and therefore no transfer was entailed.

metalisticpain
metalisticpain

I love how they inlcuded the Xbox live and included it right. Shooters should take note. 4 Player local and online is great. Combinging them so u can have 3 people playing local, another 2 somewhere else and the rest as single xbox livers is awesome.

BaOK-8
BaOK-8

I cant friggin wait! Baaahahahahaha

karloss01
karloss01

still a bit disappointed that online is only 8 and not 12, despite being able to add an additional 4 bots to the online fights. but hey better then nothing right. :D EDIT: also, CAN'T WAIT FOR TOMORROW!!! :D

aaronfhff123
aaronfhff123

this game blows MW2 and battlefield 2 out of the water

Mattius04
Mattius04

All right!!! I may actually invest some of my money for Microsoft points!!

drivinggod2005
drivinggod2005

@Flying Ace It's 800 points. And it looks awesome.

dovonob
dovonob

@ shaunk89............. ah man you're right darksim was even harder!! i have fond memories of perfect sim as i used to stick an alien head on his body so i could tell it was him :O) ah the fond memories of screaming in frustration as peace sim came up behind me, punched me in the face a few times nicking all my weapons and leaving my screen in a blurry haze. 2 more days..............

True_Chaos_UK
True_Chaos_UK

800msp's for this sort of devotion from RARE to their fans they are still a top developer in my book, maybe if this sells buy the bucket load MS can get round those pesky licensing problems with Golden Eye.Apparently Golden Eye XBL is finished and in some wooden crate somewhere safe and is being examined by top men, TOP MEN. Now RARE can get back to Viva Pinata Natal.

PhillSta22
PhillSta22

people complaining about her look, maybe they couldnt use her same exact model cuz of licensing stuff, just a thought, just like disney owns mickey mouse' model, im sure rare at least owns the original model of the Joanna since it was an IP

Flying_Ace
Flying_Ace

I remember this game from the N64. Too bad they've used the Joanna Dark model from Zero. I think this will cost 1200 points, but I might be wrong. Either way, I'm really looking forward to this game.

iKrysis
iKrysis

LOL!! im so excited for this.. funny how yearssss later this still bests all fps' :)

aahov
aahov

when i heard this was coming out my balls fell off. holy isht im ready for it nowww

shaunk89
shaunk89

@dovonob lol...damn PerfectSim. Although, DarkSim was tougher, no? In fact, they were crazy hard. Ah this game actually looks really good. I was dubious about it at first, wasn't impressed that it didn't have a full graphical overhaul. But it actually looks really nice...keeps the same style, just better smoother textures and whatnot. Plus you can't argue with the price....

guiesseppe
guiesseppe

i hate the new look joanna dark, why have they changed her face?! oh well hopefully with the new controls and stuff this is worth getting

G4m3_0n
G4m3_0n

Cannot wait!!! Got my 800MS points ready and waiting... Although I don't understand why they unlock everything when they port games over sure it saves time but half the fun of playing the games was to unlock the stuff... This especially applies for Marvel Vs Capcom 2 which had everything unlocked from the get go.

brok
brok

I'm still playing the original to this day, along with Goldeneye. Good that a new generation gets to see how you make a REAL console shooter. btw what have they done to Elvis? looks like they've tryied to make him all badass and humourless or something

sleeper16
sleeper16

This makes me sick. ABSOLUTELY SICK! This game SHOULD be on the Wii. It doesn't diserve to be on the Xbox360.

M-Millz
M-Millz

love this! this game did it 4 mi.

xerxes5678
xerxes5678

So, everything is unlocked in mp huh? Perfect, (lol) that saves me a ton of time!

rexCo
rexCo

WOOOO!!!! PUMPED FOR THIS GAME!!! Still my favourite all-timer. Can't wait, I hope it's as faithful a port as they're saying it is.

34Crazy_Crazy34
34Crazy_Crazy34

Ahhhhhh the great memories are flying back of the 4 way split screen on the old 32 inch RCA. No complaints. Lookin forward to it!!

dovonob
dovonob

ah man i've got the biggest semi on, my second favourite game of all time updated so i don't have to play it on a dodgy N64 emulator!!!!!!!!! can't wait to lock horns with old perfect sim once again, damn i hated that guy, we'll see who's harder now i don't have to aim with that stupid N64 pad!!!!!

LocutisofBorg
LocutisofBorg

Can't wait to crawl around in the vents again on felicity!

armo4rs3
armo4rs3

"I always preferred Golden Eye to Perfect Dark, but I'm still excited... especially hearing that some Golden Eye maps are making it into the game, AWESOME! Gimme some golden gun maybe?" Those 3 Goldeneye maps were in the N64 Perfect Dark too (Felicity, Complex and Temple) You get golden magnums for the 1-hit-kill goodness, you can even dual-wield :) I've never understood why people rave on so much about Goldeneye and don't care about PD, it improved on it in so many ways..

DrEvilKoala
DrEvilKoala

@Gelugon_baat However, you forget to mention that they also ported Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie to XBLA, which were fine ports in my book. Sure, their original games suck, but their ports are just fine.