Rare puts out a can't-miss classic FPS

I was really impressed with Rare's classic FPS GoldenEye when it first came out, and I really didn't see how anyone could have improved on the FPS genre after that.

Then Perfect Dark came out.

This game seriously is a can't-miss title. The soundtrack is amazing, the solo missions are fun, and the three multiplayer modes are unbelievable. I still regularly play this game today.

Let's start with the graphics--they improve on GoldenEye, and the difference is obvious. The character models are much smoother as are the level textures. Also, Perfect Dark included a hi-res graphics option for those of us with graphics expansion packs. This greatly enhanced the graphics, although it made MP extremely laggy. For the time, these graphics were amazing, and they're not that bad even today--I still go back and play Perfect Dark at least once a week.

Gameplay was amazing, if a bit laggy. The stunning graphics caused multiplayer to slow down quite a bit, especially with simulants. However, Rare added so much to Dark: there were many more weapons, and all of the weapons (including your fists!) had secondary functions. The AI was fairly good as well; for example, they would call for reinforcements or hide behind cover rather than charge into the line of fire as they did in GoldenEye.

The soundtrack for this game was extensive--I have most of it on my mP3 player. It really adds a lot to the game, changing tempo based on the intensity of the action (as it did in GoldenEye).

All of these, however, pale in comparison to the multiplayer of this game. Like GoldenEye, it supported up to four players. Unlike GoldenEye, it had AI-controlled simulants of varying difficulty and play style that you could give commands to if they were on your team. In addition to an extensive list of excellent Dark-themed arenas, Perfect Dark included 3 of the best arenas from GoldenEye. Also, Perfect Dark supports profile saving in multiplayer, and has one of the most impressive player statistics screens I've ever seen. The game also includes multiple game types. Perhaps most amazingly, Perfect Dark supports co-op missions and counter-op play.

Perfect Dark has also had an influence on newer FPSs such as Halo: playing through Halo, I was struck by the similarities in plot and weaponry, as well as vehicle-based combat. In fact, Perfect Dark includes vehicle based combat in the Area 51 solo level, and the active hacking community has put forth codes that unlock arenas with hoverbikes in Dark as well.

All in all, Perfect Dark is a game that definitely needs to be picked up. It's probably one of the best games I've ever played.