Perfect Dark Review

Colin Ferris
Perfect Dark Info


  • FPS


  • 1 - 4


  • Microsoft Game Studios
  • Nintendo


  • 4J Studios
  • Rare

Release Date

  • 11/30/1999
  • Out Now


  • N64
  • Xbox360


Where’s my nightlight?

In 1997, the best console first-person shooter of all time was released. Of course,

I’m talking about Goldeneye. While it still had

some problems, it was just a great game. From the great graphics to the sniper

rifle to the death throes of the enemies, Goldeneye continued to be a best

seller for years. Most of us in the GR office believed that we’d see a new game

on the Goldeneye engine released within a year. Boy, were we wrong.

When E3 (Electronic Entertainment

Expo) 1998 came around, we got our first glimpse of Perfect Dark. Then,

silence. E3 1999 arrived, and we got to play a few levels. Then, silence once

again. Vowing not to be shown at more than three E3’s (a stigma that no game

wants, *cough* Daikatana *cough*),

Perfect Dark hit the shelves just in time for the latest expo, and in

many ways, it was worth the wait. Though not the revolutionary title we might

have longed for, Perfect Dark is an exceptional game that builds on the

Goldeneye foundation and outshines its predecessor.

The graphics are top notch. However, you should know that you NEED

a RAM expansion pack in order to play this game. Though a few minor features

work without the pack, the bulk of the game suffers dramatically and you can’t

play most of it (including all single player missions). So, go buy an expansion

pack, or even Donkey Kong 64, which comes with

one. Sneaky corporate devils.

That having been said, the pack logically makes the graphics better than Goldeneye.

Instead of using the extra power to improve the textures and resolution, the

developers (Rare) lengthened the viewable area and kept some RAM free for the

enemy AI. There is occasional slowdown and the flying objects have a few polygonal

glitches, but they are easily ignored. Sacrificing graphics for gameplay – a

good decision in my opinion, especially when the game still looks great.

Gameplay-wise, Perfect Dark is really good. Unlike Goldeneye,

where you had to see the movie to know what to do, Perfect Dark introduces

and ends many levels with audio events and in-game cut-scenes. If you still

don’t know what to do, there’s a briefing you can read at the beginning of each

mission. While the briefing does seem a bit long, it tells you all you need

to know – in many ways, too much.

The different gameplay modes in Perfect Dark vary mainly by enemy count

and mission objectives. The basic Agent mode is easy, perfect for those who

just want to run through the levels shooting things. The Secret Agent mode gives

you a bit more to do and makes things a little tougher, but not too bad. Unless

you get easily frustrated, play as the Secret Agent, because the Agent mode

is just too easy. For perfectionists (‘scuse the pun), there’s Perfect Agent

mode. As with Goldeneye, the more levels you beat at various times in

the different modes open up new cheats.

The AI, unfortunately,

is fairly unintelligent. Adopting the age-old rush-at-her-with-as-many-people-as-possible

ploy, the number of times you have a hallway filled with dead people is a little

ridiculous. Fans of FPS games on the PC may be disappointed in this respect,

but for the more action-oriented console gamer, this type of AI may have been

the best way to go. I do wish they’d aim a bit better, though.

The level design is just amazing. The complex, sprawling levels are as varied

as they are semi-realistic. With most futuristic FPS games throwing any sort

of legitimate architecture out the window (then blowing it up with a BFG), it’s

good to be in an office building that looks like an office building.

When the location looks realistic, it adds to the depth and addiction of the


Add to that forty different weapons, including one that can both shoot through

and look through walls, and you’ve got a long time ahead of you uncovering everything

Perfect Dark has to offer. But I’ll tell you right now, so there’s no

doubt in anyone’s mind… there is not now, nor will there ever be a nude

code for Joanna Dark
. Go get a girlfriend!

Since good multiplayer is one of the things that made Goldeneye so

popular, it’s not surprising that there’s extensive multiplayer support in Perfect

. All the same old modes are there for you Deathmatch junkies, with

a few new ones for kicks. Don’t like playing on your own? Try Co-operative and

run the missions with a friend. Think the enemy AI is too easy? Try Counter-operative

where one of your friends plays on the enemy side. Every time he dies, he jumps

to another enemy’s body. These different playing modes drastically extend the

amount of gameplay you’ll get from Perfect Dark.

When the game is over and the lights come up, Perfect Dark shines out as one of the best N64 games and a must-have for anyone who liked Goldeneye. Though some problems hold it back from true greatness, we all can’t be perfect . . . can we?



Great gameplay
Good graphics
Fantastic multiplayer
Various minor flaws