Perfect Dark. Wow there is just so much to talk about with this game from Rare made in 2000. It is the successor to Goldeneye 007, though not in storyline. I played this game to death while I was in middle school. If you like first person shooters and want to harken back to one of the greatest- look no further than the pair Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark.
The game was groundbreaking for its day, offering many features that were not seen until implemented by the developers. The first menu item allows access to the training grounds and a firing range where challenges can be completed to unlock stuff. Some of these challenges are very easy, while others are nearly impossible. Even I couldn’t finish every single one- though I got close. Playing the Carrington Institute section will teach you how to play the game.
There are 20 missions to play in this game- and each has 3 difficulty settings. Agent, Special Agent, and Perfect Agent. If you complete each mission on Perfect Agent, you unlock the Perfect Dark mode. This allows you to manually adjust the enemy’s health, accuracy and damage dealt. I have completed the game on both Agent and Special Agent modes, but I still have not legitimately completed the game on perfect agent. It isn’t easy.
Tons of guns are being introduced in this futuristic shooter- and each has two unique functions. For example, the Falcon is a standard 7 round pistol that can be used to fire the gun- or pistol whip which does not kill. Many are standard combat rifles with interesting secondary gimmicks. There is the laptop gun, which folds into a sentry- alien weaponry such as the Slayer and cheap Farsight XR-20, mines, grenades, a laser, explosives and the infamous D357-LX, which for all intents and purposes is the golden gun from Goldeneye 007. I’ve managed to shoot 5 computer characters in a row with that gun and killed every one of them with one shot.
The game follows Joanna Dark, an agent of the Carrington Institute as she infiltrates Datadyne Corporation after a scientist named ‘Dr. Carroll’ requests he be rescued from HQ. The plot unravels as you go along as it is revealed that Datadyne is not working alone. When Carrington calls in ‘friends’ to assist him the game gets interesting. Play the game to experience the full story. This is also the only game I know of in recent history that allows you to shoot at NSA shock troops. In a virtual world, of course. The NSA might not like it, Trent Easton might not like it, but you may get a buzz saying ‘heh, that guy was NSA’.
As you play you will discover multiple audio and visual options. Mono, Stereo and Surround Sound are supported- including a headphone mode for those that wish to use headphones. It’s useful when you want to play the game, hear the volume, but wish not to disturb others. If you have sensitive ears you can turn of the swearing- and even the blood. Paintball mode had to be unlocked in Goldeneye 007- in this game you can simply turn it on. 4:3 and 16:9 ratios are supported in both normal and widescreen modes. Hi Res textures are supported only through the graphics jumper pack for the Nintendo 64- and this game requires that you have it. You choose whether you want horizontal or vertical split screen for 2 player mode. If you want to play with two controllers that is possible as well with over 8 different mappings for you to choose from. I did not know about the 2 controller layout until writing up this review.
There are a wide range of in house cheats- meaning that you don’t need to hack the game in order to have fun. There is everything from big head mode to unlimited ammo- but some of the cheats are very hard to obtain. You either need to complete enough challenges in the Carrington Institute or you need to complete a particular mission on a particular difficulty in a short amount of time. I tried dozens of times back in the day to get unlimited ammo, no reloads and it was an absolute bitch.
The combat simulator is where this game is at. If you want first person shooter multiplayer for the Nintendo 64- this is where you want to get it. I have spent hundreds, possibly over a thousand- hours inside this combat simulator with friends and simulants. While I always chose to tweak my own rules in advanced mode- you can jump into presets very quickly if that is what you want to do. The simulator features 30 challenges ranging in piss easy to extremely hard. Complete them to unlock levels, weapons and other goodies to use in multiplayer.
There are 14 presets you can load- from slow motion to rocket launchers. The quick start simplifies the advanced options and allows you to play versus simulants, versus other players- or both. There are different weapons sets to choose from- including custom sets available in the advanced setup. Get in, get dirty and keep playing through the quick setup. However- advanced setup is where the fun- and the pain- is.
Advanced setup lets you control everything from the rules of the game to the weapons sets to the stage to the simulants. There are six different ways to play in multiplayer- unadulterated combat, hold the briefcase, hacker central, pop a cap (which is a version of ‘tag, you’re it’), King of the Hill and capture the enemy case. You can speed up walking motion through the options, institute one hit kills, turn off scoring for making a kill, change the length of time one must hold the hill, no radar, no auto-aim, and highlights. There are 16 stages to choose from- including a random button.
Limits can be set on the game. You can play to a score of 10 or 10 minutes- whichever comes first. You can also play to a score of X only, or a time of X only to see who gets the highest score. If you need to, handicaps can be placed to help players who aren’t as good at the game- increasing their available health. There are six difficulties of simulants, ranging from piss easy to cheaters. Additionally there are 12 special simulants who excel at one particular goal- and they can be a pain in the ass if randomized into a game. To make them worse, you can change the difficulty on these special sims. Teams, individual player statistics and a plethora of other options make this one of the best multiplayer first person shooters ever created. This was all before Call of Duty boys and girls.
The game can also be played co-op with a second player. In addition, a counter-operative mode is featured. This means the 2nd player is attempting to stop player 1- and if they die, they respawn into the body of another guard or non-player character. It’s a weird take on normal rules and it is a ton of fun.
At a retail price of $7 for the year of 2014, you would be out of your mind not to give this game a try and pick it up for your Nintendo 64 collection. It is one of the best games for the system and it will deliver hours upon hours of content and things to do before you get bored. When you get bored, introduce someone to the game and get back into the combat simulator all over again. While the game was criticized for its slightly choppy frame rate, it is a legendary title that deserves to be up there with the best of them. RGN gives this game a 93.8 out 100, making this game my 13th best game of all time.