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17 Reviews

Perfect Dark XBLA

The golden days

In many ways, Perfect Dark arrived ahead of its time. In the dying years of the N64's lifespan, when all but everyone had shipped off to the shimmering next-gen shores of Dreamcast, Rare's masterpiece was overlooked - which is very much a discredit to what it managed to deliver in the year 2000.

How many modern day shooters can you name that include a full campaign co-op, counter-op, fully customisable (even down to weapon spawns) spitscreen multiplayer, intelligent and varied deathmatch bots and multiplayer challenges? We could go on. For a near-ten-year-old game, Perfect Dark stands up incredibly well in 2010. But that's not to say it's aged without some wrinkles.

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Golden Glasses
Returning to single-player after nearly a decade, enemy AI isn't as clever as we remember, even in the highest Perfect Agent difficulty. Level design, while still unique in its spy FPS mold, is also adrift of the clear and responsive standards we're now used to. It's not often clear how you "disable the external comms hub", or when's best to knock out an alarm-happy scientist, so unless you remember what you did 10 years ago you will find yourself wandering lost fairly regularly.

But we still love it. Rare's game does a great job of delivering a succession of interesting set pieces, varied environments and levels that - just like GoldenEye - feel like believable locations.

The infamously bad framerate from the original game is finally, thankfully sorted - a blessing in disguise from Xbox 360's god-like technical power compared to Nintendo's old box. That's reason enough for fans of the classic to hand over their Microsoft Points. Textures and models have generally been spruced up too, although unless you have this and the original side-by-side you won't notice after the first two minutes.

One update particularly worthy of praise is the improved control scheme. Those who remember the N64 original will instantly find themselves at home; left thumbstick movement feels responsive and aiming with the right stick improves on the comparatively clunky C-Button configuration of the N64 controller, even if it does render the N64 game's manual aiming mode (executed by holding left trigger) almost useless.

After a brief disorientating introduction for classic fans, you'll quickly switch up to playing the game using just the standard crosshair view and the left stick, with some pretty generous auto-aim giving you a hand.

Old Dogs
But the absolute best reason to buy the updated Perfect Dark though is for its seminal multiplayer modes. As we subtly hinted in our opening paragraphs, the game's labyrinth of customisation options and game modes mean Rare's N64 shooter, though not as pretty, still stands strong in 2010.

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The game's generous four-player split-screen mode has naturally been bolstered with eight-player online games, which encompasses all of the maps and scenarios as in the original game.

The arena roster, while definitely featuring a few duds, is solid. What really sticks out here though is how imaginative and perhaps unappreciated Perfect Dark's arsenal of futuristic guns and grenades is. Auto-targetting SMGs, rifles that can be turned into bombs, camera-controlled rockets, grenades that distort your vision; every weapon is distinct, tactical and good fun to use.

It's not difficult to have a good time here whether it be against mates in the same room, online or against surprisingly clever bots in Challenge mode's roster of increasingly difficult scenarios.

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