By Edge Staff
January 9, 2009
For a classic multiplayer game, Perfect Dark suffers from a fairly major fault. It’s nigh-on unplayable. Those sleek offices and twisting tunnels have morphed into poorly textured geometric mazes. The explosions and effects, brilliant in memory, are muted. Most of all, the always-suspect framerate is now a convicted murderer. None of these reasons justify a return.
But what Perfect Dark does have, beyond GoldenEye and most other FPSes, is imagination.
It’s an ideas game, as concerned with its own genre’s existence and limits as it is with targets. If Rare had revolutionised what a console FPS could be, Perfect Dark was its belated manifesto. Sequels, even spiritual sequels, have governing rules, neatly encapsulated by Cliff Bleszinski’s “bigger, better, more badass” tubthumping for Gears Of War 2.
Perfect Dark can do excess, but let’s shoot the elephant in the room first. GoldenEye. It’s impossible to avoid GoldenEye, or the misconception that Rare couldn’t continue with the Bond licence: it rejected the opportunity to make the tie-in to Tomorrow Never Dies, perhaps feeling that 007’s world offered little more than a retread of the Kalashnikovs, missile sites and gadgets it had already perfected.
Its ideas had married perfectly with that world once, but a second Hollywood tie-in would see diminishing creative returns. The lack of a licence brought freedom and yet, in this context, choosing to make an FPS with a secret agent may not seem the most original move. Rare couldn’t abandon the espionage angle that dovetailed with its design talents: double-helix levels with spiralling objectives, enemy positions perfect for the stealthy, patient player, and the glorious gadgets.
Nor was Perfect Dark free of cinematic influence: its grimy hi-tech vision of the future is pure Blade Runner, down to the shine of the office buildings and the LA noir of its Chicago streets. There’s the complexes to infiltrate, computers to hack, hoverbikes to ride. And the lady herself. If Bond set pulses racing, in his absence what would Joanna Dark do to young male Nintendo fans?