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Perfect Dark Zero - Review

Xbox 360 by Kristan Reed

1/12/2005 @ 15:13

Zen of gaming, indeed.

If Microsoft was hoping that Perfect Dark Zero was going to be one of the pillar launch titles to usher in the next generation in a blaze of glory, then it must be - deep down - pretty disappointed. Let's not beat around the bush. Microsoft wanted, needed, another Halo-sized launch title, but Perfect Dark Zero most definitely isn’t it.

The plain, unpalatable, inescapable truth is that Rare's latest shooter is worryingly far away from being a classic. Through gritted teeth you could admit that it's "a respectable, solid, mostly entertaining secret agent FPS". Being diplomatic you might well concede that it’s "a good genre offering" that "devoted FPS fans will enjoy", but that sounds so glib. In the context of a high-profile next generation blockbuster, such down-played compliments sound like insults.

It needed to be a GoldenEye-beater, a Halo-killer, a game to send Valve and id back to the drawing board. The annoying thing is, the only thing it's likely to kill is Rare's already waning reputation for triple A' perfection. It's a solid follow-up to a five year-old N64 title with some decent multiplayer elements. And that's all it'll ever be.

Dark relief

Much like Rare's other two celebrated spy FPSs, PDZ continues down the same path and even gets the Bond tributes out of the way before you've so much as reached the menu screen. As expected, you're treated to all the gadgets, stealth-lite and back-to-base communication that goes with being the queen of espionage. In addition to a standard loadout of all the familiar weapons (of which you can generally only carry two at a time, though a third slot offers dual-wield for a select few, as well as occasional grenades) you also get a few standard context-sensitive gadgets: the Locktopus (bet you can't guess what this does), the hacking Data Thief, the destructive Demo Kit, not to mention some one-off high tech items like the remote-controlled CamSpy and the sound-enhancing Audioscope. Rare resists the temptation to overload the spy element too much, though. First person Splinter Cell this is not.

Predictably, such high tech espionage comes at a price; your detection is ruthlessly punished by well-armed and heavily armoured enemy patrols just itching to put bullets into your perfectly coiffeured skull. As such, it's clear right from the word go that PDZ doesn't really adhere to the run and gun premise most other titles in this over-crowded genre are happy to peddle - unless you completely cop-out and play it on the ridiculously forgiving Agent difficulty level, that is.

The surprising thing that hits you almost immediately about PDZ is its steep learning curve and unrelenting desire to finish you off as quickly as possible. Throughout the entire game Joanna Dark is consistently poking her nose in places it's not wanted, and needless to say, exposing a corporate web of conspiracy puts you in the firing line of all manner of patrolling sentries. Just one misplaced head-shot is often enough to provoke a cavalry charge that exposes your frailty with ruthless efficiency.

Charge of the dark brigade

'Perfect Dark Zero' Screenshot barrels

Barrels that actually explode. Truly.

With little choice but to either restart or face them head on (and no opportunity to run or hide until they go back to their patrols) you'll regularly find yourself fending off a dozen enemies at once. If that wasn't a daunting enough prospect, Joanna's armed with guns that, for the majority of the game, can't take them down with a single clip. With such a resolute enemy barrage to contend with, the principle challenge you'll face is trying to kill them without copping too many bullets in return. Sometimes a clean headshot is enough, but other times their helmet protection cancels out that little advantage. With Kevlar vests and helmets to shatter first, it's often several rounds before you've seen off a single enemy - and dealing with that while also keeping a close eye on your health situation is a big ask when there's more than two or three AIs taking pot-shots at your head.

One of the main aspects to put the player at a disadvantage is that unlike the standard health pack/health station system almost all FPSs favour, Joanna is fitted with a recharge system that refills your bar if you can avoid damage for a few seconds. Although it's Halo-esque, the overall maximum hit points permanently degrade, leaving you progressively disadvantaged. With the twin menace of health concerns (less so on the easy mode) and a sluggish reload system to contend with (there's no automatic reload, annoyingly), the combat's a real challenge. Much more so than your average FPS.

This would be okay if the encounters felt as fun as the best FPSs out there. We don't mind a challenge, but when the game lacks basic AI sophistication and aggravates the player with questionable gameplay ethics, the marks are chipped away. Enemies seem to be either on pre-programmed patrols or charging mob-handed directly at you, with precious little evidence of working as a team to, for example, out-flank you. With the odds so heavily against you, they don't really need to be all that clever - they just charge, zig-zag around like the most irritating online bots and generally don't look remotely convincing. Eventually, you discover that the best tactic is to either retreat and funnel them Pied Piper-style down corridors and take them down up-close one by one, or find some distant cover and continually pop out when appropriate. Halo won people over via excellent AI which provided that trademark "thirty seconds of fun over and over," but here it's an entirely different experience that's a little at odds with what you might want or expect from a console shooter.

Dark-headed

'Perfect Dark Zero' Screenshot fingerless

Never mind the dual wield grenade/PSP combo, check out the fingerless gloves!

To compound matters, you're also robbed of the ability to save your progress (and only a single mid-level checkpoint offering any respite) meaning you're forced to encounter a long-forgotten degree of trial and error to make progress. And, yet, after all this, the game is constantly hand-holding the player by laying down path chevrons to guide you directly to where you should be heading next. What it gives with one hand it punches you in the face with the other. We really don't get that at all. It's as if Microsoft pointed out the game was a little on the tricky side and this was the only compromise Rare could come up with. Daft.

But, despite the core combat, health and saving mechanics being at odds with most of the FPS competition, and the silly path pointers being a giant insult to your intelligence, the more you play it, the more these design decisions begin to justify themselves. What you don’t realise in the initial stages is that none of PDZ's levels are all that big, or take that long to finish, so it's reasonable for Rare to assume that quicksave shenanigans and less tough combat would make the whole thing a cakewalk and rob the whole game of the tension of sleuthy battle. About halfway through it all starts to feel strangely enjoyable. Far from cursing Rare's existence, it feels different and actually quite engaging. Even with the path pointers.

Indeed, once you fail five, ten, fifteen times and gradually chip your way towards level completion, you'll often surprise yourself at the extent of your struggle. With hindsight, once you know what you're doing and where things are, it's never as tough as you thought. Hell, once you've got the whole thing nailed, you can generally go back and rip through most levels again in ten minutes, give or take. No wonder Rare didn't offer quicksave facilities. No wonder it takes a few rounds to see off enemies. No wonder it's best to work out a stealthier approach.

Darker fuel

'Perfect Dark Zero' Screenshot foliage

Despite everything we said, Rare does do a nice line in pretty jungle foliage.

Nevertheless, as an experienced FPS-player schooled in the norms of the genre, you're not to know that. For the first few hours you'll probably curse the game for taking such glee in sending you back to the start of a mission you've been sweating over for ages. It's an old-school approach where precise stats are measured on an online Leaderboard for you to compare against the best players in the world. But like most old-school approaches, they're great for the embattled hardcore, but annoying as hell for the masses Microsoft wants to reach. If the Redmond giant really wants to reach a billion players, then it had better start making games that everyone will enjoy. As admirable as it is to see Rare following some of the design principles laid down in GoldenEye and Perfect Dark in producing a game as challenging as this, it's one that seems out of place in today's market. One that's inexplicably targeted at those of a dogged, persistent nature: those that don't mind replaying the same level from scratch dozens of times until they finally crack it.

While persistence really does reap its own rewards (and the excellent online Leaderboards that detail every possible performance stat and endless Gamerscore achievements provide an excellent incentive to go back and show off just how good you are), and Perfect Dark Zero slowly emerges as an entertaining game on its own merits, there's still the nagging feeling that it's not a game worthy of the 360. The visuals are the real giveaway, delivering a degree of fidelity that wouldn't look out of place on the original Xbox. Sure, played in high def it's reasonably impressive, but leagues away from getting near some of the best looking PC titles of the past 12 months. The real killer is the distinctly rubbery, glossy feel about everything. If you're not cringing at the latex enemies and their bizarre ragdoll death animations then you'll baulk at the artificial shininess of the world around you. Rocks should be gritty and harsh, not slick and shiny. Waterfalls shouldn't look like molten acrylic. Artistically, it's just not at the races.

But it goes further than some unwise texture designs and waxwork enemies. The level designs are carved out of standard issue Xbox stone, and everything from their size, scale and ambition just reeks of conventional thinking. Cranking up the resolution and cloaking the whole thing in a glossy ooze doesn't make it next gen by any stretch of the imagination. Even Microsoft's Peter Moore admitted as much recently.

Live a little

'Perfect Dark Zero' Screenshot hurt

What these idiots don't realise is that bullets in their shins REALLY HURT.

As you might expect, the multiplayer elements help a little - especially online (though System Link and split-screen is available offline) - but certainly nowhere near enough. Perhaps the best part of the package is the ability to engage in bona-fide co-operative multiplayer over Live. For once, that doesn’t simply mean playing side by side and doubling up the firepower. For once, some of the levels have been designed with co-op in mind. For example, the much-demoed third level has Joanna providing cover fire for her father Jack as he hops from one point of the level to the next. In the single player campaign Jack's AI controlled, but co-op lets you take direct control of his actions, making the experience a much more engaging affair all-round.

The only problem with this is that the reason it's so much more engaging is probably more down to the fact that the computer-controlled Jack can be such a complete doofus, forever getting himself killed even when you're busy firing off head-shots left and right. It's almost more engaging to play in co-op by default - although it's fair to say that relying on a pal to be any better at the game is a leap of faith all of its own. Even so, it's nice to see some thought being devoted to collaborative multiplayer than merely trawling out deathmatch mode for the 217th time of asking.

That's not to say that Rare resisted the temptation to play to the crowd, though. It hardly warrants a mention that all the favourite modes are here, from standard deathmatch (killcount), a team version, Capture the Flag and the node gathering domination mode Territorial Gains. Of the four, Territorial gains worked best by actually lending some degree of purpose and variety to the unending slaughter. Rare definitely also gets a big thumbs up for including the hugely entertaining Hovercrafts and Jetpacks to climb into and roar around in. Small additions for sure, but ones that help make up for the overall snail's pace of Joanna's running speed and inject a lot of fun into the proceedings.

Give me hope, Joanna

'Perfect Dark Zero' Screenshot jetpac

Jetpacs = enormous fun. Probably the best thing about the whole game, in fact.

On the flip-side there's the Dark Ops multiplayer, which adds a little more flavour thanks to its more tactical, slower-paced approach. Played over a series of rounds, you first get to buy your weapons - Counter-Strike-style - and then earn cash subsequently for kills and accomplishing objectives.

In terms of modes, Eradication is a straight-up last man standing team-based affair, Onslaught is an interesting 'best time wins' defend/attack the base team game, but only gives the defending team one life, against an infinitely respawning opposition. Infection, meanwhile pits the infected against the uninfected, with players scoring points if they either remain uninfected or manage to wipe out the uninfected. Slightly confusing premise, but a lot of fun. Finally, the hilarious team-only Sabotage involves trying to cause as much damage to your opponent's property as possible. Hurrah, endorsed vandalism! Jack Thompson, here's your next case!

We're 2000 words on: what's here? Despite so evidently wanting to provide us with a game in the spirit of its previous shooters, Perfect Dark Zero lacks either the atmosphere or the design brilliance of Rare's previous examples to step out of their shadows. In many senses, it spends too much time gazing fondly back at the past rather than embracing an exciting future. As a result, the single player campaign trips over its own shoelaces in forgetting that keeping the player constantly entertained should always be any game's raison d'être. Too much of the time Rare's needlessly bashing the player over the head and forcing you into a level of trial and error that requires an extensive investment of time from the player before they can really start to have the fun they paid their money for. Any game that demands the player work hard for their fun is asking for trouble in this day and age - and frankly we're baffled by an approach that's completely contradictory to all the messages Microsoft has been sending out over the past six months.

Alone again, or...

'Perfect Dark Zero' Screenshot rabbit

Is a robot doing bunny rabbit ears in this shot?

The fact that the multiplayer angle manages to rescue the package somewhat does save the project from the dire fate you've probably been predicting. Admittedly, the game's best enjoyed this way, but whether the majority of the audience will be rushing to join the Live bandwagon is unknown at this point. Certainly, we Europeans seem a little resistant to doing so, in which case many of you will miss out on the game's real saving grace.

But even with some solid multiplayer gaming on offer, it still only just warrants a seven. When you've battled through all 14 single player levels, played it on co-op and worked your way through some solid multiplayer action, you won’t feel like you've played a next generation title; heck, you won't even feel like you've played the best shooter out this Christmas. It's too evident that it's a decent title designed for the Xbox and belatedly buffed up to an HD shine, and that’s really no way to go about producing a next-gen launch title. Entirely on its own merits, Perfect Dark Zero is not a bad game by any means, but in the context of being as an introduction to the next generation Perfect Dark Zero misses the mark by a disappointing margin. To release a game lacking real spark and inspiration at this stage is not good news for anyone, least of all Rare and Microsoft. Both need to think long and hard about where they go from here.

7/10

Read our Scoring Policy

Perfect Dark Zero is out now on Xbox 360.

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Comments: 1-50 of 204 Next →

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Hunam85
01/12/05 @ 15:38
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Who called the 7 stamp then?

/hats off
Teeth
01/12/05 @ 15:40
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So hold on... not as good as H*SMACK*

/thud
Furbs
01/12/05 @ 15:40
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LOL
/waits for rush of GameRankings links PROVING this score is wrong.
ecureuil
01/12/05 @ 15:41
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Most people predicted 7 for this..
Mirkan
01/12/05 @ 15:42
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Well, I expected 6 really, cause Kameo got 5 and this has guns and deathmatch.
Daan
01/12/05 @ 15:43
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Good score. I'd give it an 8/10, but a 7 will do as well I guess. I'm loving the multiplayer :)
Dizzy
01/12/05 @ 15:43
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>/waits for rush of GameRankings links PROVING this score is wrong.

Hehe.... one *could* provide a gameranking link where ALL lowest scores for 360 games are written by a certain website though.

"It needed to be a GoldenEye-beater, a Halo-killer, a game to send Valve and id back to the drawing board."

I am not sure if Rare really was trying to do that. I think they wanted to have a good FPS for the people who remembered to original with good integration with Live. I am not sure if the ambitions were ever that high. I think MS is leaving that to Bungie... they have more time and a much better platform (Halo) to build on. 7-8 is probably about right I guess.... MS wanted a wide range of good games in different genres as launch games, the really killer stuff can just not be done as a launchgame except in really rare instances (Halo and Mario 64) because of hardware/time constraints.

Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 15:48
octo
01/12/05 @ 15:44
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So it's hard?

Or unfairly hard?

Or just too hard for the mass market?

And rubbery. And glossy when it shouldn't be?

This is one of the most confusing reviews I've ever read, yet I agree almost completely with the score (based on my limited exposure to the unfinished game).
Trendyninja
01/12/05 @ 15:46
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It's nice to see someone who's got the balls to review this game honestly.
krudster
01/12/05 @ 15:46
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It's not that it's too hard - just too hard for the masses.
petebritish
01/12/05 @ 15:46
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I keep wanting to buy a 360 but there really isn't a killer app to justify it. Damn all this hype. Even the missus has said I am surprised that I am not begging for a machine. Please Microsoft bring out a killer title while the wife has the cash.
freedumb
01/12/05 @ 15:50
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They've done a Deus Ex: Invisible War, good, but not as great as the original, and somewhat dumbed down. You only have to look at the character design, and the removal of being a secret agent to be a bounty hunter, and what seems to be a mediocre plot and voice acting that kills the atmosphere of the original.

For some odd reason, I still think the graphic design, and level design of the original actually looks better, then Zero. Everything isn't bump-mapped and normal mapped to the extreme, everything doens't look so rubbery and shiny.

Kameo and PD0 were both last gen titles that have been shoved quickly to the 360 for launch. I'd like to see their new games that are designed FOR the 360.
Edited 3 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:04
Blerk Moderator
01/12/05 @ 15:52
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Fifteen comments and no screaming fanboys yet? I'm disappointed. :-)
Mirkan
01/12/05 @ 15:54
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It'll be so funny when EG realises that all "next gen" games play exactly like current gen games and they'll be forced to drop the attitude and just treat them like.. games.

With PGR3 they couldn't even justify ripping the game apart because it plays exactly like PGR2, so their attitude already has consistency issues.

"THIS IS NEXT GEN!" they cried when they saw what was essentially just a really pretty version of the tried and tested FPS genre, yet graphics doesn't make a game next gen when it comes to reviewing these.

I love it when people have strong principles, and I love it when they completely trip over them and fall on their faces.

Oh well, it'll blow over eventually. If nothing else, it will when the PS3 comes out and Tekken is still Tekken, Killzone is still Killzone and Devil May Cry is Devil May Cry.. all just with prettier graphics.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 15:55
rauper Moderator
01/12/05 @ 15:55
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Blerk: You spoke to soon

Mirkan: Err, do you realise we gave PGR3 8/10 which is a very good score?
Mirkan
01/12/05 @ 15:56
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I do indeed, hence why I used it as an example of a game that plays exactly like a current gen game, but somehow that's okay.
Carlo
01/12/05 @ 15:57
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ROFL!

Perfect Dark Seven out of Ten... That's what they'll call it
oceanmotion
01/12/05 @ 15:57
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Good review. I agree on the negatives. Don't know what Rare was thinking with the art design etc.. Back to the drawing board for Rare. Please no more titles designed for Gamecube/Xbox and then made for the 360. I have'nt played a good Rare game since Donkey Kong I think. Get it sorted Rare espicially the art, UI, AI,, voice etc.. departments. End of rant :D

Also, would the writers stop using that BILLION comment. Microsoft meant the industry as a whole not just them. Get some reading comprehension!
Furbs
01/12/05 @ 15:57
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Mirkan, if you are saying the 360 games play exactly like Xbox games then damn right they should be marked down. Thats not "attitude" thats "whats the point in this costing more?"

We should be looking for more with the new consoles, not just more polygons.
Tomo
01/12/05 @ 15:58
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I see your point Mirkan, if no one else does.
Tomo
01/12/05 @ 15:59
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And I see Furbs point.
nick_f
01/12/05 @ 15:59
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Kameo 5/10
PDZ 7/10

...R4re am cRy
caligari
01/12/05 @ 16:00
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Me thinks Mirkan is feeling a little miffed about the big hole burnt in his wallet.

ALSO, I admit I was wrong...I predicted a CONTROVERSIAL 10/10 for this game. You know, just to be CONTROVERSIAL.

Heh, I bet 360 doesn't have a CAPS LOCK.
Bertie Staff writer
01/12/05 @ 16:02
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I love it when people have strong principles, and I love it when they completely trip over them and fall on their faces.

How ironic
l_p_4_7
01/12/05 @ 16:03
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I must say it doesn't look that great. Halo 2 or Doom 3 (or even Far Cry) running on a top spec PC easily beats it.
thegamesthething
01/12/05 @ 16:03
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"Also, would the writers stop using that BILLION comment. Microsoft meant the industry as a whole not just them. Get some reading comprehension!"

this is coming, right after they own up about Killzone 2 :)

back OT, good review of a relatively competent but unspectacular shooter, seems to me - all that stuff about needing to be a Halo beater is cobblers, but hes nailed PD0 i think, dont give the 360 back to Tom please :)
Dizzy
01/12/05 @ 16:04
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>We should be looking for more with the new consoles, not just more polygons.

Like what?
caligari
01/12/05 @ 16:04
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Also if I was an alien / terrorist / demon trying to take over the world, I would make sure I keep ALL THE FREAKING EXPLOSIVE BARRELS in the cellar.

JUST INCASE some @sshole decides to start blowing them up with his pistol and ruins my plans for world domination.
Blerk Moderator
01/12/05 @ 16:06
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Please no more titles designed for Gamecube/Xbox and then made for the 360.

This is RARE we're talking about - these two games will be all you'll get from them this generation. They'll be starting work on Xbox 720 titles now. :-)
jmctavish
01/12/05 @ 16:07
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Why critisicise this game for not dumbing down? Surely a challenging game is a good thing? I remember constantly restarting Goldeneye levels on the higher difficulty settings, but it was still great fun.
Bertie Staff writer
01/12/05 @ 16:08
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There's loads of potential for the Xbox 360, it's a shame that it looks as though we'll be waiting a while for people to realise it.
oceanmotion
01/12/05 @ 16:08
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l_p_4_7

Technically PDZ wipes the floor with those titles but everything else is just an opinion.
Furbs
01/12/05 @ 16:09
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Dizzy - Better AI, larger, free roaming environments, better physics etc etc etc. I'm no game designer though...Dont get me wrong, I'm not in the "innovation is king" camp at all, and I accept no launch title is ever going to really show off a machine. It seems to me though, other than graphically, theres nothing here (or the EA games, or Kameo) which couldnt be done on something we all have in our homes already.
Trendyninja
01/12/05 @ 16:09
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I've watched loads of videos for this game and in my opinion it looks unbelievably boring to play. It just doesn't have that must pick up and play vibe for me. I’ve mentioned to some people over at the OXM 360 forum about the overly shiny graphics but was told it just a graphical style that looks neat. Well I agree with the EG review, it looks way too much, almost as if everything is wet?! Talk about overkill.

OXM gave this a 9 out of 10 for those that might be interested.
Mirkan
01/12/05 @ 16:09
#35
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Furbs; Personally I'm looking for good, enjoyable games, and I think it's rediculous to expect more just because it's got more power.

To this day we still gladly play "old school" games now and then, and the reason there's even an expression called "old school" in relation to games is because we somehow consider old concepts less viable as we go along.

The notion that games have to become more complex and change is justified, and that kind of change does come regardless, but neglecting what's essentially just a very well crafted and fun game because it's on a new platform is just something I don't understand.

Maybe consoles bring this on themselves by having clear generation jumps, but you just don't get that with PCs that change constantly over time.

So what if it was coming out on Xbox before and was touched up and put on the 360? What harm is there in aknowledgning a job well done even though the format it's presented on is different from where it started out as long as it's a good game by "current gen" standards? I just don't get it.

PGR3 got away with it on this site, but PDZ and Kameo have a harder time obviously. I dunno just what contributes to that, but it's a gut feeling they just don't sit as well from a design and content standpoint. That's difficult and unfair to speculate about though, despite the fact that I jokingly said that guns and multiplayer was the reason earlier.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:15
krudster
01/12/05 @ 16:15
#36
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Mirkan...all of the criticisms would have applied if the game was on Xbox. But the fact it's on a hugely powerful console means the consumer has every right to expect more than "more of the same".

For a start MS is charging £5-£10 more for it!
Trendyninja
01/12/05 @ 16:17
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Mirkan you make some good points and mostly of which I agree with. But don't you think it's vitally important for a console launch game to be able to do something completely new and refreshing? Which lets be honest here, is exactly what Halo did.

As an Xbox game PD0 would have probably scored a very high 9, possibly a 10. But for a next gen game, it seems not to be impressing a lot of people. I find it worrying and very disappointing. RARE should have stuck their heels in firmer and kept to their policy of "It'll be ready when it's ready".
Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:17
freedumb
01/12/05 @ 16:18
#38
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But it pretty much IS an xbox game that was moved to the 360 by mircosoft. Its more a spruced up port than a real next gen title.

Edited 4 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:24
Wrobel
01/12/05 @ 16:19
#39
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@Krudster

For those picking up a 360 tommorow anyway what games would you recomend they get?
d0bbo
01/12/05 @ 16:20
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I don't see why people expect 'next-gen' games to contain some kind of spangly new gameplay experience. It's better graphics... and that's about it. OK so there's more grunt for AI and bigger environements etc., but these are just the same old games made by the same old developers - sequals that look very nice, but are essentially sequels none the less.
squeakyg
01/12/05 @ 16:21
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"The real killer is the distinctly rubbery, glossy feel about everything. If you're not cringing at the latex enemies and their bizarre ragdoll death animations then you'll baulk at the artificial shininess of the world around you. Rocks should be gritty and harsh, not slick and shiny."

I hear you. I never thought the whole "normal mapping" thing looked good. It makes everything look like moulded plastic. Brick walls look like a plastic mould of a brick wall, metal walls look like a plastic mould of a metal wall, etc.

It isn't being used as a step towards realism. How can I believe the environment I'm playing in is real, when it looks like I'm inside a cheaply-made plastic-moulded set? It adds so much artificiality.
Trendyninja
01/12/05 @ 16:21
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freedumb, well I guess that makes the 7 score even more fitting. :)
Furbs
01/12/05 @ 16:22
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Thats fair enough Mirkan, but lets suppose you have something like King Kong. Its identical on both systems, in everyway except the graphics, even though the Xbox 1 version is taxing the system more and is £10 cheaper (not to mention you dont have to buy a new console and TV to appreciate it to its fullest). Isnt it fair that the cheaper game gets a better mark, even if both versions are great?

The_Bends
01/12/05 @ 16:23
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The point is EG consistently reviews games in context. It reviewed B&W2 in relation to the hype and the problems of the first game and therefore gave it a scathing review slightly at odds with an average score. They're doing the same thing with the launch of the 360. You can't simply say 'well, this is the same as the title from 5 years ago that blew us away but this has better graphics sooooo 11/10', you have to move on. In the light of a next gen console the scale should be somewhat revised because something will come along and blow everyone out of the water with a true 10/10 game. If you give all the launch titles strong scores because of their impressive visuals and 3 year old gameplay then who's going to notice.

The launch is a crucial time for any console and games that appear at this time should be reviewed with a critical eye.
krudster
01/12/05 @ 16:23
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Condemned is the only one I'd personally buy, followed by PGR3 and Call of Duty 2 (if I hadn't already got it on PC). If I had to buy one, though, Condemned.
Trendyninja
01/12/05 @ 16:27
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That is the only game I will have for tomorrow Krudster.
Mirkan
01/12/05 @ 16:28
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Krudster; That's exactly my point! Because generation jumps are so obvious with consoles, people expect a significant change, whereas PC games don't have that and will never suffer that same fate. PDZ is coming out a couple of months after Far Cry Instincts, and because it's on a "next gen" console it can't be "as good" to get as good a score. Subsequently, a game that actually plays worse that came out months ago could get a better score than a game that comes out now that for all intents and purposes is a better game.

I just find it to be a weird philosophy.

As I said, the power will eventually lead to different/bigger/more ambitious games, but the fact that a really good game can't just be that to get a good score sends a weird message to the countless readers who actually take the reviewer's score as fact. They will interpret it as a 7 by today's standards, not by some kind of estimation of expectations that differ from gamer to gamer anyway.

I couldn't make my argument apply to plain Xbox games even if I tried, because I hardly see how the problem would arise in the first place. :)
Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:33
smelly
01/12/05 @ 16:28
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I don't see why people expect 'next-gen' games to contain some kind of spangly new gameplay experience. It's better graphics... and that's about it.

Well in that case, why on hell pay 400+ quid for just better graphics?

Back in the day, when i were a lad and all that, the difference between spectrum and amiga graphics was EXTREME, but yet still people kept with their spectrums for the games. This is no-where near the same leap, but yet people are buying into it.

Why? For the exact same reason that crap like westlife/xfactor/etc sells : Hype/fashion.

One of these days people will buy music/movies/games because they are worth listening to/watching/playing (respectively), until then, people will be happy playing shit, better graphics.

But hey, at least we're not all still playing Street fighter 2 v539324 "kens new haircut edition".


Carlo
01/12/05 @ 16:28
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"Predictably, such high tech espionage comes at a price; your detection is ruthlessly punished by well-armed and heavily armoured enemy patrols just itching to put bullets into your perfectly coiffeured skull."

So they tried to make it like MGS??!?!?!?! (Edit Opps!)

/and failed
Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:57
Dizzy
01/12/05 @ 16:29
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>But don't you think it's vitally important for a console launch game to be able to do something completely new and refreshing? Which lets be honest here, is exactly what Halo did.

Maybe.. but only Halo and Mario 64 have been able to pull this off.

I am pretty impressed with 360 launch lineup (as will be many buyers). A wide selction of good to great games, and the amazing stuff will come probably a bit later.

>Well in that case, why on hell pay 400+ quid for just better graphics?

Are you still using casette tapes? No.. so things change... new haredware comes along and people upgrade. Yeah that is exactly what it is "an upgrade" not some kind of breakthrough in computing power like some companies would like to portray their product.

>Dizzy - Better AI, larger, free roaming environments, better physics etc etc etc. I'm no game designer though...

Well I am ;) and I agree and I am sure those things will come in the second wave of titles. It is not because new hardware is here, that suddenly new incredible new gaming styles will be invented. EG has made the really big error of thinking that next gen consoles will suddenly bring next gen gaming (what *is* next gen gaming anyway? people still have to invent it). Everything in hardware and software is evolution and slowly things improve and new stuff is introduced. Maybe peopel are just comparing everything with Halo (a VERY rare thing that happened there). Compare it to other console launch titles and 360 looks like it's the best thing since sliced bread.

There are some things that game designers are working on right now (not gonna go into details here) and these new ideas are a direct result of the multi-core design of the new console(s). So the work is just starting. Rare didn't have this luxury... but they made a pretty good game.

That being said... the 360 *is* actually breaking some ground in the online field. The new Live stuff and Arcade is incredibly well done (for developers) and I am sure a lot of cool things will come out of that.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 01/12/05 @ 16:33

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