I never really think of myself as much of an FPS fan, but in truth a large portion of my earlier gaming revolved around the genre – with titles such as Wolfenstein and Doom leading my way in the early years. As I moved to the Mega Drive and the Playstation my vision widened a lot, discovering the joys of RPG and action titles. However, when I got my hands on a Nintendo 64 (perhaps one of the best consoles for the FPS genre in those days, if not even now), I rediscovered the genre with GoldenEye, one of the most loved FPS games of all time.
Now, as much as I enjoyed GoldenEye, there was one game that I enjoyed so much more – Perfect Dark. Sporting perhaps one of the coolest heroines I’d seen since Lara, Joanna Dark, the title blew me away and had me hooked for a long time.
Created by Rare, the same company that brought GoldenEye to the N64, Perfect Dark featured a large focus on solo gameplay – something that’s always suited me. Sure, I love a bit of multiplayer, but in the end a game’s gotta be able to keep me entertained all by itself. With seventeen missions, the game featured lush visuals for its time, with a good range of weapons and some interesting gadgets, akin to a certain Mr Bond. While these missions were good in themselves, the game featured something quite unique – and surprisingly something that’s rarely been done since – multiplayer bots. In this way, the game allowed you to do standard deathmatches with only one player, or allow co-op play against a team of AI opponents. To be honest I was fairly young (about 13), so I can’t vouch for the AI completely, but I remember it being fun and never had a problem with it so I can only assume it was more or less done rather well.
One of the game’s best features was its weaponry. As well as having a large quantity, the game introduced the concept of secondary functions – almost every gun featured a second firing mode, which meant for double the fun, and some interesting abilities. Specific ones I have in mind are the Laptop Gun - which had a decent machine gun mode, doubling up as a portable turret - and the strongest gun in the game was able to activate infra-red vision, and could shoot through walls at a long distance. Insane. On top of that, a firing range accessible to Joanna in her headquarters allowed the player to unlock special versions of all of the weapons – renamed copies of weapons taken from the older GoldenEye title – a fun challenge and rewarding.
So naturally, when I heard about the release of Perfect Dark Zero on the Xbox 360, I was excited. However, perhaps the company hadn’t moved with the times, or they simply didn’t put enough care into the title, but for whatever reason it resulted in a semi-decent bargain bin title that was hardly a worthy sequel, even with the younger Joanna sporting an image rehaul.
Now, although I did play the original quite a lot, sadly I never owned a copy of my own, and I have since longed to get my hands on a copy to relive those old days – but alas, so far I have had no joy. Tracking down a decent quality copy, as well as an N64 Expansion Pak, is quite expensive even in today’s gaming market.
However, today I learned this great news – Perfect Dark is set to be released for download on Xbox Live Arcade within a month or so! According to Rare’s twitter, the title will be seeing a release in Q1, most likely February. There’s been no mention of a PS3 release, so we can assume it won’t be going multiplatform.
The port will include retouched visuals (i.e. slightly better textures and less pointy bits), and full multiplayer support both offline and online. If you’ve played the original, rejoice – and if you haven’t, it might very well be worth a shot, assuming it hasn’t dated too badly. I for one look forward to it eagerly, and will be downloading it upon release.
Let’s just hope they don’t remove the multiplayer bots, I’d love to see more of that in FPS games nowadays.