After the announcement concerning the Xbox Live Arcade port of Perfect Dark, previously on Nintendo 64, I was excited to know more. So with a little bit of work, I managed to score an exclusive Plus XP interview with producer Nick Ferguson, who is involved in it’s port to the re-release on Xbox 360.
Leon: Thank you for taking the time to answer questions with Plus XP, Nick. After seeing the recent news on Perfect Dark on Xbox Live Arcade, we’re excited to know more. So, on with the interview!
The game has been given a fairly big overhaul, looking a lot cleaner than the original. Have there been any modifications to the game’s engine at all, or is it mostly aesthetic changes?
Nick: The original Perfect Dark codebase has been ported over to the Xbox 360, which means that the game benefits from higher resolution textures, geometry and performance whilst retaining the original game’s unique look and feel. Under the hood there have been a lot of changes to the game engine to keep it looking and feeling like Perfect Dark on N64, and the overall effect has been to improve the aesthetic experience to something that looks fantastic in 1080p HD.
Leon: The original Perfect Dark featured bots that would allow players to play deathmatch modes with AI characters to make up numbers and allow solo play on the multiplayer modes – a good feature that is sadly rare nowadays. Will we be seeing a return of this feature in the XBLA version?
Nick: Yes, I am pleased to confirm that the simulants will return in all their glory. Multiplayer games are still capped at 12 entities, but this can now comprise eight human players and four simulants (the original game was capped at four human players and eight simulants). Of course, if you want to play as a single human against 11 DarkSims, be our guest!
Leon: Great to hear that! Will this option be available in the online mode, or local only?
Leon: With an improved multiplayer engine compatible with online play, I assume this will be a bigger focus than in the original version. Will there be any new features we can look forward to?
Nick: In the original N64 game, the classic weapons (based on GoldenEye guns) could only be used in single player. We’ve brought them into multiplayer as a series of Classic weapon sets, so players can now use the GoldenEye weapons on GoldenEye levels for the first time since, er, GoldenEye.
It’s no good supporting LIVE if you can’t find someone to play against, so the game supports a variety of matchmaking scenarios across both Solo and Team modes. In addition, Private Custom Games are supported so you can set up that painfully obscure game scenario you used to play with your friends all those years ago.
Aside from the boost to eight players, the game engine now runs at a solid 60 frames per second at 1080p. This makes a big difference, particularly in four-player split-screen where players can now have more resolution in their split-screen game window than they did in the original N64 single player game!
Leon: It has been said that there is to be new support for online co-op and counter operative modes. Can you tell us anything more about this addition?
Nick: The game supports two players over Xbox LIVE, in addition to the classic split-screen experience. Players will be able to search for games on any mission, and we hope it opens up the excellent Co-Op and Counter-Ops modes to many more players.
Leon: I’ve heard that maps from GoldenEye will be included in the game’s multiplayer modes – is this perhaps a sign that we won’t be seeing a similar port of the popular Bond FPS in the near future?
Nick: The Felicity, Temple and Complex maps which were included in the original N64 Perfect Dark are available in the XBLA version. No other maps from GoldenEye have been added to the game, and we have nothing to announce regarding DLC at this time.
Leon: Xbox Live gives us a lot of options for competing aside from online play – are we likely to see any leaderboards or similar features included?
Nick: Yes, the game has full support for Leaderboards on every mission from Agent to Perfect Agent. In addition, there is an Overall Leaderboard based on Percentage Completion. We also have 20 Achievements, which is a first for an XBLA title.
Leon: Another modern feature is the option for DLC to be added to games. Do you know whether it’s likely there will be any additional content available for download at a later date?
Nick: 4J have only just begun to recover from finishing the game, and you’re already asking for DLC? Well, that’s a good sign… but the honest answer is that we are going to wait and see how Perfect Dark performs on Xbox LIVE Marketplace before making any decisions. We should probably wait until at least one person gets 201% complete before making a decision.
Leon: Do we have an official release date for the UK? I need to set a date for my calendar!
Nick: Perfect Dark launches in the UK on 17th March 2010 – the same day as the USA. That’s right… no need to import the NTSC version this time around!
Leon: Excellent! Do you have anything else you would like to let us know?
Nick: Everyone involved has been working extremely, EXTREMELY hard to get Perfect Dark for Xbox LIVE Arcade finished and we really hope you enjoy the final result.
We know Perfect Dark fans were told the game was coming “this winter” back at E3 in 2009 and didn’t get much more information than that until X10 a few weeks ago. We managed to get some screenshots out in the interim, but for the most part everyone involved has been heads-down for the last six months getting the game done.
We appreciate that people wanted to know more about release dates and the like but (contrary to popular belief on t’internet) the game was only finished recently and we didn’t want to pluck a date out of thin air and then miss it.
My point being: Sorry for the wait, PD fans – we honestly didn’t have an official date till a few weeks ago!
Leon: Thank you again for your time, Nick. It was a pleasure hearing from you.
So there you have it – it sounds like all good news, with plenty to look forward to. Make a note in your calendars – 17th of March will see the UK release of Perfect Dark on Xbox Live Arcade – definitely something worth getting excited about.