Friday, January 29, 2010

Remember...Perfect Dark


For my first Remember... blog post, I thought I would bring to everyone's attention one of my favorite video games of all time: Perfect Dark.

In May 2000, a couple years before Rare sold its soul to Microsoft, the company came out with this awesome gem for the Nintendo 64. On the heels of its previous FPS hit, GoldenEye - which had released three years prior - Rare raised the bar in Perfect Dark with enhanced AI, unique weaponry, and an exciting storyline that took players across numerous levels with many different objectives that depended on what difficulty level you were playing on.

The game itself was one of the few to require the expansion pack, a hardware upgrade that was created to boost the memory of the N64 from 4MB to 8MB. There were other games that took advantage of the expansion pack but didn't require it to play the actual game. Perfect Dark can be played in multiplayer without the pack but requires it to embark on the solo gameplay.

The story begins on Earth, in the near future, and centers around Joanna Dark, a highly skilled operative for the Carrington Institute. The Institute is an R&D organization on the surface, but is really a clandestine espionage corporation which has an alliance with an alien race known as the Maians. The Carrington Institute is at odds with dataDyne, a defense contractor that has created ties with another alien race known as the Skedar - more brutal than the Maians, which they happen to be at war with. Joanna is sent on numerous missions to help stop the Skedar and dataDyne from completing their plans for world domination.

Aside from stellar solo gameplay, the game sported what I believe to be one of the best multiplayer platforms known to console. With the ability to customize the whole multiplayer experience from maps, weapons, and music that become unlocked via solo play, to the simulants whose customization includes appearance, skill level and even personality, Perfect Dark changed the face of multiplayer forever. I still sit around my 32" television on a regular basis owning my friends and family in a good game of multiplayer.

However outdated some may think the game has become, I think Perfect Dark still pushes the envelope when it comes to attention to detail and storyline being expressed in a video game.The developers even went so far to include their own faces on a lot of the characters and simulants and even hid a wedge of cheese in EVERY level of the game. It is rumored that this was originally supposed to be part of a time trial, where after you get every piece of cheese, you would unlock a super weapon, but the programmers apparently ran out of memory space to include it.

Perfect Dark has since expanded into the world of fiction with two novels, Perfect Dark: Initial Vector and Perfect Dark: Second Front, and a comic mini-series known as Janus' Tears.  There was also a Perfect Dark game on the Game Boy Color, and they have since come out with Perfect Dark: Zero on the Xbox 360. All of these take place before Perfect Dark on the N64, acting as prequels of sorts.

If you own an N64 and haven't checked out Perfect Dark, I would highly suggest you do so. You can find copies pretty easily at your local used video game shop or online. Perfect Dark will always be at the top of my favorite games list, sitting back and having drinks with Half Life 2 and Final Fantasy VII. Good times.

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