Like Resident Evil Code Veronica, Perfect Dark is one of the year's high-profile games that
every reviewer risks his life reviewing. Giving this game anything less than an A could result in
Of course, this is probably not how Nintendo would like me to start off this review, but I'm
pissed, so I don't care.
I am pissed because I just saw a segment on MSNBC about video game violence. Most of the
piece (at least most of what I saw) focused on Perfect Dark.
The segment gave the impression that Nintendo was suddenly producing more adult games
(Conker, anyone?) to catch up with the market, and that market share was more important to
Nintendo than America's youth, or something to that effect.
This report just goes to show you how clueless mainstream media outlets can be with respect to
video games. Where was the media in 1997 with its reports on GoldenEye 007? Perhaps the
real question is, Where was Columbine in 1997?
The fact that people are so clueless about the ratings system (most parents I talk to have never
seen them, even though they are far more prominent in size than movie ratings) shows that there
is virtually no effort on behalf of parents to investigate what their kids are playing, other than to
listen to the politically-motivated talking asses that appear as guests on the evening news.
Compared to the amount of "mature" rated films, the video game industry is a land of Barney.
To be fair, I do support enforcement of the ratings system in stores, but the finger-pointers who
blame video games need to give the industry a lot more credit for its content labeling and low
amount of violence on average.
Wrapping up the MSNBC issue, I found it very interesting that news anchor Brian Williams
completely changed the subject at one point by asking, "What is the X-Box?," as if he didn't
know. After the question was answered ("It's Microsoft's new console system."), the discussion
returned to the original subject as if the X-Box plug never existed. I was disgusted. What does
the X-Box have to do with video game violence? The damn thing isn't even out yet.
What MSNBC's panelists failed to consider was the relative quality in violent games. If people
want to bash Duke Nukem for the crap that it is, fine, but bashing Perfect Dark is opportunistic
and unfair. I can see the thought process now. Big brand name (Nintendo) + violent game
(Dark) = massive publicity.
Perfect Dark is not perfect by any means. The graphics are a tad fuzzy and not very detailed;
slow-down problems become an issue for multi-player modes, even with an Expansion Pak.
The story is more ambitious than one would expect, with alien species and a trip to the bottom of
the Pacific Ocean. The most popular modes, however, are the ones with no story at all.
The multi-player modes include an option to play with a total of 12 characters, composed of four
human-controlled friends sitting in your house and eight "simulant" robots controlled by the
You can also check out the co-operative mode, where two players work as a team via split
screen, as well as the counter-operative mode (not seen in GoldenEye), where you and a friend
dissolve your friendship by battling against each other in a unique way.
Once you die, you inhabit the body of the nearest enemy to your friend. In fact, the game
includes a virtual suicide pill, which allows you to kill yourself on purpose in case you get
trapped or just wander too far away from your challenger friend.
I love how the crosshairs seem to float right onto your intended targets. This little feat of
software engineering really ups the pace from GoldenEye 007. Speaking of engineering, the
game's artificial intelligence is able to identify friend versus foe, and act accordingly.
Another great feature is the 16 x 9 widescreen option.
Control-wise, the game does not break any new ground. The controls of first-person shooters
always seem a little floaty, but this isn't exactly a game that could benefit from a third person
perspective, or is it?
Each of the 35 weapons has a secondary firing feature, but switching between the two is often
awkward. Thankfully, you don't really have to switch if you don't want to.
Perfect Dark really does say good-bye to GoldenEye. I was not a huge fan of GoldenEye; I
thought the multi-player modes got old quickly. With Perfect Dark, Rare was able to focus more
on the development of these features, and the results are very successful.
July 28, 2000: New info added. Being punched results in blurry vision. You can shoot the
lights out and use night vision goggles on purpose. Simulants can friend or foe depending on
particular multi-player game. One weapon (Far-Sight XJ-220) lets you see through walls when
sniping in multi-player, so you can't just camp out and wait for your foe to round the corner.