Perfect Dark N64

Developer: Rare Ltd
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: May 22, 2000
Platforms: Nintendo 64

The unofficial sequel to Goldeneye, full of intrigue, mystery, conspiracy and did everything Goldeneye did perhaps even better.

Perfect Dark from the first mission showed an incredible amount of polish. At first glance you could tell the graphics were improved and they had a more distinct futuristic style. The game takes place in the year 2023 your first mission as you play as protagonist Joanna Dark investigating the Datadyne Corporation. You infiltrate a massive sky scraper swinging down from a rope jumping out of a drop ship. The lighting effects amid the dark environment and sneaking in was incredibly impressive as it was just on another level than Goldeneye.

New features such as slick gun reload animations, enemies bodies would stay longer on the ground, blood would splatter from enemies heads and land on the wall. Guards would talk and beg not to be shot if you decided to disarm them proclaiming "I have a family".

Perfect Dark was built on an enhanced version of the Goldeneye engine. The game also required the N64's 4 MB ram expansion pack for full use of the game bringing the total ram up to 8 MB. The extra ram allowed you to run the single player missions, co-operative mode, counter op mode, 4 player split screen and a higher resolution option.

The game did suffer from slower frame rates at times particularly in the Combat Simulator with 4 players and many explosive type weapons such as Mines, the Devastator, Rocket launcher or Super Dragon. The game also had a faster paced mode that sped up the walking speed making for some fantastic fast paced game play. Perfect Dark was incredibly ambitious having more features than most current games it really was setting a whole new benchmark for features and content on consoles.

During Perfect Darks three year development original project lead Martin Hollis left Rare in 1998 14 months into development of Perfect Dark. Dave Doak left Rare in late 1998 with other Goldeneye alumni Steve Ellis, Karl Hilton, Graeme Norgate and Lee Ray who also worked on Perfect Dark. The team setup Free Radical Design and develop Timesplitters for the PS2 launch. This left Mark Edmonds as project lead as he had most familiar with the games engine.

When I heard about Perfect Dark and talked to people proclaiming it was better than Goldeneye I thought "how can this be, there is no way". I was blown away by the game upon playing it the game and back then I had no idea at the time that many of the key people working on the game had left half way through development. They still managed to create an epic game despite loosing a good portion of that team.

Single Player Overview

Sneaking into Datadynes underground facility, saving the mysterious Dr. Carol a sentient levitating talking laptop device sounds absurd. Then having to back track out and fight your way back up the building destroying an attack ship along the way. I was never into sci-fi but overall the game had hints of the X-Files, Blade Runner and other conspiracy stories with UFO's in area 51 inspired by famous allegid Roswell New Mexico crash in 1947.

Like Goldeneye you visit many different environments, Carringtons Villia where you must rescue Daniel Carrington Head of the Carrington Institute to which Joanna works. The actual institute serves as dual purpose as there is a level to which you must fight off the Skedar an evil Alien Race who are fighting against the Maian's whom you end up having to help. The institute also serves as a home base where you can go at any time to earn medals on the shooting range, do other obstacle type courses and scenarios for training.

Levels like Chicago where you must hack a flying cab to cause a distraction and sneak into the G5 Building you must also plant a remote mine to plan and have an escape route for the next level. The G5 Building you must use your stealth abilities to spy on a conspirators meeting with a hollograph device, decript a safe and retrieve Dr. Caroll's backup disk and detonate the remote mine to escape the building.

Area 51

Things get even more interesting as you must sneak into Area 51, here a few things you can do are planting a comms rider bug on an antenna, destroy an interceptor and can ride a hover bike. Having multiple paths the player has the option of trying to sneak through an active mine field or open the front gate. You end up having to go into underground via a large freight elevator into the lower complex. Once successfully infiltrated you must meet up with Jonathan another agent of the Carrington Institute.

You keep going deeper into Area 51 using various freight elevators, moving explosive box's or using secondary functions on your gun to blow a hole in a secret wall. You must obtain a lab uniform to gain access to the autopsy lab to save Daniel Carrington's alien friends.

You then must help save a grey alien named Elvis who is one of Carringtons "friends" who ended up being grey aliens to which you discover in the opening cinematic. There are two ways of exiting the mission either taking the UFO out with Elvis or letting Johnathan go with him and escaping on the hover bike through a back door to which you see in the Infiltration mission.

The art style is quite good it feels like a very well imagined Area 51. The levels all seem to be interconnected and well designed with a continuity in mind.

The President and the Skedar

The remaining levels have you saving sneaking into an air base to board Airforce One, rescuing the president after the plane goes down and eliminating a clone and destroying a Skedar ship. You infiltrate the Pelagic II with your new companion Elvis take over the ship and descend into the ocean to board and alien ship.

In the deep sea level you fight against a bunch of men dressed in white shirts and red coveralls reminiscent of Super Mario the character. The level really is set in a horror like setting heavily inspired by the Alien films. Here you work your way through activating and deactivating teleportals, deactivating Cetan megaweapon's, and protecting Elvis as he works on the terminal similar to protecting Natalia in the Complex level of Goldeneye. After completing your objectives you must fight your way back through the ship before it is destroyed almost Metroidesque looking back now.

Joanna must save her co workers in the Carrinton Institute mission before being captured by the alien threat.

In the Attach Ship you must fight with only a combat knife defeating Skedars and meet up with the Maian's fighting off the hanger attack of the Skedar, sabatage the engine and gain control of the bridge.

Skedar Ruins and the King

The final mission you are on the Skedar Ruins and must use your Target Amplifier to locate the correct pillars to destroy them. There are other simpler puzzles such as activating the bridge by moving a block onto a switch. There is a survival horror aspect as there are often dark hallways with Skedar which are very much like the aliens in Alen constant coming at you.

You eventually get to the Battle Shrine where you must defeat the Skedar King by impaling him with part of his own shrine. The game closes with an epic end credits tune and has four more additional levels to unlock utilizing previously used levels.


All in all the game was rather stacked. It was a valiant effort and a worthy successor to Goldeneye. We haven't even really began to scratch the surface of the multiplayer. Levels like Facility returned renamed Felicity with new textures as well as Temple and the Complex. Other notable new levels included Grid which was a take on the office building from The Matrix, Area 52, Villa and more.

There were also 30 Challenges in the Combat Simulator, you could use up to 8 simulants to which they all had different personalities and you could control the sims on your team. The 4 players in split screen mode also returned and all guns had secondary fire modes. New weapons such as the Laptop gun which could be thrown on a wall and turned into and auto turret when needed and the Farsight which allowed players to go into an x-ray mode shoot other through walls.

Perfect Dark was a complete package much like TimeSplitters 2 and Future Perfect in particular you really got your money worth with the game.