On today twenty years ago, one among the foremost beloved games of all time got a sequel that wasn’t technically a sequel in the least . After the large success of GoldenEye 007, developer Rare knew it wanted to form a sequel to top its system-defining movie tie-in but also was unsure if it wanted to figure within the confines of Bond again. When a rights bidding war emerged for the power to form a Tomorrow Never Dies game, the choice was cemented, and excellent Dark was born.
Despite the property switch, Perfect Dark is extremely much a sequel to GoldenEye. In some ways it’s GoldenEye turned up to eleven; detail is now dense enough that the RAM-boosting N64 Expansion Pak accessory was required to even start the campaign missions. Small details in GoldenEye like enemy reactions to being shot in specific places are now obvious . Levels are larger and more dynamic with lighting effects that at the time boggled the mind. The story is delivered not just via pre-mission briefing notes and subtitles, but through full voice acting.
All of this adds up. Let’s be clear: Perfect Dark is best than GoldenEye. Yes, that game is attached to a classic film outing for a personality that’s a world icon – but as a computer game , Perfect Dark is best by just about every metric, full of features and depth.
It isn’t all just an incremental sequel to the 007 adventure, however. Gone are the admittedly thrilling rearrangements of the familiar Bond theme, replaced instead by a score thick with atmosphere and indicative of the game’s tone. That element of the sport may be a triumph, too – a story that’s tonally a dystopic, Blade Runner-like fantasy thriller laced with spy story tropes – but just for a short time , before it takes a become campy alien intrigue.
At first it’s corporate espionage, sneaking into rival corporate offices to steal back technology. this is often the little bit of Perfect Dark people remember, and that’s fine. on the other hand it gets progressively campier – a visit to Area 51 to rescue an alien called Elvis, saving the President aboard Air Force One, underwater bases, and ultimately a visit to an alien world to save lots of the day. It’s mad, brilliant, and completely different to Bond.
Protagonist Jo Dark, inspired a minimum of partially by La Femme Nikita, The X-Files’ Scully and even Joan of Arc (Joanna Dark, get it?) is not any mere Lara Croft clone – she was envisioned as something more, as professional and impressive as Bond. She, too, is great. Five years later we’d see her again with little of this charm, however – as an impetuous teenager in Perfect Dark Zero. That game captures a number of the magic of the first , especially in its DarkOps multiplayer, but in many other ways it fumbles, partially presumably because the shadow of Halo loomed large over the sequel, diluting elements that made its predecessor great.
Anyway, Happy Twentieth Birthday to Perfect Dark, an enthralling shooter that proved just how well it’d aged with a quick , high frame rate Xbox Live Arcade port. Twenty years may be a while , and an excellent time for reflection. So let’s reflect and say this: it’s time to bring Perfect Dark back.
I covered this in our list of top games Xbox should bring back on the Xbox Series X, but Perfect Dark may be a perfect chance for Xbox Game Studios to recreate a prestige property – and it’s the pieces in situ to define itself as a really different property to what Microsoft already has available.
Xbox has shooters – but the first Perfect Dark is quite that. As a descendant of GoldenEye, it benefits from open-ended level and objective design that within the present day is merely really represented in IO Interactive’s Hitman titles. Perfect Dark also had difficulty that scales in additional than simply enemy strength and intelligence – the harder the problem , the more you really need to accomplish in any given mission.
Basically, any future perfect tense Dark should be a spy game, not just a shooter. An espionage game featuring tight, exciting shooting with cool weapons that have outlandish alternate fire modes. The word espionage is vital – because this isn’t just another stealth game. Stealth in video games conjures up images of visibility meters and enemies slipping from patrol to aware of combat states and back again. Perfect Dark isn’t quite like that – but it’s all about feeling sort of a spy , albeit you are doing tons more blasting than even the trigger-happy Bond does within the movies.
Through this specific tone and feel, Perfect Dark has the potential to be something more – part shooter, part immersive sim, part something else unique entirely. As Joanna’s forebear said on the large screen in Casino Royale, it’s a chance to be “half monk, half hit-man”.
The time is right; Perfect Dark is about in dystopian way forward for 2020. It’s a year of cyberpunk with a return to Midgar and CD Projekt’s massive RPG looming. And later this year, the MI6 operating number 007 is to be handed to a lady within the upcoming No Time to Die. Just remember: as far as taking up from Bond goes, Jo was there first.
Basically, all of this is often a really great distance of claiming that Perfect Dark is bloody great. So let this be the year, be it a sequel or a reboot. Are you listening, Phil Spencer? Bring it back.
We might yet get our wish, too. Online gaming conspiracy theorists have noticed the brand of latest Xbox studio The Initiative shares its shape and elegance with Perfect Dark villains DataDyne – which studio is functioning on something as-yet unannounced. Fingers crossed.