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Hands-On Impressions Of Perfect Dark XBLA

Fans of the Nintendo 64 classic Goldeneye have been clamoring for an Xbox Live Arcade re-release for years, but legal issues have prevented it from becoming a reality. Thankfully, the licensing issues that plagued a 007 revival don’t apply to its spiritual followup Perfect Dark. At the X10 conference, I had a chance to sit down with creative director (and inspiration for the much-maligned Klobb weapon) Ken Lobb as he guided me through a hands-on demonstration of the upcoming title.

What was made clear right out of the gate is that this is a 100% faithful remake of the Rare classic. Every single mode, every single weapon, and every bot type from the N64 original is back and just how you remembered them…except a whole lot prettier. Everything has received an immediately noticeable visual upgrade while still staying true to the original art style. Longtime GI readers may remember that our own Andrew Reiner was a baddie in the original, although it sadly appears that his low-res mug will not be making a return appearance.

“There’s a lot of stuff from Perfect Dark that I’m surprised people haven’t ripped off yet,” says Lobb. One such feature is the Counter-Ops multiplayer mode that put one player in the position of a random enemy. Once dispatched by Joanna, they’re redeployed as another enemy within the level. It’s a mode that’s been virtually ignored by multiplayer gaming since the original PD, but it’ll be back this March (and with an acceptable framerate for the first time).

All of the multiplayer challenges are back and can be performed with 2-4 players. Each is identical to the original game, with some insanely difficult objectives such as pitting four human players against four PerfectSims. All of these bots are back as well, meaning you’ll be committing MeatSim genocide like it’s 2000 all over again. Adding to the replay value is the fact that Perfect Dark will be released with 20 achievements – a first for an XBLA game. They’ll add up to the standard 200 gamerpoints, but the eight extra objectives should do a good job of ratcheting up the game’s replayability.

A proper Goldeneye port may be an impossibility, but this XBLA Perfect Dark is about as close as you can get without a lawsuit. Three stages from Goldeneye are back and almost identical to how you remember them (although “Facility” is renamed “Felicity”). Adding to the nostalgia factor are the “Classic” weapon loadouts. Settings such as Classic Power or Classic Grenade will have you running around with Golden Magnums (Golden Gun), KLO1313 (Klobb) automatics, and Lasers (not from Moonraker, they promise) just like in Goldeneye.

Lobb understands that modern FPS gamers are used to a different control scheme than the N64 could provide, so he’s included two more modern control options – Spartan and Duty Calls. It may not be subtle, but Halo and COD fans will know exactly what to do once the game starts.

As a huge fan of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, I was thrilled with how this remake is looking. It features a fantastic visual overhaul and controls beautifully, and should be a no-brainer purchase at 800 MS points for fans of Rare’s classic.

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