Back when this title originally released in 2000 I was majorly stoked for it.  You couldn’t find a more rabid fan of the then-uber popular GoldenEye 007 and hearing that this was to be its spiritual follow-up really had me going with a teenage erection.  I was so into the James Bond title that my friends would lend me their cartridge and pay me five bucks to get them the cheat codes, and I got them AUTHENTICALLY.  I’d go through the missions and beat the required times to unlock the codes, and I did it EASILY.  Of course, unlocking the Invincibility code was one of the hardest codes to do but it was completely possible (you just had to have the right random enemy placements loaded in so that Dr. Doak was located right near the end of the level) but I digress as I’ve strayed far from my original topic…

I was ecstatic when I got Perfect Dark.  Never mind that my Nintendo 64 analog stick was all shot to hell, this game was worth owning and wrestling with the inane controller just because IT WAS THAT AWESOME.  Screw the crappy framerate and wonky story; this was the epitome of First Person Shooters god ***!  At the time, anyway.  You could do so many things that I had never witnessed in a FPS before.  Instead of simply choosing if you’d like to play multiplayer or campaign you could actually walk around the Carrington Institute (the central hub of your base of operations) and chat with your teammates, as static as they were.  There was a shooting range for you to practice with your weapons and acquire bronze, silver and gold medals depending on your level of expertise with the weapons, and each different area of the Institute was there to educate you on any number of in-game subjects, from character biographies to device explanations.  Not only that, but it was a great way to foreshadow later events in the game where you’d be called upon to expertly navigate the Institute with the objectives of rescuing hostages and disabling a bomb.  From stealth to all out action stages, this game incorporated a healthy dose of variety.  Its sole sore point was the trial and error gameplay concerning objectives, which were more often than not quite poorly explained.  

Oh, and you don’t need an Expansion Pak this time around.

The graphics are Nintendo 64 quality, except the textures have been completely cleaned up so they don’t include that muddy washed-out Nintendo 64 blur effect, and the resolution has been upped.  No more ridiculous slowdown or freezing when things get way too-hectic, putting an end to gamer frustration when trying to get the one player or challenge mode.  Character models actually look nice this time around, with Joanna having cute baby blues and enemies not looking like unborn fetuses anymore. 

The weapons were all imaginative and not one felt tacked on.  All weapons came packaged with a-then revolutionary second-function setting, which more often than not made your useless weapon extremely lethal in the hands of capable users.  Who can forget the Mega-Man inspired Mauler that when charged delivered a one-hit kill?  The laptop gun whose second function served as a turret that can be placed on nearly any surface?  The CMP150’s essential Lock-On for those who want to plow through the game on Perfect Agent.  Or how about deploying an entire round of tranquilizer darts into an enemy messing up their vision and then nailing them with a lethal injection?  All my friends were hooked on the FarSight XR-20 back in 2000, a one-hit sniper rifle that could track targets through walls.  The Xbox 360 version takes things a step farther and includes weapons from GoldenEye 007 in the multiplayer, which is a nice touch.  They do feel a tad overpowered when compared to their respective firepower in their own game, however.  One more issue I had playing the game on my 360 is that the aiming is MUCH too sensitive even with tweaking the X and Y axis’ sensitivity… so much so that I relied on shooting from the hip.  Just a small little observation for the control freaks out there.

The multiplayer was the main reason to come back and replay this game back then and not much has changed now.  There is so much to customize that many current generation FPS games lack this much flexibility.  You can incorporate up to eight bots to play on your team or against and there are six different kinds of scenarios, ranging from Killcount to your standard Juggernaut and Capture the Flag sets, and there’s an interesting one called Hacker Central (or something like that) in which one party member must hack a computer terminal to get a point while his team mates cover him.  One of the multiplayer’s best features is the fact that your character actually has a stat sheet, and by upping your medals (Accuracy, Headshot, Survivor and KillMaster) you ‘gain levels’ in ranks, establishing your superiority over the rest of your friends if you’re willing to put in enough time and effort.  You could struggle against a team of HardSims and bite, scratch and tear for your victories or you could go against a team of eight MeatSims and wipe the floor with their autistic carcasses, laughing as they drool while shooting at the wall to your adjacent right as you tear them a new orifice through your choice of limb. 

A nice touch with Perfect Dark is the fact that it allows you to assign personalities to these Simulants.  From the revenge seeking VengeSim to the ‘kick-the-crap-out-of-you’ PeaceSim (who disarms you from your weapon and screws up your vision in the process) there isn’t a shortage of A.I. personalities that will extend your gaming time with the game’s multiplayer mode.

There are three extra modes incorporated in the game.  The first is Challenge Mode, where you and three of your friends can play multiplayer matches with a set amount of handicaps or parameters.  These start out easy enough, but soon ramp up in difficulty to the point of expletive proclamation and controller chucking.  My advice is to take them slow and if frustration sets in do something else, or you WILL end up breaking some household appliance.  In the Nintendo 64 version, completing challenges unlocked new levels and weapons, but in the 360 version all the levels seem to be unlocked from the get-go.  A small but noticeable boo from me right here.

Then there are the Co-Op and Counter Op scenarios, in which you and a friend play through the Campaign mode in cooperation or opposition.  Co-op is nothing new, we’ve seen it included with many a game in our current console generation, but back then this was a revolutionary incorporation that was actually a selling point for the game… if it didn’t freeze all the freaking time.  Counter Op, which a friend actually plays as an enemy and tries to hinder your progress, suffered from the same problem.  Both these modes have been fixed with their framerate and freezing problems, so enjoy yourselves!

Lastly, anybody notice how all the characters all seem to always have their hands curled up into fists?  Even when they’re shooting their guns.  Must make wiping their posteriors an interesting ordeal.  This game was worth forking over sixty-five bucks in 2000 on the Nintendo 64 with crap graphics and frequent slowdown.  Now it’s selling on Arcade for a ridiculously low-price with all the game’s subtle nuances tweaked and fixed.  What the heck are you waiting for?  Even if you don’t enjoy First Person Shooters you owe it to yourself to purchase this classic and have it as a part of your collection.   Buy it now.  Or else you’ll make Elvis cry.