The lights are on
Feeling a little desire to experience a retro game, a game with that seems to have created a lot of fond memories for some gamers, I downloaded Perfect Dark for Xbox 360. I know nothing about the original, other than it was supposedly a first of its kind. And awesome. Everyone says it's awesome. I Googled "Perfect Dark sucks" after playing it, and the results led me to believe I was the first person to have ever typed that in to a search bar.
If this was one of the first multi-player, stroy-driven first person shooters on a home console, I have no idea how gamers weren't insanely disappointed. If this is how GoldenEye 007 played, I have no idea how Rare ever gained enough momentum to create a successor.
Perfect Dark is an absolute eyesore. The walls, stairs, and doors all look nearly identical. The disjointed story leads to levels that have enemies looking nearly invisible against the similar colored backdrops. The doors, levers, switches often require the "press (A) until something clicks" method. Sometimes I discovered I had to shoot a switch or panel to move on, only after wandering aimlessly to the point of frustration that I just looked up the solution on a walk-through. As much as I hated the look of the IR Scanner, I found myself using it every opportunity I had (especially in the last couple levels) just to navigate and spot enemies. And that story I mentioned? In a span of 8 missions, I'm suppose to believe this agent is chilling with a squad of little gray aliens, set out to destroy another alien species that only appear with 30 minutes left in the game? F*cking random as hell. One minute I'm on Air Force One saving the President, 8 minutes later I'm in the Arctic killing a duplicate President with an alien named after a rock and roll superstar. Okay, so that was a little bit entertaining.
The hardest part for me to stomach, and ultimately where all of my irritation was building from, was how much trial and error was required. There's an unclear amount of Objective details. This leads to a lot of aimlessness. There's also no checkpoint system. Just like old school cartridge games, Perfect Dark has Missions, sometimes broken in to Levels. Levels and Missions can be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes long. When Objectives are completed throughout the Levels, there should be a save. Plain and simple. Say whatever the f*ck you want about being spoiled by the checkpoints of more modern games, I now find anything else unacceptable. I played the last mission for over an hour. I never actually died because of my own error. Every failure and reset was due to the broken mechanics of Perfect Dark. Falling in to a canyon because the protagonist can't properly climb a ladder. Walking on air as if I'm on a solid ground, but can't reconnect with the actual ground, so I fall and die again. The "pillars" I'm suppose to destroy aren't marked on my HUD, so I waste limited ammo (causes Objective failure) destroying the wrong ones. Multiple times. Unacceptable.
For what it's worth, I played to completion. I hated almost every single firefight, but I learned the system and I beat it. There were some satisfying moments involving sniper rifles, but the zoom and "down the sights" aiming is just plain wobbly and inaccurate. The story has its ridiculous and nearly-fun moments, but the gameplay is pretty awful. If I gained nothing else from this experience, it's how much progress the genre has made in such little time.
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