OverviewRare. The game was met with acclaim by both fans and critics alike. In September 2000, a game was released under the same name for the Game Boy Color. Although it stars the same character and is set in the same universe, it follows a different storyline. Through the use of a Transfer Pak, certain features can be unlocked in the game. Two novels have also been published in the Perfect Dark universe: Perfect Dark: Initial Vector and Perfect Dark: Second Front.
The Perfect Dark engine is a modified version of that of GoldenEye 007. One notable difference is that a headshot in Perfect Dark will instantly kill the target. The graphics are improved, even including the option of playing in 640 x 480 resolution. This also caused the game to suffer more from frame-rate drops than GoldenEye 007. It was also one of the first games to include Dolby Surround Sound. The N64 Expansion Pack is needed for most of the game; the manual suggests that only 35 percent of the game is playable without it.
Martin Hollis, felt the need of a female protagonist. Thus, Joanna Dark was created as Perfect Dark's main protagonist and was named after Jeanne d'Arc, the French pronunciation of Joan of Arc. The game, names and characters are influenced by other works, like the Japanese cyberpunk manga "Ghost in the Shell" and the works of author Phillip K. Dick. Martin Hollis explains that the concept of darkness is suitable in violent video games, taking the first-person shooter Black as an example. There was originally supposed to be a torch used as a gameplay feature, but Rare found it too challenging to implement. Originally, the multiplayer was supposed to feature the possibility of attaching a photo to your character by using a Game Boy Camera, the Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak and then saving it to the cartridge or a Controller Pak.
The game was criticized by flaws in its framerate, but was nonetheless hailed as one of the best Nintendo 64 games, and received several awards including Best Interactive Product 2001 from the Golden Satellite Awards. The game has a 97 percent rating on Metacritic, declaring it of "Universal acclaim".
Microsoft's Major Nelson posted an update on Twitter during the E3 2009 conference confirming Perfect Dark is coming to Xbox Live Arcade. The game is expected to launch fall 2009 and have 1080P screen output compatability.
Plot SynopsisMore granular plot elements are contained in the Missions section.
GameplayPerfect Dark is often referred to as a spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007, due to the strong similarities in gameplay between the two.
The Carrington InstituteWhen the game starts up, the player picks a profile and is given a menu with all the basic play options available. However, you can back out of this menu and walk around the Carrington Institute as Joanna. The Institute is a multi-story complex with a handful of rooms to peruse pre- and post-mission. The first time you back out to the Institute, Daniel Carrington greets you and shows you around the various rooms. They include...
- The Firing Range. Here, weapons the player unlocks in the story mode and the challenges can be used in individually tailored target tests. There is a bronze, silver, and gold test for each weapon and winning enough golds will unlock classic weapons from GoldenEye 007 for use in the single player missions. The computer in the range's antechamber has detailed information about each weapon such as fire rate.
- The Device Room. As in most spy games, Dark has a host of gadgets she uses during her adventure. The Device Room lets you try them out instead of leaving you banging your head against the wall when you misuse them in the real missions, forcing you to start over.
- The Simulation Room. This room has several manuevering exercises you can complete, most improving your skills in evasion and disarming opponents.
- The Data Room. The computer on the left side of this room has personnel information on important characters in the story. This information fills in as you beat the game.
Aside from the rooms with obvious purposes, there is large hangar downstairs with a hovercraft that can be commandeered as well as a few functionally pointless areas outside.
The primary component of the game, Joanna must complete story missions, which are levels strung together by an overarcing plot. There are no save-points in the middle of a level, and the player must restart the level after failing. Each has a set of objectives that varies with the difficulty setting, becoming more involved as the difficulty increases. There are three difficulty settings, but a fourth setting, Perfect Dark, lets the player decide the skill of the opponents. Perfect Dark difficulty is only available after completing every level on Perfect Agent, the game's highest difficulty. There are four bonus missions in the game that lets the player control another character, like Elvis, and some are alongside the main story. Some cheats alter the way the game is played, like Perfect Darkness, which makes the game pitch-black and compensates by giving the player night-vision goggles.
Co-Operative ModeHere, two players can share a split screen while they do the missions. Only the first player, who holds any mission-critical equipment, must survive. A single player can also team up with three AI teammates in this mode.
Counter-Op ModeCounter-Op puts a spin on co-operative play, with one player playing as enemies while the other controls Joanna Dark. The player controlling the enemies have the same low health, but takes control of another enemy after dying. This mode can be exploited to hell by a guard who understands the operative's motives (when boarding Air Force One, Jo dons a disguise and cannot shoot her gun without failing the mission), so some form of non-griefing pact should be arranged before attempting this mode with a friend. Even without griefing issues, completing missions is next to impossible on anything but Agent if the Counter-Op player is a good shot--the story mode guards are not even close to as vigilant or aggressive as a human player.
Combat Simulator ModeThis is the multiplayer mode, where up to four players fight against each other or up to eight CPU opponents. There are several multiplayer gametypes;
- Combat: One kill equals one point. Players spawn in random locations on the map, possibly even in rooms with enemies present. Teams can be arranged.
- Hold the Briefcase: Grab the case and don't let anyone take it. The briefcase randomly spawns into the level at the beginning of the match, then trades hands every time its holder is killed; the case drops to the floor right where the previous bearer died. Holding the case for 30 seconds earns you a point.
- Capture the Case: Each team gets a spawn zone and briefcase they must defend while they attempt to perpetrate the same against their opponents. Three points are awarded for complete capture; that is, grabbing the enemy's case and bringing it back to their home case. The case can only be captured if your own case has not been nabbed.
- King of the Hill: Randomly determined areas of each map must be held for twenty continuous seconds to earn points. If an enemy steps onto the hill while you are capturing it, the timer pauses until they leave. Each teammate on the hill when the timer hits zero is awarded a point.
- Hacker Central: An obscure hybrid of king of the hill and capture the case, Hacker Central puts a computer and a data uplink on the map. In order to score points, a player must grab the Data Uplink, bring it to the computer, and hack it. Many obstacles stand in the way of success in this mode. For one, the Data Uplink must be held in lieu of a weapon while hacking, leaving the hacker totally defenseless. The Data Uplink also doesn't just drop when its holder dies; it respawns in a distant location.
- Pop a Cap: One kill equals two points if you shoot the right person. Pop a Cap assigns a player special target status until they die, making them a more valuable kill. The target gets a point for every thirty seconds they go without dying.
There are also 30 challenges in the Combat Simulator. They are played against bots, or "Simulants" as they are referred to in the game. These can be played by up to four players with escalating bot numbers and difficulty for more players. At first only four challenges are available, but each one you beat unlocks the next one. Beating Challenges rewards the player with extra weapons to use in multiplayer combat.
The bots in Story Mode have personalities and eccentricities that, while amusing, make them terrible stand-off opposition. As such, the Combat Simulator "Simulants" are a group of walking turrets. They can be customized both by attitude and difficulty. The difficulties are (in increasing order) Meat, Easy, Normal, Hard, Perfect, and Dark. Meat Sims are functionally retarded, firing hundreds of rounds at nothing in particular; Dark Sims are perfectly accurate and ruthless. The attitudes give the AI an all-encompassing motive, such as going kamikaze with explosives or hoarding weapons or only attacking unarmed opponents.
MissionsThis section contains a handful of spoilers. Most of the objectives make no sense without them.
DataDyne DefectionThe story starts out in a rush as Joanna Dark is sped to the roof DataDyne headquarters. Apparently, a sapient named Dr. Carroll has all the details necessary to foil an upcoming plot by DataDyne's leader and his advanced coding has given him a personality and moral code that Carrington believes would make him akin to their cause. However, officials at DataDyne have realized this and are planning to erase his memory, so time is of the essence. Joanna makes her way through the office space of the DataDyne HQ, taking down guards and camera systems indiscriminately, as well as knock out DataDyne executive Cassandra de Vries for the RFID necklace she has. She continues this rampage until she reaches the basement floor, where a secret wall panel reveals an elevator down to the laboratories under the facility. Assuming Dr. Carroll must be there. She rides this elevator into the labs.
DataDyne InvestigationJoanna's mission to capture Dr. Carroll remains the primary objective of this mission. However, as the opportunity presents itself, Carrington also gives her many secondary objectives within this most technologically advanced laboratory. The place is loaded to the brim with new weapons and technologies, such as a prototype shield system and the K7 Avenger assault rifle. Jo works her way through building, takes pictures, steals and sabotage sensitive equipment. She evenetually finds Dr. Carroll in a sealed off room where he is revealed be some kind of flying laptop with eyes. Dark isn't sure what to make of this, but Dr. Carroll realizes the danger of the situation and urges her to leave immediately (with him in her care, naturally).
DataDyne ExtractionBy the time she reaches the elevator back up the main structure, the upper branches of DataDyne HQ have prepared for Joanna's attempted rooftop exfiltration. There are many blockades set up with guards waiting for her around every corner. What's more, Cassandra de Vries's personal body guards are stationed throughout the building with station, ready to take down Jo for the slap in the earlier mission. She makes her way slowly and methodically to the rooftop, dispatching all of Cassandra's personal guard and even a hovercopter in the process. When she finally gets to the helipad on the roof, Cassandra is there waiting with two more guards. She offers Joanna a chance at redemption by resigning from the Carrington Institute and coming to work for her. Jo's double tap at de Vries's last two guards and jump back onto the jumpship are her reply.
Carrington VillaSometime after Extraction, Joanna recieves a distress call from the Institute. Apparently, Daniel Carrington is being held hostage in his private villa by DataDyne and they are questioning him about Dr. Carroll. Rather than go into the mission with their pants down the Institute team devise a plan to send a fake terms negotiator a decoy so Dark can get in as close as possible without detection (on Perfect Agent, Jo actually is the negotiator). She snipes the greeting party that comes for the negiotator and then proceeds to cleanse the area of the DataDyne presence. Their numbers are heavy, but they are unaware of her presence, so they behave in an uncoordinated fashion. After eliminating the watch outside, Jo proceeds to the basement of Daniel's chateau where he is being held. She pushes her way into his holding quarters, but she is too late. Daniel already told them where he hid Dr. Carroll. Thankfully, Daniel read into their peripheral conversations and determined that a meeting of minds was happening at the G5 building in Chicago that night. Using all the time available (not much) Jo gets ready for the trip.
ChicagoThe first actual stealth mission in the game, Joanna is charged with making her way into the G5 building undetected by traversing the streets of Chicago. If the guards posted at the building catch wind of her intentions, they will seal off the entrance and effectively eliminate any chance of eavesdropping on the meeting inside. Despite the short time between the two endeavors, the folks back at the Institute have an elaborate ploy already set up for her ingress. A supply drop is placed in a storm drain near the G5 car park entrance. Inside is a remote mine and reprogrammer. Jo sets the remote mine on a blocked off emergency exit at the back of G5 (its placement actually influences the course of events in the next mission) and reprograms a taxi to crash into a robocop, creating a diversion of large enough scale to draw the guards attention and give her window to sneak inside.
G5 BuildingOnce inside, the objective is still far from complete. The G5 building is brimming with security and the guards on the outer layers of this protection possess a new cloaking device technology. After this initial debacle, Jo silently proceeds into a room adjacent to the conference room. She takes down any guard in the area who might sound an alarm and call off the meeting, then disable the laser grid guarding the ventilation system. From here, the CamSpy takes over and Jo sends it into the room where the talking has just started. Apparently, NSA director Trent Easton is conspiring with DataDyne and a "Mr. Blonde" to take command of a deep sea diving vessel. Unfortunately for them, Easton overestimated the President's trust in him. He claims to have a contingency plan ready to go. All he needs now "is a tissue sample." An aircraft interception device is brought up in sparse detail as well.
After the meeting adjourns, Joanna still has to retrieve Dr. Carroll's personality from a vault in the building (they brought it here after invading the villa). The vault cracking goes well, but not unnoticed, and Jo is assailed by every guard from Illinois to Maine as she waits for the vault door to open. After she nabs the personality, she exfiltrates through the exit point she designated with the remote mine in the last mission and gets ready to head back home when a startling development occurs in Area 51. Dark protests the decision to go in favor of making sure of the safety of the President, but Carrington insists and thus she leaves immediately for Nevada, unknowing of exactly what has happened.
Area 51 InfiltrationOn the trip over, Carrington fills in the details for the excursion. An alien craft was shot down by the interceptor alluded to in the G5 meeting. The craft contained a Maian that was en route to the Carrington Institute as assistance to Daniel. The workers in the facility don't actually know what happened, but are ready to perform autopsy procedures on the discovered alien and will kill him if Jo doesn't get there in time. She begins at a desert helipad on the edge on the base where little attentive resistance is found. She first takes care of defenses and communications on the exterior of the complex, shooting the interceptor crafts parked outside and bombing the comm center. She makes her way inside through a hangar elevator, meeting heavy resistance on the other side from national guard troops armed with Dragon assault rifles. She wades through these guards to Jonathan Dark, already waiting inside the building, disguised as a guard. He lays down the second leg of the operation.
Area 51 RescueJonathan has procured a hovering box loaded with explosives. The route Joanna took into the building isn't actually connected by normal access to the autopsy lab. However, the hangar and the lab are adjacent to one another and one particular section of the wall between them is quite weak, allowing for forced entry with the use of the explosives. The crate won't last long under enemy fire, so Jo must use stealth to evade the swarming guards in the area, escorting the box carefully up two service lifts to the weakened wall section and then blow it up (from a friend to a friend: the box is an absolute pain in the ass to escort. Just throw a proxied dragon near the breach and shoot it. You're welcome.). Once inside, there isn't a second to waste. Joanna finds the locker room where the lab technician is just getting suited up. She knocks him out after a wild goose chase and poses as him. The guard unwittingly let's her inside the main structure, but the head surgeon doesn't recognize her and cries for help. This initiates a hurried set of events where Dark takes down the guards in the outer chamber, steals a key card, and then proceeds to rescue the Maian hostage from the grips of the unwitting surgical attendees.
Area 51 EscapeJust as much urgency is present in the escapade as the guards elsewhere in the complex have now caught wind of the events inside the lab. What's worse, the head surgeon turns on a nerve gas security system that bombards Jo with poisonous fumes until she exits the lab. She does so as fast as she can, finds a safe place to put the hovering stretcher with the Maian in it and meets back up with Jonathan. Jonathan had been busy entertaining the guards, but now they needed to leave and the entrance the hangar where the Maian spaceship has been locked is sealed off. Jonathan rigs up an improvised oil bomb to blast a hole in the side of the hangar and the two rush as fast as they can to the Maian, who Jo resuscitates with mysterious medical device.
The Maian wakes with a start, screaming in agony. The screaming dies down and the Maian introduces himself to the two as Elvis or "Protector One" if they prefer the more relevant name. They opt for Elvis. With Elvis in tow, the group then hurries to the spaceship, only to realize that it will not hold all three of them; just two. Either Jonathan or Joanna must escape on a hoverbike located nearby after opening the two main hangar doors. Who does what is left up to the player. They make their escape without further incident.
Air BaseWith Elvis secured, Dark refocuses her attention to the President. Trent Easton is planning to kidnap him while aboard the Air Force One. The first step to preventing this is to board Air Force One. This involves stealing a stewardess uniform from a civilian on the way into the air base. She procures a briefcase from two unaware businessmen and loads her many gadgets inside. All of her secret spy stuff (and guns) would obviously set off the alarm, so she quickly makes her way to the scanner room where she subverts the scanner, letting the case through without incident. She then proceeds down a diagonally-oriented elevator to the Air Force One hangar, where is given the option of boarding the craft from the bottom by dodging a laser grid or through the main door at the top by evading detection. The choice is the player's and it determines where Dark begins the next mission.
Air Force OneFirst things first, equipment. Jo makes her down the kitchen area, the kitchen being directly connected to the cargo bay. This is must faster if the plane is boarded from the bottom as Jo actually starts down there. Once she acquires her effects, she makes a segue for the president's cabin to inform him, in a barrage of facts and evidence, that he is in mortal danger. Just as she convinces him, however, an alien aircraft forcefully attaches itself to Air Force One, and DataDyne soldiers pour into the main cabin. Jo escorts the President to the plane's escape pod to ensure his survival of the inevitable crash. The alien craft is detached through a combination of a timed mine and Elvis's intervention. This does not make things better and Elvis loses control of his ship in the process of shooting a tube connecting the alien craft to Air Force One. All three machines proceed to fall out of the sky.
Crash SiteThe scene opens with Joanna picking herself up off a bank of snow. She was flung far from the Air Force One during the crash and, once she finds her bearings, hunts it down for the presidential tracker. Along the way, she finds the president's escape pod and activates the distress beacon in the hopes its signal is strong to defeat the radio interference currently jamming her own transponder. While traversing the snowy landscape, she happens across Elvis and his ship. He seem well prepared to defend himself, and so designates his ship as the rendevous point once she finds the president.
Using the president tracker found near the wreckage of Air Force One, Jo searches around in a large ice cavern, encountering both the real president and a clone of the president. The former is being held hostage by Trent who runs when Jo shoots at him. The President and Jo make it back to the surface and she leaves him in the able hands of Elvis. She goes back into the cavern to dispatch the clone and then makes the trip back up to Elvis for the last time. From there, they wait to be picked up.
With the apparent dangers now averted, Carrington orders an investigation of DataDyne's real scheme. Jo is tasked with heading to the Pelagic II's dry dock and do whatever it takes to sabotage the expedition and, if this fails, board the vessel. The dock operation proves to be a very difficult test of quick dispatchment as the entire complex is loaded with alarms and guards that are more than willing to activate them. On the way through this gauntlet, Jo deactivates the power to the facility and forces the deactivation of the autopilot and GPS navigation systems. She meets back up with Elvis in the basement where they begin preparations to board the vessel down in the Moon Lift.
Deep SeaThe craft takes the duo down to a mysterious submarine facility of a construction similar to the alien craft that attacked Air Force One. These aliens are identified as Skedar. The guards here, as in the G5 building, are armed with cloaking devices, but Dark now has a shotgun and she makes quick work of this now second-class threat. The two come upon a curiously shaped wall that Elvis identifies as an inactive teleportal. The panel to activate is located far inside a dark cavern loaded with odd door opening mechanisms. Nevertheless, once through, they enter the heart of an enormous complex that turns out to be a potentially world-ending superweapon developed by an ancient civilization called the Cetans. Needless to say, the urgency of the mission steps up a bit from here.
Jo fends off baddies as Elvis consults various mysterious panels in the hopes of reaching the nerve center of the whole apparatus as fast as possible. They eventually manage this and find a one Dr. Carroll hooked up to the heart of the machine. He is not the unassuming computer he was before, having been reprogrammed, but the folks back at the Institute created a virus designed to reinstall his old personality. After some initial sputtering and fidgetting, it works and Dr. Carroll is back to is old self. He explains that he can initiate the self-destruction of the entire machine, but he would have to destroy himself in the process. Jo and Dr. Carroll say farewell to each other and Jo and Elvis get the hell out of there.
Carrington InstituteAll seems taken care of now, and things can finally get back to normal. Elvis and his entourage have now arrived on Earth and Daniel Carrington is ready to take them to a formal contact between Earth leaders and the Maian people. Alas, DataDyne is not so easily cast aside. An explosion goes off somewhere in the facility just before the group boards the plane. Given no choice, Joanna grabs an AR34 from a nearby guard and sets out bring the invasion obviously in progress to a halt. She first heads further down into the hangars to activate the autoguns. No that the influx of soldiers has been reduced, Jo surges through the office complex, rescuing the Institute scientists being held hostage there. She makes a stop by Carrington's office to destroy some sensitive information DataDyne might want to get their hands on. She also stops by the firing range where she acquires the RC-P120. Foster had been working on it to deal with DataDyne's new shielding technology, which they now employ. It works pretty well.
The chain of events continues to escalate when the soldiers rig a bomb on a Skedar craft. Jo heads down to the hoverpads and disables the device whilst avoiding fire from a multitude of "Mr. Blonde"s (actually Skedars in disguise). With this pandemonium taken care of, Dark dashes back to the main hangar where the others have already boarded the airplane. She signals for them to leave without her and they no sooner out of the building than she is knocked out by Skedar right behind her.
Attack ShipOur heroine wakes up inside a Skedar holding cell. Once she gets the strength to stand up, she notices that she is not alone. None other than Cassandra de Vries is in the cell with her. No matter what Cassandra's feelings toward Jo might be however, she is far more interested in getting back at the Skedar. She sacrifices herself to make a diversion for Joanna. Jo takes this opportunity to stab a Skedar guard, steal his gun, and deal with all other guards in the vicinity. She gets a signal from Elvis that they are orbiting the ship holding her captive and that she needs to lower the forcefield so they can help her. She shoots up the field's controller and meets up with the Maian forces on the bridge who are actively engaged in fierce battle the attendees of the cruiser. Elvis and Joanna make their way to the star system to make some sense out of where they are going. Elvis realizes that the ship is on the way to the Skedar's home planet and urges Jo to take him to the bridge. After much confrontation, they make it and Elvis eagerly lands the ship on the planet's surface.
Skedar RuinsThe Maians never knew where the Skedar's home planet was located. Now armed with that information, they have an honorable quest for Jo on the surface: kill the Skedar King. Jo starts her assassination attempt on the outskirts of the planet's royal temple. She places a number of target amplifiers on pillars outside the main structure in order bring down any shielding afforded the grounds by them. Once down, Dark goes spelunking in the dimly-lit rooms of the Skedar's most holy realms. She encounters armored Skedar bearing Reapers and Slayer rocket launchers in addition to smaller Skedar that leap out of her from corners. She makes a sacrifice to the War God by placing a weapon at the Altar below the door to the Inner Sanctum and strolls inside to discover a Skedar task force in suspended animation. One-by-one, the corpses are reanimated and assault Jo, who proceeds to take them down in turn.
Now, finally, with all obstacles finally behind her, Joanna walks into the Skedar King's main quarters. He is waiting for her in front of a large altar. Some form of shielding technology (not unlike what DataDyne was using) is protecting him and is powered by the large statue behind him. Through waves of smaller baddies and procedural destruction of the idol behind him, the Skedar King falls to Joanna itchy trigger finger. After a rather lighthearted "Yes!" from Joanna in response to the death of a major alien society's leader, the entire complex begins to crumble and Jo is caught by falling rocks. Elvis finds her later buried under the rubble and helps her out. The two make their way back to the ship and the credits roll.