Perfect Dark

By: Rare
Platform: Nintendo 64
Rating: 95%
Available: Now
Price: $59.99 / digital culture / software / perfect dark

June 7, 2000
By Howard Wen

Created as a follow-up to the still-solid GoldenEye 007 by the same designers who brought that game to the Nintendo 64, Perfect Dark surpasses its predecessor on many levels. Players take on the role of Joanna Dark, a secret agent of the year 2023, who resembles a cross between Lara Croft and Trinity from The Matrix. (She's code-named "Perfect" because she's the best.) Appropriately, the game's setting and story are also amalgams of familiar elements from science-fiction TV and movies, recalling Blade Runner and The Fifth Element, with action inspired by The Matrix and even an X-Files-ish alien conspiracy to unravel.

The solo-player game begins with Joanna Dark's employer, the Carrington Institute, sending her on a mission to rescue a scientist who works for the mysterious dataDyne Corporation. From there, the game's plot unfolds across city streets, secret laboratories and a UFO crash site. More than 40 types of weapons can be used throughout the course of the game. The solo game itself is so detailed and rich that your Nintendo 64 unit must have the 4MB Expansion Pak installed in order to play it.

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The release of Perfect Dark was delayed by several months, for obvious reasons: This cartridge is packed with extras that go way beyond the single-player game. Rare (Nintendo's best-known in-house design unit) most likely spent the extra time perfecting Perfect Dark's multiplayer gaming. Up to four people can compete against one another -- you and your pals can hunt one another down, square off in teams, or join together to take on computer-controlled enemies ("simulants"). Simulants can also be assigned to play along with you or your team. Even with four people playing with multiple simulants (up to eight can be used), the frame rate and action don't appear to lag much.


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