Rare’s legendary N64 first-person shooter, golden eye, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month. However, at the risk of rising blood pressure around the world, I daresay it’s not the crown jewel of the British developer’s FPS. This honor goes to its spiritual successor: perfect darkness.
With Microsoft’s newest studio announcing a series reboot at The Game Awards 2020, initiative, with the help of Tomb Raider industry veteran Crystal Dynamics, was given the big task of bringing the franchise to modern audiences. Ignoring for a moment The Initiative sounds like one of the shady organizations Joanna Dark is about to take down, the new AAA studio has done its job of creating the first title that manages to convey the long-running series The nostalgia fans will want, and enough modernity to satisfy new players — something Rare failed to do in 2005’s Perfect Diablo Zero. If they want to satisfy both audiences, they need to learn from Rare’s mistakes.
First, we need a cool story. Little has been known about the reboot so far, but the movie trailer confirms the theme of ecological disaster. We see Earth from space, and it’s full of storms, fires, and floods. We’re told the company that offers the “solution,” but series fans will know that the company has long played a complex role in Perfect Dark’s lore. We also know that dataDyne remains a featured antagonist at the end of the trailer, as the camera pans over the dead soldier, showing Joanna standing on top of the dataDyne superstructure, overlooking the storm raging across the Great Pyramid. Deeply immersing itself in the fictional aspects of science fiction, Perfect Dark has been toying with the idea of an alternative future.
OG is a wild hybrid of the X-Files and 007, the “little grey” Maians and the evil Skedar warring alien races on Earth, backed by these big corporations, like a racehorse. Perfect Dark Zero goes one step further into absurdity (not half the fun) and plans to find an artifact that grants users supernatural abilities. See, it’s 2022, and this level of stupidity won’t be as prevalent in the spy genre as it used to be; we can expect a more mature approach. It’s a brilliant idea to turn something as important and real as a global ecological disaster into a futuristic spy thriller. But it can still be done without rooting us so firmly in reality that it feels like a grim continuation of real life, doesn’t it? The perfect Dark Zero suffered huge losses for ignoring aliens.
They’re a fantastic element of the first title, and a big part of what makes Perfect Dark exciting; it’s great to see Maian and the Skydives returning in some way. But even if they don’t, aligning with themes of corporate global domination and private militaristic power will be key to honoring Perfect Dark’s legacy.
With this in mind, it’s also important to note the importance of the dataDyne superstructure described in the trailer. The massive facility looks like a shiny, indestructible boulder from the outside. But when the camera flies over a hole that cuts into its perimeter, presumably Joanna’s entry point, we see the chaos that has been created inside. It’s a joyous return to the opening mission of the first game, in which Joanna must infiltrate a similarly proportioned high-security dataDyne facility. Happily, even in the early stages of development, The Initiative wanted the same energy.
Of course, it’s anyone’s guess where it came from. OG lets us infiltrate Area 51, sneak through the rain-soaked streets of Chicago, foil an Air Force One terrorist plot, and head to an alien home. In contrast, PDZs are sterile and forgettable. It’s great to see some of the more exciting places explored in the reboot, and the Great Pyramid, visible in the trailer, could be an option for that as well.
As important as these settings are, so is the structure that delivers them. Perfect Dark makes every level feel like a miniature playground. Like Goldeneye before it, you’ll choose a range of objectives, depending on your difficulty setting (if they bring it back, it’s a huge win), and while you’ll have a mission briefing, most of the objectives will come Until exploring and evaluating the spying tools at your d isposal.
Gadgetry is a big part of what makes Perfect Dark such a wild sci-fi adventure, and if the reboot is going to continue the fun, its structure needs to offer the same level of creativity and high-octane spy thrills. Players need to be trusted to Determining when to use their CamSpy to eavesdrop on conversations, their data uplinks to hack security systems, or their IR scanners to identify invisible enemies – something PDZ fails to catch, with the damn linearity and fiddly motion holding hands.
The final element of a successful reboot of Perfect Dark will be how it implements its combat mechanics; Perfect Dark is incredibly fluid. Using auto-aim is necessary to make FPS games playable on the Nintendo 64 controller, but the 2010 remake showed us that it doesn’t rely on the original controller design to work — in fact, it’s more than ever all good. By contrast, the PDZ is as stiff as a board, with floating weapon play, sub-par cover systems, and painfully slow movement. It’s notoriously underdeveloped at launch, but that’s the result of Microsoft’s push to release PDZ as an Xbox 360 game.
The good news is that The Initiative confirmed back in 2020 that this was a key design issue for the team. “[You’ll be] Slide things down, jump over things. We really wanted to highlight the body and being in the world, let’s see some of the camera movement that we see when looking at body cameras, GoPros, and trying to get that in places and ways that you and I don’t have The excitement of moving,” said former design director Drew Murray. Drew may have left the studio by now, but it sounds like they’re grappling with PDZ’s number one problem — a good sign that they’re leveraging the necessary series experience To build a reboot recognize your strengths and weaknesses.
We recently found out that Joanna Dark’s original voice actor, Eveline Fischer, has joined in – and that’s great! Again, I’d like to see some other classic features on reboot. For example, the revolutionary Counter Operative multiplayer mode. Or an explorable hub world full of secrets like the original game’s Carrington College. But these are gifts for fans of the original; they’re not necessary to create a great Perfect Dark game. This isn’t a Rare franchise anymore, it’s a case of capturing the spirit of the series without accidentally slipping into the past. We’re talking about the concept of going beyond console generation here.
By examining what went wrong with PDZ, and what made the N64 original so popular today, the developer will have the opportunity to release something that pays homage to Perfect Dark’s origins while establishing a new identity of their own.