Perfect Dark: 20 Years Later

Perfect Dark: 20 Years Later

Twenty years on from release I must acknowledge that, for a classic multiplayer game, Perfect Dark now suffers from a fairly major fault. It’s nigh-on unplayable. Those sleek offices and twisting tunnels have morphed into poorly textured geometric mazes. The explosions and effects, brilliant in memory, are muted. Most of all, the always-suspect framerate is now a convicted murderer. None of these reasons justify a return. But what Perfect Dark does have, beyond even GoldenEye and most other FPS-es, is imagination. This is an ideas game, as concerned with its own genre’s existence and limits as it is with targets. If Rare had revolutionized what a console FPS could be, Perfect Dark was its belated manifesto. Sequels, even spiritual sequels, have governing rules, neatly encapsulated by Cliff Bleszinski’s “bigger, better, more badass” tubthumping for Gears of War 2. Perfect Dark can do excess, but let’s shoot the elephant in the room first: GoldenEye. There remains a misconception that Rare couldn’t continue with the Bond license, but the developer in fact rejected the opportunity to make the tie-in to Tomorrow Never Dies, perhaps feeling that a return to 007’s world would offer little more than a retread of the Kalashnikovs, missile sites and gadgets it had already perfected. The ideas had married perfectly, but a second Hollywood tie-in would see diminishing creative returns. The lack of a license brought freedom and yet, in this context, choosing to make an FPS with a secret agent may not seem the most original ...
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