Perfect Dark Zero
There aren't many games with a pedigree like this one. Perfect Dark is one of the classic titles, with fantastic gameplay that proved to many that the N64 was a system worth playing. In development hell for years, Zero, a prequel to the famous original, was originally bounced around as a Gamecube title, and then finally landed as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 launch. It's been developed for years, but was the time really worth it?
First, I'll say that I have a love/hate relationship with this game. As I usually like dispensing bad news, I'll start by complaining about the storyline. It's really substandard, with mediocre voice acting. For gameplay, there are two serious problems. Many of the areas in this game are simply cluttered with gorgeous graphics. Combine that with a poor system for showing you who is killing you (and what direction they're coming from), and you've got a game that makes it really hard to find a target. In addition, it's actually really hard to search out many of your mission objectives, as there's no good path flow. In addition, the onscreen help (a waypoint and path system) doesn't actually appear until you've trundled around a bunch.
Now that my bitching is out of the way, I can say that this is ultimately a good game. Weapon loadouts are easy to manage, giving you a certain amount of inventory to work with, and numerous fun weapons. There's a different path through the game depending on your difficulty setting, which means you could actually play through the game a couple of times, and that's before you get to co-op mode. Co-op mode gives each character a unique experience, as you actually take different paths through each level at various times.
Multiplayer deserves a special mention, as for launch titles, it's this or Call of Duty 2, in humble my opinion. A normal deathmatch mode is accompanied by a counterstrike like mode called Darkops, both of which provide a really satisfying online experience. So satisfying is the experience, that you'll forget that some of the multiplayer levels aren't laid out that well, either being way too big, or sardine tiny. Take that with a grain of salt though, because you need to remember that this game is designed to support 32 players, so I'm a little harsh, having not played in too many epic games yet.
Finally, not to forget, this game looks really really nice graphically. I'm impressed with the quality of the Xbox 360 graphics, and with the complexity of some of the design in Perfect Dark Zero, it seems to take good advantage of the capabilities. In short, it really looks like a next-gen game.
All in all, I have some sizeable reservations, but this game is still well worth the full purchase price. With replay value like this, and lots of multiplayer, how can you go wrong?
Download Perfect Dark Zero
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
This first-person shooter sticks to its "futuristic James Bond" roots, so I didn't mind stuff like the cornball villains and dialogue. I did, however, mind the level design. Now, I can appreciate nonlinear gameplay. But through a lot of the game, I was screaming, "What the f*** am I supposed to be doing now?!?" and wandering about aimlessly in areas that I wasn't meant to go into at that time. But the game knows you may get lost, so after a while, your HQ "plots a course" for you, meaning it draws a big trail on the ground pointing you to where you're long overdue. That, my friends, is a quick-fix bandage for piss-poor level design.
Multiplayer, however, is a whole different story. In the competitive modes, you get lots of customization options, a crapload of guns (PDZ's best feature), and computer-controlled bots to fill in the blanks for when you don't have enough human bodies. After I put in my numerous review-time hours, though, I really didn't feel the urge to go back and play more, unlike the next two freaks whose reviews you're about to read."]
While Shoe is absolutely right in his criticisms of PDZ's single-player mess, he doesn't give enough credit to what PDZ does so well: multiplayer. And you'd better believe that a game launching with such an online-driven system will live and die by its online features. Co-op play makes the story mode bearable, even fun, despite its brain-melting craptitude. It's the online combat arena that proves most joyous, though. The typical deathmatch and capture-the-flag games do their jobs admirably, and the myriad Dark Ops modes impress even more, (mostly) giving you one life and one objective to work with. The resulting tense firefights and simple strategies are the stuff of multiplayer dreams. While it's no Halo, PDZ is the one launch game I see myself playing well into 2006.
Although I can't really defend PDZ's single-player campaign against Shoe's laundry list of complaints, I do think the game merits my score with its excellent suite of online co-op and multiplayer modes. I especially love how Rare managed to capture the feeling of what it was like to play GoldenEye (N64) with your buddies huddled around a TV, except now, you're eschewing splitscreen shenanigans for true multiplayer over Xbox Live. On top of an awesome set of weapons and solid, intuitive controls, PDZ throws in a variety of multiplayer elements, such as bots, vehicles, and gameplay modes, to keep things fresh. Finally, the online killer app comes in the form of PDZ's Dark Ops mode, which is high-stakes, tactical, and very addictive. Only more multiplayer maps could have topped off what's already an excellent online experience.