Perfect Dark (N64) Review

Perfect Dark is one of the best first-person shooter games to have ever been released and, for many, ranks in the best games of all time due to its fun and revolutionary gameplay, and nostalgia-inducing charm.

Despite being released in 2000, Perfect Dark is still looked on favourably by lovers of retro games and is one that we highly recommend if you are looking for some great Nintendo 64 games. Due to a resurgence in the cyberpunk movement, gamers are revisiting Perfect Dark as they hunt for the best cyberpunk video games of all time. Read on for our Perfect Dark (N64) review.

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Rare

Platform: Nintendo 64

What is Perfect Dark?

What is Perfect Dark?
What is Perfect Dark?

Perfect Dark is an N64 first-person shooter set in a cyberpunk world that is seen as the spiritual successor to Rare’s highly successful GoldenEye 007.

The game takes place in 2023 and is set in a fictional world in which two alien races – the Maians and the Skedar – are at war. The Skedar are liaising with Cassandra de Vries, the leader of megacorporation dataDyne, to forge a deal that will provide the Skedar with a powerful AI technology, and d1ataDyne with alien technology.

A research and development centre, The Carrington Institute, are the last line of defence for Earth as they collude with the Maians in an attempt to counter the progress of dataDyne through a series of espionage missions.

Perfect Dark received unanimous critical acclaim upon its release, including a 9.9 GameSpot rating and a 9.8 rating with IGN. The game was particularly lauded for its enemy AI, size, cutscenes and multiplayer features. The game’s success led to a 2005 sequel called Perfect Dark Zero for the Xbox 360 but, despite the game being decent, it does not compare to the original.

Although the game is nearly 20 years old now, this Perfect Dark review will attempt to show you why it is still worth playing in the present day.

Perfect Dark – Story

Perfect Dark - Story
Perfect Dark – Story

Players take on the role of Joanna Dark, an agent for The Carrington Institute, who earned the pseudonym “Perfect Dark” due to impressive scores during her training.

Joanna is sent to investigate the dataDyne corporation and, during her first mission to rescue scientist Dr Caroll, she learns that megacorporation has questionable ethical standards and had betrayed the morals of many of its employees.

Joanna’s missions take her all around the world and she eventually becomes involved in a rescue mission to save the President of the United States after a dataDyne plot to kill him is uncovered.

The plot takes various twists and turns that heavily involve dataDyne and their alien allies, the Skedar. A Scandinavian man known as Mr Blonde enters the story and is revealed as a Skedar in disguise who betrays the dataDyne company.

Joanna’s journey takes her on a journey to the Skedar’s home planet to curb their attempt to test a powerful weapon on Earth, before using it on the Maian race. Agent Dark is assisted by numerous people throughout the mission, including a stereotypically-looking alien called Elvis, a Maian who acts as her companion on various missions.

If you’re enjoying this Perfect Dark (N64) review, you might also like our Deus Ex: Mankind Divided review.

Perfect Dark – Gameplay

Perfect Dark - Gameplay
Perfect Dark – Gameplay

For those who have played GoldenEye 007 for the N64, this game will feel comfortingly similar. Rare’s winning first-person shooter formula for their 1997 title needed little tweaking to make Perfect Dark the masterpiece that it is.

Players can crouch, duck, strafe and lean as they attempt to make their way through the missions. The gameplay mechanics allow the player to either burst into maps all guns blazing or take a more stealth-based approach to missions.

Various weapons can be used throughout the game, including pistols, lasers, grenade launchers and rifles, and an unlimited number of guns can be carried at any given time. It is also possible to wield two of the same gun at once.

Each level can be completed at different difficulty levels, with the harder levels unlocking different gameplay modes. It is also possible to unlock cheats by completing different missions within a certain time limit.

In our Perfect Dark (N64) review we believe that, despite the engaging and reasonably intriguing storyline, the game’s replayability comes from its multiplayer element.

Perfect Dark – Multiplayer

Perfect Dark - Multiplayer
Perfect Dark – Multiplayer

The multiplayer modes in Perfect Dark are incredibly fun and we spent countless hours disposing of as many ‘meat sims’ as you could throw at us. One of the multiplayer options is as simple as playing the game on a split-screen with another human player as either your ally or enemy.

But the fun doesn’t end there, the combat simulator mode makes elements of 20 different maps modifiable. You can tailor each arena to how you want it to be, i.e. How many enemies? What level AI are the enemies? How many human players, etc. It is this customization that gave the game so much replay value and gives it the edge over many other first-person shooter titles of the same era.

Perfect Dark - Elvis
Perfect Dark – Elvis

Overall, Perfect Dark is an absolute masterpiece that should not yet be archived in the ever-growing pile of ‘forgotten greats’, and hopefully can find some renewed success as gamers continue to look for the best cyberpunk games available at the moment. This one should not be overlooked.

Games like Perfect Dark

If you’ve already played this game and are looking for something similar, there are plenty of other titles out there to try. Here are some other games like Perfect Dark:

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If you enjoyed reading this Perfect Dark (N64) review, you might also like our Resident Evil 2 remake review.

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