Perfect Dark Zero Review

Released as an XBOX 360 launch title, Perfect Dark Zero is akin to blockbuster spy movies. Not only filled with high end gadgetry and weaponry, it incorporates its own intro music video comparable to the iconic James Bond sequences. A prequel to Perfect Dark, Joanna Dark works as a simple bounty hunter. When the retrieval job of a neurological scientist falls apart, Joanna is sent on a much grander mission encompassing not only the world, but pitting two huge corporations against each other.

Releasing over ten years ago, I’ve never played the series myself until recently. Visually, the game doesn’t look too bad. Some textures can become a little muddy and many characters can, at times, make weird movements, but this can simply be chalked up to the age of the title. The distinction in difficulty is night and day between most of the game and boss fights, making me question some of the balancing choices as I blazed through common enemies and found myself stuck on a single boss for days. Many of the levels are short, and usually become a maze within themselves forcing the player to run laps through the same hallway numerous times. Luckily, if you’re stuck for too long, a guided path will appear for you to follow to your next objective. Most of the time, you’ll also receive a verbal cue, but it didn’t really seem to help when everything looked too similar at times.

While Joannas main weapon stood out, many of the other guns offered were fairly generic consisting of AK47s and basic pump action shotguns. Something that I wish was different considering the game took place in a heavy high tech future. They did take advantage of the high tech world in other ways though. Driving a hovercraft while my co-op partner blew us out of a prison was rewarding in itself. But, a sequence involving an in-game full body virtual reality simulation stood out quite a bit with how prevalent virtual reality has been growing today. The enemies could also use a touch of variety, since many of them were nearly identical to each other. The women were exact copy and pastes of Joanna, if not extremely similar to, all the way down to the hair. And, the late game involved heavily armored guards whose armor would hilariously explode off them them in a rain of kevlar if they received too many shots too fast. I was impressed when the enemy would register being shot in a extremity though, and would adjust accordingly to the wounded area.

A lot of the game mechanics are interesting, and offer an extensive variety of gadgets to play with. One of the most common is the locktopus. It is a simple lock breaking tool that requires the player to rotate the analog stick to find the appropriate pressure points using basic color recognition. Its simple, but can become challenging if you find yourself under pressure in a firefight. Another gadget, visually similar to rhythm games, forces to player to idly wait as a colored light slides around a dial. It must line up appropriately at a set point before moving on to more dials within the gadget. Usually inconsistent, I’ve sat around for upwards to a minute waiting for the lights to line up correctly. Something that I don’t wish upon any futuristic secret agent in the field.

Overall, I think this game’s biggest enemy has been time. It feels like it was a fun game in 2005, although some of the design choices don’t really seem to stick anymore. Similar to an alternating current, I’ve found myself going back and forth within moments of each other over designs choices that were genuinely great, and others that just didn’t work well.

Camron Willey

Just finishing school with a bachelors degree in Game Design, I now spend my time working between Cynosure, and my personal projects. Being a full-time military member, I try to pass the time behind the keyboard or controller. If it involves design or deep narrative, I will be there day one. You can check out my blog and smaller past times on!

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