Game news Perfect Dark: How Rare’s Game Revolutionized FPS on N64?

The development of a new episode of Perfect Dark was unveiled at the Game Awards 2020, a futuristic FPS originally developed by Rare that illuminated the last hours of the Nintendo 64. Despite the huge dataDyne logo visible at one point in the video, it did not left with doubts about Joanna Dark’s return, it was when the game’s title appeared at the end of the trailer that the streamers who broadcast the event were elated. It seems no one was ready to forget the famous spy that reigned over console FPS in the early 2000s, before the arrival of a certain Spartan.

007’s years of experience in the service of a young adventurer

What is obvious when playing the first installment of Perfect Dark (released May 22, 2000 in the US) is how much Rare’s FPS bears similarities to its previous successful first-person title, GoldenEye 007. The parentage is such. that the Joanna Dark epic was sold almost everywhere as a spiritual sequel to the adventures of James Bond. Leading the development of the two apps is Martin Hollis, a talented game designer who refused to participate in the videogame adaptation of Tomorrow never dies in order to benefit from greater creative freedom. The British studio wanted to tell a story set in a dystopian future, whose influences ranged from Blade Runner to The X-Files. That he no longer had much to do with the spy in her Majesty’s service, you’ll agree.

Perfect Dark: How Rare's Game Revolutionized FPS on N64?Perfect Dark: How Rare's Game Revolutionized FPS on N64?

It is therefore the team behind GoldenEye 007 that gave birth to Joanna Dark, a secret agent sent to investigate the dubious actions of sprawling organizations. For this we find many similarities on the side of the gameplay between the adventure of Bond and that of Dark, both in the artificial intelligence of the opponents, in the way in which the difficulty adds objectives or in the maneuverability. It is worth mentioning that the game engine that drives this small world is an improved version of that of GoldenEye 007. The years of production of the FPS starring Agent 007, however, allowed the team to familiarize themselves with the game in first person view, making several ideas germinate.. They will find themselves, for the most part, in Perfect Dark.

Perfect Dark: How Rare's Game Revolutionized FPS on N64?Perfect Dark: How Rare's Game Revolutionized FPS on N64?

The little extra things

Perfect Dark: How Rare's Game Revolutionized FPS on N64?

Perfect Dark is often referred to as the futuristic GoldenEye. See it as a simple “rinse”Of the adventures of Bond, however, would be a big mistake. Despite a tumultuous development caused by the departure of several executives (left to found Free Radical), studio executives have built up the odds in their favor that Joanna Dark will hit hard. The Stamper brothers, then heads of Rare, made sure their artists weren’t pressured by not setting a deadline for production. The big bosses wanted their employees “give your best“To deliver a job”innovative and as good as GoldenEye 007”, As Régis Monterrin recounts in History of Rare Vol.2 (p.157). A risky bet that has paid off.

The developers took advantage of this new playground not subject to the license of Jame Bond to develop original weapons with mainly secondary fire, and above all larger environments, rich in details. Joanna Dark had the ability to take a peek and had fun gadgets like the infamous mini-camera to hand out. The project was so ambitious that the Expansion Pak, a small card to be inserted into the N64 to double the RAM, was mandatory to launch the game’s campaign.. Graphically, the software was simply one of the best games for the Nintendo 64.

A multi like no other

The element that really put Perfect Dark in the pantheon of FPS on consoles is its multiplayer that is both extremely complete and cutting-edge.. First of all, the 17 levels of the campaign could be experienced in two thanks to a split-screen cooperation mode rather innovative for the time. Then the “Counter operation”(Or Enemy) allowed a player to embody an opponent normally controlled by the machine in single player levels. Its goal? Eliminate his partner who is trying to complete the mission. In the event of death, the J2 reappears in another character’s skin to fight once again with Joanna, a bit like Agent Smith in The Matrix. Finally, there was obviously a more classic mode like every man for himself, except that here bots could be integrated into the game, which was not the case in most games of the genre released on the Nintendo 64 or Playstation.

The captivating story, the timely gameplay (for the time) and the more than complete integration of the multiplayer, as well as the original modes, have helped Perfect Dark to establish itself as one of the greatest hits of Rare on the Nintendo 64. A plebiscite that will motivate Rare to produce a new episode destined for the GameCube that will finally arrive on Xbox 360 in 2005, under the name of Perfect Dark Zero. Unfortunately, this play directed by Chris Tilston will not be as successful.

It took 15 years for Microsoft to formalize the development of a new episode, this time orchestrated by The Initiative rather than Rare. If you’re thinking of (re) discovering Rare’s work, a remastered version is available on the Xbox Store and in Rare Replay.

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