Review: Perfect Dark


Developer: 4J Studios
Genre: Sci-Fi First Person Shooter
Platform(s): Xbox 360 [Xbox Live Arcade]
Release Date: March 17, 2010
Compatability (Xbox 360): File Size 239MB | Players 1-4 | HDTV 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-8 | Co-Op 1-2
Rating: 8.0

Ten years ago, Perfect Dark was released to widespread critical acclaim, and it’s still generally considered one of the best games of its time. Now, as Perfect Dark nears its 10-year anniversary, the game’s loyal following has prompted a downloadable re-release on Xbox Live Arcade. This new version enables fans to relive what made the original game so great. The iconic shooter has been lovingly restored by 4J Studios, the same people who ported Banjo-Kazooie to XBLA. Fans of the series will be happy to hear that aside from updated graphics and the addition of on-line multiplayer, the game remains largely intact. However, this may not be an entirely positive feature.

Perfect Dark was cutting edge when it was released, but first-person shooters have advanced significantly in the last decade and the game shows its age in some areas. While the graphics have been updated to be serviceable on modern TVs, don’t expect a visual feast. Only the textures have been updated, so character animations are often silly and mouths don’t move while speaking. The voice acting is often cheesy and is reminiscent of a time when video-game stories didn’t take themselves as seriously. Fortunately, this can give the story a campy feeling, which can be pretty fun.

Joanna Dark is back. And she looks prettier.

The level design is the only major failing of the campaign. Mission objectives are often vague, and discovering how to complete them can be a frustrating experience. You can expect to wander around levels aimlessly searching for a way to proceed, or restarting from the beginning because you failed to locate an objective in time. This trial and error gameplay was the norm back in the day, but feels punishing in contrast to modern titles. That being said, when you know what you’re doing, the game compares surprisingly well with current ones.

The campaign was great on the original, but the multiplayer was always the main appeal of Perfect Dark. That remains true in the updated version. All of the original levels, modes, and guns return, and on-line multiplayer has been added to the formula. This is a feature that greatly augments the experience as players no longer have to contend with screen-watching and simulants aren’t required to fill out matches. Purists can play the game in the original format, and it’s still a blast to battle it out with your friends on the same couch.

This looks much better after 10 years. But don't expect anything special.

Unfortunately, you can’t play with your on-line friends unless you create a custom match, which doesn’t have the ability for non-friends to join. The on-line game modes also fail to take advantage of the extensive gun selection, and you will find yourself frequently playing with the same gun loadouts.

Even with its drawbacks, Perfect Dark is still a great game 10 years later. There is a reason the game is so beloved, and fans of the original or newer gamers who are curious about the roots of gaming should take this opportunity to play a classic.

Reviewed by antonman – April 20, 2010

The graphics have been updated, but won’t blow you away. However, they’re still better than most on XBLA.
All the familiar music scores return, but expect a little cheese in the voice acting.
Single player provides a lot of frustration, but the multiplayer still provides a lot of fun.
Final Score




  1. I bought this game on the 360. The best part I guess is the online co-op, the multiplayer is so-so since you can only have 8 human players and can’t change much settings when online.

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