Heya folks, your local Scotsperson is back reviewing non-Final Fantasy Titles! Whee! I was originally going to review another RPG to ease myself into it, but I found a game for a fiver that I’ve had my eye on for a while. Let’s lock and load for Perfect Dark Zero on the Xbox 360.
Perfect Dark Zero is a prequel to the 2000 game Perfect Dark that was released on the Nintendo 64. Now something that I only noticed when I booted up the game is that it was done by Rare, the same guys who made the Banjo-Kazooie series. Now this game is a true testament to the diversity that is the talented guys and gals at Rare can do – comparing this game to their other series – Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is rather much trying to compare a kid’s toy catapult with a tactical nuke. It just can’t be done.
The story follows Joanna Dark, the protagonist from the original game, three years before the events from P.D. We follow her as she’s just starting out with her father, Jack Dark as a bounty hunter, getting trained and showing what she can do. What follows is a great story with more twists than a pretzel. Aside from the biggest cliché in all of story-telling media ((Here’s a hint, Jack ain’t getting any more presents for his birthday)) the story is always hard to predict, and it was good enough to let me keep playing through.
The gameplay isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but it works, there’s your standard ammo/gun info at one corner, your health at the top – all rather basic stuff. The health system is rather good, where it regenerates, like Halo 3’s system. It’s not really explained how it happens, but I’m not complaining – it works, and doesn’t punish you for screw up’s too badly, a plus for any First Person Shooter. The majority of the game will descend into gun-fights, although you can be stealthy for a little while. This is aided by your primary weapon, the P9P – a pistol with a scope that goes up to 4x. It’s great for picking off enemies from far away. Another good system is that you can choose what weapons you start a mission with, provided you ended a mission with them. A slot feature is also in place, similar to Resident Evil 4’s Inventory system. A Rocket Launcher and Rifle takes up more slots than your P9P, making a lot of sense and adds tactics to your gameplay.
The graphics aren’t as smooth as other games released around the same time, but it is still beautiful – the sound of snow crunching under Jo’s feet in China, everything has been thought of. It helps draw you in, and plan what you’re gonna do. The guards are also still the usual nameless grunts, with hits in certain areas doing more damage than others. A bullet or two to the head drops them as fast as a clip to the chest. The scope on the P9P and other weapons help this matter. You also have a melee attack option, which takes out your foes in one hit, but you need to get close and hit it right, otherwise they end up behind you, and shooting you up the ass.
You’re never short of weaponry, with at least twenty-five different things to use, almost all having a secondary fire such as ricocheting bullets, caltrops, grenade launchers and an Impenetrable wall that deflects bullets. Mind you, that last one comes from a blade with a two meter slash radius, so it balances out. It really adds a new dimension to the basic “Grab biggest gun, point in general direction and think happy thoughts”
The voice acting is good, the lip synching could be better, but that’s not why we’re here. Shooting games rarely have a good story, but Perfect Dark Zero goes against the grain by having good characters, emotional voice acting, and some entertaining moments. The guards react naturally to getting shot, holding where they’ve been hurt, and they don’t have a set death script, and they slump over, or go flying if you keep shooting them.
Overall, it’s a good game, and puts more recent shooters to shame. The graphics are good, the game lasts for a while, and has a little replay value through trying to beat your personal best for the missions. Go find the game if you can, and keep an eye on Xbox Live Arcade, as there are rumours floating around that the original is being released on XBLA.