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Richard takes on the Internet: Why I think Perfect Dark is better than GoldenEye

Richard Naik's picture

Perfect Dark Screenshot

I've always felt that Perfect Dark was superior to the original Nintendo 64 GoldenEye 007 in just about every way. However, a recent poll from this site concluded that most of our readers favor the James Bond-inspired shooter over its spiritual successor. I fully acknowledge that GoldenEye was a landmark title in several ways, mainly in breaking the Doom mold of "just kill everything on the map" and beginning the trend of more tactical shooters we see today, such as Half-Life 2. However, Perfect Dark built on those early achievements in such a fashion as to eclipse its ancestor in more ways than one.

First off, Perfect Dark is just a better looking game, and not just in terms of graphical quality, although it did push the N64's hardware to the max. It featured settings ranging from a downtown skyscraper to a tropical resort to Air Force One to an alien spaceship, compared to the dull (by comparison) levels of GoldenEye, which consisted of mostly urban/industrial settings. Perfect Dark was also a little bit more challenging overall (the Carrington Institute stage being the crown jewel in that regard) making for a more rewarding experience. While the story might have been a little silly, it's coherent enough to be acceptable in what isn't a story-driven game, and the addition of voiceovers and a more fast-paced soundtrack made things a little more immersive. The introduction of the co-op and counter-op modes, the latter of which can be thought of as an early predecessor of Left 4 Dead's versus mode, made things all the more sweet.

There's a lot more variety in weapon design too. Going beyond the standard 90s style guns of GoldenEye, the sci-fi theme in Perfect Dark led to a lot more creative freedom, resulting in several deadly gems. Perfect Dark gave us devilish little contraptions like the Laptop Gun, the Dragon, the RCP-120, and the Slayer. The addition of secondary fire added some great new dynamics to the weapons, such as the Dragon's proxy bomb function, the Laptop Gun's sentry placement, and the RCP-120's cloaking device. And of course, what Perfect Dark discussion would be complete without talking about the Farsight, the über-cheap sniper rifle that Halo players have dreams (or perhaps nightmares) about?

Perfect Dark also featured a number of technical improvements. Several flaws with enemy AI and abilities were addressed, namely guards now being able to see over railings and their use of melee attacks in close quarters. Motion blur was also put to good use, distorting the screen if the player was hit by a melee attack or a tranquilizer shot. A lot of replay value was added through the combat simulator, consisting of thirty multiplayer-style matches against bots with custom rules. These are great if you want to either practice your multiplayer skills or are just up for a challenge-I spent many a evening trying to finish enough challenges so I could unlock that damn Pelagic II guard.

So in a nutshell, Perfect Dark built on everything that had been accomplished in GoldenEye, and the result was a superior product. Perfect Dark can be thought of as GoldenEye's real sequel, rather than any of the titles released since then under the GoldenEye name. Now, without further delay, feel free to tell me how wrong I am.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Nintendo 64  
Developer(s): Rare  
Series: Perfect Dark   GoldenEye 007  
Genre(s): Shooting   Online/Multiplayer  
Articles: Editorials  
Topic(s): Pop-culture   Game Design & Dev  

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I agree, Perfect Dark was a better game. But...

(I'm going to assume right here that the majority of people who played Perfect Dark had already played Goldeneye. This might not be true, and if it's not then I'm wrong in my conclusions.)

Perfect Dark was better than Goldeneye. Giving it benefit of the doubt, assuming you can boil down a subjective experience into a quantity, it was around 50% better. Goldeneye was about a million percent better than any console FPS that preceeded it. Given that, we can assume that people rate Goldeneye high because it solved so many of the existing issues. It was a revolution, not an evolution.

Compare it with Ico vs. Shadow of the Colossus. SotC often gets a higher ranking and I believe part of it is that it's a much better game (with both evolution of style and revolution of mechanics), and part is that about three people played Ico.

Summed it up perfectly.

Summed it up perfectly. Goldeneye was certainly more groundbreaking, but Perfect Dark kicked it up even farther.

Objectively PD would be the

Objectively PD would be the winner, but Goldeneye delivered the bond feeling- nothing afterwards could to this unique thing in similar good way for me-, the difficulty levels were not to high, i finished everything, compared to PD were i got stuck in the middle one.
But most of all i had the feeling rareware cried for a cd-drive, they wanted to do cinematic presentation, but couldn't because of the cartridge limits. I constantly felt like they could not do what they wanted to achieve. It felt crippled for me... And this whole alien are51 thing... really don't know, similar thing like the mutants in far cry. It was absurd and did not work out for me.
Subjectively Bond wins for me, and i didn't even like Bond at that time. None of them. Except maybe Dalton a little - and until Craig, but that was after PD.

I think that the step from

I think that the step from GoldenEye to Perfect Dark had a lot in common with the step from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 2 several years later: a massive improvement in the range of multiplayer options; but numerous ambitious changes to the single-player mode that were impressive at first but which, in retrospect, ended up taking at least as many steps backwards as they did forwards:

  • Halo 2's Legendary difficulty is far less fair and well-balanced than Halo's (still the pinnacle of single-player FPS combat IMO); likewise, I find Perfect Dark's Perfect Agent setting a hell of a lot more frustrating than GoldenEye's 00-Agent (curse you, Attack Ship, Carrington Institute, and WAR! Not to mention Maian SOS, where you start with less than 50% health...). Part of the reason PD's difficulty was so much higher than GoldenEye's is that they removed that bug which meant that enemy shots that hit within a certain time of each other would not register. This meant that in Perfect Dark, a single mistake would lead to all your health being taken off by a single burst of K7 Avenger fire. It was NOT FUN to have that happen to you at the end of a 10-minute level like Area 51 - Rescue. This is the equivalent of Halo 2 Legendary featuring numerous deaths from a single accurate burst of fire from an Elite plasma rifle, or a 1-shot Jackal sniper kill.
  • Bungie decided to make the Elites talk English, Rare added bad voice acting (Joanna Dark's banter is intended to sound lighthearted and playful, but comes across as exasperated).
  • Halo 2 switched the enemies from the Elites (fun to fight!) to the Brutes (boring bullet-sponges) halfway through. Perfect Dark switched the human enemies (satisfying to kill!) to aliens (awkward to hit, annoying to fight). (Half-Life is another FPS that went downhill at the point when its setting switched to alien planets.)
  • Both Perfect Dark and Halo 2 have graphics that are technically superior to their predecessors, but not as aesthetically pleasing. Halo 2 didn't have the framerate problems Perfect Dark did, though.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Perfect Dark: for a very long time it was #2 on my all-time favourite games list. But GoldenEye was always, and still is, #1. :) And both of them perfected, first time, a wonderful time attack system that I still return to - nothing's got such a thing right since, not even Free Radical Design's "spiritual sequel" TimeSplitters games.

I couldn't agree more. The

I couldn't agree more. The depth of options and diversity in PD totally overshadowed Goldeney, fun game that it was. Where Goldeneye only had multiple mission objectives, PD introduced simulants, simulant "personalities," the aforementioned challenges, secret weapons, walking around the Carrington Institute between levels, and so on. By the time I and my friends were done with this game, I think we'd logged several weeks worth of hours, according to the computer. Now that's bang for your buck.

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