Perfect Dark Zero Reader Review
Rare and GoldenEye. I remember when a few mates chipped in to get the N64 and this ultimate FPS, solely for the fantastic multiplayer. I remember us regularly going to his garage-cum-games room and taking turns on the one-on-one 4-player deathmatch. More than anything, I remember getting my arse handed to me regularly.
Rare and Perfect Dark. I remember when my brother got a Donkey Kong N64 pack for Christmas from his girlfriend, which also came along with the RAM pack expansion. He bought Perfect Dark at some point, and I remember having a good laugh on Co-op story-mode and deathmatch. The story-mode wasn't particularly interesting (unlike GoldenEye) but the multiplayer aspect of games are (usually) fun. And I remember the RAM pack being damn useful and making things look so much nicer.
Rare and Perfect Dark Zero (PDZ). I remember that this was supposed to be a killer-app release for the Xbox 360. And I distinctly remembering people saying it was far from it. I also remember getting pretty frustrated a few times which really made me feel like giving up. Years have gone by and it really does seem things have been dragging along and going downhill. They certainly don't make them like they used to.
Having heard all the hullabaloo through the reviews and forums, I really wasn't expecting too much even with Perfect Darks alien-esque storyline to beat. Clearly this had been taken aboard as now the plot revolves around some Asian fellow making his way around the world to find the artifacts to make him an all-powerful, God-like figure. To be honest, I really couldn't make out much of the actual story, the bumph-filler that pads out every plotline to games (or films). You're told a bit at the beginning of why you're doing the next missions, given objectives (and sometimes additional ones added during the mission) and you go about filling every enemy with lead or other such projectiles of doom. Repeat 12 times and that's PDZ. I mean, there was absolutely nothing in it to keep me attentive to why I would care if I successfully completed a mission (other than I could progress to the next level). And with some of the additional 'support' objectives being tasks to help you progress the level with ease, they were secondary and provided no incentive to actually carry out the request. That is, other than the immediate effect in that level, it wouldn't matter if you helped your troops to the otherside as they wouldn't bother to help you in the next level.
To rub even more salt into the wounds, some level designs were so poor that you actually willed the 'blue-arrow of guidance' to appear on the floor (in-game it's just said that a route has been mapped out for you, so as to keep with the futuristic style of things). Tunnels looking the same, low trees and bushes obscuring your view, dark doorways, and ledges that aren't obvious enough maketh not a well-designed level. Some of the locations of the autosave/checkpoints were equally as aggravating, with only one or two thrown in and not neccesarily after a big firefight. The penultimate level (crossing the damaged bridge) had me trying again and again and again, each time cursing more and more. Having dished out death to what seemed like a 30 enemies (with the useless help of friendly soldiers), I was then to kill at least a further 15 enemies with a particular weapon that would kill you in two hits (sometimes one if health was low). All this without a save. 45 enemies if not more. Okay, fair enough that the whole fiasco might take 15-20 minutes to do, but that's still a pain in the arse and, ultimately, incredibly boring. I don't know why, but a short section in the level previous to that involved popping in and out of cover to snipe at the enemies dotted around a large Egyptian pyramid thing, and that I found to be fun and didn't mind playing it twice.
But maybe the developer's time was spent designing the multiplayer levels, because from what I've played they are very good indeed. Maybe it's the whole nature of online deathmatch, but I thoroughly enjoyed shooting and getting shot at. I've never been any good, but it seems that I can battle with the semi-best of them. The levels themselves are fairly large and some are incredibly spacious allowing some nice sniping action. Classic GoldenEye with the types of weapons allowed, if you want bots, etc. etc. And you even have a couple of vehicles to drive/fly around in although this does cause a few issues in team deathmatch games, as one team may possess the jetpacks and just give the opposition no chance of having any fun. But then, maybe they were just too good for my team. Generally, the solo deathmatches were cracking good fun and a laugh, so I could recommend PDZ on this alone.
I also had the headphones on, listening in on people chatting away. Not as many foul-mouthed teenage Americans as I thought there might be or was lead to believe. Yeah, there was the occasional swear word, classic 'Your Mom...' rebukes and general whatnot, but nothing totally outrageous. I also logged into a game with a few British people who were having a good laugh and joke about. Surprisingly, playing classic one-on-one deathmatch produced more silence that anything else. I suspect that team-based games would be different, with Capture the Flag or Territories involving a lot of communication, but it was nice to know that I don't need to have the headset on for every Live game to enjoy it fully.
I finished the single-player with an overall feeling of disappointment, a feeling of 'what had I just done?' PDZ just didn't make any impression on me, during or afterwards. It lacked soul and/or any meaning. In fact, it kind of lacked drive, a want for you to push forwards and see the next surprise. I would go so far as to say that the single-player is for you to get clued up on the weapons and what they do and how to manoeuvre about, all for the purpose of enjoying the multiplayer aspect of PDZ. It is this half where you'll get the most fun out of PDZ, if not all of the fun. The thing is, that might not be enough to warrent a purchase because GRAW seems to be quite a contender for the Live multiplayer gamers.
And as for the overly shiny textures, it wasn't that bad actually (on an SDTV). Yes, some misplaced shininess on some of the flooring and furnishing, but the metal on the guns gleamed nicely with the beating sunshine. Unfortunately, the graphics weren't enough to distract me from the poor solo experience.