Shoot to Kill: GoldenEye 007 Vs. Perfect Dark

Which N64 FPS will be the one to rule them all?

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 06/21/2012 14:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

A Perfect Counter by Katharine Byrne

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, Josh, but I have to disagree. Perfect Dark was a more refined and polished shooter, and here’s why:

Perfect Dark is smarter

A throwaway plot? Characters lacking in substance? You, my friend, must have been playing a completely different game, because Perfect Dark is one of the most gripping shooters I’ve ever played. Its wholly original story about aliens, cloned presidents and corporate conspiracy doesn’t need to piggy-back on the success of a film in order to be great– it does that all by itself, and then some. It also introduced us to a new, witty and genuinely kick-ass cast of characters, and I think that’s a little unfair to call Joanna Dark a kind of Lara Croft in space. For starters, most of the game actually takes place in the US, with locales ranging from the slick skyscrapers and laboratories of the shady dataDyne company to the grim streets of Chicago, Area 51, and the frozen plains of Alaska. Moreover, during the course of the game, Joanna not only rescues her boss, but she also survives a plane crash and infiltrates both an alien submarine and an entire alien spacecraft. That’s no mean feat for a rookie agent, and when she’s got that wicked Rare sense of humour– something which James Bond is severely lacking– who could possibly accuse her of being vapid and uninteresting?

But it’s not just a cracking story and sharp characters that makes Perfect Dark stand out– it’s the fact that it’s not all about shooting everything that moves as well. You may have had the odd objective to “minimize civilian casualties ” in GoldenEye, but Perfect Dark saw you going undercover, sending in your nifty Spy-Cam to tape covert meetings and get vital evidence, and even going in unarmed for the majority of several missions. You had to keep your cool when playing Perfect Dark, especially since your enemies were also exponentially more intelligent too, rolling, dodging and hiding in strategic locations just waiting to take you down. Later missions equipped them with cloaking shields as well, and if you knocked their gun out of their hand, they’d go back and get it if they weren’t too injured, sometimes even dragging themselves across the floor if that’s what got the job done. But for all their increased know-how, Perfect Dark kept it real, allowing them to jam their guns and shout raging curses as they tried to get it working again, and it all worked to make each victory that much sweeter and more deserved. It was a smarter breed of shooter– one that required players to appraise the situation before charging in– and it was also a more human one too.

And let’s not forget the whole armoury of new weapons as well, such as the legendary Laptop Gun. None of James Bond’s weapons could double up as a sentry gun– or a rocket launcher, or a proximity mine, or a threat detector for that matter, either!– and if there was ever going to be one undeniable stamp of coolness conferred on Perfect Dark, it would be each weapon’s secondary function. This added a new layer of creativity to Perfect Dark, and it gave you much more freedom than the regular run ‘n’ gun experience that GoldenEye offered. If you were looking for suave and sophisticated weaponry that would put even Q to shame, Perfect Dark had you covered.

Perfect Dark offers so much more

Sure, GoldenEye will always be remembered for its cracking single-player and multiplayer modes, but you got so much more bang for your buck with Perfect Dark. Not only did it have everything that made GoldenEye great– clever missions, an exquisite multiplayer and a whole treasure trove of cheats and secrets– but it also gave you a co-op mode, a counter-operative mode (where two players can work against each other in the main missions), special hard-as-nails challenges, and the Carrington Institute, where you could run holographic training tests, practice at the firing range, and access all those glorious cheats.

The Carrington Institute in particular was perhaps one of my favourite parts of Perfect Dark. I must have spent hours at the firing range getting to grips with all my guns, and there are still some gold target challenges I’ve yet to beat too. I may not have spent much time doing the training simulations, but at the end of the day, just the idea of being able to roam about your headquarters and crawl through the air ducts was pretty cool back in the day, even if it was as dead and empty as a rumbled double agent– we can’t have everything after all, can we? But even though this extended home hub was somewhat lacking in personality, what made the Carrington Institute even better was the fact that it actually formed the backdrop for one of your missions later on, and all that useless knowledge you’d accumulated about its layout– like where those handy sentry guns were– suddenly became absolutely critical. If that’s not the best in-game treat ever, then I don’t know what is.

Perfect Dark has better multiplayer

Yep, I said it. Perfect Dark has better multiplayer than GoldenEye. The reason? Sims. No, not that kind of Sim– Simulants. We all know four-player split-screen was the pinnacle of GoldenEye‘s multiplayer, but what about all those times you could only get one or two friends to join in the killing spree? It wasn’t so great, was it? But with Perfect Dark, not only could you bump up that number up to four with extra A.I-controlled sim bots, you could also have up to eight additional sims playing at the same time. It was utter madness, and we loved it.

It was also the perfect place to hone your shooting skills, as these sims could be even meaner than a Lv.9 Smash Bros. bot. The PerfectSims were particularly brutal, as these guys moved at superhuman speed, had deadly, pin-point accuracy, and would soon settle any dispute about who was the better marksman. You could even set them up to act differently too, like the VengeSim who always hunts down the last player who killed them, or the JudgeSim who always attacks the winning player. What’s more, it also brought back everyone’s favourite Facility, Temple and Complex levels from GoldenEye, ensuring that Perfect Dark would be the one-stop shop for all things multiplayer. James Bond, eat your heart out.

So, there you have it, readers. Who do you think made the better argument? More importantly, which one do you think is the better game? Sound off in the comments below!

Pages: 1 2 3

3 Responses to “Shoot to Kill: GoldenEye 007 Vs. Perfect Dark

  • 0 points

    While the subject material for this article is brilliant in and of itself, there seems to be a few key points that are interestingly nowhere to be seen.

    Truly, GoldenEye’s entrance was an absolute first for not only the Nintendo market, but for the home console market simultaneously. Gamers all knew of Doom and Wolfenstein on the P.C., but back in ’97, not everyone had one of those yet. It was still on the up-and-coming angle rather than the accepted dominance it now holds. Knowing of the idea of a FPS, never-mind one that you can play with friends, Josh is quite right in that when GoldenEye landed, it did -everything- right.

    However, one of the main points that is missed here is that GoldenEye did more with the N64 than Perfect Dark did, because Perfect Dark established elements within it’s game that quite honestly did not fit in with the limitations on the N64. One of the first and foremost examples of this are the bots. The minute you get a Perfect Sim (never-mind a Dark-Sim) playing against yourself, you understand that it’s accuracy, or rather, it’s ability to head-shot you straight-on regardless of the direction is was facing half a second before, quite literally makes the human player unable to respond as quickly because they are dealing with the “controller lag” of the N64 controller. Turning around (never mind getting your sights on your foe) took time. Time that the Perfect Sims did not have to take.

    To put it simply, the Perfect Sims were playing with a mouse and keyboard, and the human player was stuck with his N64 controller, although great, could not force the “screen box” to move at the same speed as the computer A.I. And we all know what this kind of scenario produces in grand quantity: frustration.

    The next issue between GoldenEye and Perfect Dark is that of weapon balance. Quite simply put, in GoldenEye, for the most part, you were playing with guns. Guns that shot bullets. Sure, you had mines, and rockets, and grenades, and what-not, but for the most part, the multi-player game focused itself around who landed that wicked-sick head-shot, or who just did an amazing corner-to-corner drive by sub-machine gun run. It felt that everyone was on the same page at least, when it came to weapon balance, selection, and use. Not to mention that the weapons you used were in pre-determined packs, so you only had roughly 7-10 weapon selections available, whereas in Perfect Dark, you could choose whichever six weapons you desired.

    Although the latter example here sounds like it would make for greater game-play, too many of the weapons in Perfect Dark had secondary features that were either a) useless, or b) over-powered the regular feature to an uncanny extent. Not only this, but wanting to just have basic run-and-gun multi-player set-ups meant that, in reality, you could only really choose like four or five of the semi-automatics available. The CP32 (I think that’s what it was called) had the auto-lock on feature. That’s pretty much auto-B.S. as far as a shoot-out is concerned. The Dragon had the proximity mine feature, meaning if you wanted an explosive-free match, you couldn’t add this incredible machine gun. The Super-Dragon had a grenade launcher as it’s secondary weapon (really? C’mon). The lap-top gun had the sentry gun, which although awesome in concept, was just way too deadly in execution.

    In short, the secondary weapon features, which although a great concept, and great ideas for the features themselves, did not balance evenly whatsoever. Whatever game-play type you were going for in multi-player, it would soon be discovered that you had very few weapons to compliment your existing choices well.

    And finally, and this is a point that Josh hits upon excellently in his article, the story for the single player game (back when single player games mattered for console shooters) was hands-down way better in GoldenEye. Not only this, but the shoot-outs were way more, I know this is a weird way to say this, relate-able. Going through the Facility level, having tons of Russian soldiers streaming at you from all directions, yeah, you could buy into this. Dinking around on an alien planet/space ship in Perfect Dark, having to listen to Elvis; mind-breaking annoyance.

    Not only that, but the actual level designs were far tighter in GoldenEye than in Perfect Dark. Perfect Dark had some amazing locales that did vary from one another, but it took risks on many of those locales as well, that quite honestly did not translate to fun game-play. A show of hands here of who enjoyed the last “boss” level of Perfect Dark? Really? You did? Get out. Now. Actually, any level in Perfect Dark that had the Aliens in it were really annoying, and, if not exactly boring, were not “Oh man! That was awesome!” excitement inducing. Which, by the way, every single level of GoldenEye was.

    Perfect Dark had a lot of work cut out for it. Not only was it a “sequel” to a break-through and (then) one-of-a-kind game (based, none-the-less, on one of the oldest and prolific movie licenses ever), it was expected, no-doubt, to provide the same kind of splash as the original had. That’s a huge piece of work cut out for a game based on an original property. And never-the-less, RARE did an amazing job adding an incredible amount of content on-to what was then considered one of the most complete experiences available on the N64. That being said, much of what made the cut to the final floor of Perfect Dark shouldn’t have. There should have been someone at RARE that was just super-honest with the entire team, and stated, “Yo Brits and Grits – we can do better.” They had an amazing amount of new features, but lacking the aforementioned balance, had no hope of ever topping, never-mind meeting, a game as well thought-out and balanced as the original GoldenEye.

    And that is where Perfect Dark ultimately fell short. Not on the amazing promises it made and delivered, but how it made those promises sit and interact with one another on the same cartridge. This article by Josh and Katharine hit upon many valiant points, but ultimately miss a few very timely ones as why Perfect Dark did only sell half the amount as GoldenEye, and why a room lights up at the mention of GoldenEye, but produces many furrowed brows at the mention of Joanna Dark. Ultimately, at the end of the day, what moved both of these experiences was the very reason you would tell some-one you were going to be picking either one of them up from the store; “I’m going to buy a game.” And in terms of game-play, GoldenEye is the clear and cut example, as stated by Josh, of how to get it absolutely right the first time around, whereas Perfect Dark missed it’s mark (by perhaps) adding too much without remembering that all the extras would have to come together to form a coherent package.

    Regardless of this though, absolutely amusing read from both Josh and Katharine, a fine piece of Nintendo-based writing indeed.

    • 258 points
      Joshua A. Johnston says...

      @Diamondo: thanks for the feedback and the thoughts. I agree with the vast majority of your points, and even where I don’t, it is more a matter of weighing to what degree the fault should be held against Perfect Dark, not a matter of whether the fault exists.

      For the purposes of avoiding getting overly windy, word count limits were set on the responses at the outset, which (necessarily) hampered how detailed or technical we could get… hence some of the finer details you correctly pointed out were omitted.

  • 0 points

    Thank you for the reply Joshua,

    Even though I made the point of vocalizing my “Huh? Why is -this- and -that- not there?” I can fully appreciate the need to put a collar on the word-count. Not to mention how feeling of sharpness (re: of a genuine, off-the-cuff, rapid-fire exchange) can get hampered by both windy arguments, and the baggage that of course often comes with this, the sensation that the “exchange” was really just a costume for a long list of ideas.

    That all being said, that’s what’s always wonderful about the comments section. Those that read, care, and wish to contribute something can always make their voice, opinions, and knowledge heard. And even though it is not part and parcel of the actual content package, it carries with it none-the-less both the continuation, and the care, of somebody who has read (and thus been motivated by) the original piece.

    This being said, I still feel that perhaps there is a bit of an under-utilization of one of the really clever page-design implementations here at the Dojo (fairly) recently. This of course is the idea that (some – really – any) piece can be cut and divided into different page segments. Not only does this cut any chances of opening a page out of curiousness and then realizing, “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind discovering out more about X, but I don’t know if I have the commitment to move this tiny page-scroll bar all the way to the bottom,” but it naturally introduces breaks and sub-sections within a given piece. If I don’t know if I’m going to commit to an article, it’s a lot easier giving the few paragraphs on the first page a go-through, and then knowing if it doesn’t strike my fancy, I don’t have to go on, rather than saying to myself, “If the first few paragraphs really don’t cut it, I’m going to pull myself away from the entire article, and feel the disappointment associated with giving up regardless.” And the content, especially in a web-based format, often can call on different design principles (whether one page can be dedicated more to pictures – another quotes – a third a more in-depth dissertation) that give the article as a whole a much more well-rounded and thoroughly thought out apprehension than just a long page with everything stuck on everything else, as if soldiering up in a food line.

    Sorry again for the rather lengthy response, but again, great work on the article and in general for the site. The name of Joshua carries a lot of weight when attributed to an article, not only for the guaranteed insight, but the guaranteed heart. It’s been a pleasure reading your work. Keep it up.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!