game news Was Perfect Dark Zero really that bad?
The famous spy Joanna Dark surely did not expect to find herself unemployed for so long after the publication of the second part of her adventures. “Zero” is the subtitle that Rare gives to this prequel released with the launch of Xbox 360. It is also the qualification that a certain number of players attribute to the epic of the young heroine. Described as “Project Snowblind-like”, “unworthy 360 software” or even “waste” by the specialized press, Perfect Dark Zero has been harshly criticized. Well named?
A story of perspective
This article is an opinion piece, it is by nature subjective. The author’s opinion is personal and not representative of that of the rest of the JV staff.
you only live twice
Sometimes it’s funny to see how certain memories don’t fit reality. This is the case for everything related to the release of Perfect Dark Zero. Ask if the game signed by Rare is good or bad. It’s a safe bet your listeners will reply in unison that it’s a title to forget, before a cheery laron adds just “anyway, Rare, it’s over since Microsoft bought the studio”. The French press has not been kind to the new adventures of Joanna Dark. We gave it an 11/20, while Gamekult gave it a 6/10 and that Console+ awarded a more generous 14/20. This may have contributed to this impression that PDZ is briny. Generally speaking, when it was released in late 2005 in the United States and Europe, reviews were far from favorable. However, its Metacritic stands at 81/100, which is not as catastrophic as we might have imagined. After all, it is the same average as A Plague Tale Innocence, Splatoon, Condemned, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Tearaway Unfolded or even Hellblade, which are far from being considered failures.
The spy who lured me in
What played against Perfect Dark Zero is based on the hopes raised by its endless development that came to naught”that” in a fairly classic FPS. It is true that the foundational episode released on Nintendo 64 had turned his little world upside down, to the point of appearing in Metacritic’s top 15 of the best games of all time. It was this critical and commercial acclaim that motivated the British developer to produce a sequel for GameCube, before Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio transformed it into the launch title for Xbox 360. Often referred to as futuristic GoldenEye, The first Perfect Dark wowed us with its quirky weapons, hugely detailed levels, and fun gadgets like the pop-out mini-camera. It is above all its multiplayer, complete and avant-garde at the same time, which has placed Rare’s software in the pantheon of FPS. on consoles The huge promotional campaign organized by Microsoft, which even offered an interview with Joanna Dark (indeed, we are talking about a 3D model) in the lines of FHM magazine, surely contributed to the general disappointment of some of the fans when The final product arrived.
hot and cold
Criticisms of Perfect Dark Zero are numerous. The new design of the heroine, at once realistic and a bit more “manga” as Rare’s Kev Bayliss and Wil Overton wish, is considered too sexy, even missed. The scenario is compared to that of a Z series, the slowness of the heroine is pointed out, the infiltration sequences are described as frustrating and the artificial intelligence is harshly criticized.. The unclear objectives and high difficulty of the adventure (even on Normal) did nothing to restore the image of this prequel. I am not going to contradict these warnings which are factually correct. So, is it better to forget about it for good, this Perfect Dark Zero? Well, no.
Stripping out the pretty cool graphics for the time, despite the unfortunate modeling of the various protagonists and the glow effect on most of the textures, Rare was able to inject some very interesting ideas into their little protégé. The first thing that comes to mind comes from its cooperative mode where the paths of the players part. In the second level of the game, for example, one user roams the rooftops with a sniper while his partner infiltrates the buildings, creating fun interactions.. Like a certain Halo, the campaign of Perfect Dark Zero shows the best of itself only from the moment that two users discover the levels of the epic together. The two missions that take place in South America (Storm and Surveillance) remain a bad memory even 17 years after the game’s release, and only they can explain all the anger in the press against PDZ, due to a really poorly dosed difficulty and a poor design. simplistic. level design.
In terms of maneuverability, the double sticks provide flexibility. Rare has also implemented a dodge and cover system that causes Joanna to slam into terrain, allowing her to aim and shoot through a third-person view.. Clearly it worked quite well. Since we are talking about weapons, the PDZ weapons are numerous, varied and unusual. We’re not in a Turok, but it’s nice to be able to equip the Psychosis Gun, RCP-90, SuperDragon, Hawk Boomerang, or even the Viblade to wreak havoc on enemy lines. The British studio’s software also includes passages aboard two vehicles to add a little more variety to the situations, with the Jetpack and the Hovercraft. Finally, the multiplayer mode allowed up to 32 players to compete simultaneously in different game modes, a large number compared to what the competition offered in 2005 on consoles. Unfortunately, it is now impossible to play games online, since the servers were closed.
crying old school
Whether in its menus (sponsored by Samsung), in its structure, in certain choices on the maneuverability side (impossibility of jumping, slowing down in case of shooting), in artificial intelligence (with enemies capable of hitting the target despite a hundred meters away), in its checkpoint system (only one per level, in the middle of the latter), Perfect Dark Zero was already targeting an old school audience at a time when the general public was beginning to seek new sensations. Although it seems to leave the player the option to take sustained action when it suits them, PDZ should be played favoring the soft method. The tactic should absolutely be favored where possible, otherwise the experience will morph into an infamous mush of frustration injected straight into the IV. Yes, like in the first Perfect Dark, but you have to believe that this game design was better on Nintendo 64 than on Xbox 360.
Despite the ideas put on the table by Rare for a possible sequel, Microsoft will leave Joanna Dark in the closet for a good many years. It was not until the Game Awards 2020 that the development of a new episode was announced, this time directed by The Initiative. While it more than deserves its reputation as a title that lives in the towering shadow of its founding component, Perfect Dark Zero isn’t the video game cast-off we tend to pitch too much. If you approach it as an old school FPS where the strictly annoying aspect should not be privileged, then it will have arguments to make you have a good time, especially in local cooperation. As a reminder, the game is available in the Rare Replay compilation.
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