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Perfect Dark

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This article is about the Nintendo 64 video game. For other uses, see Perfect Dark (disambiguation).
Perfect Dark
A red headed woman's face occupies the foreground on an industrial-style background. She is holding a gun. A grey alien is visible at the bottom right corner. In the bottom of the image, the title "Perfect Dark" featuring a double slash symbol after the word "Dark". Rareware's logo, Nintendo' Seal of Quality, BBFC's rating of "18", and the Dolby Surround Sound logo are shown at the bottom left corner. On the right side of the image, game specifications.
European box art
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s) Rare
Director(s) Martin Hollis
Designer(s) Duncan Botwood
David Doak
Mark Edmonds
Chris Tilston
Composer(s) Grant Kirkhope
Graeme Norgate
David Clynick
Series Perfect Dark
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
  • NA: 22 May 2000
  • PAL: 30 June 2000
Genre(s) First-person shooter, stealth
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter video game developed and published by Rare for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It is considered the spiritual successor to Rare's earlier first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, with which it shares many gameplay features. Perfect Dark was first released in North America on 22 May 2000; PAL and NTSC-J releases followed soon afterwards. A separate Game Boy Color game, also titled Perfect Dark, was released in August 2000 as a supplement to the game and allows certain features within the Nintendo 64 game to alternatively be unlocked via a Transfer Pak.

The game features a single-player mode consisting of 17 main missions in which the player assumes the role of Carrington Institute agent Joanna Dark as she attempts to stop a conspiracy by rival corporation dataDyne. It also features a range of multiplayer options, including a co-operative mode and traditional deathmatch settings. Technically, it is one of the most advanced games developed for the Nintendo 64, with an optional high resolution graphics mode, widescreen support, and Dolby Surround Sound. A Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak is required to access the game's campaign and most of the multiplayer features.

Perfect Dark was developed over the course of three years and uses an upgraded version of the GoldenEye 007 engine. The game met with critical acclaim and commercial success upon release, selling more than three million units worldwide. Critics widely praised its customisable multiplayer modes and replay value, but criticized its inconsistent frame rate. The game's success has led to the development of the Perfect Dark series, which includes the 2005 prequel Perfect Dark Zero and other types of merchandise like novels and comic books. A remaster, also titled Perfect Dark, with enhanced graphics and online multiplayer, was exclusively released as an Xbox Live Arcade game for the Xbox 360 in 2010.


A metallic room with columns and computers located in the farthest side. A hand holding and reloading a gun is seen on the bottom right corner. A crosshair and graphics symbols representing ammunition are also visible.
Unlike its predecessor, Perfect Dark features unique and visible reload animations. The green bars on the HUD at the bottom right corner show remaining ammunition in the weapon's magazine, while the blue bar shows the player's ammo reserves.

Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter in which players control Carrington Institute agent Joanna Dark through a series of levels collected together into missions.[1] The general gameplay is similar to that of its predecessor GoldenEye 007, with features such as stealth sections and objectives determined by difficulty settings carried over.[2][3] Players can crouch, duck, lean, and drop from most ledges, but there is no jump ability.[4][5] A number of tutorials and training activities can be taken at the Carrington Institute, which acts as the game's central hub.[2] The Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak is needed to access the game's campaign and most of the multiplayer features, although a limited subset of the Combat Simulator options are available without the device; around 35% of the game is playable without an Expansion Pak, as estimated on the game's box and Instruction Booklet.[6]

The player has access to a wide range of weapons, including handguns, rifles, submachine guns, a shotgun, rocket launchers, combat knives, grenade launchers, various explosives, and several extraterrestrial weapons.[7] Further weapons are unlocked during the training activities in the hub.[1] Almost all of the weapons in the game have two modes of fire: a primary mode in which the weapon is used in a typical fashion, and a secondary mode which uses the guns in other ways, such as them being close-quarters melee weapons.[7] Players can carry an unlimited number of weapons, and certain guns can be used in duplicate, one in each hand.[8] Most weapons have a finite magazine and must be reloaded after a certain number of shots. Interaction with objects in the environment is via a single "Use" command.[6] Enemies and players can disarm each other at close range, and the player can use this feature to steal weapons or knock foes unconscious.[6][9] Damage taken during combat for the player and enemy units is location-based, with a shot to the torso causing more damage than a shot to a limb.[6][9]

In each level, the player must complete certain objectives and then exit the stage.[1] The requirements are varied, with many levels requiring the recovery and use of numerous high-tech gadgets. If Joanna is killed or fails an objective, the player must start the level again. Three distinct difficulty settings are available for each level, the choice of which will affect aspects such as the number of objectives that must be completed, enemy accuracy and damage, the effectiveness of the game's optional automatic aiming assistance, and the availability of ammunition and items such as protective shields.[1][10] If all the levels are completed on the highest difficulty, an additional setting becomes available, titled "Perfect Dark".[1] In this mode, players can customise various aspects of enemies, such as their health, their aiming accuracy and the damage they inflict.[1] In addition to the main campaign, there are four bonus missions, with three enabling the player to control other characters with unique special abilities.[11][12] Players can also unlock cheats by completing the levels within certain time limits.[13] Some cheats can alternatively be unlocked by using the Perfect Dark Game Boy Color game and Transfer Pak.[14]


Unlike GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark features three multiplayer systems. The first is a co-operative mode in which two players, or one player and up to three computer-controlled players, can tackle the missions together.[2] If two humans play, the game uses a split screen display, with the option to split horizontally or vertically. Only one human player is required to survive the mission, but all the objectives must be completed. Additionally, the game features a "Counter Operative" mode in which one player plays the missions as Joanna while another takes over the role of an enemy and attempts to stop her.[15] If this human-controlled guard is killed, the game continues with the Counter Operative player taking control of a different enemy in the level.[15] The game does not tell the player controlling Joanna which enemy the Counter Operative player is controlling.[15]

The third multiplayer mode is the Combat Simulator, involving up to four human players and eight computer-controlled players.[2] Again, a split-screen is used if more than one human is playing. If three or four humans play, the screen is divided into quarters, with one quarter left blank if necessary.[6] Players enter the game unarmed and with a certain amount of health. Weapons and ammunition are placed around the level in preset positions. Once a player is killed, they are regenerated elsewhere in the level, once again unarmed. The overall objective of the game is determined by the scenario being played.[16] Scenarios range from the traditional deathmatch mode, where players score points by killing their respective enemies, to objective-based games, such as Capture the Flag or King of the Hill. Other scenarios include Hold the Briefcase, where players must take a briefcase and survive with it for as long as possible, and Hacker Central, a gametype where players score points by hacking a computer system using a data uplink.[17] Aspects of each game can be customised, including the chosen map, the weapons available, and the winning conditions.[17] Players can also be grouped into teams or compete individually.[17] In a team game, the players can optionally be shown coloured according to their team.[17] Each game can be customised to a greater degree than was possible in GoldenEye 007's multiplayer mode, such as free weapons selection and placement of shields.[16][17]

Computer-controlled players, called "Simulants", can be included in multiplayer matches.[17] The appearance, team affiliation, skill level and playing characteristics of each Simulant can be individually customised; each Simulant can be assigned pre-set behaviours, such as a tendency to pursue the highest-scoring player, or a restriction to only attack using fists and disarming moves instead of gunfire.[17] On higher difficulty settings, Simulants perform actions at a superhuman level.[17] In team games, players can issue allied Simulants with orders to perform certain tasks.[6] The Combat Simulator also includes 30 "Challenges", pre-set games against Simulants which may be tackled by one or more players.[18] The Challenges cover a variety of game types, weapon arrangements and level setups. By completing Challenges, additional features such as new weapons, player models and Simulant difficulties are unlocked in the Combat Simulator.[18] At the end of a match, the overall results are shown, alongside information about the individual players' performance: colour-coded awards divided into multiple categories based on armour damage, accuracy and ammunition usage are given to players based on their overall performance. Players are also ranked according to their performance: the better the performance, the higher the grade.[2]


Perfect Dark is set in 2023 against the backdrop of an interstellar war between two races: the Maians, who resemble the archetypal grey alien, and the Skedar, reptile-like extraterrestrials who use a holographic disguise to appear as Scandinavian humans, bearing similarities to Nordic aliens.[19] Using this disguise, they can interact with humans on Earth without looking too overtly suspicious. Meanwhile, on Earth, there is an ongoing rivalry between two factions: The Carrington Institute, a research and development center founded by Daniel Carrington that secretly operates an espionage group in league with the Maians;[19] and dataDyne, a defence contractor corporation headed by Cassandra De Vries that secretly maintains a deal with the Skedar: in exchange for creating an AI capable of cracking an ancient alien spacecraft buried on the ocean floor, the Skedar have agreed to supply them with enough alien technology to become the biggest corporation on Earth.[19]

The player is cast as Carrington Institute agent Joanna Dark, whose excellent scores in training have earned her the codename "Perfect Dark".[20] On her first mission, she is sent to extract a scientist named Dr. Caroll from the dataDyne skyscraper.[19] When Joanna rescues Dr. Caroll, she learns that he is an AI who decided to defect from dataDyne after realising that the company betrayed ethical and moral standards.[19] After the operation, Carrington is held captive at his private villa by dataDyne soldiers and forced to tell them where Dr. Caroll has been hidden. Joanna manages to rescue Carrington, who informs her that Dr. Caroll has been taken to the G5 Corporation headquarters in Chicago because he is suspected to be a front for dataDyne.[21] In Chicago, Joanna learns that dataDyne and their conspirators plan to kidnap the President of the United States to get access to a deep sea research vessel called Pelagic II.[22] Despite the President being in danger, Carrington alerts Joanna that a Maian craft was shot down near Area 51 and sends her to rescue any survivors from the base.[23] While inside the base, she rescues one survivor, a Maian protector named Elvis who is key in stopping the conspiracy.[19]

As the President of the United States refuses to loan dataDyne the Pelagic II, the conspirators plot to kill him and replace him with a dataDyne-grown clone.[22] To accomplish their plans, an NSA strike team led by Trent Easton invades the air base from which Air Force One will depart.[19] When Joanna foils this strike, the NSA along with some Scandinavians take over the plane itself, which crashes after an attempt to detach a craft attached to it.[19] Having survived the crash, Joanna eliminates the President's clone and rescues the real President.[19] Meanwhile, Easton is killed by one particular Scandinavian known as Mr. Blonde, who is revealed to be a Skedar in disguise.[24] Without permission from the President, dataDyne decides to hijack the Pelagic II and reach the ancient spacecraft.[19] However, unbeknownst to dataDyne, the Carrington Institute learns that the spacecraft contains a powerful weapon capable of destroying a planet and that the conspirators are actually Skedar aliens disguised as Scandinavian humans who intend to test the weapon on Earth before using it against the Maian homeworld.[19]

Joanna and Elvis follow the conspirators to the ancient spacecraft and eventually find a reprogrammed Dr. Caroll cracking the weapon. Joanna replaces its current personality with a backup of the original, and the restored Dr. Carroll sets the weapon to self-destruct.[25] In retaliation for ruining their plans, the Skedar launch a strike on the Carrington Institute, capturing Joanna and taking her to their homeworld.[19] While in their spaceship, she is met by De Vries, who has also been imprisoned due to her failure to comply with the deal. Feeling that she has been used, De Vries redeems herself by making a distraction and sacrificing herself, freeing Joanna and therefore giving herself a chance for revenge.[26] Joanna is later assisted by Elvis and the pair manage to land on the Skedar planet.[19] There, she defeats the Skedar High Priest, leaving the Skedar in disarray. The game ends with Elvis and Joanna leaving the planet just prior to an orbital bombardment from the Maian navy.[19]



A two colour image showing a room. A woman is sitting on a couch and holding a gun in her right hand. A large weapon is lying on the left wall. Around the image are Japanese symbols.
While the localised title of Red and Black was ultimately dropped, Japanese advertisements and box art for Perfect Dark still kept its dual colour theme. Also evident in this ad is that Perfect Dark could be bought bundled with an Expansion Pak in Japan.

Perfect Dark was developed by Rare as a spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007.[5] Shortly after the release of GoldenEye 007, Rare was planning to work on a video game based on the GoldenEye sequel Tomorrow Never Dies, but the company was "dramatically outbid" by Electronic Arts, which would release 007: Tomorrow Never Dies in 1999.[27] This result did not affect the developers, who felt they had already spent too much time immersed in the James Bond universe.[27][28] The game's science fiction setting was chosen due to the developers' interest in the genre.[29] Works such as Ghost in the Shell, Elektra, The X-Files, Blade Runner and the writing of author Philip K. Dick were major influences on the characters, setting and plot.[5][30][31] Perfect Dark director Martin Hollis explained that he and designer David Doak "picked a range of locations we thought would be impressive and architectural, on the model of GoldenEye but sci-fi dystopias [...] The settings came first; the plot was then constructed by Dave to sew them together".[31]

The decision to make the central character a woman was part of Hollis' belief that there "should be more games centred on women."[31] To this end, the team created Joanna Dark, influenced by a number of other fictional heroines: Kim Kimberly from Level 9 Computing's text adventure Snowball, the seductive spy Agent X-27 in the 1931 film Dishonored, the eponymous femme fatale of the film Nikita, and FBI agent Dana Scully from The X-Files.[31] The name "Joanna Dark" was taken from the French pronunciation of Joan of Arc as "Jeanne d'Arc", while the name of the in-game company "dataDyne" was inspired by Yoyodyne from The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.[28]

The "double slash" symbol in the game's logo was inspired by the Japanese dakuten mark,[32] and the bad grammar of the phrase "Perfect Dark" alludes in some degree to Hollis' affection for the way the Japanese use English words in their own games.[28] The word "Dark" was chosen for its association with the game's bleak focus on killing.[31] Hollis noted the similarities to Criterion Software's naming of Black: "Game developers just like black, nihilism, dystopian futures, the number zero, infinity, spheres, perfection—all that kind of stuff."[31] Originally, Nintendo considered releasing the game in Japan under the title Aka to Kuro (赤と黒?, lit. "Red and Black").[33] "Perfect Dark" does not translate well into Japanese, and the title "Aka to Kuro" was considered sufficiently edgy.[34] However, it was ultimately released as パーフェクト・ダーク (Pāfekuto Dāku), a transliteration of the Western title.[35]


Work on Perfect Dark began with the same team that developed GoldenEye 007.[36] The developers upgraded the GoldenEye 007 engine with new features and graphical enhancements such as dynamic lighting, widescreen support, and the option to play in high resolution graphics mode.[2] According to Rare, only 30% of the original engine remained, providing a basic framework to construct levels and animate characters.[37] A new movement system was also constructed, allowing players to fall off edges.[5] The new setting gave developers complete control over the environments. For example, the first level takes place inside a skyscraper that artist and architecture graduate Karl Hilton always wanted to build, and features realistic environments like service stairs and an exterior area that can be explored.[36] Motion capture was used to create character animations: game designer Duncan Botwood wore a pair of high heels so that he could portray Joanna Dark in these sessions.[30]

Perfect Dark supports advanced audio features such as Dolby Surround Sound.[5][38] There is full voice-acting for all in-game and cutscene dialogue,[5] and guards can be heard having conversations amongst themselves during gameplay.[39] The developers added more elaborate gore effects, which allow gunshots to disperse and stain enemies' blood onto nearby walls and objects.[40] A "dizziness" graphical effect was also introduced; if a player is punched or tranquilised, their nausea is represented through a motion blurred view.[2] The artificial intelligence was improved so that enemies could "assess threats, work as a team and communicate with each other."[38] Enemies were also given the ability to draw a secondary sidearm when disarmed.[39] Nintendo wanted an American actress to voice Joanna Dark, but the negotiations were not conducted effectively enough and video game music composer Eveline Fischer was chosen to voice the character.[30]

Originally, Hollis hoped that the difference between light and dark would be a significant feature of the gameplay, and the title was intended to reflect this focus.[31] A flashlight was implemented by Steve Ellis,[31] who had been responsible for much of the multiplayer mode of GoldenEye 007,[41] but it was not included in the final game due to the limitations of the Nintendo 64 hardware. Hollis remarked that such aims were overambitious, commenting in 2006 that "Even today, you can see game developers struggle to make light and dark foundational from a gameplay perspective. I suspect it will take a few years before significant and pervasive gameplay innovation occurs here."[31] Although not all these intended features were realised, the game contains more advanced lighting than its predecessor. For example, lights can be shot out to create darkened areas, gunfire and explosions illuminate rooms dynamically, and the player can use infrared and night vision goggles.[2]

Hollis was involved with Perfect Dark for the first 14 months of its three-year development, during which progress was troubled and long delayed.[29][31] He explained, "each of us was asking for more than the other could give. This situation ended with my departure, and with very deep regret I was unable to see Perfect Dark to completion".[42] By the end of 1998, half of the team members, including Doak and Ellis,[43] also left Rare to form Free Radical Design.[30] What followed by those remaining on the project was a comprehensive re-design of the game, with the story and characters being the main items kept intact.[30] Game designer Mark Edmonds was promoted to team leader because he was familiar with most of the game engine at the time.[30] Rare also assigned more people to the development team, which eventually became three times bigger than GoldenEye 007's.[30] The new team was "uniquely shielded from the outside world" and did not have a production manager, a schedule, meetings, or any sort of deadlines. According to artist B Jones, "People would just do things they thought were cool and would work".[30] The game's Counter Operative mode was inspired by "Bottles' Revenge", an additional gameplay mode cut from the final release of Banjo-Tooie.[44]

As developers kept adding more features, the game ended up using all the extra memory on the debug consoles.[30] As a result, the game became too big to fit into the Nintendo 64's 4MB of random-access memory (RAM).[30] The developers soon realised that they were not able to optimise it and decided to make use of the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak, which increases the Nintendo 64's RAM from 4MB to 8MB of contiguous main memory, to support most of the features in the game.[30] After playing the release version of the game, Hollis was impressed by the comprehensive range of multiplayer options, which he described as "a vast array of features I never planned".[31] Doak, however, remarked that "GoldenEye pretty much exhausted the performance of the machine. It was hard to push it further. Perfect Dark had some good ideas but was dog slow."[41]

A feature called "Perfect Head", which appeared in previews of the game but was not included in the final product, was intended to take customisation of multiplayer profiles further.[45] This feature allowed the player to place a photograph of their choice onto their in-game character's face, via a Game Boy Camera combined with the Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak. The images taken would be uploaded to the cartridge and manipulated with a simple image editing program to adjust colour and skin tone (as the Game Boy Camera was black and white) and add facial features such as facial hair. This texture could then be saved to either the cartridge or a Controller Pak and then loaded onto a player's character in multiplayer, thus creating a virtual representation of the player.[46][47] Although Rare officially said that the feature was dropped due to "technical issues", the actual reason was revealed to be "sensitive issues" surrounding the ability to attack images of real people.[45][48][49]

Numerous easter eggs and secrets were added to the game to fuel the exploration efforts and wild speculation of many gamers.[50] One of the most notable features is the pieces of cheese hidden on every level.[51] These were deliberately placed by one of the game's artists as a graphical oddity for the player's confusion.[32] The face of actor Robin Williams was used for Daniel Carrington, while the face of Shigeru Miyamoto along with faces of other Nintendo executives and game journalists can be seen on enemy guards and as selectable avatars in the multiplayer mode.[52] The ranking system of the Combat Simulator awards a special username and password to skilled players.[50] Rare had originally intended these details to allow access to password-protected parts of the official Perfect Dark website, but these sections were never implemented.[32]

Marketing and release[edit]

Rare announced in mid-1998 that their follow-up to GoldenEye 007 would appear at that year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) as Nintendo's lead game.[53] Using an updated version of the GoldenEye 007 engine, Perfect Dark was originally intended to be available by December 1999 and was heavily trailed in magazines, with Nintendo Official Magazine predicting that it would be "the best shooting game this century".[54][55] A working version of the game appeared at the European Computer Trade Show in September 1998;[56] N64 Magazine described the preview as having "the kind of attention to detail that had everyone who saw [it] drooling".[57] A more complete version of the game was presented at E3 in May 1999 and at Nintendo Spaceworld in August 1999, along with Rare's Donkey Kong 64 and Jet Force Gemini.[58] Shortly before release, Rare unveiled a number of websites for companies in the game's universe, such as, to promote interest in the game's storyline.[59][60]

The first release of the game came on 22 May 2000 in North America. Nintendo arranged a number of publicity stunts to promote the release, including hiring model Michele Merkin, who appeared as the lead character Joanna Dark in commercials and in-store promotions for the game cartridge.[61][62] Unlike GoldenEye 007, the game received an M (Mature) rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board due to its graphic content and adult language.[40] This caused some controversy, as Nintendo has a reputation for family-friendly games like Mario and Pokémon.[63] Total sales for the game reached 1.3 million copies in the United States.[64] The European release followed on 30 June, and finally the game was released in Japan on 21 October. The Japanese launch was a success, with the sale of 35,000 copies in the first week,[64] and 77,000 in total.[65] Worldwide, Perfect Dark sold 3.2 million copies according to game designer Chris Tilston.[66] As a result, a Player's Choice edition was released in 2001.[67]

A separate Game Boy Color game set in the same fictional universe, also titled Perfect Dark, was released shortly afterwards in August 2000 to help promote the Nintendo 64 game. Although its storyline is different from the Nintendo 64 title, the game features a compatibility mode that allows certain features within the Nintendo 64 game to alternatively be unlocked, via a Transfer Pak.[68] On the other hand, a double soundtrack album, titled Perfect Dark: Dual CD Soundtrack, which features the complete score of the game, was released on 15 November 2000 exclusively through Nintendo Power magazine.[69]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 95% (45 reviews)[70]
Metacritic 97% (30 reviews)[71]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 4.5/5 stars[72]
Edge 9/10[3]
GamePro 5/5 stars[73]
Game Revolution A-[74]
GameSpot 9.9/10[75]
IGN 9.8/10[2]
N64 Magazine 96%[76]
Nintendo Power 9.6/10[77]
The Electric Playground 10/10[78] 9.0/10[79]

Upon release, Perfect Dark received very strong reviews from magazines and websites. Critics praised multiple aspects of the game, particularly its graphics, sound and value.[2] GameSpot editor Joe Fielder felt that Perfect Dark is "unparalleled" as a console first-person shooter,[75] while Nintendo Power said that the game is "more compelling than most action movies and much deeper than any video game of its type."[77] Martin Kitts, writing for N64 Magazine, described it as "dauntingly huge", stating that it "takes everything that made its predecessor such an enduring favourite and does it bigger, better and more often."[76] Chi Kong Lui of GameCritics criticised the weak characters and unoriginal storyline, but nevertheless judged the "extraordinary amount [sic] of high-quality multiplayer modes and features", meant that "the game is still a blast".[79]

The graphics were praised for their dynamic lighting, clean textures, and realistic and fluid animations.[2] IGN journalist Matt Casamassina remarked that the levels are much more detailed than the ones from GoldenEye 007 and that the polygon character models and weapons are "wonderfully animated".[2] Game Revolution highlighted the game's semi-realistic look, saying that it "adds to the depth and addiction of the game".[74] The voiced cutscenes, detailed sound effects, atmospheric musical score, and Dolby Surround Sound capabilities were said to effectively bring the game to life.[2][75] Victor Lucas of The Electric Playground highlighted the fact that Rare was able to fit such a clear sounding experience into the limited space of a Nintendo 64 cartridge.[78] The music was described as a mixture between Vangelis' Blade Runner theme and the GoldenEye 007 soundtrack.[2]

The gameplay was generally praised for the challenging artificial intelligence of enemies and varied level design.[2][75][79] GameCritics credited the missions for their "nice mix of timed, patterned, and random events that makes playing through them different and refreshing each time".[79] The enemies were admired for their use of squad tactics, for waiting for the player to come back instead of obediently chasing after them, and for ducking around a corner for cover.[75] GamePro also gave high marks to the game's Counter Operative mode for not letting the player playing as Joanna known which enemy the opposing player controls.[73] The multiplayer and replay value were seen as the strongest features of the game.[2][73][75][79] Reviewers noted that the flexibility of options, number of game modes, "clever" weapons, number of unlockable features, and customisable Simulants give the game "endless replay value".[2][75] GameCritics stated that "Perfect Dark is easily the most advanced, elaborate, and entertaining multiplayer gaming experience on any home console."[79]

One frequently criticised aspect of the game was its low and inconsistent frame rate.[2][3][75][78] According to Trigger Happy author Steven Poole, "The game's inadequate temporal resolution—owing to a wrongheaded choice to privilege visual detail over frame-rate—made it unplayable at higher difficulty levels."[80] In contrast, IGN pointed out that the frame rate "can be sluggish in certain wide-open areas or when there are lots of enemies on-screen, but for some odd reason it's never really bothersome. Most of the time you're so caught up in the game that you don't notice it, and when you do, you're willing to forgive it as Perfect Dark is just too much fun to dwell on such an issue".[2] Poole also described the "lazy sci-fi fetishism" of Joanna Dark's character design as "a blatant and doomed attempt to steal the thunder of Lara Croft",[80] and argued that she illustrated the challenges of characterising the protagonists of first-person shooters, a problem that GoldenEye 007 had avoided by using the already well-known character James Bond.[81]

The overall positive reaction from critics can be gauged by the results of review compilation sites. The game has a Metacritic rating of 97 out of 100, which is considered "universal acclaim",[71] and a GameRankings aggregate review score of 95% as of June 2007.[70] Perfect Dark has also been featured in several "greatest game" lists and is frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. In 2006, the game was placed at number 15 on IGN's Readers Choice Top 100 Games Ever and Nintendo Power rated it the 100th best game made on a Nintendo system.[82][83] In 2007, the game was placed at number 86 on IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time and Edge placed it at number 28 on their list of 100 Best Videogames (a list voted for by readers, Edge staff and gaming industry professionals).[84][85] Rare was also recognised for its work on the game, as the company was awarded the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Moving Images Award for 2000 and the Golden Satellite Award for Best Interactive Product in 2001.[86][87] At the GameSpot's 2000 Game of the Year Awards, Perfect Dark was awarded Best Nintendo 64 Game and Best Shooting Game.[88][89]

Edge published two retrospective articles on Perfect Dark in 2007 and 2008. The magazine acknowledged that the game's frame rate and other dated elements of its design rendered it "nigh-on unplayable",[90] but found its ambitious range of options still praiseworthy: "At release, Perfect Dark was the most comprehensive first-person shooter ever made, and in some ways it still is."[85] Edge found the ambitious mentality which resulted in weapons and computer-controlled players being "designed for possibilities rather than balance", both one of Perfect Dark's most interesting aspects and the cause of its biggest problem: "Restraint [...] would have made Perfect Dark a tighter, more focused experience, helped with those framerate issues, and removed almost all of the fun."[90] The magazine concluded that despite Perfect Dark not standing up as a good game to play in 2008, "its currency of ideas and provocation [...] remains sound."[90]


Perfect Dark was one of the last first-person shooters released for the Nintendo 64, which was already nearing the end of its lifespan; Nintendo unveiled their upcoming console, the GameCube, at Nintendo Spaceworld 2000.[91] A "sister" game to Perfect Dark, called Velvet Dark, was initially planned to be developed for either the Nintendo 64 or GameCube in late 2000, but the project was ultimately abandoned.[92] Also notable is the fact that Perfect Dark features a character named Velvet Dark that can be controlled by the second player in the game's co-operative mode.[92] Twenty months before Perfect Dark was released, several members of the development team left Rare to form Free Radical Design.[43] This company would develop the PlayStation 2 game TimeSplitters, another first-person shooter based around a completely new engine. TimeSplitters and its sequels bear several gameplay and presentational similarities to GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, including a similar aiming system and unlockable options through quick level completions.[93][94]

Meanwhile Rare began development of a prequel titled Perfect Dark Zero for the GameCube. In 2002, the company was purchased by Microsoft and the development of the game was subsequently transferred to Microsoft's Xbox console.[95] It was later decided that the game would instead be released for the Xbox 360 as a launch title. Perfect Dark Zero retains Perfect Dark's mission objective system and Joanna Dark as the protagonist, but other features were not carried over. The game's multiplayer mode supports more players due to the more advanced Xbox 360 hardware, and can also be played online via Xbox Live.[96] Perfect Dark Zero received generally positive reviews from critics,[97] but some publications such as Eurogamer and Game Informer felt it was a disappointment.[98][99]

Perfect Dark's worldwide sales were not as great as its predecessor's eight million,[100] and Joanna Dark did not attain the same status in pop culture as other video game heroines such as Tomb Raider's Lara Croft. Nevertheless, the game's universe continued to be developed with the release of the novel Perfect Dark: Initial Vector, a Rare-sanctioned paperback by Greg Rucka.[101] The novel is set in the time between Perfect Dark Zero and Perfect Dark, and portrays Joanna Dark as an ex-bounty hunter drawn into the Carrington Institute's battle with dataDyne through her own vendetta against the hyper-corporations.[102] Rucka stated, "If you've played the first game, you're going to get a huge treat, because a lot of stuff that happens in Perfect Dark we set up in the novel."[103] In 2007, two new titles were developed: the comic series Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears, written by Eric Trautmann,[104] and a second novel by Rucka titled Perfect Dark: Second Front, both of which are direct chronological sequels.

In 2010, Perfect Dark was remastered on the Xbox 360 as an Xbox Live Arcade game, featuring reworked graphics and online features (see Perfect Dark XBLA). The development of the remaster was handled by 4J Studios, the same studio that previously handled the Xbox Live Arcade ports of Rare's platform games Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.[9] The remaster was generally well received: while some critics considered the relatively unchanged game to be outdated, most agreed that the title was a solid revival of a classic.[105][106] In August 2015, both Perfect Dark Zero and the Xbox Live Arcade version of Perfect Dark were released for the Xbox One as part of Microsoft's Rare Replay collection.[107]


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  23. ^ Rare. Perfect Dark. Level/area: G5 Building: Reconnaissance. Joanna: Agent Dark reporting in! Prepare to receive a download of the meeting data. Priority request for an Institute Support Team to protect the President before he goes to Alaska. / Carrington: No time for that now, Agent Dark. There's been a development during radio silence. The craft those "friends" I was talking about was shot down over Nevada. The weapon responsible was fired from Area 51... that's were the survivors and debris will have been taken. You're to prep for immediate dispatch when you return here. Carrington out. / Joanna: Area 51? But what about the President? 
  24. ^ Rare. Perfect Dark. Level/area: Crash Site: Confrontation. Mr. Blonde: You have failed, Easton. You are a flawed device and we need you no longer. / Trent: Just try it, you Scandinavian freak! (Mr. Blonde reveals his Skedar appearance and performs a killing blow on Trent) Noooooooo!! 
  25. ^ Rare. Perfect Dark. Level/area: Deep Sea: Nullify Threat. Dr. Caroll: When the program has run, I will have control of a vastly powerful weapon. It can not be allowed to exist. So I must destroy the Cetan and, unfortunately, myself along with it. I’m sorry, Joanna… there is no other way, and no time to discuss this. Go now - avoid the Skedar and you will have time to escape. It has been an honour to work with you. Goodbye, Joanna Dark. 
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External links[edit]