XBOX 360 REVIEW: PERFECT DARK ZERO

Taking cover is easier said than done thanks to the fact that you must be cordially invited by the CPU to do so. You can't just perform this move anywhere. Your character must be positioned at a select spot before the CPU prompts you with the icon of the A button which is displayed onscreen when you've reached a hot spot. Press the button, take cover and keep your fingers crossed.

Specific weapons will be needed to complete some levels. There are ranged weapons such as sniper rifles and melee, stealth style weapons such as the Viblade. These weapons also include secondary systems such as a radar sweep that can be combined with gadgets such as the CamSpy and the AudioScope. You have four slots per weapon which limits you to carrying only one large main weapon such as a shotgun, Superdragon, P9P, pistols or SMG.

Stealth and puzzle solving are minor elements in the game. They occur predictably in every mission but are a welcome change from the repetitious pace of the core shooting gameplay. One of the most frustrating aspects of the game is having to replay levels when you screw up near the end. There is a checkpoint where you can respawn in the middle of the level but at the expense of keeping your stats. If you want to complete the entire single-level mode in all difficulties, you will need these stats and thus have to start all over again if you get killed. The scripted code requires that your memory is superior to your reflexes since events are not randomized.

Playing through the campaign in co-op mode is certainly a lot more fun than going it alone, although the training you receive will serve you well for online play. The split screen allows each player to tackle different objectives from different perspectives while working toward a common goal. Certain gameplay elements force you to into teamwork situations which helps to solidify the nature of the co-op mode.

Online modes include Co-op, Deathmatch and DarkOps, each with various sub modes. Modes in the Deathmatch category include the basic frag fest fair such as Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Killcount and Territorial Gains. Customizing features allow you to select the weapons set, number of players and dispersion of bots. DarkOps modes include Eradication, Onslaught, Infection and Sabotage. Eradication is like a team-based last man standing. Onslaught has one team attacking while the other defends. Infection is every man for himself. Each player begins with full health and if he become infected he tries to spread it around so as to infect as many players as possible. Sabotage is similar to Onslaught but teams now attempt to defend property while the other team tries to destroy it.

There are not a lot of vehicles in these modes but you will get plenty of use out of the jetpacks and the hover tank. Using the jetpacks you can take a machinegun with you to do a good amount of damage but keep in mind that you're a sitting duck in the sky when the other team spots you and gangs up on you. The hover tank accommodates one driver and one gunner who can choose from an assortment of weapons such as turret guns, machine guns or a rocket launcher. The vehicles respond nicely and are a joy to drive but they are vulnerable so you probably won't be in danger of overusing them.

The online games run smoothly. There are only half-a-dozen maps but they are huge and include a variety of terrain. The Deathmatch announcer really gets on my nerves and there's no way to get rid of him short of turning the sound off.

The graphics are clean, almost to a fault as virtually every surface displays too much gloss - even on dusty, dirty stonework. The environments display a good blend of natural scenery and human architecture that is consistent with the epoch. Some of the buildings and structures such as some bridges are on such a huge scale that you really need a large screen to do it justice. The animations are great as are the character models. Guns and explosions are crisp and loud and punctuate the soundtrack which features an eclectic mix of techno and rock with traces of twangy spy riffs.

Perfect Dark Zero must be played online to be appreciated. If you don't have Xbox Live, this is the perfect reason to get it.

By Colin Thames
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360)
4.5
Graphics
Mostly clean and crisp, but not exactly brimming with next generation detailed goodness.
4.7
Control
Aside from the "no jumping" which I miss for added online strategy, the control is near perfect.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects could have been improved and the music and voice acting is pretty good, although nothing really stands out.
4.5
Online
Online is where you'll stay after you've had your way with the single player Joanna. Bots and real players make it very interesting indeedy.
4.5
Play Value
The single player is a little too linear for my liking, but co-op and online modes are the stars of the show.
4.4
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
2
Preview by Vaughn

Update: Rare recently released more screens of their upcoming X360 launch title and we have to say that we're just not impressed. For all intents and purposes most of the screens look as though they could be easily running on Xbox hardware.

We haven't seen PDZ in motion and we'll obviously wait for the final release to pass judgement, but one has to wonder why release these screens at all? Surely they could tell they don't look nearly as impressive as some of the other next gen offerings...

The PDZ saga continues....

Previous Preview:

Ever wondered why Rare's follow up to Perfect Dark on the N64, titled Perfect Dark Zero fell off the radar for the Xbox? Because they decided to make it a Next Gen title silly! Awwwww....Bet you're not so mad at them now, right? Wait a sec - maybe you're one of those rubes who bought an Xbox in 2001 because you were pormised that game soon after launch...Ha Ha on you, dumbass! Okay that sucks. But on the bright side...you will be able to play Conker. Eventually. Maybe.

We don't have much more info for you, as Rare is so very secretive. But if you were appalled at the anime style look of Joanna Dark released awhile back, you can put your fears aside, as it looks like Rare has decided on a much more mature look for their heroine. We're told Perfect Dark Zero will be a launch title for the Xbox 360....where have we heard that before?

Expect to see more of Perfect Dark Zero during the MTV unveiling of the Xbox 360 system tonight (May 13, 2005)

Features:

  • Single player game offers numerous replay value
  • Possible XBL co-op mode
  • 50 player multiplayer games
  • Maps increase or decrease in scale depending on number of available gamers
  • Bots easily switch out when human players enter game
  • Death Match and Dark Ops multiplayer modes
  • 28 weapons to choose from (secondary and tertiary functions)
  • Evasive maneuvers - duck roll, take cover
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Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best