Perfect Dark Zero
4 difficulty levels
Online is hot 32 players / 15 bots
Huge online maps
More Joanna is a good thing
Online is smoking hot
Hard to follow story
No jump button

We've been waiting years for her arrival and we're happy to have her back. by Colin Thames

November 25, 2005 - Joanne Dark has returned. She's the super sleuth/bounty hunter and star of the game Perfect Dark Zero that debuted on the N64 six years ago. This version is a prequel that attempts to explain how she became the perfect agent. I use the word "attempts" because the story is so convoluted that I'm more confused than ever.

It's not the storyline that matters in this game. At least you can take advantage of the cutscenes to take a swig of your pop and a few more bites of your submarine sandwich. What really matters is the gameplay and both the single-player and multi-player modes deliver the goods although you are likely to find the single-player mode more of an intense training session for your adventures online where you can play with up to 32 other humans. Be prepared to spend a lot of time online because this game lives to serve up multi-player fun. This isn't Halo, but you might say it's related through marriage. I don't even know what that means.

Perfect Dark Zero doesn't quite blow the doors off other Xbox 360 titles in terms of visuals but we'll chalk that up to having spent a lot of it's development life as a GameCube, then Xbox title. It's still a damn fine looking game which will increase and decrease in visual glitzy love depending on what kind of TV and resolution you're playing it on. But it really is mixed bag as some things look incredibly sharp while other textures look like they were lifted from the N64. Okay, that last statement might be slightly exaggerated but in any event the game is up and down.

As far as I can tell, Joanna is set to take over the family bounty hunting business. Large corporations are becoming more brazen as business practices are more focused on world domination causing several warring factions among these mighty empires. With help from her father Jack, Joanna is poised to refine her techniques until she becomes the perfect agent.

Missions are linear, but there's a good excuse for this that's built into the storyline. In an effort to perfect her skills, Joanna must accomplish missions is a specific order, graded on difficulty. You can't move on until you complete the mission. There are four difficulty levels: Agent, Secret Agent, Perfect Agent and the incredibly difficult Dark Agent. Agent level is easy and perfect for beginners. It's filled with help features and waypoints to point you in the right direction. The aiming system is very accurate for all levels allowing you to make headshots a lot easier than most shooters, which is a good thing because the AI can take plenty of shots to the body before they fall in a heap. The Perfect Agent level forces you to clean up everything in each mission including all of the enemies and hidden items.

You don't even want to know about the Dark Agent. Only the hardest of the hardcore will see the ending credits on this difficulty level. On Dark Agent, the AI becomes far more accurate with their aiming and they also increase in numbers. This is most frustrating because the AI is not very smart to begin with and doesn't demonstrate an exponential increase in intelligence, there are just more of them and they shoot first, ask questions never. They are not programmed to react to dynamic situations with various strategies. As soon as they see you they will begin shooting and give chase. They may retreat or take cover when you gain the upper hand but mostly they will just continue rushing at you. Setting off an alarm sends a seemingly endless parade of guards out to get you and they all know where you are. In such situations you can't stay in one place for long. You have to run, and if possible take cover.

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System: X360
Dev: Rare
Pub: Microsoft
Released: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 32
Review by Colin