When it comes to the list of titles from Rare's N64 days eligible for a hi-def modern relaunch through Xbox Live Arcade, Perfect Dark is always poised and ready near the top. And now, finally, its opportunity has arrived. Nine years on, Jo Dark is all set to relive the conspiracy.
Boldly succeeding GoldenEye with a brand new franchise and lead character, PD introduced gamers of the year 2000 to Field Operative Joanna Dark, given the callsign 'Perfect Dark' for a record-breaking performance in training. She arrived with plenty of story-rich baggage in tow: a murky past, varying relations with colleagues and superiors at the Carrington Institute, a plethora of guns 'n' gadgets on hand and an increasingly intense – and violent – campaign for justice against the dataDyne Corporation.
Closer scrutiny of Joanna's early years and initiation into the life of a contracted Agent would come later, with the debut of prequel Perfect Dark Zero in 2005. But the original Perfect Dark saw the player dropped into the thick of the action with Joanna already hot on the trail of dataDyne and the much greater conspiracy spearheaded by the company.
Agent Dark's global crusade would see her face not just corporate predators and one knife-edge objective after another, but also the attentions of more than one alien race emerging from the shadows. The neon-washed streets of 2023 Chicago were only the beginning. And now both PD veterans and a new generation of gamers have another chance to experience the saga first-hand.
At the helm of this revamped version are 4J Studios, who of course cut their teeth on recent Xbox Live Arcade versions of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. All the core features of the original PD release are set to make the transition intact, with the addition of much-improved textures, a boosted framerate and, in the biggest undertaking for Rare IP on XBLA yet, online multiplayer functionality over Xbox Live. And of course, hardware having moved on in recent years, you will no longer require an Expansion Pak for Maximum Gameplay.
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