Perfect Dark (2010 video game)

Perfect Dark is a 2010 first-person shooter developed by 4J Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 through its Xbox Live Arcade download service. The game is a remaster of the original Perfect Dark, which was released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000. Although the gameplay remains largely unchanged, the remaster features significant technical improvements over the original, including new higher-resolution textures and character models, a higher frame rate, and a multiplayer mode that supports the Xbox Live online service. The story of the game follows Joanna Dark, an agent of the Carrington Institute organization, as she attempts to stop a conspiracy by rival corporation dataDyne.

Perfect Dark
Perfect Dark XBLA cover.jpg
Developer(s)4J Studios
Publisher(s)Microsoft Game Studios
SeriesPerfect Dark
Platform(s)Xbox 360
ReleaseMarch 17, 2010
Genre(s)First-person shooter, stealth
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Perfect Dark was developed over a course of nearly a year and its game engine was completely re-written from scratch to support several Xbox 360 features. Therefore, although the game plays exactly the same as the original, the code and renderer is different. The game received generally favorable reviews. Some critics considered the relatively unchanged game to be outdated, but most agreed that the title was a solid revival of a classic. As of the end of 2011, the game had sold nearly 410,000 units. In 2015, the game was included in the Rare Replay video game compilation for Xbox One.


Perfect Dark is a remastered release of the 2000 first-person shooter video game of the same name, which was developed by Rare and released for the Nintendo 64 as a spiritual successor to the 1997 hit GoldenEye 007.[1] The game features a single-player mode consisting of 17 levels in which the player assumes the role of Carrington Institute agent Joanna Dark as she attempts to stop a conspiracy by rival corporation dataDyne.[2] It also features a range of multiplayer options, including a co-operative mode and a "Combat Simulator" where numerous players can compete against each other in traditional deathmatch settings.[2] Combat Simulator matches can be highly customised and can include bots.[2] A "Counter-Operative" mode, where one player controls the protagonist while the other controls enemies throughout a single-player level, attempting to stop the first player from completing objectives, is also included in the game.[2]

The remaster changes little from the core gameplay of the original game, but offers several enhancements in the multiplayer department. In the remaster, any of the multiplayer modes can be played in either splitscreen or through the Xbox Live online service.[3] An online leaderboard system was also added, and players can earn achievements and in-game crowns by accomplishing certain tasks.[4] Although Combat Simulator matches are still capped at 12 entities, the remaster can comprise eight players online simultaneously, an improvement to the original's cap of four players and eight bots.[4] Players may also play against more than eight bots as long as there are enough slots available in a match. For example, a single player can play against 11 bots; such a feature was not possible in the original game.[4] All the multiplayer content in the remaster is unlocked from the beginning,[5] and weapons from GoldenEye 007, which were originally only available in the single-player mode, are now available in the multiplayer.[6] The remaster also includes two new control set-ups, entitled "Spartan" and "Duty Calls", which are based on the Halo and Call of Duty first-person shooter franchises, respectively.[7]


The original skyboxes (top) were remodeled for the remastered version (bottom). Additionally, new textures were used and weapon models were recreated in higher polygon counts.

Perfect Dark was developed by 4J Studios, the same studio that previously developed the Xbox Live Arcade versions of Rare's platform games Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.[8] According to Microsoft Game Studios creative director Ken Lobb, the development team "took the original code, ported it to the Xbox 360 and included deep [Xbox Live] integration".[8] The game was developed over a course of approximately 11 months after the creation of a working prototype.[8] As the Xbox Live functionality had to be written from scratch, the developers opted to completely rewrite the game engine rather than do a port through emulation. As a result, although the game plays exactly the same, the code and renderer is different.[9] The game runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second.[10]

While the original level geometry was kept, the levels received new textures, characters and weapons were recreated, and skyboxes were rebuilt. Lobb explained that "things are large and blocky because that's what [Perfect Dark] looks like", meaning that the sharper textures and higher resolution simply make the game look clearer.[8] He also observed that, as character and weapon models were remodeled from their original low hundreds polygon count to polygons in the thousands, he was worried about them looking awkward in the low-poly geometry level design.[8] According to him, "it's one of the areas that I give a lot of credit to the developer on. It just looks right. They were smart about the way they up-resed the models so they still feel like they're kind of retro, but they're clean".[8]

Although music and sound effects were kept from the original recording sessions, original master recordings have been used to update the soundtrack at a higher quality;[10] the original recording size was 16 MB, while in the remaster it is over 250 MB.[8] Developers retained the free aim mode because they wanted to be faithful to the original game. According to Rare's Producer Nick Ferguson: "We didn't change the fundamental behavior of the aiming system simply because that is not how Perfect Dark was played".[11] He also observed that the idea of updating the controls was actually seen as a flaw in Perfect Dark Zero, which tried to "combine the original Perfect Dark system with aspects of Halo".[11] The original diagonal running, which allows players to move faster than by running forwards or sideways alone, did not work the first time they implemented the analog stick, so it was manually rewritten because it was considered essential for speedruns.[8]

Marketing and releaseEdit

Perfect Dark was first teased to consumers in April 2009 via a screenshot of a Rare employee's Xbox 360 dashboard which showed an icon for the game.[12] It was confirmed to be in development on June 2, 2009 via Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry Hryb's Twitter account.[13] The game was released on March 17, 2010 as part of Microsoft's Xbox Live Block Party promotion.[14] As a cross-promotion with Crackdown 2, players with a Crackdown 2 saved game on their Xbox 360 hard drive could unlock that game's protagonist, known as Agent 4, as a playable skin in the game's multiplayer mode.[15][16] A title update was released in April 2010 which addressed bugs, added two control schemes, and expanded playlists.[17] Perfect Dark was downloaded over 150,000 times during its first week of release and grossed approximately $1.61 million at the end of the month.[18] The game has sold more than 285,000 units as of August 2010 and nearly 325,000 units at the end of 2010.[19][20] As of year-end 2011, sales had increased to nearly 410,000 units.[21] In 2015, Perfect Dark was included in the Rare Replay compilation for Xbox One.[22] In 2019, the game was enhanced to run at native 4K resolution on Xbox One.[23]


Perfect Dark received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[29] Writing for, Scott Sharkey highlighted the technical improvements, stating that the remaster is "a great way to re-enjoy a game you already love".[25] IGN editor Daemon Hatfield noted the game's outdated dialogue, voice acting, and mission objectives, but nevertheless remarked that the game "wasn't brought back for the uninitiated—this is for the fans, and they will be very, very happy".[2] He also praised the game's multiplayer mode over Xbox Live and highlighted the selection of weapons, the satisfying gunplay, and leaderboards, noting that they allow players to compare their performance with their friends.[2]

Despite the praise, some reviewers criticized the game for its confusing level layouts and felt they have not held up very well over the years.[24][26][27] Christian Donlan of Eurogamer stated that Perfect Dark is "not afraid to throw dead ends at you seemingly for the hell of it, or repeat textures so much in its huge maps that you can get a little dizzy".[26] GameSpot reviewer Tom Mc Shea noted that the campaign was "oddly paced", and that "locked doors, unused rooms, and dead ends... can be disheartening to stumble around in a circle until you finally happen upon the correct door you just couldn't locate".[24] Nevertheless, he admitted that "it's a lot of fun to replay them to try for high scores and figure out the many unique objectives".[24] He also remarked that online play can periodically suffer from a significant amount of lag, but praised the amount of content and features.[24]

The game's original Counter-Operative mode was very well received,[24][2][26] with Eurogamer remarking that it "still feels ahead of its time even now".[26] Dan Ryckert of Game Informer stated similar pros, saying that "it's even better this time around thanks to the framerate improvement".[27] Although the game's controls have been upgraded to support two analog sticks, GameZone noted that the game still "feels a little different from what modern day shooter fans are used to",[28] while Eurogamer remarked that the aim assist can be unnecessarily generous on easy difficulties.[26] At the end of March 2010, IGN named Perfect Dark Xbox Live Arcade Game of the Month.[30]


  1. ^ Ransom-Wiley, James (March 17, 2010). "Review: Perfect Dark (XBLA)". Joystiq. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hatfield, Daemon (March 16, 2010). "Perfect Dark XBLA Review". IGN. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  3. ^ Robinson, Martin (February 11, 2010). "Perfect Dark XBLA Hands-on". IGN. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Archer, James (March 3, 2010). "Plus XP Exclusive: Perfect Dark (XBLA) Interview". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  5. ^ Walton, Mark (March 11, 2010). "Perfect Dark Hands-On". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (February 19, 2010). "XBLA Perfect Dark Multiplayer Features GoldenEye Weapons, Levels". Kotaku. Archived from the original on September 14, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  7. ^ Kuchera, Ben (March 17, 2010). "XBLA Perfect Dark: a golden eye for detail". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on July 15, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Pavlacka, Adam (February 14, 2010). "'Perfect Dark' (XBLA) Developer Interview". Archived from the original on February 16, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  9. ^ Webb, Dan (February 26, 2010). "X10 Interview: Ken Lobb Talks Perfect Dark in Perfect English". Archived from the original on May 26, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Normandin, Marc (March 17, 2010). "Interview: Perfect Dark XBLA". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Norris, Erik (March 11, 2010). "Perfect Dark XBLA Interview". CraveOnline. Archived from the original on March 13, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  12. ^ Goldstein, Hilary (April 8, 2009). "Perfect Dark Coming to XBLA?". IGN. Archived from the original on December 14, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  13. ^ Plunkett, Luke (June 2, 2009). "Perfect Dark Coming To XBLA This Winter". Kotaku. Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  14. ^ Turi, Tim (February 22, 2010). "XBLA Block Party Games Priced And Dated". Game Informer. Archived from the original on May 1, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  15. ^ "PD's Agent 4 is Active". Rare. July 2, 2010. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  16. ^ Hinkle, David (July 2, 2010). "Crackdown 2 save unlocks Agent 4 in Perfect Dark multiplayer". Joystiq. Archived from the original on July 5, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  17. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (March 29, 2010). "Perfect Dark Being Updated Next Month". IGN. Archived from the original on December 14, 2010. Retrieved November 29, 2010.
  18. ^ Jenkins, David (April 27, 2010). "Xbox Live Arcade sales grow 41% in March". Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  19. ^ Langley, Ryan (September 9, 2010). "In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, August 2010". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on May 9, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  20. ^ Langley, Ryan (January 28, 2011). "XBLA: In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis For All Of 2010". Archived from the original on February 1, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  21. ^ Langley, Ryan (January 20, 2012). "Xbox Live Arcade by the numbers - the 2011 year in review". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  22. ^ McWhertor, Michael (June 15, 2015). "Rare Replay for Xbox One includes 30 Rare games for $30 (update)". Polygon. Archived from the original on June 28, 2015. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  23. ^ Sullivan, Lucas (June 20, 2019). "Xbox One X Enhanced games - Every game with 4K resolution, HDR, higher framerates, and more". GamesRadar+. Archived from the original on July 18, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Mc Shea, Tom (March 17, 2010). "Perfect Dark Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  25. ^ a b Sharkey, Scott (March 15, 2010). "Perfect Dark XBLA Review". Archived from the original on April 17, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Donlan, Christian (March 11, 2010). "Perfect Dark Review". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  27. ^ a b c Ryckert, Dan (March 15, 2010). "Perfect Dark". Game Informer. Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  28. ^ a b Hopper, Steven (March 16, 2010). "Perfect Dark - 360 - Review". Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  29. ^ a b "Perfect Dark". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  30. ^ "Game of the Month: March 2010". IGN. March 31, 2010. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2010.

External linksEdit