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Perfect Dark Zero

Perfect Dark Zero

Perfect Dark Zero

Perfect Dark Zero is a first-person shooter video game developed by Rare and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was exclusively released as a launch title for the Xbox 360 on November 17, 2005 in North America and December 2, 2005 in Europe. Perfect Dark Zero is a prequel to the Nintendo 64 game Perfect Dark and takes place in the year 2020. The game follows bounty hunter Joanna Dark as she joins the fictional agency Carrington Institute to stop the evil plans of rival corporation dataDyne.

Perfect Dark Zero was under development for five years and was originally intended to be released for the Nintendo GameCube and later the Xbox. The game features a campaign mode consisting of 14 missions that can be played co-operatively, and a multiplayer mode where a maximum of 32 players can compete against each other in numerous types of deathmatch and objective-based games. Both the co-operative and multiplayer modes support split-screen, system link, and the Xbox Live online service.

Perfect Dark Zero was a commercial success, selling more than one million copies worldwide. Critical reception for the game was divided but generally positive, garnering a GameRankings and a Metacritic aggregated review score of 81.27% and 81 out of 100 respectively. The game's numerous multiplayer modes singled out as strong features; however, some publications criticized single-player aspects such as its story and voice acting. Two sequel novels, Perfect Dark: Initial Vector and Perfect Dark: Second Front, and a comic series, Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears, were released to continue the story of the game.

Perfect Dark Zero Plot

Perfect Dark Zero is set in 2020 where a large percentage of the world is controlled by corporations. The most notable of these corporations are dataDyne, headed by Zhang Li, and the Carrington Institute, headed by Daniel Carrington. The player is cast as Joanna Dark, a bounty hunter working with her father Jack Dark and computer hacker Chandra Sekhar. The team is after Nathan Zeigler, an independent researcher who has been captured by a Hong Kong triad gang led by a man named Killian. Joanna and her father successfully rescue Zeigler, but Killian manages to escape. Zeigler explains that Killian was trying to obtain his research, which contains information about a dangerous weapon. As Zeigler refuses to go anywhere without his research, Joanna is sent to retrieve it while her father stays with Zeigler. After Joanna retrieved a case with Zeigler's research from a nearby safe house, Zeigler takes a device called neurodrive from the case and uses it to implant his research data into Jack's mind. Afterwards, Zeigler succumbs to his injuries sustained by Killian and dies. Before dying, Zeigler says that they must find a scientist named Dr. Eustace Caroll.

While escaping, Jack and Joanna are attacked by a dataDyne assault team assisted by Killian in a dropship. Joanna manages to kill Killian and escape with Sekhar, but Jack is captured by dataDyne. With the help of Sekhar, Joanna learns that her father has been taken to a mansion where Zhang Li lives. Joanna infiltrates the mansion and finds her father in a cell. He has been tortured, and begins speaking gibberish to her, an after effect of the neurodrive. The pair fights their way out of the complex, but their extraction is interrupted by Zhang Li's daughter, Mai Hem, who kills Jack before Joanna escapes in a hovercraft. Joanna and Sekhar decide to pursue Zeigler's lead and seek out Dr. Caroll, who works aboard a research platform on the Pacific Ocean. Upon meeting with Joanna, Dr. Caroll uses a neurodrive to extract Zeigler's data from Joanna's memory, which she gained when she rescued her father. Soon after, Sekhar betrays Joanna and shoots Dr. Caroll, stating that she decided to join dataDyne because Zhang Li had made her a large offer. A team of Carrington Institute agents arrives and saves Joanna, but Sekhar eventually escapes with the data. Joanna agrees to join the Carrington Institute to stop dataDyne.

Daniel Carrington informs Joanna that Zeigler had been working on an algorithm capable of decoding extraterrestrial glyphs at a dig site in South America. Traveling to Peru, Joanna learns that the glyphs are leading dataDyne to search for an ancient artifact which acts as a power-source for the Graal, a device which endows individuals with superhuman powers. Joanna plants a tracking device onto the artifact before sneaking aboard a dataDyne dropship. The dropship takes her to Africa, where Zhang Li has located the Graal buried under the African sands. The Carrington Institute plans an offensive on dataDyne forces with the battle taking place on a large bridge. Joanna rescues several Carrington Institute agents before avenging her father's death by killing Mei Hem. Joanna infiltrates an arena and faces off against Zhang Li, who dispatches Sekhar after using the Graal. Despite the advantage, Joanna defeats Zhang Li in a final battle.

Perfect Dark Zero Gameplay

Perfect Dark Zero is a first-person shooter where players control the player character mostly from a first-person perspective. The combat features mechanics such as an evasive dodge roll and a cover system in which the gameplay switches to a third-person perspective, allowing the player to strategically aim without taking damage and be more aware of the surroundings. Players cannot jump but have the ability to automatically climb obstacles as long as they can reasonably reach them. It is also possible to climb ladders. By doing so, the camera shifts into a third-person perspective. The player has a certain amount of health which decreases when attacked by enemies. The health can recharge a bit if the player steps out of the line of fire for a few seconds, but it may not necessarily refill completely depending on how much damage the player took.

Players can only carry a limited number of weapons since the inventory features a 4-slot system in which single hand held pistols usually take a weapon slot whereas heavy weapons, such as the Jackal Sniper Rifle or the Rocket Launcher, can take up to three weapon slots. The player's movement speed is also altered by the weight of the weapon the player is currently holding. Besides the primary function, all of the weapons in Perfect Dark Zero have one or two additional function modes that generally grant the player with special abilities. For example, the Shockwave Rifle features an X-ray function which allows the player to see enemies through walls, while the Plasma Rifle has a cloak function that renders the player character invisible to enemies at cost of its batteries. Some weapons also feature more unorthodox secondary functions. For instance, the Laptop Gun can be deployed as a sentry gun, while the SuperDragon assault rifle can launch bouncing grenades.

Critical reception for Perfect Dark Zero was divided but generally positive, garnering a GameRankings and a Metacritic aggregated review score of 81.27% and 81 out of 100 respectively. GameSpot's Greg Kasavin awarded the title a rating of 9.0 out of 10 and an Editors Choice, stating that the game "champions the Xbox 360 with its excellent assortment of single and multiplayer game types, as well as its incredible good looks and dynamic, intense action." He also concluded that the game "delivers just about everything you could hope for from a first-person shooter." Charles Onyett of IGN praised the game's replay value, but also criticized single-player aspects such as the weak artificial intelligence of enemies, commenting that "they never display any advanced assault tactics."

The graphics were highlighted positively. Kasavin was impressed with the amount of lighting and motion blur effects, and noted that the "excellent character animation helps make the guns feel as powerful as they look." Bryn Williams of GameSpy considered the graphics as a "stunning look at what the 360 hardware is capable of", but also admitted that the animation "is a little too slow and sometimes creates an unwelcome sense of cartoonishness". IGN credited the attractive gun models, explosions, and sprawling vistas, but also felt that some areas such as the South American Ruins can unnecessary look too shiny. The game's audio was said to feature "heavy-hitting weapon effects fantastic, moody soundtrack that gives each mission its own pulsing rhythms".

The game's weapons were very well received. Reviewers praised the gun management and the implementation of the guns. GameSpot commented, "It doesn't stray too far from convention, but it features some interesting twists in weapon and enemy design, making for a much more entertaining experience than the average shooter." Critics generally agreed that the roll and cover system worked well and that they did not feel overpowered, but some criticized the fact that players need to be in a specific spot to use the cover mode. Reviewers considered the story and voice acting to be weak. IGN said that it is almost impossible not to notice how "laughably bad it is", and that many plot twists are presented then never resolved, but also admitted that it does not really factor into the gameplay. GameCritics reviewer Mike Bracken commented, "It's always sad when there's voice acting in a game and I find myself being embarrassed for the voice actors." Nevertheless, GameSpot added that the game's weapon fire and musical score "easily drown this out."

Publications judged the co-op aspect of the game well. Kristan Reed of Eurogamer praised the fact that the missions were "designed with co-op in mind." He noted that, for example, the third level "has Joanna providing cover fire for her father Jack as he hops from one point of the level to the next. In the single player campaign Jack's AI controlled, but co-op lets you take direct control of his actions, making the experience a much more engaging affair all-round." Multiplayer matches of Perfect Dark Zero were widely well received. GameSpot stated that "the excellent weapon selection, flexibility of options, high-quality maps, and smooth online performance make for a rock-solid competitive shooter." IGN stated similar pros, calling it "enormous". 1UP.com reviewer Che Chou also praised the multiplayer, but observed that "constantly roll-dodging to avoid enemy fire at close range combined with the exceptionally slow movement speed of your character can occasionally be highly frustrating for beginners."

Despite solid reviews, numerous publications remarked that Perfect Dark Zero did not meet the expectations. According to GameCritics, "It took Rare a whole console generation to do it and the wait wasn't really worth it". Game Informer found it to be quite disappointing and gave the game a 7 out of 10, reviewing it under the tagline "Don't believe the hype". In a positive review, GameSpy observed that "Perfect Dark Zero is a lot of fun and does a lot of things very well, but it's just not the killer-app that we'd all hoped for". In 2010, GameTrailers placed the game 6th in their list of the "Top 10 Disappointments of the Decade" and 10th in their "Top 10 Worst Sequels" list.

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