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#1 atomheartmother

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 03:24 AM

Monster Perfect Dark Zero Impressions
Everyone at IGN has an opinion on the reviewable PDZ. Come get some.
by Doug, David, Jon, Hilary, David, Hilary and Brennan
November 18, 2005 - After having seen and played Perfect Dark Zero at X05 and MS's after X05 gamer days, I have awaited the release of PDZ with giddy eagerness and a big dose of anxiety. Shipped into stores today, MS's much-anticipated FPS, the sequel the Nintendo 64 classic, has huge shoes to fill, as people without thinking much compare it to Halo and PC shooters, and expect it to be the console's killer app. What can be said about it right away is that It's quick and easy to get into, the weapon selection is deep and varied, the animations are excellent, and the multiplayer levels are big and well tailored for 32 players online.



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The Bonus Disc Contents
We bought the Perfect Dark Zero Limited Collector's Edition, which includes the full game and the bonus disc. The Bonus Disc features five parts: Videos, Gamer Pictures, Music, Themes, and Preview Novel. The videos contain PD Concept Art and a Kameo Video. The PD concept art features multiple flash-style concept pieces of Joanna Dark and several of the characters in the game. Then there are Gamer Pictures, which include 12 unique Gamer Card images, mostly faces, that can be instantly downloaded to the Hard Drive and browsed through; Music -- a highlight on the song Limelight, performed by Kepi and Kat; a Theme tile, which, like the gamercard images, is instantly downloadable to the HD and can be used as wallpaper to dress up the console's desktop. And then there is a good chunk of the book here, if you want to get a good feel for the writing.

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Doug Perry, Editor-in-Chief, IGN Xbox and IGN Xbox 360
Joanna Dark's return in this prequel sees her character design looking far more elfish and anime-influenced than ever before, as Rare is hoping have PDZ appeal to a wider audience than just North America and Europe. The game itself is build on high production values and delivers a solid framerate, normal mapped levels and characters, and features a few really gigantic open space sections that are impressive and wide open.


While Charles and Jon teamed-up in co-op at one TV, I jumped into a four-player split-screen match. All MP matches are configurable, and we picked shotguns, rifles, pistols and rocket launchers to start. We played through the sewers and streets levels, each of which are built upon multiple stories, so you can snipe, escape, and explore a little to find better weapons. The first thing I noticed was how many hits a character can take by default. You can literally pelt the crap out of another character and they'll live through it. In that way, PDZ feels like GoldenEye. You can adjust this factor with a slider, and you'll also want to instantly switch the control sensitivity instantly. It's set at default to 50%, but you'll want to immediately change to a minimum of 75%.

What do I really think so far? PDZ is good so far, but it's not hammering in the next generation in a striking new fashion. Every little part of PDZ looks good but familiar. Nothing is really stunning, yet I'll be playing it all weekend to get a bigger and broader perspective. After all, these are our instant impressions. PDZ is instantly easy to pick up and start blasting, so it's got a quick, fun, and attractive sensibility. It doesn't play at all like Halo or Halo 2, but more like GoldenEye or TimeSplitters in both its control scheme and its thematic feel. It feels decent; not great. It's little slower paced than I had expected, not as frenetic as other first-person shooters; and in some ways the game reels me in, while in others, it's unimpressive. PDZ doesn't play like a PC shooter on a console. It's designed with wall creeping, around-the-corner shots, and a kick-ass tuck-and-roll that switches from the first to the third-person perspective and back again without a hitch.

Right now, PDZ looks and plays solidly. It's smooth moving. One of the first nice little touches I've seen is that when you pick up armor and engage in a fight with another opponent, their shots break the armor off in pieces, coupled with great sound effects and bits and chunks splintering onto the ground. The disco-techo music is a little soft porn for my tastes (OK, I love it), and the look and feel of it are very new-age, clean, crisp, and well textured. It's looking good so far. Is it great? Not sure of that yet.


You know, Perfect Dark Zero has received a lot of negative press after its less than impressive worldwide debut on MTV. Now that we have the retail build on-hand and have played a generous helping of the single and multiplayer game modes, I'm happy to report that whatever it was we saw on MTV is now a distant memory.



Perfect Dark Zero plays and feels exactly like the N64 original; even the music is a nostalgic homage to the original's synth-rock soundtrack. This could be considered good news or bad news depending on what camp you're in. If you're expecting an all-new, revolutionary FPS experience, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. If you're looking to play a technically impressive evolution of the Perfect Dark series then you'll be sound as a pound.

Graphically PDZ is one of the most impressive 360 titles at launch. From the amazing motion-blur and lighting effects, to the crisp normal mapping and steady framerate; seeing this puppy run on a 50 inch HDTV plasma display will make you want to slap yo' mamma'. It's one of the sharpest looking FPS I've ever seen.

As you can probably tell, I'm stoked about playing this game. Maybe it's because I spent a great deal of my adolescence playing Rare first-person shooters and I can't wait to play more. Maybe it's because even in spite of my nostalgic bias Perfect Dark Zero is in fact a great game. Either way, I hear a lot of negative grumblings rising up above the claustrophobic cubicles here at IGN, but I couldn't disagree with them more.

If you liked Perfect Dark or Goldeneye, pick this game up. If you like a good FPS, pick this game up. If you like beautiful graphics, pick this game up. For the rest of you, go pick up a copy of NBA Live 360 and cry yourself to sleep, because you're not invited to my house to play PDZ splitscreen.

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David Adams, News Editor
I jumped into a bit of split-screen PDZ multiplayer with a few of the kids here at the office. Thankfully, the controls are mostly intuitive. I'm a Halo player, and most buttons did what I expected, though not being able to jump felt odd (I'm fresh to the whole Perfect Dark franchise). While aiming was clunky with default settings, turning up the sensitivity helped a bunch. With all four quadrants of the screen going, the game can feel choppy in a firefight -- and it doesn't help that it's so easy to push down on the left stick and inadvertently enter sluggish crouch mode. Not into that.

Also, a few of the weapons -- including a hyperactive Frisbee -- were more odd than useful (granted, we've just started playing). Apart from these frustrations, Perfect Dark Zero's multiplayer feels like straightforward split-screen multiplayer. So far, it's nothing horrible, and it's nothing fantastic. MS may be hoping PDZ will be a killer app the way Halo was, but the spark that was so obvious in Bungie's title just isn't here. No doubt it looks pretty, but I'll need more time to see how the controls and pacing settle in.

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Hilary Goldstein, Editor-in-chief, IGN Comics
I had high expectations for Perfect Dark Zero -- high expectations for it to suck. However, playing the first two levels, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Rare's first-person shooter isn't half bad. Playing co-op with some idiot calling himself Clay-Man, showed both the good and bad of PDZ.

The shooting areas are a blast. The controls are pretty tight and easy to pick up. The analogue zoom on the guns is quite useful for "accidentally" shooting Clay-Man in the face. I'm not a fan of Joanna's dive, though, as the sudden perspective jump makes it impossible to dodge and keep track of an enemy. This could be a problem in the later levels if dodging and tracking a mobile enemy becomes a necessity.
While the environments are gorgeous, Ms. Dark is very basic, almost like a mannequin come to life. It doesn't help that the background music sounds like the back room of Dr. Skin's Love Shack. Is it wrong that I keep searching for a stripper pole to grind against? What's really strange is that PDZ suffers the same graphical glitches as Halo 2. The game looks fantastic while being played -- even in widescreen with split-screen co-op. But go to a cutscene and suddenly there is texture pop-in and frame drops. W + T + F?



My big issue is really the second level. I don't think I would mind a forced stealth mission quite so much if it were at all designed with co-op in mind. I'm sure playing alone, it will be all kinds of fun to use Joanna's skills to sneak around and cap fools. But rarely does stealth co-op equate to fun or functionality. Only games that are designed for co-op stealth, like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, manage to pull it off. It's a real killjoy here, so beware those looking for a straight-through brilliant co-op experience.

All-in-all, PDZ looks like it will be a big thrill from start to finish. Gamers will love it, because there's really no other game like it on the system. It's definitely got some muscle behind it and will probably gain an unhealthy amount of enthusiasm. This is certainly worth picking up on launch day, but it's not the second coming of Goldeneye. That would be me. I am the second coming of Goldeneye.

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David Clayman, Senior Editor, IGN Insider
From what I've seen of PDZ it's difficult to form solid first impressions. So far I've only blasted through the training mission and the first level but a few things come to mind. This game should have never received so much flak for its visuals. For some reason, people were expecting this game to have better graphics than life itself, and it certainly doesn't reach that level of quality. However, it does look just as good if not better than other launch titles and puts a whole bunch of recently released PC shooters to shame with its smooth framerate and visual tricks.

I've been most impressed by the co-op mode, which in the first two levels, looks to be the complete single player game with the addition of a friend. Unlike Kameo, player 2 even gets their own player model- Chandra. It looks like Rare is single-handedly attempting to change the stereotypical videogame hero from a meathead grunt into a tart wearing a reflective bodysuit.

My only qualm so far is that the second level requires a certain amount of stealth, yet there is really no stealth engine to speak of. If players alert one enemy then everyone in the surrounding area will come charging in. Perhaps the most important thing that I can say about Perfect Dark Zero so far is that it made my list for games I'm going to pick up at launch.

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Jonathan Miller, IGN Xbox, Xbox 360 Associate Editor
Nothing adds more fun to a good first-person shooter than co-op mode. In Halo, the first time I jumped on the back of a warthog and started gunning down baddies while my buddy drove, I was hooked. After playing the first two levels of Perfect Dark: Zero today with fellow Xbox 360 editor Charles Onyett, I came away with a similar feeling of giddiness. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't the office coffee.

The first level of PDZ is simply a training mission to familiarize you with the new controls and features of the game. My favorite new addition is the ability to take cover behind walls or crates, made famous by the third-person action game kill.switch. From first-person mode, you press A at a wall and switch to the third person. You then aim the reticule at an enemy and hit the right trigger to pop out and fire a couple rounds. When you release, you pop back behind cover. Then you press A again to return to normal mode. This is much better than typical first person shooters in which you strafe around the corner, shoot, and strafe back, and Rare implemented the feature very well.

At the beginning of level one, you guide some scientists around a pretty dull looking compound to an elevator, which takes you outside to a gigantic rocket launch site. It's awesome to get out into open space, to look at the gigantic rocket and be able to snipe at enemies from afar, just like it was in Rare's mega-hit GoldenEye 007. While I dispensed with the bad guys, Onyett ran over to the launch pad and took an elevator several hundred feet up to the top of the rocket. Players keep track of each other in these big environments by following a series of yellow arrows on the ground that lead to your partner. From my position at the base of the rocket, I could see a fierce firefight taking place hundreds of feet above me while Onyett fended off some enemies with rocket-packs. It was, simply, awesome.

Although I only got to play the first couple levels of PDZ, I was impressed that Rare added some simple co-op puzzle elements to differentiate from the single-player mode. In Halo, for example, you would just tag along with a friend and start shooting. In PDZ coop, you do that too, but you also flip a switch for your partner so he can go up an elevator. In the first player mode, you would simply call the elevator and go up. I'm excited to see that Rare didn't just throw in a coop mode but really put some thought into it and I'm excited to see what other co-op challenges we will face later in the game. And don't worry. These little puzzles don't take away from the run-and-gun action; they just throw a little twist in there to make both you and your partner think your way through situations. In a word: cool.

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Marc Nix, editor, IGN
PDZ is not going to be the killer app that MS needs and wants it to be. The level of quality just hasn't seemed balanced enough to be that, and though it may get a heck of a lot better later, I haven't seen anything to make me confident in that.

In some ways, though, this is not as bad a problem as it seems. For one, a lot of us are prepared. The hype meter fell way off when the game started showing around, and game demo impressions have been up and down ever since. Seeing it finally in our hands, the game rises back up after being kicked around. It dazzles with its detail and world size, and it brings some smart design to the gunplay. Visuals can be hit and miss -- the online mode especially seems to have dropped every expensive graphic effect -- but it can really grab you over an extended run. Control is wonky sometimes, and not every button becomes second nature like some console FPSes, but the speed of the aiming feels great, and the different moves Joanna has help to shake it loose and give it some unique play style. And the co-op and other multiplayer modes have been compelling, at least these first few times through.

It's a shame that this game is getting pushed out at launch when it clearly could have used more time polishing and tuning, but Rare's had years to make this game, and I'm not sure extra time wouldn't have just dragged out the inevitable. It's not a must-buy yet from what I've seen, and true enough, we've had a lot of laugh at spots that weren't supposed to be funny, but if you sit down and play it, PDZ looks to be a game that can deliver decently over the long run.

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Right now, Charles is playing the game online against MS, and he'll be reporting on that a little later. We'll have ingoing impressions continuing on tonight and this weekend, so make sure to stick around.

Interested in this game? Add it to your wishlist. If you already own it, be sure to add it to your collection. You can keep track of the games you've got, check personalized stats, get tips and cheats by email, and more


#2 atomheartmother

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 03:40 AM

this review is good but disturbing to me like most all the reviews thus far heres why:

#1 To me the first thing I would emphacize if have not finished the game and played it thoroughly is "is it fun?" "hows it look?" "do I want more?"
As most reviews to me have shown they act as if they wish these titles to do bad, they need to remember that they are 30-40 years (as am I) that do this as a job, they need to take a step back and relax and play to be playing. Its to easy to complain when you are knit picking for issues. Is it fun thats the most important thing to be honest. Its like they are so set to bring it down no matter, sure most on here are enjoying it, but again I think more than anyone they had too high of expectations (this goes for all reviewers) Theyneed to remember most all gamers , game to have a thrill here and there and interact with a virtual world, not be so critical. Thats my 2cents.

#3 atomheartmother

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 04:40 AM

My only issue with LE games as a whole is...$64 for a game you know. Dont get me wrong if it were truely a LE game like they only made even a couple thousand, but I can still get Halo 2 LE new tonight you know. Its not really LE. Not numbered, not removed from market after a certain time, the value never goes up on MS LE games. They should just call it "deluxe". As with PC games an LE comes with all kinds of crazy shit and once day 1 is over its not too easy to get one, like W.O.W. or Everquest LE's and stuff. Plus they usually throw in maps, toys, artbooks, etc. Just wish there were really LE as the value of them and the cool factor would be so much higher. Ohh well only in a perfect world.

#4 brooksie48

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 04:57 AM

You post like a crazy man in solitary confinement.

#5 hamwbone

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:01 AM

i already bought the game... but damnit no jump button!!! im gona play the game and probably have fun with it... but this isnt time splitters!!!

pop.gif beerchug.gif

#6 Carlo210

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:03 AM

QUOTE(hamwbone @ Nov 19 2005, 05:08 AM)
but this isnt time splitters!!!

pop.gif  beerchug.gif

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You do know that the original developers for Goldeneye and (pretty sure) Perfect Dark Zero on N64 moved onto the Timesplitters series after leaving Rare. The reason why I'm not crazy about PDZero is because it will most likely play like timesplitters since Rare is going for the original Perfect Dark feel, which is essentially translated into Timesplitters gameplay after going into dual joysticks and whatnot. Timesplitters is fun, but I'd rather not.

This is what I meant by "This game reminds me of Timesplitters Gameplay" around 2-3 months ago. It's what turned me off.

Edited by Carlo210, 19 November 2005 - 05:04 AM.


#7 hamwbone

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:13 AM

i did like time splitters, i guess i could have worded that better. i found myself liking it. BUT this is nextgen.... nextgen should have jump buttons...

(dont take me to serious im just postin pet peaves) biggrin.gif

#8 atomheartmother

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:18 AM

i really liked timespitters, at PS2 launch I really was dumbfounded at the sheer speed and smoothness of the gameplay it felt good, but I do agree a jump button would be nice as next gen says to me "immersion" and without a jump button you are restricted in one way, as a human or animal can ...we..."jump" and since MS is pressing this "jump in " youd think...No I am just messing on that. But seriously jump would be a nice option.

#9 Carlo210

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:22 AM

QUOTE(atomheartmother @ Nov 19 2005, 05:25 AM)
i really liked timespitters, at PS2 launch I really was dumbfounded at the sheer speed and smoothness of the gameplay it felt good, but I do agree a jump button would be nice as next gen says to me "immersion" and without a jump button you are restricted in one way, as a human or animal can ...we..."jump" and since MS is pressing this "jump in " youd think...No I am just messing on that. But seriously jump would be a nice option.

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People don't, and never will, jump in firefights unless it involves leaping into a crater, leaping behind cover, or leaping out of a window. Notice that they are all 'leaps', not 'jumps' or 'hops'.

I still like the jumping stuff, though. Makes "GAMES" really fun and adds a new dimension of gameplay, but some games are better without (Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, timesplitters, and probably PD0 - due to either realistic restrictions, gameplay, level design, or other).

#10 hamwbone

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:37 AM

"People don't, and never will, jump in firefights unless it involves leaping into a crater, leaping behind cover, or leaping out of a window. Notice that they are all 'leaps', not 'jumps' or 'hops'."

THEN WHY A JETPACK CARLO!! WHY A JETPACK!!!!! WHWYYYYYYYY??? tongue.gif



#11 atomheartmother

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:40 AM

I hate jumping it FPS when people over do it, but I so like jumping in the adventure part of FPS to get around to hidden areas or stuff, thats where I find it may be annoying, like I want to get over there but...oops cant theres a rock there (ghost recon 1) perfect example..LOL

#12 Carlo210

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 05:41 AM

QUOTE(hamwbone @ Nov 19 2005, 05:44 AM)
"People don't, and never will, jump in firefights unless it involves leaping into a crater, leaping behind cover, or leaping out of a window. Notice that they are all 'leaps', not 'jumps' or 'hops'."

THEN WHY A JETPACK CARLO!! WHY A JETPACK!!!!! WHWYYYYYYYY??? tongue.gif

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That's a piece of technology. Unless people in modern shooters are wearing rocket-thrust shoes that make them jump like they do, then my arguement still holds water. I never said anything about tecnhology in games, just human ability. Jetpacks has nothing to do with human ability. Care to differ?

#13 hamwbone

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 06:04 AM

i guess you never watched inspector gadget... his shoes were spring loaded and the was back in the 80's. im sure by now we have rocket thrust shoes.




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