May 22, 2000
Perfect Dark is the first game in the Perfect Dark series. It was developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64 and is often referred to as the spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007. The game incorporates many similar functions to GoldenEye 007, the most evident being the control scheme and general gameplay. What set Perfect Dark apart from GoldenEye 007 was the texturing used in level design, the incorporation of secondary functions for every weapon in the game, new game modes, and the utilization of voice acting. In essence, Perfect Dark improves upon the high standard GoldenEye 007 set, a standard which is still set to this day.
Untried agent Joanna Dark is assigned a mission involving the extraction of a scientist from the high security research area beneath the dataDyne skyscraper. Upon rendezvous, she is surprised to discover that this 'Dr. Caroll' is an AI created by dataDyne itself; but she continues with her task of escorting the doctor to safety. When the alarm is raised, Joanna has to fight her way up the tower to reach the helipad, which presents her only means of escape via dropship.
In response to this incursion dataDyne makes Daniel Carrington a personal target and takes him hostage two days later at his private villa. They demand the return of the AI—their 'property'—in exchange for his life. Unknown to them, the AI is already at the villa, where it was being questioned by Carrington on dataDyne's future plans. Joanna rescues the head of the Institute, but is unable to prevent dataDyne from taking back Dr. Caroll. However, Carrington has heard enough to take the drastic step of summoning a team of Maian specialists to Earth.
Joanna is dispatched to Chicago to spy on a conspirators' meeting at the G5 Building, a front for the dataDyne Corp. It is here that she learns of the involvement of Trent Easton, head of the NSA, and of the strange Nordic men that appear to be in control of the whole deadly scheme. Once Trent discloses the plan to usurp the Presidential position, Jo radios the news back to base, only to find another, more urgent task requires her attention before further action can be taken against Trent.
The Maian specialists have been intercepted and brought down by the conspirators, with survivors and wreckage alike being transported to Area 51 in Nevada. Briefed to rescue any survivors and retrieve their equipment, Joanna is dropped in to link up with another Carrington Institute agent. Upon breaking into the medlab, Joanna finally discovers the Institute's secret - their allies are Maians, the alien race commonly known as Greys. The particular Maian she manages to rescue goes by the name of Elvis. He was a bodyguard for the Ambassador who had been flying in at the head of the specialist team.
Having aided the remnants of the Maian delegation, Joanna can return to the matter of the President and dataDyne's designs against him. She poses as a member of the President's entourage to gain access to the air base where Air Force One is stationed, and successfully conceals herself aboard the plane. As soon as it's airborne, Trent and the cloaked Skedar make their move, but Joanna is there to stop them. She rushed the President to a safety capsule while a team of Trent's men scour the aircraft, intent on dragging the hapless politician aboard the Skedar UFO now docked to AFI via an umbilical. Jo weakens the umbilical but is unable to break it, and ultimately Elvis makes a last-ditch attempt to sever the cord by crashing into it at high speed. All three crafts plummet towards the Alaskan wilderness, and the AFI escape pod is launched.
Coming around, Jo tries to report in but finds her communications jammed by a transmission from the Skedar craft. She sets off through the snow to find the President and Elvis, encountering teams of cloaked Skedar out searching for her, the President, Elvis, and the President's belongings. She tracked one group back to the downed Skedar ship, where she discovers a clone of the President: quickly she destroys it, shuts down the jamming device and calls in the cavalry. The Skedar are thwarted once more, the President is safe, and Trent's incompetence has earned him a nasty fate at the hands of his 'allies'.
But it's not over. Throwing caution to the wind, dataDyne and the Skedar steal the Government's deep-sea research vessel 'Pelagic II' and head out to the Pacific crash site. Joanna and Elvis leave to disrupt activity on board the ship and find out what lies at the heart of the grand Skedar plan. After crippling the vessel's diving operations and recalling the submersible, they head down to the ocean floor, where they get their first sight of the downed Cetan battle cruiser. A portal made by the Skedar offers them access to the ship, where they stumble across a dead Skedar warrior... Clearly the assault team didn't have it all their own way. Fighting off the remaining vengeful Skedar and avoiding the Cetans themselves, Joanna and Elvis made their way down to the core of the ship, where they find the AI that was once Dr. Caroll. They manage to restore his personality, whereupon he urges Joanna and Elvis to leave the ship so that he may destroy it for good.
Later, back at the Carrington Institute, Joanna is about to leave for a Presidential reception at the White House when all hell breaks loose. The Skedar assault team survivors are venting their anger on those they deem responsible for their failure to recover the Cetan ship. Joanna dashes around the Institute helping CI employees to reach the safety of the hangars, as the Skedar launch attacks on various parts of the building: the majority of the employees make good their escape while Joanna holds the fort, but eventually she is knocked unconscious and taken prisoner.
She comes to in a holding cell on board the Skedar assault ship, with only Cassandra De Vries for company. In a shocking move, the dataDyne CEO willingly gives her life to create the distraction necessary for Joanna to break out. Battling her way through the ship, Jo eventually manages to locate and disable the docking bay shields, allowing Elvis to bring in a few friends for the long-awaited shooting party.
The captured assault ship enters orbit above the Skedar Battle Shrine, which shocks Elvis as the Maians never managed to find this Skedar 'holiest of holies' throughout the long years of interracial war. If the Shrine were destroyed, Skedar morale would be dealt a fatal blow and true peace would finally replace the uneasy ceasefire. So Jo sets her sights on the Skedar leader, the high priest of the Battle Shrine, while Elvis returns to the assault ship in order to summon the Maian fleet.
In the wake of the climatic battle, the temple lies devastated with Elvis calling for a lull in the bombardment so that he can find Joanna. She is alive, held under a pile of rubble by the last tenacious Skedar that caught up during the last few seconds of her escape bid. Elvis quickly offers her a gun to convince the Skedar to let go, and with the job finally done, the Skedar Shrine and morale are both in ruins. The conspiracy is dealt a mortal blow to the heart, the two of them depart for orbit.
Xbox Live Arcade Remake (Xbox 360)
On March 17th, 2010, Rare released a HD remaster of Perfect Dark for Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, featuring the original game with more detailed textures (in 1080p), and, of course, 60 FPS gameplay. It was originally available for purchase for 800 Microsoft Points, but now must be purchased for 10$ USD, as Microsoft Points were disconntinued in August 2013. It features new control options that are relatively easy to adapt to, with button layouts like Halo and Call of Duty (named Spartan and Duty Calls respectfully). Cycling through weapons is also bi-directional. Other additions include higher polygons on the character models, environments, and weapon models with support for HD, 16 player competitive online multiplayer support, 2 player online co-op, and more weapons and maps from Goldeneye 007. The game is also the first Xbox Live Arcade game to support 20 Achievements instead of the standard 12, although they still add up to the standard 200 points.