Perfect Dark features Dolby surround sound, widescreen compatibility, and--as expected--stunning special effects, including dynamic lighting, chest-thumping explosions and realistic smoke, dust and steam clouds. Characters are lifelike thanks to motion-captured animations and beautifully rendered 3-D models.
Perfect Dark's multiplayer features are impressive. As in GoldenEye 007, up to four players can deathmatch in up to 20 different arenas. But that's just the start of the fun. The inclusion of up to eight computer-controlled opponents ("bots") adds an original component to the frag-fest. Humans can team with or against bots and even command a bot teammate to target specific opponents. Numerous original games, such as King of the Hill, offer so many variations that you just might forget that an engrossing single-player experience lies at the heart of the game.
Special note: The gameplay and graphics are greatly enhanced with the extra memory boost provided by the N64 Expansion Pak. The main single- player missions and multiplayer enhancements (three- or four-player games, as opposed to two-player games without the Pak, and other options) are only available with the N64 Expansion Pak (not included). If you own Donkey Kong 64, you received a Pak bundled in with the game. Others must purchase an expansion RAM Pak separately, a highly recommended option. --Eric Twelker
The futuristic Perfect Dark casts players as Joanna Dark, a secret agent who becomes embroiled in a sinister conspiracy involving aliens and an evil corporation. Gameplay is broken down into missions, each with objectives that must be unerringly completed before progressing to the next mission. This is not your typical kill-anything-that-moves game: putting a bullet in the wrong person, not keeping the right one alive, or perforating a seemingly unimportant inanimate object can often result in mission failure.
While Perfect Dark's solo missions play out much like those in GoldenEye 007, the game's fantastic multiplayer options are another matter entirely. Cooperative and counteroperative simultaneous-play modes allow for another player to join in on a mission as, respectively, a teammate or the enemy. However, the real fun here is in the highly customizable Combat Simulator, a one-to-four-player simultaneous-play mode that features both free-for-alls and team-based challenges and can include up to eight Simulants, computer-controlled combatants of varying behavior.
Although Simulants make for decent adversaries or teammates, you'll want to grab a friend--and an Expansion Pak, as only 35 percent of the game is available without one--to fully enjoy Perfect Dark. --Joe Hon
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