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Old 10-12-2005, 02:31 PM   #1
bapenguin
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Perfect Dark Zero: Hands on Preview

Perfect Dark Zero Hands on Preview
by: Nicholas "bapenguin" Puleo, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone wants to know about Perfect Dark Zero. Is it the next Halo? Why canít you jump? Do the graphics suck? Do the physics suck? The game has gotten a lot of scrutiny, and itís not even out yet. After much play time with the game I can tell you itís not the next Halo, but the game isnít meant to be.

Perfect Dark Zero really doesnít feel like your first person shooters as of late. It actually feels more like the original Perfect Dark and Golden Eye on Nintendo 64. Shocker I know, right? The game play is a lot slower, stealth and cover is a key to surviving. There is a ďcover modeĒ option that comes up when you come to a corner on a building or other objects that can provide cover. While in cover mode you have a view of whatís around the side. Aim up the baddie and pull the trigger and youíll quickly pop out and bust a cap ala Sam Fisher Style.

Your character has 4 weapon slots. Each weapon takes up a specific amount of slots though, so while you can hold 4 pistols at once, you can only hold 2 pistols and a shotgun, or a shotgun and sniper rifle. Itís a pretty good system and adds a nice simple strategy element to the game play. Every weapon has a primary and secondary fire mode. One of the sniper rifles is particularly brutal, its secondary fire mode is a grenade launcher. Another nice touch is the scopes on the weapons are analog. How hard you press on the left trigger determines how far your scope is zoomed in.

The problem I had with the version I played was there was no way to adjust your control sensitivity. The game felt a bit sluggish, and I felt like I just moved a little too slow, especially in the multiplayer. Thereís no jumping in this game, instead you can roll to dodge fire. This makes quite a bit more sense, Iíve rarely seen someone bunny hop to avoid machine gun fire in real life. When you do come to a situation in which you should jump, say to get up on a ledge, pressing the roll button makes JoAnna pull herself up.

The art direction and style of Perfect Dark Zero are amazing. The overall look of the game is a cross between a comic book and a James Bond movie. There is real-time shadowing, bump mapping, and every other graphical trick in the book. Nothing in this game looks flat or dull. Most of the animations were smooth, though there were a few transitions that could have used some touching up. The menu interface is clean and quick, and every mission generates statistics for you (it even keeps track of how many times you rolled).

Before you start a mission you can choose what equipment to start with. All the weapons I tried seemed very powerful, and very useful. Some of the secondary fire options were pretty cool. One of the pistols for instance has a secondary fire option of dropping the weaponís clip out of the gun and exploding it. Very useful when someone is chasing you. The sniper rifles pack a pretty punch, hitting an enemy in the chest causes him to fly back from the force.

When playing on the easiest difficulty level, blue arrows will popup to show you which way you need to go to complete your next objective. This is a nice feature for beginners, getting lost in a FPS is a frustrating experience. The levels themselves are HUGE and complicated. It seemed every building had an entryway, as well as multiple floors.

Every mission has co-op play available. Some missions are co-op specific; there are two characters and paths clearly defined for each player. Their paths cross and overlap with each person so they can help out and cover each other. I did get a chance to play some Co-Op with James from Joystiq. The one mission we played I was JoAnna and he was Jack. He took the low road, I took the high road. While he was taking care of business down below, Iíd cover him from above with the sniper rifle. It was quite fun, and really felt like cooperative play with a purpose, not just something that was tacked on.

One thing we found out that royally sucked was the lack of checkpoints or save features. Thatís right, you die, and youíre done. Didnít they learn anything from the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory team? The game isnít easy either, there was plenty of times I found myself staring at my dead body on the screen. Itís especially frustrating in Co-Op because when one of you dies, the mission fails.

The multiplayer was pretty fun, only because of the nice variety of weapons. It was nothing special though, and again it felt pretty sluggish. There is a mech type vehicle you can get into. It has the ability to fly around with a jetpack on it. Other than that, it was pretty much straight deathmatch. I really had hoped the cover mode would play more into the multiplayer, but it just didnít seem to fit.

All in all Perfect Dark Zero seems like the kind of game you play through once and thatís it. It should be a satisfying Single Player and Co-Op expierence, but the multiplayer is lacking. Hopefully Rare irons out the control issues and tweaks up a few things before launch. This game is on the brink of being a top notch title, but right now it just falls short.

Last edited by bapenguin; 10-13-2005 at 12:49 PM..
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Old 10-12-2005, 02:51 PM   #2
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"One thing we found out that royally sucked was the lack of checkpoints or save features. Thatís right, you die, and youíre done."

Um...

WTF?
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Old 10-12-2005, 02:52 PM   #3
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Sounds better than I thought, but the comment about no checkpoints pretty much kills the whole thing for me. I'm just not going to deal with efforts in frustration anymore, they aren't fun.
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Old 10-12-2005, 02:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bapenguin
All in all Perfect Dark Zero seems like the kind of game you play through once and thatís it. It should be a satisfying Single Player and Co-Op expierence, but the multiplayer is lacking.
Well thats very bad.
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Old 10-12-2005, 03:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eatme
"One thing we found out that royally sucked was the lack of checkpoints or save features. Thatís right, you die, and youíre done."

Um...

WTF?
Ditto. I really hate games that use that scheme to make it a "challenge." While do understand it prevents those save crazy players, ahem I'll admit that sometimes, but the game should be challenging without having a dumb "feature" like that.
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Old 10-12-2005, 03:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everlost_MI
Ditto. I really hate games that use that scheme to make it a "challenge." While do understand it prevents those save crazy players, ahem I'll admit that sometimes, but the game should be challenging without having a dumb "feature" like that.
Normally, I would agree whole-heartedly with this. I am often one of those players that saves every few seconds, just in case. My biggest beef with FarCry (one of the latest games I've picked up) is the lack of saving.

BUT.... this also hearkens back to the original Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. There was no saving there. (I'm assuming, of course, this is per mission.) It could be a total drag, but it really kept you sweating it.

I really like the fact that it sticks closer to the old school feel of those first games. I loved GE and PD because they were shooters that (in my opinion) were correctly geared towards console play. When console shooters started mimicking what we had on the PC, it all fell apart for me. I know there are many who disagree with me, but that's just what I think.


EDIT: As I think about it more, I can remember REALLY hating how you couldn't save in those games sometimes. Perhaps that's one thing they SHOULD have updated. But, the rest of my post still stands.
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Old 10-12-2005, 03:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Itís especially frustrating in Co-Op because when one of you dies, the mission fails.
Hmmmm, from IGN's latest hands-on...
Quote:
Eventually our partner got gunned down and we were able to go over and revive them while still playing. Reviving your fallen partner takes a little bit of time so you'll need to be sure that the area is clear before you move in. Once close to your fallen partner an icon will pop up that indicates revival is possible and your character will whip out a small circular disk that flashes for around five seconds before bringing your teammate back.
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Old 10-12-2005, 03:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Chi-Town
Hmmmm, from IGN's latest hands-on...
So, what do you have to say bapenguin? Lies.... or did you miss this?
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Old 10-12-2005, 04:08 PM   #9
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Most likely you can't revive your partner in the co-op situtation they were playing(providing sniper cover for a player on a lower level).
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Old 10-12-2005, 04:33 PM   #10
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Yeah it must be certain missions. Maybe the missions where you actually play the integral characters to the story you have one shot at it. In the sniper missions, it's definitley one death mission over.

And yes, it does save in between missions.
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Old 10-12-2005, 05:18 PM   #11
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Bah.. that sucks. I hope this is something they decide to fix.
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Old 10-12-2005, 05:41 PM   #12
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Nice preview Bap, thanks for the heads up!
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Old 10-12-2005, 05:49 PM   #13
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I'm so getting that game it sounds great in my opinion, its not in direct compition with halo, its more of a suppliment by the sounds of things.
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:38 PM   #14
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Well, since multiplayer was the best part of Perfect Dark, I'm pretty disappointed in this.
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Iron Weasel
I'm so getting that game it sounds great in my opinion, its not in direct compition with halo, its more of a suppliment by the sounds of things.
Yeah, from the looks of it, it'll be a much slower game. Not that that's a bad thing, but sometimes the rather hectic, sportslike pace of Halo can get the better of me.

I just hope there's enough options and tweaks available in the multiplayer to keep it interesting and not just a retread of DM/TDM/CtF. Halo had some wonderfuly versatile options for making your own games and if PD0 wants to hold it's own as a good alternative/less intense multiplayer experience it'll need to match those.
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Old 10-12-2005, 08:47 PM   #16
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Thanks for the preview, I am really looking forward to it. Sounds different from Halo but different GOOD. I really like the cover 3rd person view, neat idea.
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Old 10-12-2005, 10:40 PM   #17
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I'm glad to hear that this game will focus on stealth, as I don't believe the system works very well for fast-paced action. It's what kept Timesplitters 2 from being as fun as Goldeneye.
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Old 10-12-2005, 11:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perigon
Sounds better than I thought, but the comment about no checkpoints pretty much kills the whole thing for me. I'm just not going to deal with efforts in frustration anymore, they aren't fun.
I'm not sure when saving every second became such a huge deal in games, but I frankly am fine with games that don't let you save everywhere. In fact, I prefer it. The developer creates a challenge and you rise to it, or do not. That's the game. If you can't lose, then there's not thrill of coming out of a firefight unharmed, or sense of panic when you're on your last few bullets.

I used to, and still occasionally do, play DOOM from beginning on without saving. I know I probably won't beat the game, but the buzz you get on level 7 or so, when you have low health and low ammo, and you know that if you die you're going to go all the way back to the beginning... that's something you just don't get otherwise. The hairs your your neck stand up... you're reflexes triple... you get "in the zone"... without that, what's the fun of gaming?
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Old 10-13-2005, 12:13 AM   #19
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That may be the case for you, but I personally just shut the game off and go do something else when I have to restart a mission.

In fact I avoid buying games like that at all.

You can always put the option there - it doesn't mean that people like YOU have to use it.
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Old 10-13-2005, 02:43 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JazGalaxy
I'm not sure when saving every second became such a huge deal in games, but I frankly am fine with games that don't let you save everywhere. In fact, I prefer it. The developer creates a challenge and you rise to it, or do not. That's the game. If you can't lose, then there's not thrill of coming out of a firefight unharmed, or sense of panic when you're on your last few bullets.
Very true. If you die and have no punishment then its not fun. I prefer games that don't wrap you in bubble wrap. Like Ninja Gaiden for example.

Looking forward to this lots.It sounds like i'll be dissapointed with the multiplayer side of things though. Could my prediction be true that Halo2 will be the definitive multiplayer game for the 360?

Thanks for the preview Bapenguin
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