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Perfect Dark Zero

Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Rare
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Stealth/ First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Perfect Dark Zero is another game that does a great job of showing off the system's graphics. Though it doesn't necessarily try to go for the ultra-realistic visuals like Call of Duty 2, Condemned and Quake 4, its arcade-like style still lets it show off enough detail to put any current gen game to shame.

Characters and visual effects are nice to look at, although the levels have a tendency to feel a bit repetitive after a while. It's not that you will find yourself running through the same-styled hallways in several different levels like in older FPS like Wolfenstein 3D; instead, I found myself thinking I had been through a particular part of a level already, since the settings within individual missions started blending together and one part of a building or base looked very similar to another part.

The game's audio is good, but ultimately forgettable. The background music stays low-key and out of the way. When you are sneaking your way through the hallways, the music is very subtle, but when the action kicks up, so does the music. Sound effects are about on par with the music. While playing the game, all of the gun reports sound fitting but when you shut down the system, they aren't really anything to remember.


Perfect Dark Zero follows your character: a stealthy, gun toting action-girl named Joanna Dark. In this prequel to the FPS Perfect Dark, Joanna starts off by learning the skills she will develop to becomes the perfect bounty hunter of the future.

This game's story is filled with espionage and spying that will make what should be a normal mission become just the tip of a much larger iceberg. In her quest, Joanna will uncover a hidden agenda between several huge and shadowy companies that want nothing less than control of the world.

PD0 features a wide assortment of weapons and gadgets. Joanna Dark will have everything from pistols to sub-machine guns to heavy weapons and explosives on hand to help her clean house and get to the bottom of the various plots she has found herself in.

In general, the gameplay takes on a very stealthy feel. Since you should be spending most of your time sneaking around in hallways and tunnels, the game's levels can tend to drag on a bit. All in all, if you take the stealth approach, the game's single-player campaign will provide tons of hours in and of itself.

Perfect Dark Zero also supports multiplayer that will allow you to either split your screen into four views, link systems or go online and face opponents on Xbox Live. There are two types of multiplayer games available, DeathMatch and DarkOps.

The DeathMatch games include Capture the Flag, Territorial Gains (a King of the Hill style game) and Kill Count (which is your stereotypical deathmatch setup). The DarkOps games include Eradication, Onslaught, Infection and Sabotage. Eradication has two teams going head to head -- the last team with a member still alive is the winner. Onslaught has one team defending a base, while the other tries to over-run the defenders and take over. Infection is an interesting game where the players are divided into two groups. The infected try to kill the uninfected. Once killed, the uninfected then join the infected team. If any uninfected live till the end of the match -- then the uninfected get points, else all the points go to the infected. Sabotage has teams trying to deal out as much property damage as possible.


Perfect Dark Zero's difficulty is an odd mix. Most of the time, I found that instead of sneaking my way through a level or staying covered behind boxes and crates, I could run and gun my way through a room full of enemies without suffering too much damage. That's not to say that these gun-blazing charges are easy -- but with a little adrenaline and some fast fingers you shouldn't have too much trouble getting past the room and into a safe area.

If you play the game as cautiously and stealthily as the developers seemed to want, then yes Perfect Dark Zero gets to be a good bit more challenging. Instead of being able to run past enemies, I found myself having to peek around boxes, take a couple of shots then duck back down.

I guess the reason why it is so much easier to get past an area if you just charge is because the game's enemy A.I. just doesn't seem to be expecting it. Instead of running after you or taking pot shots at you as you run around corners -- they stand still and try to shoot at you from one location. Instead of moving around to get a better angle at you, they just wait for you to pass in front of their sights.

Game Mechanics:

Perfect Dark Zero has a simple FPS control scheme that should be intuitive enough for anyone to pick up and play. The Y button lets you switch between the weapons that you have on hand, while the X button reloads and the B button is how you perform a melee attack. You move around with the left analog stick and look around with the right (just like any other console FPS). The D-Pad lets you select different gadgets or drop weapons while the A button is how you interact with the environment.

The only real issue I had with the game's control scheme were the trigger and shoulder buttons. The primary fire option is the RT (Right Trigger) button. This is what I expected, but I also expected the alternate fire to be the other trigger button (LT). Instead, the secondary fire command with the right shoulder button (RB) and the LT button was how you zoom in and aim. Looking back, this made sense because it would be hard to have the zoom/aim feature be on the same side as either fire option since you typically just have one finger poised over each shoulder. Like I said, it wasn't what I expected at first, but I got used to it and it got comfortable quickly.

An interesting mechanic for this game is the Armory. This system allows you to select any of the previously obtained weapons and take them with you on the next mission. But this doesn't mean you can just load up everything you've found like in Quake or Doom. Instead, you have a total of four slots. Your personal arsenal works similar to the Attache Case from Resident Evil 4. You have a certain amount of space to fill, and different weapons take up different amounts of space. For instance, weapons like your standard P9P pistol take up only one slot, while the rocket launcher takes up three. You will be able to fit both of those on your person, but nothing else. Other combinations would include the magnum (one slot), FAC-16 (two slots) and a grenade (one slot). This adds an interesting dynamic since the armory can only be visited between levels and it forces you to consider the environment and mission that you will be facing.

Perfect Dark Zero is a must-have game for the 360. The game's style and action are enough to keep pretty much any gamer entertained for hours and when you add in the online multiplayer aspect -- PD0 has almost limitless gameplay value.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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