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Perfect Dark Zero

A prequel to the N64 FPS classic, Microsoft is betting heavily on Rare’s secret agent shooter as the first 360 mega-hit. Well, Perfect Dark Zero looks good, but I don’t think it’s another Halo. The playable levels on show, including a sniper-heavy rooftop shootout and a search and retrieve mission on the mean streets of a future Hong Kong showed a game rich in graphical flourishes – shiny tiles and reflective surfaces are this generation’s lens-flare effect – but the cartoon-styled characters look better from a distance than they do up close, and much of the architecture looks oddly boxy. Admittedly, we didn’t see any of the lush jungle areas showcased in the latest screenshots.

On the plus-side, PD0 has inherited many of Perfect Dark’s best qualities – a fast, action-packed pace, some well-thought out encounters and a nice variety of objectives – while taking on a new sense of scale. These are big levels, with multiple routes and loads of options, and we also heard how, in cooperative mode, different players will be able to explore different areas. In terms of gameplay innovations, the switch to a third-person cover mode seems interesting, and the analogue zoom for sniper weapons is a really nice touch. Of course, any FPS by the designers of Goldeneye gives us reason to get excited about multiplayer mode, and PD0 does have something of the feel of Rare’s vintage Bond classic. One to watch.

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