Like the original Perfect Dark and Goldeneye, PDZ is split into different missions where specific objectives need to be completed – some of them primary, some secondary. The gameplay is essentially still linear, but having the option to fulfil or ignore the secondary objectives throws a bit of variety into the mix.
There’s been a lot of comment on the Web about the disappointing graphics in PDZ, and if you’re only going by the screenshots you could be forgiven for thinking this. However, in reality the visuals are a mixed bag – some of the graphics do look a bit lacklustre and retro, but some of the visuals are truly staggering. There are levels and areas in PDZ where I completely forgot what I was supposed to be doing and just stared at the amazing lighting or superb textures – mundane scenery such as brickwork had me stopping in my tracks; it looks that good.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with the guys from Rare last week to have a chat about PDZ. Rare confirmed that it had employed Paralax Occlusion Mapping to create the stunning textures on the walls. This is a technique that ATI was making a big fuss about at the Radeon X1000 launch, and judging by the results seen in PDZ I can understand why. Rare has also used tone mapping to create HDR effects in the game, although it didn’t seem to be as apparent as the HDR seen in recent PC games.
But like I said, the graphics are a mixed bag – while some of the scenery looks amazing, the character models just don’t look very, well, next generation. The inhabitants of the PDZ world look a bit too cartoon like, while the faces seem, well, drawn on. Even the movement doesn’t seem particularly convincing, except when you shoot someone of course – shoot a guy in the knee and he will drop down clutching at his knee, he may even blurt out “She shot me in the knee!” just to hammer the point home.