Reviewed by Tinnanski | 01.03.06

Introduction:Joanna Dark stars in the prestigious Perfect Dark follow up for the Xbox 360. Helping to support the big Xbox 360 launch we have another updated franchise from classic N64 developer Rare. This is the big one for shooter fans, and I will take a look at lovely Joanna Dark to see if she can deliver the next generation goods.

The Game:Perfect Dark Zero is named after its leading lady Joanna Dark. Joanna is close to perfect in Rare's world and this trendy girl who knows how to handle a weapon. The always cynical Joanna finds herself in some heavy drama when sent on a typical recon mission. Perfect Dark Zero has some crazy plot with featuring a powerful corporation dataDyne and a madman's quest for ultimate power. Luckily, the plot doesn't get in the way of the action, so you will spend most of your time running and gunning. It would of been nice for Rare to give more background on the whole situation and its characters, but maybe it was me who wasn't paying attention. One thing I do know is this plot is ridiculous, and I was sleeping through the cut scenes as soon as the second level.

Perfect Dark Zero (PDZ) isn't an overly long affair and can be completed in a few days of shooting. The main story can be re-visited on various difficultly levels, or through co-op mode with a friend. Add in the multiplayer aspect and you have enough replayability to keep this disc in your system for a while. I didn't expect an overly long 30hr adventure, and trust me that would be too long. Johanna's adventure feels good set at the pace it is, even if I wasn't always thrilled with some plot choices, the overall ride was entertaining for me to see it through to its end. Granted you have to like shooters to get into PDZ, but those who get into them will probably find a few things to dig about PDZ.

Multiplayer Joys
The multiplayer aspect of PDZ is just as much, or more fun then the story missions. Multiplayer is huge with PDZ and Xbox Live makes hooking up a breeze. There are lots of multiplayer achievements that deal with getting 10, 100 or 1000 out of each objective so; you will be playing this a lot if you want to hook those up. The atmosphere is good on live, and shooters are a good way to kill some time. Admitted PDZ has the weapon arsenal right, but they could have used a few more vehicles to the mix. I love the Jetpac PDF (Personal Flight Device) and think it's a stunning piece of machinery, and it adds some strategy on live. You have to watch being powerful on Live because people will usually bond together to take the vehicles like these flying birds.

Another great aspect to PDZ is that the multiplayer portion can be enjoyed even if you're not hooked up on live. Perfect Dark Zero's multiplayer features fully customizable maps, weapons, and BOTS! Yes, sweet bots. Bots are a great addition to the multiplayer game and a nice treat since a lot of console games leave them out. Don't have friends? Don't worry these multi-level bots can be your friends 24hrs a day. Seriously with up to 32 players, with or without bots, PDZ becomes a major online player. PDZ could be considered the new Halo for online play on the Xbox 360 that is until the Halo actually comes out.

Guns & Gadgets
Now, lets get to the weapons, which happen to be another strong point of PDZ. Before each mission you can outfit Joanna to customize her with the weapons you like to use, or that are best for the level ahead. The weapons are well balanced and offer some variety which is especially nice on Xbox Live. You can tell Rare spend a great deal of time managing the overall effects, and feeling of the weapons because it defiantly shows. I felt the three most intriguing weapons where the Psychosis Gun which is essentially a tranquilizer gun, the CMP 150 which is a sub machine gun that doubles with a built in hologram projection to throw the enemy off and the purple glowing Laptop assault rifle. The Laptop's special trademark is that it can turn into a sentry gun for ditching and cleaning out rooms. These weapons along with the others are pretty grounded in reality with that PDZ high tech feeling. It's nice to see Rare didn't go overboard, and they all seem to have their place.

Along side the weapons are the gadgets which sadly don't have the same cool feeling. Although they try to make the Locktopus, Datatheif and Demo Kit seem cool the mini games are just unnecessary. Take that Datatheif for instance which aids hacking into terminals. The mini game for the Datathief has you matching squares that rotate in a circle, but you don't even have to play the game. Just hit "A" constantly and it will all work itself out; I tested it through the whole game and never found a hitch. In the end the high tech weapons work well and help build make the world seem believable, but the gadgets fall a step behind because they are simply useless.

Perfect or Average?
The gameplay ends up being pretty average in the end. Even with the excellent multi-player portion and clever weapon choices can't pull the mundane single player missions out of the mud. PDZ missions are very short and really don't offer anything besides a frag fest. Rare has thrown in some neat innovations, mostly concerning weapons, and blue pathway finders, but that's it. Perfect Dark Zero needed a little more direction for the plot to really put this in the classic category. It's smooth, multiplayer rocks, but the single player is a snooze.

Graphics & Sound:PDZ is a good looking game, especially on a HDTV. One of the games strong points besides up'd resolutions is the attention to detail in such things as level, and weapons design. These weapons look like they could be real, and Joanna has some great reloading animations which add a nice realistic touch. The shield is another graphical achievement, although a minor item, no game has handled the placement of the shield as good as PDZ and it actually feels bulky and blocking like a shield should. Also, hitting people with weapons looks great and their stunned reaction is a nice touch. Rare really did an excellent job of conveying realism and weight to these weapons.

The levels are also interesting and it wasn't until the jungle level that I really appreciated this fact. It just gets better from their and you really can tell this game has been really plotted out, for the single player missions and multiplayer levels. The lighting and extra details go a long way and help make this whole world believable. The motion blur rocks when you get hit with Psychosis Gun. Some other things to mention would be the animation for Joanna rolling around, which looks flawless, and extras like terrain damage and the excellent rag doll physics on the enemies.

One more area where PDZ stands out is the excellent Soundtrack score. The music score is amount the best created for an action game, and fits the future theme perfectly. It's great to hear a variation from symphony orchestras, to techno rock, instead of just metal guitars rocking the drop D. The sound effects also follow suit and make PDZ one of the best sounding games out of the whole 360 lot. PDZ is helping bridge the gap between the Xbox, and the Xbox 360's potential.

Lowdown:Perfect Dark Zero had high expectations because of the fantastic first go on the N64. I think most people are let down by the Xbox 360 follow up, although Perfect Dark Zero isn't garbage even if the plot is trash. The innovative weapons, sharp and accessible gameplay and almost perfect multiplayer aspect lands PDZ into the good category. If you're an Xbox Live fan you will find an enough to love for your buck, others this might be a rental to see if Perfect Dark Zero is perfect enough to buy.

Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 8. Final: 8 / 10


  • Engrossing single-player action: Brought to life in startling high definition (HD), a fully interactive world, beautiful graphics, and breathtaking special effects combine with Xbox Live® functionality to provide you with a one-of-a-kind single-player experience.
  • Gripping, action-packed storyline: Years before the original Perfect Dark , assume the role of Perfect Agent Joanna Dark in a gripping story, with the action in this sci-fi thriller centered on espionage, conspiracy, and a mysterious global conflict.
  • Unparalleled online play via Xbox Live: Perfect Dark Zero delivers unprecedented online action and flexibility, with fully scalable environments, rankings, and more.
  • Extraordinary variety of gameplay options: Choose between a story-driven single-player campaign and various multiplayer options, including four-player splitscreen and cooperative action, for infinite replayability.
  • Massive arsenal of weapons, gadgets, and vehicles: The game features many of the classic weapons and gadgets from the original game, as well as countless additions. Combat-enabled vehicles including jetpacks, and hovercrafts are also available.

Perfect Dark Zero

Nov 2005

Players 1-4
HDTV 1080i
Storage Device
Players 2-32