Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2005.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Perfect Dark Zero

Posted 23 November 2005 in life

Eric will be here in Chicago in about 9 hours, so I'm excited about that. I'm going to wait up a little longer so I can give him a call around 4:00a and let him know what the plans are for when he gets to O'Hare.

And yes, I'm still up. I've been playing Perfect Dark Zero for the recently-released XBox 360. I'm not sure how to classify the game, and in fact I believe the game suffers from identity issues.

In Splinter Cell (the best series of games I've ever played, second only to the original Halo), you have very well-defined stealth techniques. Shadows and sounds are taken into account when you're trying to sneak around. In Perfect Dark Zero, however, you're told to sneak around, but there's no clear definition of what conditions you have to meet to avoid being seen.

In Halo, you just run-and-gun, but there is an incredible story that complements the game play. Perfect Dark Zero, on the other hand, has yet to deliver anything more than Dick-and-Jane story telling. One of the main characters, for instance, just got killed off with a bullet to the head, and I don't really care. This is in stark contrast to the anger Chris and I felt when we discovered that 343 Guilty Spark had been using us to activate Halo.

Meanwhile, the audio suffers from inconsistent volumes, and jarring jumps in said volume that shatter the illusion that you're actually wandering through a real world. Case in point: every so often, rounding a corner will cause some in-game radio's music to suddenly jump in volume.

Finally, the map design is fairly crummy. Halo had compelling maps, and Splinter Cell had unique and believable locations. Perfect Dark Zero just has confusing designs. As an example, Justin and I spent 45 minutes in the last 5 minutes of the level just trying to find the radar dishes to destroy.

In all, I would recommend that you avoid Perfect Dark Zero; the game has no clear idea what kind of game it really is, so until it has that figured out you should keep your money.