Coming off the again of a Gamescom the place Xbox largely centered on well-known titles that’ll be out fairly quickly, it regarded like we’d be ready fairly some time for an extra replace on a few of Xbox’s greater and extra mystery-shrouded upcoming video games. Every every now and then we get a bit of shock, nonetheless – and such was the case with Perfect Dark, the place Xbox’s Matt Booty briefly deigned to speak concerning the hotly-anticipated reboot throughout a PAX West panel.
Booty, who’s the pinnacle of the now-sprawling Xbox Game Studios portfolio of improvement homes and video games, talked about how any reboot of the Perfect Dark franchise must be dealt with “very carefully”, noting that properties reminiscent of this “don’t always age well.” And, you already know, Booty is true. But the following factor he stated is curious – and for my cash, it’s improper.
“What I think is super cool about Perfect Dark, what’s super cool about Joanna Dark, is the super agent fantasy, the spy, the sort of Bourne Identity, James Bond kind of thing there,” Booty defined.
“That’s always a cool meme people wanna lean into – but again, we gotta make sure that comes forward in the right way, so I’m just gonna stick to ‘very carefully’.”
Wrong might be unfair. I believe every little thing that Booty says is correct… nevertheless it’s solely correct for round half of the unique Perfect Dark. Or, to place it one other method – Perfect Dark is a spy sport, and it’s ostensibly a couple of feminine James Bond. But that’s each actually and figuratively solely a part of the story, and any reboot of the franchise must embrace all the unique to channel what made it so beloved.
I’m speaking, after all, about Perfect Dark being a bit of bit bizarre. It’s not simply Bond or Bourne, and that’s even true from the very begin. The sport’s opening cutscene takes place on a futuristic flying transport zipping by a neon-lit futuristic metropolis straight out of Blade Runner. Your mission is to rescue a mysterious Doctor within the clutches of an evil company – although while you uncover the physician, he’s not an individual in any respect, however relatively a complicated AI encased in a kind of flying laptop computer. Perfect Dark is full sci-fi.
It’s camp as hell, too. From the visits to Area 51, the place you rescue a wise-cracking ‘grey’-style alien referred to as Elvis – who later goes on to put on a stars and stripes waistcoat. Soon, Perfect Dark feels as a lot Halo because it does GoldenEye, with Agent Dark discovering herself on hostile alien spaceships, in the end launching an assault on the hostile alien homeworld. Nothing is held again.
Don’t get me improper – the spy stuff is a big a part of Perfect Dark. I additionally suppose that the standard espionage-driven missions are the very best within the sport. The opening trio of DataDyne HQ missions are wonderful, as is defending your boss Carrington in an assault on his non-public villa. Chicago stays my favourite, outlined by a extremely exploitable degree design, a thick rain-soaked environment with unforgettable music, and Jo skulking round in a Deckard cosplay trench coat.
But nonetheless all of that is solely a part of a wider sport, and I genuinely attribute a lot of what makes Perfect Dark an ideal sport – and a greater sport than GoldenEye, don’t trouble commenting in any other case – is its breadth. It makes use of the spy and espionage stuff as a springboard right into a wider, madder story – and in doing so elevates itself past being only a Bond clone with a unique lead. At the time, I think about this was the purpose – Rare doubtless needed to each evoke and differentiate their new hero from Bond and their work on GoldenEye – and the full-fat sci-fi setting and extra-terrestrial shenanigans allowed it to just do that.
This isn’t the be-all, end-all, clearly. More necessary to me is that this Perfect Dark reboot isn’t just a few Tomb Raider-esque aggregation of at present widespread traits, however that it examines the construction of the unique sport (particularly its open-ended however mangeably-sized, multi-objective missions) and finds a method to efficiently adapt that into fashionable sport design. The closest current touchstone is IO Interactive’s wonderful Hitman reboot sequence, clearly – and that studio now finds itself engaged on Bond – so it appears Joanna and James’ futures stay intertwined.
What we’ve seen to date of the brand new Perfect Dark is attention-grabbing. The trailer, although CG and brief, lays out a transparent kind of world state. The planet is ravaged by horrible climate and pure disasters, and humanity now cries out for assist from the very mega-corporations that in all probability brought on the issues within the first place. We see hints of drone surveillance, we catch a glimpse of a laptop computer gun (itself consultant of PD’s sensible weapon alt-fire modes), and there’s speak of secrets and techniques as a digital camera zips by a clearly high secret laboratory. So far, so good.
All this might simply be a near-future sci-fi story, although, and stay comparatively grounded. I can simply see a model of this sport that performs this comparatively straight, as a darkish cautionary sci-fi story concerning the mixture of the continued local weather apocalypse slow-burn and the unchecked energy of firms, satirically bankrolled by bloody Microsoft. We will uncover one thing like, shock-horror, the corpos actively sped-up and instigated disasters to increase their sphere of affect, and all that. I actually hope it isn’t simply that, although.
While it wouldn’t be as a lot of a shock as within the unique sport, the place the alien affect actually comes out of left-field, I actually do hope these firms are mining their local weather change resolution know-how from past earth, or are even hatching secret offers with nefarious aliens behind-the-scenes. This is the schlock I wish to see. It’s a core a part of what Perfect Dark is to me. It was largely lacking from Zero, owing to it being a prequel, and it was truthfully certainly one of my bigger issues with that sport’s story.
So, sure. You’re proper, Matt Booty – one of many cool issues about Joanna Dark is the super-spy fantasy of all of it, and about her as a solution to 007. But that’s solely a part of Perfect Dark’s enchantment – and among the campier components, whereas maybe not as attractive on paper immediately as within the late ninet
ies, are a significant piece of the sequence’ identification. I hope they continue to be within the reboot.