Not so taintless

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Long anticipated. A breakthrough. A 64-bit gem. All of these things could be said about Perfect Dark, Nintendo’s flawlessly reviewed monster hit of the year. Examine the details: The unofficial follow-up to 1997’s smash hit, Goldeneye, Dark takes the player inside the world of special agent Joanna Dark — a universe of heavy, hand-mounted artillery and blood-bath violence. Granted, this might be Nintendo 64’s most complicated, most impeccably designed title to date; yet when compared to the PC editions of Unreal Tournament or Rainbow Six, this super-spy actionier
isn’t up to par.

Graphics, controls and even music are all handicapped by the power of the PC. N64’s bulky joystick often results in faulty movements. And the dirty, warehouse atmosphere of the game sometimes causes one to get lost in a maze of polygons (those blotchy panels of color that can be seen when viewing an object up-close).

The computer editions revolving around the same basic concept are substantially easier on the eyes: Rainbow Six is considerably more accurate in its targeting abilities and Unreal Tournament offers a few more pounds of first-person shooter octane. However the PC does lose its allure occasionally — like Goldeneye, Dark is a phenomenal “party” game.

Up to four players can take a crash course in point-blank assassination and, as an added feature, the developers at Rareware also include a variety of optional simulants to make group battlegrounds much more brutal. Place a “Meat Sim” in the level you and your friends are gun-playing in for an extra body-bull’s-eye to melt with bullets. But beware, some simulants have a happy trigger finger for sniper fire.

Ultimately, as a multiplayer cartridge, Dark could be considered a “breakthrough” or a “gem” — at least for those who can’t afford to network eight computers together (estimated cost: $12,000).

Jon M. Gibson writes about video games for the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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