Perfect Dark attempted to make use of everything the N64 had to offer. It ripped every last ounce of power out of the N64 and so players needed the RAM expansion pack in order to take advantage of the amazing one player mode. If you ever play a game on the N64, compare the music from something like Mario Kart to the likes of Perfect Dark. You'll be surprised. The high res mode was a treat to be seen as well, but you'll only notice the difference on a big TV. By using the Gameboy connector that fitted into the controller, you could connect the Gameboy version of Perfect Dark (released after the N64 version) with the N64 and unlock some very interesting cheats (the Gameboy version was, unsurprisingly, pretty crap, so I won't go into that). Something you may like to know is that prerelease versions of Perfect Dark allowed players to also connect the Gameboy camera and transfer their faces onto multiplayer characters. I haven't come across another game that allows you to do that, as yet. Fortunately for us, some guys in America insisted that this function had to be removed because it was 'too realistic' and they were worried that it would somewhat blur the boundaries of realities when you shot the crap out of your friends. This really shouldn't have been a problem, because the thing was awarded an 18 certificate in the UK. You can't really go any higher, so I don't see why they didn't just let it go, but hey.
I got my version of Perfect Dark as soon as it came out (expensive stuff) and, because I was well under 18 at the time, it scared the shit out of me (I led a sheltered life). The thing that frightened me the most was the intelligence of the enemies. In Goldeneye, there were obvious flaws with the enemies that the player could use to their advantage. Generally, you could stick your head around the corner and wait for a guard to follow you to a hiding place and then shoot the hell of you. Perfect Dark's guards could hear what was going on around them, so if they heard gunshots nearby, they'd come looking for you. Playing it now, there are still ways around this, but compared to Goldeneye, where you can just shoot a guard in the back and the one standing next to him won't do a thing, it's a bit of a big step up.
I think the most impressive thing about Perfect Dark was the amazing amount and quality of scenery (there's some really cool looking stuff in that game, especially the alien space ships). And then of course, there's the meaty weapons that put Goldeneye to shame. The rocket launcher in Goldeneye is pretty flimsy looking, whereas the same thing in Perfect Dark is one mother of shit that you wouldn't want to find yourself on the other side of. The shotgun was oh so much cooler than the shotguns in Goldeneye.
Cut scenes were also an obvious improvement on Goldeneye. Rare said that they had felt restricted when they were doing Goldeneye because they had to stick to a certain storyline. Occasionally, they added or removed certain parts from the film because some bits just wouldn't have worked. There was no Casino scene in the game and there was nothing like the Bunker, Surface and Caverns level in the film, only mentions of them. In Perfect Dark, Rare were free to create their own HIGHLY complex storyline that really works when you think about it.
Don't compare Perfect Dark for the N64 to the latest video games. Don't compare it to Halo, because it's not Halo. Newer video games can quite easily turn round and say, hey, I really liked Perfect Dark, but we could improve upon the same kind of concept and add our own bits. You should compare Perfect Dark to shoot-em-ups on the PS1 and N64, because, lets face it, it beats them quite easily.
By the way, Rare are making a new Perfect Dark for the XBox 360, could be a reason to buy the next console from Microsoft, but if Microsoft have their way, I'm sure there'll be a load of other reasons not to buy one.
"Absolutely Stunning. If you had to choose just one game for your N64, this would be it. Unmissable."
N64 Magazine (now NGC) awarded Perfect Dark 96% (Star Game) in reviews, second only the Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Goldeneye got 94%.
How total dicks react to Perfect Dark:
Person 1: I'm playing Perfect Dark again at the moment.
Person 2: That game is so lame. The latest GTA game kicks Perfect Dark square in the balls.