As TimeSplitters 2 gears up for a tumultuous multi-platform release, it seems that the gaming world has forgotten about a little game going under the name of Perfect Dark Zero.
This has understandably led to talk around the games industry sewing circle that the game has run into difficulties and/or been canned, cancelled, never to be seen by the gaming public. Far from being idle speculation, these rumours are well founded and borne of common sense.
First of all, a few things need to be understood about the lineage of Rare?s first-person shooters. Its first offering was GoldenEye, a game that defined how console FPS titles should appear and play. The game was created by a team of eight staff, led by David Doak and Steve Ellis. This team is also responsible for rescuing the GoldenEye licence from becoming a SNES platformer and a Nintendo 64 Virtua Cop clone.
GoldenEye was released to massive acclaim back in 1997 and a sequel was announced. As things turned out, Rare lost the Bond licence so a new character and game design had to be established. This turned out to be Joanna Dark starring in her own game, the catchily-titled Perfect Dark. After a year or so, the majority of Perfect Dark was in place, the multiplayer code was complete and all that remained was to polish up the latter stages of the single player game.
It?s at this point that things started to go awry. Internal friction and a lack of flexible working conditions led Doak and Ellis to leave Rare and set up Free Radical Design. This left Rare without what was essentially its ?FPS team?, a worrying prospect as the firm was gearing up for the release of Perfect Dark, a game rapidly gaining momentum as the biggest Nintendo 64 game since Mario 64.
Here we must tread carefully due to legal concerns. The latter parts of Perfect Dark are widely considered to be the game?s biggest failing. The abandonment of solid level design in favour of filling the play environment with loads of enemies annoyed many gamers. Also, the lack of polishing, especially in the terms of the graphical presentation within the multiplayer mode came in for some fairly hefty criticism. Both these complaints share one important factor: They were the parts of the game coded by Rare?s remaining staff following the Doak and Ellis bust up.
It?s at this point you must ask yourself exactly what, in the field of first-person console shooters, has Rare as it exists at this point in time achieved. It has made a poor ending to an otherwise excellent single-player experience and failed to bring a multiplayer game up to the expected standard.
It has now been well over a year since Perfect Dark Zero for GameCube was announced. Nothing has been seen since. Nothing has been mentioned since.
We can also reveal that Perfect Dark does not feature on any release schedule currently in the possession of Nintendo Europe.
We have contacted Nintendo of Japan for clarification on all things Perfect Dark and a reply is scheduled for tomorrow morning so we?ll give you a full update then.
And in the meantime, instead of waiting around for a game that seemingly doesn?t exist, do yourself a favour and splash out on TimeSplitters this October. As well as having the bonus of existing in more than the wider imagination of the Nintendo community, it is also a fantastic game from the creators of GoldenEye.