Have friends or people you know who say “yeah Golden Eye was awesome? Golden Eye was king back in my day and is still the golden child of gaming even after all these years. But to myself I moved on and found another Rare FPS to take the crowning title. This now developed into the question. What is the better game, Golden Eye or Perfect Dark? Considering to me, Perfect Dark is better …. (Nervous laughter) OK come on, I know you’re thinking, isn’t Golden Eye is far better?
Let’s do a little classic face off then.
A little history
Golden Eye gained critical acclaim and success back in 1997 on the Nintendo 64 and became the console’s third most successful game selling 8 million units and Rare’s most renowned title. There are many reasons everyone loved this game and still does. It was based on a successful film and replicated the nature of it so well with simple yet engaging gameplay, brought in more gamers who may have not been interested in FPSs such as Doom, Quake or Duke Nukem and also propelled FPS multiplayer on consoles.
Rare’s standards had risen and their next title was highly awaited. They revealed another FPS was to be made and everyone got very excited. Perfect Dark came out in 2000 and it was well received, but many were not taken with the title with lower than expected sales and Golden Eye overshadowing it. In other words, Perfect Dark is kind of forgotten about but developed into a cult classic of sorts. I personally don’t understand why to me; it’s a simple choice, but it’s complex, thanks to “Nostalgia”.
Why is each game important?
Golden Eye created a world for gamers to live out the fantasy of being James Bond and was a solid shooter for the mid 90’s. At the time, there were other shooters which were either heavily violent or heavily complex like System Shock. Golden Eye was a gem for casual and hard-core gamers as it brought both a strong campaign and engaging multiplayer. It was fun to many, no questions asked.
But then with three years of development and an advancement of new tech, Perfect Dark became the stronger title as it showcased not only what the Nintendo 64 could do but how video games could be smart. The problem was it came out within the last few months of that current gen of console and by that point, most people were geared up for the PS2 or had moved away from the N64.
Which game did it better?
Golden Eye was a lavish mash up of FPS action and extremely tedious set pieces. Golden Eye looked and sounded awful and to play it today would make you cringe. Everything was majorly clunky looking and felt rather depressing, with most of the colour scheme being grey or different shades of bland. There were a majority of levels that were overly long, complex and hugely repetitive. Just remember that huge snow level and you’ll see why. Everything kind of felt the same: just running, shooting and participating in an awkward stealth section or joyless set pieces like driving a tank in an ill made level design and awful controls. Not to mention the game was seriously unfair and unbalanced. I remember my brother burst a blood vessel in his head just by playing the last level and taking on those stupid mini gun turrets that would destroy you in seconds.
Golden Eye was highly praised and for the time, I could see why. I personally felt that Turok and Unreal offered better concepts and advancements back in the 90’s. It could be fun, with the proximity mines but overall was highly repetitive and extremely annoying when it came to the instant failure objectives, lack of check points and the overwhelmingly annoying difficulty spikes. I’m telling the truth here, if you’re keen to play this again, don’t. It is sadly not as fun as you may remember.
Perfect Dark is by far the greater title and offers an experience still worthy to play after 16 years. Rare had really pushed themselves to create an FPS with a stronger design that was more focused, fluent and introduce dynamic elements that many other FPS’s took influence from. PD offered a wider range of gameplay elements, tighter action with better A.I, and more constructed action/stealth sequences. It felt like a game made with passion and never a product that was rushed out the door to meet a deadline. Multiplayer had the same foundation, even if some of the fun game modes from Golden Eye are gone. Perfect Dark allowed much greater customisation that allowed more freedom in how matches would play out and bringing more variations in outcomes and interactions. What players got was a polished, action spy thriller that captivated players and to this day, still does.
Perfect Dark is the clear winner here. Golden Eye was a marvel in its day but with the passing of time, it’s become dated, awkward and a relic of the past. It should be left alone as it is, whereas Perfect Dark even to this day felt more structured and focused in design and objective. It is a solid FPS experience that anyone can pick up today and enjoy. Alright so it’s no extreme actioner like COD or intelligent masterpiece like System Shock, but it’s a grand action thriller that inspired many others like it and one that is surely worthy of recognition, more so than Golden Eye.
I just hope Perfect Dark makes a return and one that will be a better experience than PD Zero.