In 1997 RARE made their first appearance in American stores with a FPS that revolutionized multiplayer on consoles. 007 Goldeneye, released for the Nintendo 64, made use of the 4 controller ports to let gamers to waste hours and hours of their free time in front of a TV screen, playing the addicting multiplayer mode. It was probably the first time that it felt so much fun to play a multiplayer FPS on a console.
When RARE decided to work on a sequel, having lost the rights to make another James Bond game, they had to create a new character and a brand new scenario from scratch: the end result was Perfect Dark, still one of the best multiplayer games ever.
Perfect Dark had a long development cycle and it changed a lot before being finally released in 2000. Nobody, except Rare of course, really know how the game evolved, but thanks to all the early images released online, we can try to get an idea of what has changed over PD’s development. In each of these beta screens we can notice what has been changed, added or cut.
Original article written in italian by monokoma in December 2001, english translation by DCodes7 in 2010. Please let us know if you notice some english errors!
- Perfect Dark Beta Missions
- Perfect Dark Beta Weapons
- Perfect Dark Beta FaceMapping
- Perfect Dark Beta Multiplayer
This first image is very strange. The color of the walls are different from what we know today, but looking carefully, it may be from the “Air Base: Espionage” mission. The corridor that we can see in in this screen remained the same in the final game, but the walls of the room were initially of a “greeny” color. Also there are 2 computer screens (one at the top and a second on the left of the picture), which if I’m not mistaken are not in there in the final version.
This is one of the images that was on RARE’s website before the game was released. The screen obviously shows the first level of Perfect Dark, the dataDyne building. There wouldn’t be anything odd about this image, if Joanna wasn’t on the edge of the building.
Now, this is really strange, because you are unable to climb out of the dataDyne building during the mission. It’s odd how Joanna is standing outside but it’s possible that the developers were going to have Joanna sneak into dataDyne through the Windows and not from the roof like in the final version.
Here we can see Joanna from a third person perspective in the Carrington institute, while it was still in early development. You can notice the absence of the main door and it seems that even the ramp that goes to the underground rooms of the Institute was still not complete at this stage of development. If you note the background from the outside of the door, you’ll notice that it’s just a blue sky, while in the final game there is a balcony in there. Also, the sofas that should be here in the Carrington are missing as well in the beta.
This image was one of the earliest screens shown when Perfect Dark was announced, but after we finished the game, we know that this scenario is the boss room from the last level. Even at this early point of development it seems that Rare had already in mind how to create the last level. It doesn’t explain why the player needs to achieve up there. You can climb up there and you can find King Skedar. Why did the developers scatter them? Most likely, as in the case of some of the Data Dyne images, it’s just an image with the only purpose is to show off the games graphics.
Here we can see the roof of the DataDyne building. The general structure is about the same and also the colors of the scenario. Note how Mr. Blondie is running on the catwalks in the background, which is odd, given that the player meets this Skedar only much later in the storyline. You may also notice a different design of the weapon Joanna is holding, probably a beta Falcon 2.
The switches in the beta DataDyne building were changed during the development. In this beta version, there was a PC screen to turn off the lights, while in the final there are normal ligh switches.
It seems that the Maian aliens had a very important role in early versions of Perfect Dark. In this image we can see what seems to be the head of a Maian alien that uses a shield. During the final game, usually we can find Elvis in several missions, while he accompanies the player with his secondary fire. But in this screen we are in the Data Dyne building and at this point Joanna doesn’t know anything about the alien conspiracy. It’s still possible to see something like this in the final game, but only with a cooperative Maian bot that have to be unlocked.
In this other beta screen from the same level, we notice that there were 2 Maian aliens in the single player mission. It’s not possible to see the 2 Maian aliens in the final version of this mission. We can speculate tha the Maian aliens seen in here were part of the beta storyline.
This is an image taken in the early beta Chicago level and at first glance there are no substantial differences, but looking closely, you can see that the “famous” Pond Punk bar was closed and there was not even a door. In the final game it’s possible to go into the Pond Punk bar, but it’s useless apart for an hidden cheese piece.
Here is another screen of the Chicago level, with a new beta build. We notice that the Pond Punk bar has finally opened (you can see the light that passes through the windows and the door), but at this stage of development the Pond Punk was still called “Pony Pink”. Probably Rare liked the name “Pond Punk” more.
The beta Chicago mission at one time was inhabited by civilians, but in the final version of the level, there are just FBI & DataDyne agents in the streets and the civilians were removed. In the game’s plot they never explain the FBI connections, but as they were added instead of the civilians (that made more sense in this mission), we can speculate that the story was changed at one point.
Still in Chicago, this image shows Joanna completely at ease while she walk through the back alleys of the city streets. In the final level this is not possible, as the FBI Agents and the DataDyne guards try to kill Joanna if they see her around. We can speculate that the Chicago level was way different in the beta, with a mission that involved blending into a semi-crowded city full of normal civilians, to infiltrate in the DataDyne Chicago branch. It’s also possible that the starting point of the level was different in the beta. At this stage of development the Pond Punk was still closed.
This image still shows Chicago with a (dead) civilian instead of the FBI agents and a (dead) Data Dyne agent. At this stage of development the FBI agents weren’t implemented, it’s possible that the civilians were just placeholders for the FBI agents or that the story was changed.
The Chicago mission was really different from what we know today and this is another very interesting screen to confirm our theory. This scene in fact does not appear anywhere in the final game, it seems almost a kind of presentation of the characters. Joanna seems to be precisely in Chicago, from the look of the textures of the wall behind. We speculate that Chicago was originally going to be the first mission of Perfect Dark, but we have no evidence to back up this theory. Except this picture, my assumptions, and all the noted changes of the Chicago level (that are quite suspicious).
Now onto the Carrington Villa, there is not much to say about the style and the graphic of the level, but it seems that in the beta the player was able to shoot through the glass to the outside (see the dead agents below and the two holes in the window made by the Sniper rifle). In the final game is not possible to shoot from the Villa’s second, as the glasses are bullet-proof. It’s not even possible to break the windows with explosives.
In this image of the “Air Base: espionage” level, we notice that the outside structure hasn’t changed much but those silver crates that are staked in the distance are not in the final.
This scene appears to be from part one of the mission in Area 51, in fact we see the gate to entry to the base and various pyramid structures. The strange thing is, however, the place where the player is in this beta screen. It appears to be a room in the upper zone from which you access to the ramps leading to the lower area of the base. You cannot go in there in the final game.
UPDATE: Actually you can reach that part in the final version, it´s the mission where you have to carry a crate with explosives. After using the first lift, turn to your right and there is a guard near a door, I don´t know how to open the door, but sometimes the guard opened it and you can go through it, you will enter a hangar and go inside another lift and you will see through the glass where you entered the previous mission where the interceptor bike was. And you will find a Phoenix Maian Gun. [Thanks to Brigalain!]
Among other things you can see how the wall of the building outside of the window has some strange structures, while in the final version they are not in there.
In the beta Area 51: Infiltration mission, we see some Maian aliens, which is rather strange because in the final version there are no aliens in this part of the mission. The thing that is even more surprising is the fact that they are shooting at Joanna! Even in this beta mission it’s possible that RARE changed the story or the Maian aliens were just placeholders until the human enemies were implemented into the final level.
In this image you can see two over-bikes in an unknown zone of the Area 51 mission. The problem is that, in the final version, there’s only one usable hoover-bike in Area 51, while the other bikes cannot be taken from the hangar. Perhaps there were more hoover-bikes to use in the beta, that would allow two players to ride them in co-op, but for some reason this option was removed.
As seen before, Area 51 had the Maian aliens as enemies and in this particular image we see that Joanna has just killed one of them in the area where the hoover-bikes should be. Also, there should be the satellite station in the background: however at this stage of development the objective involving the satellite station wasn’t implemented yet, as we cannot see that structure.
Still in area 51, just below the initial tunnel. Again, Joanna is facing a Maian alien, who seems to using a strange weapon, maybe a beta K7 or some kind of automatic weapon. All these images with the Maian in Area 51 raise suspicions of how drastic the changes were made to the games missions and story.
In the images above we can notice how, in early versions of the game, the lifts were still not added to the Carrington Institute, but there were ramps to access to the second floor.
In this beta image, set in the Cetan spaceship, we can recognize the body of a dead alien, with some interesting differences. Even if in the final game there is a dead alien in that area, this beta Skedar model looks much more similar to the design of the aliens from the Alien films. Maybe the Skedar design was changed before the final game?
The design of the Skedar spaceship was changed several times over the course of its development. In this image we can see the predominant color was a shaded brown color, while in the final game this area is in blue-green colors and the corridors have different forms.
In this beta image you may recognize the last room of the final level of Perfect Dark, on the Skedar Planet. Behind that door you enter to the final boss. The room design was not changed much compared to the final version, but the really strange thing is the presence of a dead human on the floor. In the final game there are no human enemies in the last mission! Also, this dead human is clothed in a strange way, a model that is not seen in the final version. It’s possible that the Skedars had a more marginal role in the beta.
In the Skedar Attack Ship mission, the door of the initial room, was changed: at the top you can see the beta door, below the final one.
An alien body can be seen through the scanner in one of the missions in area 51, but this beta model is different from the one in the final game.
Continue to >> Perfect Dark Beta Weapons
- Perfect Dark Beta Missions
- Perfect Dark Beta Weapons
- Perfect Dark Beta FaceMapping
- Perfect Dark Beta Multiplayer