perfect dark

Perfect Dark Core/Vengeance [Xbox 360 – Cancelled / Prototype]

Perfect Dark Core was a project in development between 2006-2007, intended as a sequel to the critically acclaimed Nintendo 64 shooter, Perfect Dark. While Microsoft had previously released another instalment in the PD franchise on Xbox 360, Perfect Dark Zero, its reception among fans was fairly tepid by comparison. Rare, looking to shake things up, intended to bring some drastic changes with their next game.

Perfect Dark Zero was developed by what remained of the original Perfect Dark team at Rare, which was led by Chris Tilston. However, after PDZ was finished in late 2005, the team was split into smaller teams that started work on different prototypes. One of these was The Fast & the Furriest, headed by PDZ’s story and script writer Dale Murchie. Another prototype team was spearheaded by Mark Edmonds and Chris Tilston, both worked on an MMO called Cascade, which was cancelled during the company restructure in early 2009. As the leads of the PD series were either bound to other (later to be cancelled) projects or had already left the company (with one being graphics director Kevin Bayliss), Rare’s management decided to hand the PD franchise to the developers of Conker’s Bad Fur Day; a team led by Chris Seavor. Some of the Conker team had already helped during the final stages of Perfect Dark Zero when it was ported to Xbox 360, others had worked on Urchin, a gothic/horror prototype cancelled in 2006.

Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark Core

An unused concept for Joanna’s look.

As lead on the project, Chris Seavor and his team envisioned a very different approach towards the series’ titlular character, Joanna Dark. She was still to some extent the wise-cracking spy seen in the first game, albeit with some major changes. This Joanna was a colder, tougher warrior, whose very sanity has been, to some extent, worn down by years of field work.

Throughout the story, she would have been joined by a growing team of allies. These were almost all original characters named Sable, Milton, Pennington and Jo’s close friend, Mia. Later in the plot, they would have been accompanied by Elvis, the maian alien whom Joanna rescued in the original game.

 

Perfect Dark Beta Analysis: the removed Face Mapping

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As many of you may already know, RARE planned to insert an interesting feature into Perfect Dark: thanks to the Gameboy Camera, you would have been able to photograph your face and your friend’s faces to use them as the face of PD characters in the single player campaign (as enemies) or in the multiplayer mode.

Unfortunately, due to the numerous acts of gun-shooting in American schools, RARE decided to remove this option from the game, to don’t create controversy. A game in which you could have been able to kill a character that had the face of your real friend, would probably have been too much for its time. Here are some screenshots of the removed Face-Mapping mode, perfectly working in the beta version.

Beta Face Mapping

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Using the N64 Transfer Pack with the Gameboy Camera attached onto the back of the N64 controller, this message would have appeared on the screen. 

Perfect Dark Beta Analysis: Beta Multiplayer

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And now we can move on to the beta multiplayer of Perfect Dark.

Beta Multiplayer

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One of the most interesting rumors for the Multiplayer mode of Perfect Dark N64 is the one about plans for the game to have an online mode too. During the initial planning there were some ideas to develope Perfect Dark for the 64DD and to use the built-in modem of the add-on for the Multiplayer mode. However, due to many problems the 64 DD was delayed for months and  years, and eventually this peripheral was never released outside of Japan. It seems that Rare even though about a special cartridge with an internal modem (as used already by another game, released in japan. See the picture above), but as you can imagine the online structure would have been difficult to develope and soon the idea was scrapped.

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Perfect Dark Beta Analysis: Beta Weapons

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A journey in the evolution of the various weapons in Perfect Dark!

Beta Weapons

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In this screenshot you can see that Joanna is holding a very raw / early version of the Falcon 2 / Magsec. The way the weapon is raised is very interesting as it’s not possible to see it like that in the final. 

Perfect Dark Beta Analysis: Beta Missions

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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!

Beta Missions

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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. 

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