Perfect Dark HD

Last week, XBLAFans ran down the 25 best XBLA games to be released on the Xbox 360. This week, some of the games that didn’t make the cut get a second chance as select members of our staff make their cases for their personal XBLA favorites.

When Perfect Dark was first released, console gaming was primitive. Dual analog was an option, not a standard. Multiplayer meant four friends huddled around a single 32″ TV making do with a four-way splitscreen that shrunk each view down to the size of an iPad. Perfect Dark launched on a console (the Nintendo 64) that is older than a third of today’s U.S. gamers and pushed that console to its limits, resulting in a poor framerate and requiring the N64’s 4 MB Expansion Pak to access basic features like campaign, co-op and multiplayer.

Rare’s shooter had a ton of content and options for its day, but the game’s technical shortcomings marred the whole experience. Modifying weapon lists, bot behavior and match types meant nothing to me if I constantly had to fight the controls and framerate performance — and this is coming from a guy who could ricochet a grenade round anywhere he wanted to in the game’s predecessor, GoldenEye.

Enter, Perfect Dark HD on XBLA: a high-quality HD remaster with improved texturing, a framerate locked at a perfect 60 and featuring dual analog controls. I still approached the remake with trepidation, but Perfect Dark HD opened up the original experience, and I found myself loving this more playable version. It may not be the prettiest or flashiest, and its mission structure, level design and pacing may feel slightly anachronistic in this Call of Duty-ified “me too” generation, but Perfect Dark HD has got it where it counts. It’s different in all of the best ways.