Perfect Dark XBLA – changes from the N64 version
November 2011 update: I eventually bought an Xbox 360 and the XBLA Perfect Dark a few months after first publishing this post. The game turned out to be superb; it was wonderful being able to play it at a decent framerate. Unfortunately analogue movement didn’t really suit time attacking the game: judging the narrow stick angle required to speed-strafe was much less consistent than simply pressing [C-Up]+[C-left] on the N64! I always intended to thoroughly update this post, using my own copy of the game to go into more detail confirming or debunking each claimed alteration, but unfortunately I never got round to doing it.
The Xbox Live Arcade version of Perfect Dark was released a few days ago. I thought someone ought to try and compile a list of everything that’s changed from the original. I decided I might as well do it myself!
Unfortunately, this process is complicated by the fact that, er, I don’t actually have the new XBLA game. (Or an Xbox 360, for that matter… is it sad that this new version of a ten year old game is one of the main reasons I want one?) So I’m basing this list on second-hand information: things discussed in forum threads on Rllmukforum, on the GE/PD speedrunning community at the-elite.net (in both this thread and this thread), and on GameFAQs (I asked numerous questions in this thread I started). Also, the Youtube channel of the Elite’s Takahiro Arai contains a complete set of slow, methodical Perfect Agent walkthroughs of every level in the XBLA version.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything or there’s anything in this list that’s incorrect and I’ll change it.
1. The cool new stuff!
- Online play! Time and score based Leaderboards! Achievements and Crowns!
- 60fps (mostly…). All textures/skyboxes replaced. Weapons appearances changed. Explosion effects changed. Shigeru Miyamoto head replaced with that of Peter Molyneux. Lots of other heads replaced. Lots of other changes…
- Less compressed sound.
- Theres a new echoing effect on gunfire and other sound effects.
- The skybox graphical effects when using the Perfect Darkness cheat have changed.
3. Gameplay and controls
- The XBLA version seems to be based on the NTSC N64 version, rather than the PAL N64 version. So lifts move fast, like on NTSC, and the Deep Sea Farsight trick can’t be done.
- Control schemes: Obviously, big changes here. Both “Classic” and “Duty Calls” have WASD movement on left stick, aiming on right. But:
- Classic: manual/zoom aiming – L trigger + left stick. Leaning/zoom adjusting on right stick
- Duty Calls: manual/zoom aiming – L trigger + right stick. Leaning/zoom adjusting on left stick
There’s no option for Southpaw controls, much to some people’s dismay.
- Secondary functions: There is now a dedicated button for toggling between first and secondary function. The switch happens instantly, unlike when holding down the action button in the original.
- However, in the original, a weapon would stay on its secondary function for as long as your playing session lasted. In the XBLA version, it resets to its primary function at the start of each level or upon restarting.
- Speed strafing is a lot harder – you have to get the diagonal angle EXACTLY correct…
- … But in addition, there’s now some sort of “super speed-strafe” sprinting that activates when you’ve been running for a few seconds!
- Aiming sensitivity: You can now individually customise the sensitivity of the x and y axes’ aiming. But these sensitivity settings don’t affect the manual/zoom aiming mode, which is apparently a lot more twitchy than on the N64 analogue stick.
- Crouching levels: You now have to cycle through crouching levels: standing -> mid crouch -> prone crouch -> standing
- I remember reading that you can still “close your eyes” in Combat Sim to stop other players watching your screen. Not sure of the button combination, though.
- Combat Boosts behave completely differently. When activated in the original, everything would slow down (enemy movement, your movement, your aiming, the timer). But in the XBLA version they behave more like the Slow Animation cheat from GoldenEye, slowing down enemies’ animation (and the timer), but not your movement and aiming.
- Fortunately, apparently the Slow Motion cheat still behaves the same way as before: slowing down the whole game.
- Combat Simulator dizziness resets when you die, rather than carrying over to your next life
- Laser barriers (Investigation/G5/Air Base) are more damaging, according to this post.
- Laptop gun sentry turrets are nerfed, so that instead of being able to shoot all the ammo they take away from you, they will only shoot one magazine’s worth.
- Perfect Menu/Combat Sim menu layouts: Judging by videos I’ve seen, a lot of these have changed. Most of the same options are still there, though…
- Total playtime stats:
- Your save file’s Solo/Co-Op/Counter-Op playtime is no longer displayed when you begin the game. I don’t think it even keeps track of it at all!
- However, AFAIK Combat Sim stats tracking still works the same.
- Story/Background/character information: All of this is available on the CI computers from the start, rather than being unlocked as you progress.
- Precision of record times: When you abort, die or complete a level, the time is displayed to 1/100 of a second, and this precision is also used on the leaderboards. However, on the mission select screen, records are still only displayed rounded down to the second (in a process described in detail here).
- Combat Sim character customisation: Bodies and heads can’t be mixed and matched to the same extent they previously were; they’re grouped together in certain ways, so you can’t put a male heads on a famale body, or a Maian head on a male body… I’ve also heard that dataDyne Shock Troops are in a group of their own?
- Fortunately, there is a workaround that involves holding a bumper button as you select the head or body. But this only works when selecting your player character; you can’t do it for Sims.
- Cheat unlocking via Transfer Pack/Perfect Dark Zero: In the N64 version you could link up the Game Boy Colour version of Perfect Dark in order to unlock certain cheats. The XBLA equivalent is to look for a Perfect Dark Zero save game, and if you have one, you will be awarded with Hurricane Fists, Cloaking Device, R Tracker/Cache Locations, and All Guns in Solo. The detection of said PDZ save game seems to be quite unreliable, though.
- Crackdown 2 interactivity? Before release, a big set of screenshots was leaked. One of them displayed this debug menu, which in addition to an option for testing the PD Zero interactivity, also contains the option “Fake the Crackdown 2 save presence”. Hmm, Crackdown 2 isn’t out till the summer… not that this is any guarantee that PDXBLA will interact with that game or any other, but it’s intriguing nonetheless…
- Player handicaps in the Combat Simulator can no longer be set.
- Combat Sim automatic team rebalancing: You can’t set up Combat Simulator games — online or offline — which favour your team. If you do so, the Sims’ team arrangements will be auto-balanced. I haven’t yet heard the process behind this explained in more detail than that, though, so I’m not sure of the exact conditions under which Sims are rearranged. Is it a simple comparison of the number of Sims + players on each team? Or is it affected by the Sims on your team being more powerful – if you make a game with [You + two HardSims] vs [four MeatSims], will that be automatically rearranged?
- Viewing Challenge settings: If you select a Combat Sim challenge, you can no longer go to Advanced settings in order to see what the conditions are (kill limits, Sim difficulty etc), because doing so will reset all Combat Sim settings. (However, someone else said: “You actually can, as long as you don’t accept the advanced mode and press b to get out of it. Though the chance of being able to do this is rare as it happens randomly.”)
5. Bugs, glitches, Easter eggs, weird idiosyncrasies, and other misc stuff
- Defection glitch: Yep, the dataDyne building still suffers from an architectural flaw that lets you fall from the top to the bottom in a few seconds! But there’s a difference – Defection A can now be done in 5 seconds, not 6!
- CI Defense safe devastation: You can no longer destroy the safe with the Devastator before Carrington announces the objective. But once he has done so, you can still use either the Devastator or the laser, as before.
- Speech skipping doesn’t work (or is a lot harder?)
- Challenge completion: The infamous bug that let you complete challenges by using two controllers and altering their settings doesn’t work. Thankfully.
- Felicity infinite exploding mines bug: Yes, you can still exploit this in order to stat boost. But the Combat Sim auto-team rearrangement described above makes it harder to set up.
- The Firing Range bug that let you complete challenges with the Laptop gun turret still works!
- CI Defense lift skipping via Combat Boost warping (as used on the-elite.net’s time attacks) doesn’t work. Until PDXBLA was announced, I hadn’t really paid attention to what had been going on in the GE/PD speedrunning community for a long time, so I missed whenever this trick was discovered, and how exactly it’s done. But this point in this CI Defense speedrun video shows what happens. I don’t know the exact technique, but it seems to have something to do with using hi-res mode (which obviously can’t apply to the XBLA version) and your Combat Boost running out at the right time (and as described above, Combat Boosts behave differently now). So it’s obviously something that can’t be done in the XBLA version… unless someone figures out an entirely new way to do it!
- Blocking the Firing Range door: Yay, you can still use the crate to block the door so you can embed darts and throwing knives in Foster!
- I’ve heard that Combat Sim stats saving is rather unreliable… how prevalent is this problem?
- What exactly are the Combat Sim conditions which activate Sim auto-team-balancing of Simulants, as mentioned above? Is it a simple comparison of the number of Sims + players on each team? Or is it affected by the Sims on your team being more powerful – if you make a game with [You + two HardSims] vs [four MeatSims], will that be automatically rearranged?
- Related to the above point, are the following Combat Sim settings under Advanced Settings > Teams > Auto Team still there?
- Two teams
- Three teams
- Four teams
- Maximum teams
- Humans vs Simulants
- Human-Simulant pairs
- Can you still “juggle” Combat Sim ammo crates so that if you collect one when it’s in midair, that’s where it’ll continue to spawn from then on?