The series began in 2000 with Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64, a Spiritual Successor to Rare's previous FPS classic GoldenEye, with which it shared a (modified) engine. Joanna Dark, having recently graduated the Carrington Institute's training program with the first ever "Perfect" score, is sent to meet an insider from the dataDyne corporation. You also end up saving the President of the United States twice in the process. Things rapidly become more complicated and she soon finds herself in the middle of a war between two alien races who have allied themselves with different factions on Earth.In addition to its other merits, the game was one of the few that made use of the N64 Transfer Pak. It was originally meant to have been used to connect to the Game Boy Camera and let players map real faces on to characters in multiplayer mode. After Moral Guardians voiced their objections, Rare's said that the feature was cut for "technical reasons", though they later admitted they wanted to avoid controversy. It was still possible to connect to the Game Boy Color version of the game for extra items. Said Game Boy Color game was a prequel, showing Jo's training and first mission with the Institute.The eagerly anticipated sequel was chronically delayed (originally a GameCube title, it shifted to the original XBox after Microsoft's buyout of Rare and then ended up as a launch title on the 360 in 2005) and eventually became a prequel. Perfect Dark Zero, set 3 years before the original, has Joanna working as a bounty hunter with her dad before getting mixed up with the Carrington Institute. Reviews were good but it was generally seen as not up to the standard set by the previous game. In March of 2010, the original game was rereleased for Xbox Live Arcade, with new features such as updated graphics with 1080p resolution and eight-player online multiplayer.In March of 2011, it was revealed that a sequel to the original Perfect Dark known as Perfect Dark Core was also under development in 2007, but it was canceled before making it past the prototype stage in 2008 after the team developing it was cut down to three people. It was intended to be Darker and Edgier than Perfect Dark Zero, but by the time it was canceled it wasn't even a Perfect Dark game anymore; it was about an unknown male protagonist fighting giant mechs.The time period in between the two games is covered in a pair of novels, Initial Vector and Second Front, as well as the comic series Janus Tears. There's also the aforementioned Game Boy Color game, although since that was released around the same time as the N64 original and long before Zero became a prequel, it's unlikely to still be considered canonical.
Action Girl: Joanna, obvious. Some of the guards also qualify.
Action Dress Rip: When fighting to defend the Carrington Institute from the joint Skedar/dataDyne forces, Joanna is wearing a long dress (because she was to attend a three-way meeting between the President, Carrington Institute and the Maians), which she rips towards the end of the intro cutscene.
Adaptation Dye-Job: Jo has long red hair in Zero despite having short brown hair in the original.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Although Dr. Caroll develops sentience and defects from dataDyne, he retains his moral code throughout.
Air-Vent Passageway: Several levels have them, including Area 51, and some of the multiplayer levels.
A.K.A.-47: A selection of weapons from GoldenEye are unlockable; and not only are their names different from their Real Life counterparts, they're also different from its own made-up names.
The Klobb becomes the "KLO-1313" in Perfect Dark, despite already having a fictional name.
The game also features a few straighter examples; the Falcon 2 is a Colt Double Eagle, the CMP150 is a barely-disguised Steyr TMP, the AR-34 is clearly the French FAMAS assault rifle painted in sci-fi colours, and the DY357 Magnum resembles a Colt Anaconda.
Also the RC-P90 in Zero, which also has a few more straight examples of this (its version of the Superdragon, for instance, is clearly a G36K).
All There in the Manual: The game has an unlockable feature which provides more background information on the game's plot and setting.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: One of the later levels of the original takes place in the Carrington Institute as dataDyne troops and Skedar soldiers make one last spiteful attack.
Amazon Brigade: Zhang Li's last line of defense is a platoon of about 20 elite female troopers armed with cloaking devices and plasma rifles. They're super annoying, since getting killed by them kicks you all the way back to about halfway through the level.
Cassandra De Vries' bodyguards are similar. They're all female, and they all have shotguns. They're also some of the first enemies to carry sidearms, making disarms less effective against them.
Ambiguously Jewish: Jonathan's last name is apparently Steinberg and he has curly hair. Judging by his accent, he's American, so he very well could be Jewish.
Annoying Arrows: Enemies will keep fighting even if they've been turned into a pincushion by crossbow bolts or thrown knives...but since the former are laced with a tranquilizer and the latter are poisoned, they won't be fighting for long.
And there's the fact that the Crossbow has an instant kill function, which kinda averts the trope.
Armor Is Useless: Body Armors and Helmets seem to be fashion accessories instead of protective equipment as the easily killed dataDyne Troopers and G5 SWAT Guards can attest to this.
Artificial Brilliance: Elvis is a particularly good shot with the Farsight (which, to be fair, has an auto-targeting system). On "Deep Sea" he can take care of the enemies in the first section all by himself if you let him.
Perfect Sims and Dark Sims seem to know exactly where all the good weapons and shields are on multiplayer and always have perfect aim.
Artificial Stupidity: Meat Sims are the easiest AI enemies you can play against in multiplayer. They wander around drunkenly, ignoring weapons (and oftentimes you), and can barely hit the room they're standing in.
And in an accidental example, none of the AI can detonate Remote Mines. They can throw a Dragon in secondary, but only if it's empty; amusingly, they treat the Laptop Gun the same way, meaning you might sometimes encounter sentry guns that don't fire. They also can't see any form of trap and will walk straight into a proximity mine left in the middle of a corridor.
Generally your 1-player buddies (Jonathan and Elvis) are very handy shots, but they will occasionally wander right into your line of fire or otherwise act like idiots just so you can fail the mission.
Arrow Cam: The Slayer rocket launcher's secondary attack is a fly-by-wire missile you steer while looking through a camera on it. Sadly, it can only be used in a few levels and weapon training, even with the All Weapons cheat.
And in MP, but using it there will get you killed, because people will look at your section of the screen to see where you were standing when you fired it. N64's non-remote multiplayer makes this less fun.
But, in Zero this is the secondary mode of the rocket launcher.
Awesome, yet Impractical: The Skedar Reaper seems like this when used by a player. Even with two hands your bullets will never hit anything besides the edge of the screen. Justified in that it's supposed to be used by the much stronger Skedar-when they wield it with one hand they have almost perfect accuracy, even on the lower difficulties.
Badass in Distress: Joanna, when she gets abducted by the Skedar after the attack on the Carrington Institute.
Bag of Spilling: For some reason, the weapons that you get will never carry over to the next mission. (Example: Joanna picks up a CMP150 in Mission 1-1 but she no longer has it at the start of Mission 1-2.)
Beam Spam: Several alien weapons are good for this.
Beating A Dead Player: Just like in GoldenEye except that you don't get a third-person replay from three different angles.
"Enemy: The bitch is dead! Keep shooting her up!"
Benevolent Alien Invasion: The Maians planned to do this eventually, but left the humans to develop on their own for a few millennia. The end of the main plot revolves around the Maian ambassadors finally coming down to meet with the authorities in the White House and establish peaceful connections. Then the game plays the evil Alien Invasion straight when the Skedar come rolling along.
Blackout Basement: "dataDyne Central: Extraction" begins with a section in pitch blackness which requires the use of night vision. "Area 51: Rescue", "Deep Sea: Nullify Threat" and "Skedar Ruins" have sections where the lighting flickers on and off.
The "Perfect Darkness" cheat takes this Up to Eleven: every single level will be pitch black (with flickering lighting if indoors). It's impossible to get around without using Night-Vision Goggles.
Blasting It out of Their Hands: If you're skilled or lucky enough, you can shoot firearms right out of enemies' hands, which will leave them vulnerable as they run over and pick it up. Getting it first is often enough to get them to surrender. Sadly, this feature seems like it is too "complicated" to include in most modern games. Same thing with the ability to make the guards limp when you shoot them in the arm or the leg.
Bloodless Carnage: Completely averted. Both humans and aliens bleed a lot even when shot with lasers.
Bloodier and Gorier: The gore is ramped up quite a bit from in Goldeneye, where enemies bled if shot, but it just stained their clothing. In Perfect Dark they leave bloodstains all over the floor; if you shoot an enemy in the head, blood will spray all over the wall opposite the direction from which you shot them. This is partly why it was rated M when Goldeneye was only rated T.
Boring Yet Practical: The Falcon 2, your default weapon, is fairly accurate, has a good rate of fire, and is easy to get headshots due to little sway. There's penty of ammo for it, too. The CMP150 is a bit weak for a semi auto weapon, but every goon carries it so there's plenty of ammo. You can dual wield both of these weapons, too.
In "Maian SOS", there is a guard who is armed with dual golden magnums. Having him become alert to your presence may quickly result in you getting killed. note On the other hand, if you can hit him with the Psychosis Gun, he becomes a very useful bodyguard.
Boyish Short Hair: Joanna has a pixie cut in the original. In the prequel, she has long hair though.
Brick Joke: "Not forgetting the President, of course."
Brutal Bonus Level: All of them on Perfect Agent, especially "Maian SOS" (playing as Elvis, beginning with half of your health missing) and "The Duel" (where Joanna is a One-Hit-Point Wonder, regardless of the difficulty setting).
Bug War: The war against the Skedar is like this, despite their not actually being bugs.
Bullet Proof Human Shield: All NPCs will act as this unless using a weapon with very high penetration, such as the DY357 revolver or the FarSight. This can be handy when one needs to be used as a meat shield.
Elvis: Look out, Joanna! I think they may be angry...
Casual Interstellar Travel: The Skedar Assault ship ends up near a triple-stellar system (that is somehow habitable to Joanna) likely a few hours after the Institute attack. The Skedar obviously have super FTL travel down pat.
The Cavalry: The Maian troops that show up to assist Joanna in "Attack Ship: Covert Assault".
Chasing Your Tail: The final boss fight contains some of this, since he will occasionally cloak and chase you around the room. The only way to avoid it is to run around in circles.
Check Point Starvation: Perfect Dark Zero has only 2 checkpoints per mission; one at the very beginning, and one about 3/4ths through or before the end level boss fight. This is fine for the shorter missions, but very noticeable on the longer ones.
The shield tech item from the second level that dataDyne is working on. Guess what the troops that storm the CI later in the game have?
The K7 Avenger is also first seen on that level as a prototype, and is later used as the primary assault weapon for the rogue NSA troopers as well as dataDyne's forces.
Chest Monster: The Secondary Fire mode for the Dragon assault rifle turned it into a proximity mine you plopped on the floor. Unless they have one of the game's hazard-detecting items, an opponent in multiplayer is going to be very surprised when they try to pick up their free gun.
Ditto for the UGL Liberator SMG in Zero.
Cherry Tapping: Tranquilizer weapons in the first game. The sedation feature, which causes the screen to blur and darken each time you're punched or hit by a tranq weapon, is one of the quirkier features of the game, largely because your sedation level doesn't drop to zero when you're killed. You'll respawn as trippy as you were before your buddy finished you off. Better hope it wears off before he finds you again!
The N-Bomb (Neutron Bomb) is a hundred times worse. It is a special grenade that explodes with a very persistent, light-absorbing sphere of energy that can completely mess up your vision and kill you (albeit very, very slowly). It is also the only weapon in the game that bypasses shields.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: dataDyne troops wear dark blue or black while CI agents wear light blues and greys. Even your crosshairs are colored to reflect this (red for enemies, blue for civilians/friendly fire).
Combat Stilettos: Cassandra's bodyguards wear high-heeled boots for some reason.
Joanna wears heels herself in a few of her outfits, not that seems to slow her down.
Computer Equals Monitor: In Area 51, apparently all records are kept on the monitor (!) of a single computer note What, no cloud computing in 2023?. As well, destroying the monitor of a mission-critical computer will result in a failure.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The toughest of the AI opponents you can fight against in multiplayer are Dark Sims, who move faster than you, always get headshots with hitscan weaponry even if they don't actually have a line of sight to your head, spawn armed with the best weapon in the current setup, and teleport when you aren't looking. To be fair, the game tells you this beforehand, leaving them a challenge for masochistic players.
The computers, however, are all cheating bastards. Even the super-easy MeatSims can fire semi-automatic weapons faster than you, reload every weapon at the same speed, use lock-on weapons while moving, and have perfect aim with non-hitscan weapons. PerfectSims also act as if they can see the radar even when it's set to off.
One former Rare developer has said that they were even harder in pre-release builds of the game: in one version, DarkSims had the ability to strafe out from behind cover, fire, and move back behind cover - all within the space of three frames!
In missions that have respawning enemies, it's important to complete your objectives as soon as possible or prevent an alarm from being raised as the spawned enemies will always know where you are. This can be averted with cloaking but only if you use cheats to get cloaking outside of Mission 7. Disguises will also work as long as you weren't seen during changing and your cover isn't blown.
Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Joanna wears a trench coat in "Chicago: Stealth", as well as all of the CIA and FBI personnel, which ironically makes them stand out even more.
Container Maze: "Area 51: Rescue" begins with a section in a warehouse.
Contemplate Our Navels: Right at the end of Zero, Jo and the final boss all of a sudden get philosophical about the nature of death and decay.
Continuity Nod: Zero has two scientists in a Mayan shrine, arguing over whether the Mayans were visited by Gods or Aliens, and who exactly gifted them with the MacGuffinZhang Li wants so badly. It's clear they are talking about the aliens.
Continuity Snarl: The books don't mesh very well with the games. The original game states that Joanna is a recent graduate from the institute's training program, while the books would indicate that she had done several missions for them. The books also indicate that Carrington was practically in love with Cassandra and portray him as blindly idealistic, which don't match with his game portrayal. Unless the books events caused him to loose both. Finally Jonathan in the game is the institute's top infiltrator, while the books portray him as the institute's security chief with no sense of subtlety. Though those could be different Jonathans.
Cool Bike: The hoverbike from Area 51 is surprisingly useful. It's fast, indestructible and you can fire weapons while sitting on it. It can even be used in later levels!
Cool, but Inefficient: The Laptop Gun's secondary turret tends to be this. It will usually expend much more bullets killing mooks than a decently accurate player would.
Corridor Cubbyhole Run: "dataDyne: Extraction" has a sequence in which you must sneak past the helicopter outside the building by hiding in the offices. (Or you can just run past it, but you'll take damage.)
Cutscene Incompetence: The ending of "Carrington Institute: Defense". Apparently Joanna can defeat dozens of enemies per level, but can be captured by a single unarmed Skedar which knocks a pile of crates onto her.
The very lame ending to the grueling Maian SOS level is Elvis getting hit with a tranquilizer and keeling over.
Cyanide Pill: An actual item for the game's competitive campaign mode - one player is Agent Dark as normal, while the other takes control of one mook at a time, switching if their host is killed. If they take control of someone far away from the action, they can take the "suicide express" to try to get closer.
Deal with the Devil: The alliance between dataDyne and the Skedar doesn't work out so well for them in the end.
Deflector Shields: The personal variety. Makes thrown weapons like the Combat Knives bounce off. Also averts One-Hit Kill on the weapons that would normally play it straight, but at the cost of the entire shield's energy. The shields also take the same amount of damage no matter what portion of the shield is hit, making head shots not immediately fatal until the shield is dropped.
Fridge Logic comes into play when the Tranquilizer and Crossbow have alt-fire instant kills by chemical/poison means. Why would that take down an energy shield in one shot?
'Elvis: This is the Skedar fanatics' most holy place. They believe this planet is sacred ground. The Battle Shrine is located at the most holy part of this holy planet.
Joanna: So let me get this straight: it's holy.
Description Porn: All of the weapons and items in the game have detailed descriptions in the menu, and even more descriptions at the firing range. The sheer number of weapons is bordering on Gun Porn, too.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Impressive detail is one of the good reasons why Perfect Dark is considered one of the best shooter games of all time and the rightful spiritual successor to GoldenEye 64.
Shoot someone in the leg and they'll limp around unable to run anymore. Shoot them in the arm and they'll hold it while moving. They will even trickle blood to show that they're wounded.
When you kill someone while their back is against the wall or a solid object, they'll fall against it.
When you kill someone who is sitting on a chair, they'll remain slumped over in their seat.
The Carrington Villa Mission features rooftop snipers and soldiers that go prone to shoot you. The snipers will roll down off the roof and the prone soldiers will simply spazz out with their face in the dirt when you kill them.
When someone falls down from lethal force, they cry out and a pool of blood appears to indicate that they are dead. If they fall down from non-lethal force (punch, pistol whip, sedatives), then they are simply unconscious but will continue to react to non-lethal blows with cries of pain.
Completing levels results in a green colored "mission stats" menu. The Mission Status is listed as completed, and Agent Status as active. At the end of "Carrington Institute: Defense", Joanna is knocked out and the menu is instead grey with Mission Status: Unknown and Agent Status: Missing.
Taking it a step further, it even changes in regards to failing, aborting, and using cheat codes.note Failing and Aborting are both red, and (respectively) are Mission Status: Failed and Agent Status: Deceased, and Mission Status: Aborted and Agent Status: Disavowed. Cheating is green, but is Mission Status: Cheated and Agent Status: Dishonored.
In Area 51: Infiltration, if you knock out the tech carrying the lift keycard instead of killing him, he shows up in the next mission behind a locked door. Take the elevator in the hangar he was in and you'll find a Phoenix.
When escaping from Area 51, you can choose to have Jonathan escape with Elvis, or have him stay and escape on his own. If you choose the former, Jonathan will appear on the mission where when the Carrington Institute is attacked and cover you. If you choose the latter, he does not.
In Area 51 - Rescue, you have to escort an Explosive Box to a hole in the wall. If the box explodes, you will fail the mission, but you won't be kicked out of it. The enemy soldiers in the mission carry Dragons, which have a Proximity Mine as their secondary effect, and will explode when shot in that mode. If you use this mode to destroy the hole in the wall, you will UNFAIL the mission and can continue as normal!
Enemies in GoldenEye react to the noise of loud weapons and near-misses (bullets that hit or pass by close to them) but not nearby explosions. In Perfect Dark, they now react to nearby explosions and will also check unconscious and deceased people that they come across.
Distress Call: The distress beacon Joanna has to activate in "Crash Site: Confrontation".
In "Maian SOS", Elvis must sneak through Area 51's underground base to send one to Mr. Carrington.
Distressed Damsel: Believe it or not, Joanna, when she wakes up in a cell aboard a Skedar ship.
Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Averted, unlike in GoldenEye. Shoot an enemy in the hand/gun or use a disarm mode punch and they'll drop the weapon, but aren't dead yet. If you grab their weapon in the process, they may surrender, but not all the time.
Dummied Out: There's a piece of cheese in every level of the game, but you can't collect them or do anything with them. Rare admitted that the pieces of cheese are just there to send people insane trying to figure out what they're for.
In the "Chicago: Stealth" level, there's a bar which was bowdlerized in the final version of the game. It can be entered in normal gameplay, but there's nothing in it but a guard and a couple of Falcon 2 pistols. A stripper pole is still visible on the table.
Also, the passwords given by Cassandra's necklace and getting rank 1 in multiplayer. It seems they were once intended to do something, but even the defunct dataDyne and Carrington Institute websites didn't accept them.
There are several missing multiplayer modes (touch the crate, destroyable doors, destroyable walls; no, nobody's sure how the last two were supposed to work) and at least one entire missing bonus level, "Retaking The Institute."
Easter Egg: Quite a few, including the infamous cheese.
Easy Level Trick: In Extra Mission 2, there are 4 guards hidden in certain areas of the level that serve as placeholders for the guards that will be infinitely spawned to hunt you down after the alarm is triggered. By killing them, you can completely prevent them from spawning and attacking you altogether.
In Mission 1-3, you can destroy the hovercopter with normal gunfire but why risk losing most of your life and ammo when you can use the rocket launcher that was just conveniently assembled on the top floor?
Elite Mooks: The masked dataDyne guards, and also the black-clad dD soldiers.
Enemy Civil War: An VERYinteresting (and hilarious!) example (which, for some reason, only occurs in Co-Op mode) is the mission on board the Pelagic II. Apparently, there are two separate camps inside the ship that you're dealing with.
1. Datadyne soldiers disguised as Pelagic II Guards.
2. Pelagic II Guards who are loyal to the government but are unaware that Datadyne has taken over the ship.
Everything Fades: Partly Averted. The game will try to preserve framerate performance by removing deceased or unconscious entities and destroyed objects while still allowing a few to persist. There is even a limit to the amount of bullet holes, explosion marks, and bloodstains allowed in-play.
Expy: Dr. Caroll was an erudite AI construct who's basically designed as a pair of floating eyes. He rebelled against his villainous creators to join the heroes... and eventually, he sacrificed himself to save the Earth from total destruction... or am I talking about Floyd from Jet Force Gemini?
An in-game example is Cassandra de Vries' obvious jealousy of the Carrington Institute, to the point where the dataDyne logo is almost exactly the same as the Carrington Institute logo.
Fake Balance: Even though the weapons are supposed to be balanced (eg. the Falcon 2 is a small handgun, but is much more accurate than the AR-34) some are clearly much more powerful than others (the FarSight, Superdragon, anything with explosives etc.).
Goggles Do Something Unusual: The IR scanner, which can detect enemies using cloaking devices, and even find weak spots in walls. (Needless to say, Real Life infrared technology does not work that way.)
Gondor Calls for Aid: Carrington sends a message to the Maians asking for help in foiling the conspiracy between dataDyne and the Skedar.
Government Agency of Fiction: In the game, the NSA is practically Trent Easton's private army and joins the dataDyne corporation and the Skedar in an attempt to lead a coup against the President. In Real Life, the NSA is the United States government's signals intelligence branch and deals with cryptography and other fairly boring stuff like that.
Groin Attack: A "critical hit" will make the enemy clutch his bereaved area for a few seconds, giving you ample time to put him out of his misery. It even works on female enemies. And just like in GoldenEye, there are death animations for killing someone with a groin shot.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Enemy AI is variable in this regard. Some enemies will go immediately for the alarm if you attack, while others you can shoot from behind and make them ask in an astonished voice, "Was that a bullet?" It's also sometimes possible to eliminate almost an entire floor's worth of guards if you're careful, as long as you get rid of each one out of the others' line of sight.
Guide Dang It: One of the main criticisms of the game nowadays. It can be very confusing to fight out what the level objectives are when there are no hints besides a few paragraphs of briefing.
Bullets Do Not Work That Way: The Tranquilizer is a dermal spray injector that uses liquid sedatives contained in capsules to operate. This makes sense when your using the weapon in secondary mode but when you're using it in primary mode... well, let's just say that Hollywood Science somehow allows the Tranquilizer to shoot the sedative drugs as liquid bullets without the need for darts as a delivery system.
Handicapped Badass: Jo was born with a broken spine and spent her first several years paralyzed. Once past that she kills gods and stops alien invasions.
Harder Than Hard: "Dark Agent" is the fan name given to a setting where all the Perfect Dark mode sliders are set to full. Unlike in Golden Eye 1997, a headshot is fatal even when an enemy has 1000% health (as opposed to requiring ten), so it's actually doable. You can turn it Up to Eleven by also throwing on the Enemy Shields cheat, which prevents scoring instant kills by head shot so long as the shield is active.
Cassandra of all people makes one to save Joanna's life. Though it should be noted, it was only so Joanna could kill the Skedar, giving Cassandra posthumous revenge.
Jack Dark pulls one in Zero, and he actually takes out a fair deal of the mooks, and saves Jo but Mai Hem ducks his bullets, and shoots him in the gut, bringing him down. She then aims her Magsec at his head and shoots Jack and Jo shouts a quick, somewhat unconvincing "No!"
Holding Your Gun Sideways: For some reason, Joanna will fire her pistol sideways at close targets. The grenade launcher on the SuperDragon also requires the gun to be held sideways, probably for the same reason.
dataDyne guards do it in some cutscenes, too.
Hollywood Hacking: The Data Uplink can access any computer and bypass any security measures in a matter of seconds.
Hyper Destructive Bouncing Ball: The always entertaining "Proximity Pinball" secondary function for a grenade, which causes the explosive to ricochet around before detonating next to someone-possibly even yourself if you're unlucky.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Though the "quick select" menu only shows up to ten items (weapons and gadgets), they all are still in there somewhere; the rest have to be accessed through the Pause menu. Expect to do so very often if using the "All Guns in Solo" cheat, especially given the very, very diverse arsenal.
Some guards pull guns out of nowhere, even large ones like the Cyclone.
Speaking of which, where the heck was Grimshaw hiding that grenade launcher when he was taken hostage?
I Can't Reach It: A very lame example when Joanna can't throw a bug onto the antenna in Area 51 without lowering it first. Any fit person should be able to do it. In fact, she can throw it that far, it's just much easier to lower the antenna first.
Impairment Shot: The screen blurs and darkens if you're hit with a weapon causing...
Interface Screw: Poison gas, poison knives, tranquilizer darts, and the dreaded N-Bombs all make it very hard to shoot straight, much less walk in a straight line. Taking more than a few punches from an unarmed foe can result in a similar effect.
Instant Sedation: With tranquilizers, it only takes a few hits to become completely disoriented. This is particularly egregious in the cutscene where Elvis is hit by one dart and keels over unconscious.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Super spy Joanna Dark lacks any kind of jumping abilities, so her path can be blocked by such trivial things as a handrail, a couch, or a potted plant.
Interservice Rivalry: Apparently the Secret Service is completely loyal to the President while the NSA isn't.
Invisibility Flicker: Aside from an actual faint flicker that can be caught with a sharp eye by human players, the game's cloaking devices make the wearer become fully visible for a brief moment when firing a weapon.
Just Eat Gilligan: The conspirators go through a lot of trouble to get permission from the President of the United States to use a high-tech government submarine to reach a hidden Doomsday Device. They even enact a unnecessarily complicated plan to replace the President with a clone. When that fails, they just steal the submarine anyway; hey, once they've got their hands on the Doomsday Device it's not like anyone will be arguing with them, right?
For obvious reasons, the Skedar weren't exactly forthcoming with their human accomplices about their intentions with the Doomsday Device (namely, using Earth as target-practice), hence all the high-tech espionage.
Law Enforcement, Inc.: The Carrington Institute is a supposed R&D center that secretly conducts espionage and paramilitary operations in league with aliens while killing U.S. government personnel and the security guards of a private corporation. They're the good guys.
Leet Lingo: Perfect Dark includes an unlockable version of the Klobb gun from Golden Eye 1997, renamed the "KL01313". Also, in the Attack Ship level, the information screen for Cassandra de Vries' necklace displays the message "Password: I8MOZYM8NDI8S".
Little Green Men: The Skedar, in contrast to the Maians. The "little" part is especially emphasized by the fact that they're actually tiny, snake-like creatures piloting mid-sized mechas.
Made of Explodium: While not as common as in Golden Eye 1997, things like computers and television monitors will explode when shot. In one level, the flying cars seen outside a tower can be picked off with good enough accuracy, and will go up in a fireball regardless of what type of gun you shoot them with. Any car that blows up after one shot from a handgun at a distance must be very volatile.
Made of Iron: Just like in Goldeneye, graphics limitations include no dismemberment and disintegration. Invoked heavily when you set Enemy Health at 1000%. (See also: Only a Flesh Wound and Plot Armor)
When you're roaming around the Carrington Institute, nobody, yourself included, can run out of life and die no matter how many times they are shot at or blown up.
The Masquerade: Nobody but the CI, dataDyne and certain parts of the US government knows that aliens have visited Earth before and are supplying us with advanced technology.
Missing Mission Control: Carrington is unavailable in the last two levels. Elvis takes over the mission briefing at this point. He's also unavailable in the Villa, for obvious reasons since the level centers on rescuing him from being held hostage.
Mook-Face Turn: The infamous "Janus guard" glitch in the first game, which randomly causes a guard to side with the player and attack other guards, as if he/she were under the effects of the PsychosisGun.
Moral Guardians: Nintendo might have geared things back enough to allow blood and mild swearing, but there were still demands made; Nintendo forbade any depictions of alcohol or drug use. The "Combat Boosts" were originally "Adrenaline Pills," and the abandoned, useless basement bar in Chicago was probably a casualty of the same policy that forbade there being a bar in one of the N64 Duke Nukem games.
Then there was the story of using the Game Boy camera to put faces of anybody in the game. Rare at first said this was due to technical limitations; however, they later said it was taken out due to the Columbine massacre and video games being blamed for the shootings.
More Dakka: The Cyclone is a fairly average machine gun with the extraordinary ability to empty its entire clip in a second or two. The Skedar Reaper is horribly inaccurate, but has an incredibly high firing rate best used to clear corridors (not to mention the highest-capacity magazine in the game - it can hold 200 bullets!). Then there's the RC-P120, which can hold 120 rounds per magazine.
The Magazine Discharge on the Cyclone spews so many bullets that you're guaranteed to kill and destroy anything, even though it looks like you're missing it. You can also dual-wield the Cyclone for twice the destruction.
Musical Spoiler: At the end of Carrington Institute: Defense, Joanna is overwhelmed and knocked out by the Skedar. Instead of playing the normal 'Mission Complete' music, a slow, ominous tune plays over the level statistics (in addition to the screen going monochrome instead of green with dark-blue background). You knew something bad was going to happen next.
Mission Status: Unknown. Agent Status: Missing.
Mutual Kill: dataDyne and CI soldiers will occasionally do this.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Played straight with the Devastator grenade launcher and Slayer rocket launcher, which really are deadly; averted with the wildly inaccurate Reaper, which might well be the single most useless weapon in the game.
Neutron Bomb: The aptly named N-Bomb, which is essentially a grenade that knocks out everyone in a radius of several meters.
No Name Given: Or maybe his name is "Theodore President" and they're just shortening it, who knows?
No Scope: Possible with any of the guns, even with the FarSight (although it's quite difficult).
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Joanna is supposed to be American, yet she speaks like an authentic Brit in the first game. We know the lads from Rare are Brits, but it's not like any part of the game is set in the UK.
The dataDyne Scientist who is gathering data on the K7 Avenger until you come around and kill the volunteer who was test-firing it.
"Help! Help! She's got a gun!"
One-Hit Kill: The DY357-LX. The alt-fire modes of the Tranquilizer and Crossbow as well, and especially irritatingly, the FarSight XR-20, which can shoot through walls. Got a shield? Good, now it's just a Two-Hit Kill (draining the shield first with no health damage) and you have about half an extra second to live before you get hit with the next one.
One-Hit Polykill: The DY357, Callisto NTG and particularly the FarSight are capable of this.
Any NPCs that are specially coded to be invincible (aka. Plot Armor) can be shot up with every weapon and show nothing for it but some bloodstains and a few bolts and knives sticking on their skin.
Major Injury Underreaction: If you shoot pretty much any enemy in anywhere but the head, they'll stagger for a moment, then recover and start shooting back at you.
Only Six Faces: The same enemies keep showing up in single-player, but this is averted in the Combat Simulator where you have a wide variety of skins to choose from.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The amount of voice acting in the first game was very impressive for its time, but Rare made the mistake of using British actors for a game primarily set in America. This is most apparent with the President, who comes off like a Sean ConneryExpy when it happens.
"You can't make accusations like that without evidence! I a-shume that you have some?"
Daniel Carrington's faux-Scottish accent isn't much better.
Trent Easton's garbled mush mouth has to be heard to be believed.
Optional Stealth: Perfect Dark Zero, but only on the lowest difficulty setting. It is a stealth title, but on the easiest setting stealth is mostly not required.
Nor in the original Perfect Dark, where the game is easy enough to complete without bothering to be stealthy on Agent. On Perfect Agent, though, that'll get you killed pretty fast in most levels.
Our Presidents Are Different: Of the "President Target" variety. Also "President Minority", which hadn't happened yet at the time the game was made.
Outrun the Fireball: When alien ships are destroyed, some unknown phlebotinum causes them to erupt into massive explosions. This isn't a problem if you run away fast enough.
Outside-the-Box Tactic: In Zero, the two bosses go down really easily if you know what to pack Pack a Plasma Rifle for Mai Hem, and a Viblade for Zhang Li.
One particular instance is in the Chicago level, where a police robot patrolling the streets is made completely immune to all weapons and explosives, so that it can only be destroyed by reprogramming a taxi to crash into it for one of your objectives. This is made particularly egregious by the fact that robots of the exact same model turn up in a later level, but can be gunned down with just a few rounds from your gun.
Poisoned Weapons: The Combat Knife has a poison tip which will slowly kill enemies if thrown accurately.
Police Are Useless: The CIA agents in the Chicago level of the first Perfect Dark. Despite being a major law enforcement agency in Real Life, the agents featured in PD might as well be ordinary civilians, and don't even attempt to maintain law and order. They carry no weapons, show no indication of any experience in combat whatsoever, flee at the sight of Joanna carrying a weapon in front of them, and seem to only exist as an excuse for you to fail your objectives.
The FBI agents, the SWAT guards they call in if they see you, and the police robot on the same level, on the other hand, are pretty much indistinguishable from the dataDyne thugs that are patrolling the streets outside the G5 Building.
Red-Headed Hero: Joanna Dark, though art for later games and novels shows blond streaks and highlights - a dye job?
Apparently she was born like that according to the books.
Regenerating Health: Perfect Dark Zero has a unique version where most damage you take being "shock damage" that will go away if you aren't hit again after a short period, with a small amount being lost forever every time you get shot. Combined with a complete absence of health kits or other healing items, and you can eventually end up stuck with only a sliver of health towards the end of a level if you get shot a lot.
Furthermore, each weapon has different levels of shock damage. Viblade? Say goodbye to your health permanently. Fell a long way or getting poisoned? All Shock Damage. On the hardest difficulty, all damage is permanent.
In the original game, this was how you recover from poison/punching/N-Bomb effects (see Interface Screw, above). In fact, you have to actually walk it off; the effects don't fade if you just stand still.
Reliably Unreliable Guns: The enemies' guns will sometimes randomly jam for no reason at all, which is quite convenient for you.
Schizo Tech: Flying cars and police drones coexist alongside computers that look like they're from 1985 and a "smartphone" of sorts (the Data Uplink) which looks like an old satellite phone.
Schmuck Bait: That Dragon assault rifle lying on the ground there looks awfully tempting...better hope its' explosive booby trap alt-fire isn't engaged!
Schrödinger's Gun: Whether you or Jonathan stays behind in Area 51 is determined by whether you bring the hoverbike with you into the hangar or not. If you stay behind, he appears in "Carrington Institute: Defense" and helps you out a bit.
Scream Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away right before Mr. Blonde kills Trent. Also, Cassandra's death happens offscreen. However, you see Trent's death in his POV so it's a subversion.
Secondary Fire: Every weapon has a secondary firing mode. Some are basic, like the Falcon 2 and DY357's Pistol-Whipping, the Reaper's Grinder mode, the Combat Knife's throw instead of a melee slash, the AR34's scope zoom in non-aim mode, and the Sniper Rifle's crouch (since crouching in the N64 original was done by going into aim mode and pressing down on the D-Pad or C-button layout, except in this case where it adjusts the zoom) to burst-fire modes like the MagSec 4, Cyclone, and shotgun to explosives like the Phoenix's small explosive rounds, the SuperDragon's underslung grenade launcher, and the Dragon's proximity mine booby-trap to the downright exotic like the aforementioned "Proximity Pinball" function on the grenade, the Laptop Gun's sentry mode, the CMP150's aimbot and FarSight XR-20's auto-tracking, the K7 Avenger and explosive mines' threat detector (picks up armed mines and booby-trapped Dragons), the Devastator's sticky grenades, and the RC-P120's cloaking device.
Then there's the Laser (Short Range Burst), the Crossbow (Instant Kill), the Mauler (Charged Shot), the Callisto NTG (High-Impact Shells), the Tranquilizer (Lethal Injection), the Rocket Launcher (Homing Rocket), and the Slayer (Fly-By-Wire Missiles). Also, the N-Bomb has a proximity option.
Even when unarmed, you can choose between "Punch" and "Disarm."
Opening the safe door in the G5 building takes 90 seconds while you deal with Demonic Spiders. Or you can trigger the As You Know cutscene within 3 seconds after you begin unlocking the safe, as the door will actually finish opening during the cutscene but the enemies will not spawn and attack you.
The Pelagic II has a hidden entrance to the submersible which allows you to beat the level much more quickly than taking the conventional route.
The sensitive information in Carrington's office can be destroyed with a grenade instead of having to go downstairs, then go back up to open the safe with the laser.
By putting the BombSpy in the other elevator, you can kill the dataDyne captain much more easily in "Mr. Blonde's Revenge".
The Maian aliens are based on the classic sci-fi "greys.” Elvis even has a flying saucer.
In Mission 5-2, the outro cut-scene pays homage to the part in The Empire Strikes Back when the Millennium Falcon fails to enter hyperspace.
Joanna: Elvis! Elvis! I can't detach that tube from the fuselage! Can you take it out?
Elvis: Piece of cake, Joanna. Watch this!
Joanna: Watch what? Will you stop playing around and shoot!?
Another Star Wars reference: Joanna's Horizon Scanner has the same display as Luke's binoculars in A New Hope.
The Psychosis Gun, which injects enemy soldiers with a drug that makes them go crazy and start attacking each other, could be a reference to the movie Jacob's Ladder.
The Alaska mission, where Air Force One is hijacked, the President gets away in an escape pod and Joanna has to find him using his medical scanner, is very similar to the plot of Escape from New York.
Sigil Spam: The weapons-manufacturing Megacorp dataDyne likes plastering their "dD" logo on all their architecture. (Admittedly, it is quite a cool logo.) Not to mention the fact that the Carrington Institute's logo appears on Joanna Dark's Spy Catsuit (I'm sure that would help with her plausible deniability if she were ever captured!).
DataDyne troops also have the same logo on their uniforms, and it even appears prominently on the dataDyne-designed shotgun.
The Skedar also seem to like etching their symbol into every available surface and sculptures of it appear all over the place in the Battle Shrine.
For a top-secret government installation, Area 51 makes it pretty clear what the name of the facility you're in is.
Silliness Switch: The Paintball Cheat replaces bullet holes with paintball splotches and blood with multicolored puddles.
Showdown at High Noon: The bonus mission "The Duel", complete with back to back stance and scripted steps. Higher difficulties demand you to best more duelists in a row.
Simple Yet Awesome: The Falcon 2 is a surprisingly decent handgun, considering it's the first weapon you get in the game. It's fast, accurate and even comes with a handy little scope. The CMP-150 also qualifies: it's the most common gun in the single-player mode, but it has a high firing rate, plentiful ammo and a nifty auto-targeting system. It can also be dual-wielded.
Then there's always the option of just disarming an enemy, which works wonders in multiplayer.
Small Name, Big Ego: Trent Easton is head of the NSA (National Security Agency), a high-but-not-that-high position in the US intelligence hierarchy that would make him a report to the Director of National Intelligence. He acts like he is the NSA (National Security Advisor), which is a far more influential position.
Smug Snake: Trent. He almost succeeds in his plan to capture the President, but ends up getting mauled to death by the Skedar.
Sniper Pistol: Joanna's trusty Falcon 2 pistol can be fitted with a scope to make a surprisingly accurate medium-ranged sniper weapon.
Note that the silencer and scope attachments cannot be applied or removed at will; they're treated as separate weapons.
Sniper Scope Sway: The game has this feature for all scoped guns, but it's especially bad on the sniper rifle. To compensate, you can crouch while firing for greater stability.
This feature can be turned off in the menu, unlike in GoldenEye.
Sniping Mission: The first part of the Villa. Averted on the Perfect Agent difficulty; instead of sniping the guards to save the diplomat, you are the diplomat and have to use the laptop gun.
Exaggerated with Carrington Institute: Defense; the normal level music is already more frantic than the Institute's usual theme, and still has an even faster variant.
Speed Run: Time attacking was encouraged by the developers, since not only does the game keep track of the player's best time on each level on each difficulty, but completing particular levels within specific target times (some lenient, some strict) unlocks bonus cheat options.
Some levels essentially must be played as speedruns, because there is no realistic way to complete them otherwise due to the sheer number of enemies. "War!" comes to mind.
Spiteful A.I.: In Defense when hostages are taken the hostage takers have no self preservation whatsoever, eagerly gunning down their captives regardless of how many times they're shot just to make you fail to save them.
Spread Shot: The shotgun, obviously, but the Cyclone has a ridiculous spread as well, as does the Reaper.
Spy Catsuit: One that has has armored surfaces and is a mixture of blue and gray material rather than black leather.
She does wear a literal spy catsuit in the G5 Building level.
The Carrington Institute uniform she wears in the second half of PDZ counts too.
State Sec: The NSA headed by Trent Easton. Unlike the real world agency, the video game counterpart has its own troops and controls Area 51. Somewhat justified since Easton is part of a conspiracy, using the NSA to accomplish his agenda.
Tap on the Head: Punching out civilians is easy and painless. Occasionally, there will be one who puts up a lot more resistance than others though.
A Taste of Power: You can get the K7 Avenger as early as the second level, which doesn't appear again until halfway through the game. It's also possible to get the Phoenix in Area 51, which makes the level much easier. It doesn't appear again until the last few levels.
Timed Mission: Several levels have segments which must be completed in a certain time limit (these are usually Always Close).
"Mr. Blonde's Revenge" must be completed in about four minutes before the bomb you've planted in the basement of dataDyne headquarters goes off. It's possible to do it the long way (see Sequence Breaking) and kill everyone in the building before planting it, but very difficult and time-consuming.
Perfect Dark is, in fact, Joanna's agent title at Carrington Institute. So sometimes she'll be called that (Carrington also uses the codename to call her over the radio after the Air Force One crashes on the Alaskan wilderness).
Took a Level in Badass: There's one animation all the guards can potentially do, mercifully don't, but oh boy when they do, it strikes fear into most gamers. Its unofficially called the "Terminator walk". Guards in the game generally either go prone, crouch or stand still, all while adjusting their aim. In the Terminator walk they start advancing towards you with no regard for their own safety like a badass, and unload their entire magazine at you. If this happens on a harder difficulty, expect to get massacred.
Tranquillizer Dart: The tranquillizer gun, but instead of knocking targets out, it blurs their vision, lowering their accuracy. The alternate fire gives the darts a lethal overdose.
Translation Convention: The mission briefing for the bonus levels is written to reflect the style that the alien races might be expected to use.
Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The original game's lack of mid-level saving of any kind means that if you get killed in ambush, use an expendable gadget in the wrong place, or allow your braindead AI companions to get themselves killed, it's back to the start of the level. More evident on the two higher difficulty settings.
Troperiffic: Rare more or less attempted to cram as many action movie and sci-fi tropes as possible into a single game. It worked pretty well.
Universal Ammunition: A fairly ridiculous example in that not only do most guns use one of a couple different types of ammo, your own ammo is compatible with alien weapons.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Apart from the flying cars and alien technology, this could almost be a modern shooter. Canonically, the game is set in 2023. The prequel is only set three years earlier and completely drops both of these, leaving the only real hints that it's the future as some of the odder weapons (plasma rifle, sword with an energy shield, etc.), the fact that the only flying vehicles all seem to be Osprey-inspired, jet-powered VTOL craft, and the in-universe existence of Deathmatch.
Unexpected Genre Change: From normal, if futuristic, spies versus evil conglomerates to epic sci-fi action ending with the main characters storming an alien planet.
Unlockable Content: Perfect Dark inherits this structure from GoldenEye, in that, if you want to have the full experience, to explore everywhere, and complete various objectives, you are required to play the missions in the harder difficulties. This however, is no cake-walk.
Unnecessary Combat Roll: It seems like the first day of security guard school is spent teaching cadets how to perform this. Averted in that it's as woefully ineffective as it should be (it leaves guards open to attack for several seconds) but played straight in that Joanna herself performs a few shoulder rolls during cutscenes.
One of the changes made from Golden Eye 1997 involved making the rolling animation interruptible - that is, a guard no longer finishes his roll, stands up and then dies if shot mid-roll.
Zero lets Joanna do this as a command. It breaks enemy lock-ons, forcing them to get their bearing. They are also substantially quicker.
Unorthodox Reload: The Cyclone's bizarre reload animation where the magazine is fed into the side of the gun and passes out the other side.
Maian weapons have a magazine which looks like a greenish ball and is absorbed into the side of the gun like a liquid.
The DY357 has a cool-looking but pointless reloading move where you insert the moon clip into the chamber and then flick it sideways one-handed.
When you're dual-wielding. How the heck can you even reload two guns at the same time so quickly if you're holding them in each hand?
Unusual User Interface: Joanna's headset, which is essentially a wearable computer that deploys over her field of vision when you access the menu.
Updated Re-release: Re-released for the Xbox Live Arcade on March 17th 2010 with bright, shiny new high-def visuals and online play!
Video Game Caring Potential: If you disarm or surprise some foes, they'll surrender and cause you no further trouble note And if you save the civilian with the keycard in Area 51, you can get a cool hidden weapon. But...
Elvis: Oh no, we have a problem. It's a single-seater. Two can get in, but no more. Joanna: It's the only way out of here. Elvis: Plus it's got no style, you know what I'm saying?
What Happened to the Mouse?: After being rescued in the Crash Site mission, the President is never heard from again, although a meeting with him is a plot point later on.
The aforementioned abandoned sequel probably would've answered a lot of questions about the plot/s.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Until you run up against the aliens directly, you're mostly mowing down security guards or government employees. Admittedly, they're working for a corrupt corporation and a treacherous NSA respectively, but you still spend a lot of time killing people just doing their jobs, although to be fair, they're under orders to kill you.
However, if you feel like it you can just knock out human enemies if you like in most levels. It's just that this is usually only practical if you can surprise lone guards.
In the levels where you have to board or are actually on Air Force One, you will fail the mission if you kill guards, as they are not involved in the conspiracy to kidnap the President. You can, however, kill NSA troops, since they are.
A particularly sad example is in Mission 4-2 where you must take a spare uniform from a scientist named Harry. On Agent difficulty, you can't avoid killing Harry as he is "conveniently" next to the crack that you must demolish.
Where The Hell Is Springfield?: The game is rather vague about the location of most of its settings, aside from Chicago, Alaska and Nevada. Most of the CI staff are British, but the city where dataDyne's headquarters are located isn't named, and Carrington's villa seems to be in Gibraltar or somewhere on the Mediterranean.
A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Whenever there is a group of scientists or people that you're not allowed to kill, one of them will invariably try to screw you over by sounding the alarm or pulling a gun.
Word Salad Title: Aside from being the codename of the main character, the name "Perfect Dark" doesn't mean anything in particular besides that it sounds really cool. Because of the difficulty in localizing the title, the game was going to be renamed Red and Black in Japan for the same reason until they decided to just transliterate the English title.
You Shall Not Pass: Joanna attempts this during the evacuation of the Carrington Institute. While the ship she was defending manages to escape, she gets knocked out and captured.
During the evacuation of Area 51, either you or Jonathan covers the escape. If you do it, you find a way out on your own, and Jonathan shows up again at Mission 7. If Jonathan does it, the mission ends for you immediately and you don't see him again.
Zerg Rush: The tiny Skedar in "Deep Sea" are particularly annoying as they just keep spawning and there's nothing to do but shoot them all as they regenerate.
On "War!", the enemies never stop coming; your only hope is to kill as many as you can and run like hell to avoid the rest. Luckily, they're terrible shots. The good news is that your army also respawns. Keeping them alive is pretty much mandatory.