Thursday, September 4, 2008

GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark Multiplayer modes

Back during the era of the Nintendo 64, playing multiplayer matches against my two brothers in GoldenEye 007 was practically part of my daily routine. For some reason or another, the three of us settled on License to Kill mode as pretty much the only multiplayer mode we used regularly, usually using either Pistols or Automatics as our weapon set, though we sometimes used mines, throwing knives, or slappers only. That set-up kept us happy for years. A few years later though, when we rented Perfect Dark, GoldenEye's spiritual sequel, we ended up using a completely different set of options. Instead of playing on one-shot kill modes, we ended up abusing the Simulants to create chaotic army vs. army King of the Hill battles with lots of explosives, sniper rifles, and automatic weapons. Considering how similar GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark play, I have always wondered why our multiplayer matches in the two games were so different. I can't help but feel that there were some factors in the two games that encouraged one set-up over the other.

Certainly one big difference between GoldenEye and Perfect Dark was in what multiplayer options they offered and how those options were organized. Starting a multiplayer match in Goldeneye was a pretty straightforward affair: the players first select a game mode from a short list (such as Normal or License to Kill), then select a pre-built set of weapons from a similarly sized list, select an arena, select game length, set handicaps, and finally let each player choose their characters. All told, the process was very simple and straightforward, but allowed for only a limited number of possible game combinations. In comparison, Perfect Dark had several menus worth of options, including AI controlled bots (called Simulants), customizable weapon lists, and customizable characters. So Perfect Dark allowed for a much wider array of game options, but those choosing from those options involved digging through multiple menus and was thus much more time consuming. Looking back at it, One-Shot Kills was an accessible option in Perfect Dark. In fact, Pistol One Hit Kills was a prebuilt game type. However, it wasn't possible to load up a Pistol One Hit Kills game and then change the weapons to automatics without opening up all of the option menus, making the changes to available weapons, and saving a new Automatics One Hit Kills game type. So the Perfect Dark system wasn't as well geared towards experimenting with minor alterations.

The number of options itself might have had an effect on our playstyle. In GoldenEye 007, using various weapon types, in various arenas, on Normal or License to Kill mode covered most of the available options. However, playing a similar 1-on-1 deathmatch-style game type in Perfect Dark would have meant not using quite a few of the available options, such as simulants and the various newly added game types such as King of the Hill. So it kind of felt like a waste to not use those options, which is probably what lead to our big army vs. army battles.

Another factor to consider is weapons, which were one of the most noticeable differences between the two games. In GoldenEye, most guns were based directly on real guns, and thus were generally slight variations on basic archetypes. There were three pistols, three sub-machine guns, a machine pistol, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a few assault rifles, and various kinds of explosive, plus the throwing knives. In Perfect Dark though, all weapons were equipped with secondary fire modes, most of which were extremely flashy. One assault rifle could be turned into a proximity mine, one pistol could fire explosive rounds, and a common machine gun could be turned into an automatic turret. Many of these functions were not really appropriate for the ambush and kill gameplay of a typical One Hit Kill match, particularly once you got past pistols. However, the weapons were well suited for large, chaotic, high-casualty rate matches.

I do think that my change in playstyle moving from GoldenEye to Perfect Dark was influenced by game design, rather than simply changing tastes. When I was looking around at GameFAQs to do research for this post, I noticed that other people may have had similar experiences. A couple GoldenEye FAQs referenced License to Kill mode as a particularly popular choice. However, a big list of Perfect Dark multiplayer set-ups (apparently compiled from a large thread asking for people's favorites) universally included lots of Simulants and rarely involved One Hit Kills.

No comments: