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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 Institutes's training program with the first ever "Perfect" score, is sent to meet an insider from the dataDyne corporation. 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.

Includes examples of: Edit

  • 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: In the original Japanese release Jo was given Asian features, a look that carries over into the XBOX Live release. International versions dropped this and made Jo look more like a British spy to match her accent, and in Zero she is given red hair, invoking similarities to Kim Possible.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Although Dr. Caroll develops sentience and defects from dataDyne, he retains his moral code throughout.
  • Alien Abduction: Joanna and Cassandra are taken prisoner by the Skedar near the end of the game.
  • Alien Autopsy: The Area 51 stage of the original game has a level which involves rescuing an alien from vivisection, and another (bonus) level involves sabotaging the autopsy of an already dead alien.
  • Alien Blood: Maians have green blood. Averted by the Skedar, who have red blood.
    • Skedar blood is also a slightly different tint of red than human blood.
  • Alien Sky: The Skedar homeworld has a blue sky tinged with pink and three suns.
  • Aliens Speaking English
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: The Skedar are implied to be behind the "cattle mutilation" phenomenon.
  • 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.
  • AKA-47: A selection of weapons from Golden Eye 1997 are unlockable; and not only are their names different from their Real Life counterparts, they're also different from Golden Eye 1997's own made-up names.
    • Golden Eye 1997's 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).
  • 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. Disarming them causes them to pull out a Falcon 2.
  • 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.
  • Amusing Alien: Elvis, who is also Intrigued by Humanity.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Both the Cetans and the Maians have visited Earth in the past.
  • 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.
  • Area 51: Where you meet Elvis. No, not the King, but a Grey.
  • 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 one level 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.
  • Artificial Gravity
  • As You Know: The meeting in the G5 Building seems dedicated to the conspirators rehashing everything all of them know already about their plan just in case someone happens to be recording it to show the President later.
  • Attack Drone: The police robot from "Chicago Stealth", which also shows up in the Alaska level. Although annoying, they aren't very dangerous.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Joanna Dark. Doubles as a Punny Name.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Maian weaponry is quite useful. The Phoenix pistol has an explosive round secondary fire, the Callisto NTG machine gun can fire heavy armor-piercing blasts, while the FarSight XR-20 sniper rifle is capable of not only firing through walls but can see through them and track enemies for you. Definitely not Too Awesome to Use.
    • Add in that the Phoenix can be dual-wielded, and that the only drawback to the secondaries is a lower fire rate. In both cases, hugely increased damage, as well as splash/DoT in the case of the Phoenix, and they both use the same ammo for both firing modes. The only drawback is the reduced firing rate.
    • The Skedar Mauler is perhaps the only Skedar weapon that isn't crazy. Its secondary fire consumes bullets to power its next shot. Many tricky confrontations are reduced to a string of One Hit Kills
  • Bag of Spilling
  • Bare Your Midriff: Joanna does this in some missions in Perfect Dark Zero, on a snow-covered mountain, no less.
  • Beating a Dead Player
  • 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.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Most levels have plenty of pillars and walls to hide behind.
  • Benevolent Boss: Carrington.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: The Cetan ship has a sequence like this.
  • Big No: The guards will sometimes let loose with one of these when they are killed, even if you shoot them in the head.
  • Big Yes: Joanna gives one when she kills the Skedar leader.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The Cetan ship.
  • Bizarrchitecture: "Skedar Ruins". There are collapsed archways and off-kilter floors all over the place, as well as random chasms and dead ends.
  • 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 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.
  • Bling Bling Bang: Trent has a gold-plated magnum revolver that has abilities similar to GoldenEye 64's Golden Gun.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: The Skedar use a holographic disguise of a hulking Scandinavian man named "Mr. Blonde" when they interact with humans.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Sorry, gotta shoot!"

 "Lights out!"

  • Boring but Practical: 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 even 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.
  • Brick Joke: "Not forgetting the President, of course."
  • British Accents: Joanna has this in the original.
  • 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" (facing Trent who has a One-Hit Kill revolver).
  • Bulletproof 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.
  • Caffeine Bullet Time: The Combat Boost.
  • The Can Kicked Him: A guard can found unconscious and face-down in Carrington's bathroom in the Villa level.
  • Captain's Log: A few levels begin with Joanna recording one.
  • Captain Obvious: Joanna, according to her inner monologue.

 "They'll be unable to conduct operations without any power."

    • There's also:

 Elvis: I'm alive? I thought I would be chopped up like the others.

Joanna: You... you speak our language?

Jonathan: Watch her, she's sharp.

 Elvis: Look out, Joanna! I think they may be angry...

  • Casual Interstellar Travel
  • The Cavalry: The Maian troops that show up to assist Joanna in "Attack Ship: Covert Assault".
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Joanna seems to be able to switch outfits between levels effortlessly.
  • Charged Attack: The Skedar Mauler's Secondary Fire. Unusual in that the charge happens automatically when not firing: the gun consumes a few extra bullets (up to five) and starts glowing red.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several.
    • The backup of Dr. Carroll.
    • The recording of the meeting in the G5 building.
    • 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?
  • 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!
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Skedar.
  • City Noir: The Chicago level.
  • 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.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Dr. Caroll is infamous for this.

 "Do you actually know what you are doing?"

"We're going to the helipad, I assume?"

  • Computer Equals Monitor: In Area 51, apparently all records are kept on the monitor (!) of a single computer[1]. 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!
  • 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.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: Apparently Area 51, The Greys, Ancient Astronauts, The Reptilians and a Secret War are all true and related to the Roswell Incident.
  • 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 MacGuffin Zhang Li wants so badly. It's clear they are talking about the aliens.
  • Cool Bike: The hoverbike from Area 51 is surprisingly useful. It can even be used in later levels!
  • 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.)
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Cassandra deVries.
  • Corrupt Politician: Trent Easton.
  • Coup De Grace Cutscene: More than one.
  • Covers Always Spoil: Look closely at the box art for the game. You can see a reflection of Elvis in Joanna's left eye.
  • Critical Existence Failure: For some reason, being pistol-whipped or punched will cause the player to stumble and their vision to blur, but not being shot multiple times to the point of near death.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Elvis. See Pint-Sized Powerhouse.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: Just about everything Carrington says for the first half of the game.
  • 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 is Elvis getting hit with a tranquilizer and keeling over.
  • Cyberpunk: Sorta.
  • 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.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Mai-Hem in Perfect Dark Zero.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: In "dataDyne Central: Extraction", the level begins with the lights turned off, forcing Joanna to use night vision. At the end, Cassandra's bodyguards do the same thing and must be fought in the dark. [2]
  • Darker and Edgier: The canceled sequel, Perfect Dark Core. Apparently it would have featured Joanna smoking and flirting. Never mind how out-of-character those would be, in the novels at least her reaction to things such as flirting and strippers ranges from utter revulsion and disgust to violence.
    • The game itself compared to Golden Eye 1997, considering it had much more gore, as well as swearing. Perfect Dark was rated M while Golden Eye 1997 was rated T (or 18+ and 15+, both BBFC, in the UK).
  • Dark Reprise: The "Carrington Institute: Defense" theme is a remixed version of the training area BGM.
  • Deadly Doctor: The surgeons in Area51 will attempt to attack you by firing TranquilizerDarts, although these are more annoying than anything. Of course, then there's also what they plan to do to Elvis...
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joanna, but also Jonathan. Forcing them to work together results in a lot of snarking.
    • Even the President gets a few snarks in himself. Eg. if you stand in front of him blocking his path on Air Force One, he will sarcastically comment, "Are you sure this is the way to the escape pod?"
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Retire presidential clone."
  • 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.
    • 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?
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Elvis' description of the Skedar homeworld.

 '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.

 What a mess!

Aw, I never liked that robot anyway...

 Good to see you, Joanna! Take this - you should find it useful...

  • Jeanne D Archetype: Loosely. The game's creators seem to have taken Joan of Arc as a template for ActionGirls.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: The Crash Site level's BGM sounds like a slowed-down version of the Metal Gear Solid theme.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini: Mr. Blonde.
  • Keystone Army: The Skedar seem to have a Hive Mind dependent on their leader.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Plenty of enemies.
  • Laser Hallway: A few levels have laser barriers which must be bypassed.
  • Laser Sight: The Falcon 2 comes with one (see Sniper Pistol).
  • 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.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Before the last level.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The Skedar.
  • 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.
  • Matrix Raining Code: The computers tend to show this.
  • Meaningful Name: Joanna, of course. Elvis also counts, since it suits his fascination with American culture. Cassandra ... that's a bit more dubious.
  • Mega City: Also the City with No Name and a Skyscraper City.
  • Mega Corp: The dataDyne corporation, along with others in the novels.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Zhang Li.
  • Mission Control: The Carrington Institute.
    • Missing Mission Control: Carrington is unavailable in the last two levels. Elvis takes over the mission briefing at this point.
  • Money, Dear Boy: dataDyne's motives for cooperating with the Skedar.
  • Mook Chivalry
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • My Friends and Zoidberg: It becomes something of a Running Gag that nearly every time the President is mentioned by other characters, it's almost like he's an afterthought.
  • 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 Biochemical Barriers
  • No Fair Cheating: You can use the cheat codes on any level you have access to, but you won't unlock anything while using them.
  • No-Gear Level: "Attack Ship" begins with Joanna armed with nothing but a knife.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Clearly nobody in the Perfect Dark universe has ever heard of railings.
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Your buddies can do this.
  • Oh Crap: Joanna, when she realizes the Maians are bombing the Shrine with her inside.
  • 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.
  • 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 Connery Expy when it happens.

 "You can't make accusations like that without evidence! I a-shume that you have some?"

 It looks like this would benefit from a little bit of sabotage...

  • 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.
  • Power Glows: The charged-up Mauler glows bright red.
  • Power Hair: Cassandra has it.
  • Private Military Contractors: dataDyne.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Some of the guards say things like "I'm only doing my job!" when they surrender.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: It makes no difference whether you're playing as the skinny Joanna or the hulking Mr. Blonde; everything about the gameplay is exactly the same.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: The FarSight, and also the DY357-LX.
  • Race Lift: See Fridge Logic above.
  • Railing Kill: Quite a few, especially in the Villa level.
  • Ramming Always Works: Elvis' way of dealing with the Skedar UFO attached to Air Force One.
  • Rank Inflation: In-universe. Joanna is the first agent to achieve an A++ score in training, hence the call sign "Perfect Dark".
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: The "Hurricane Fists" cheat boosts your mêlée rate of attack to Dragonball Z levels.
  • Ray Gun: The Phoenix.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Maians are a long-lived species. Elvis' age is given as 320.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The President.
  • Recurring Riff: The main theme is played (at different tempos and in different arrangements) in just about every piece of music in the single-player campaign.
  • Red Filter of Doom: Whenever the player dies.
  • Redheaded 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.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: The enemies' guns will sometimes randomly jam for no reason at all, which is quite convenient for you.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Skedar are weird dinosaur-like aliens, whose offspring resemble small lizards (that can jump and bite you).
  • The Reptilians: The Skedar race appear to be inspired by the Reptilian myth, being aliens that disguise themselves as Scandinavian men.
  • The Reveal: Mr. Blonde is a Skedar with a holographic disguise.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: 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.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better - The DY357 Magnum is a beast of a handgun. There's even a gold-plated version, the DY357-LX carried by Trent Easton, which is a One-Hit Kill, as you might expect from it being a Golden Gun and all.
  • Rich Bitch: Cassandra.
  • Robo Cam: The BombSpy, CamSpy and DrugSpy appear this way when you're piloting them remotely.
  • Robotic Reveal: When Joanna discovers that Dr. Caroll is an AI.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: At the end of "dataDyne: Extraction".
  • Ruins for Ruins Sake: The Skedar Ruins.
  • Sapient Ship: The Cetans are implied to be this, although gameplay-wise, the Cetan ship you explore doesn't really do anything special. It's in some kind of Convenient Coma.
  • Say My Name: Joanna and Elvis seem to do this a lot, particularly in cutscenes.
  • Scare Chord: When Trent is killed by Mr. Blonde.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Skedar, who are depicted as aggressive religious fanatics, as opposed to the peaceful Maians.
  • 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!
  • Schrodinger'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.
  • 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 trap 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."
  • Secret Government Warehouse: Area 51.
  • Secret War: Between the Maians and Skedar for centuries.
  • Sequence Breaking: Many levels can be completed in more than one way.
    • 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 right after unlocking the safe, as the door will open but the enemies will not spawn.
    • 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".
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: The Psychosis Gun, which makes enemies Brainwashed and Crazy so they attack each other.
    • It's possible to get enemies to fire at each other just by dodging out of the way fast enough.
  • Shoe Phone: The Laptop Gun, which unfolds out of - you guessed it - a laptop. It even has a kickass secondary mode where you attach it to a surface and it serves as a Sentry Gun, which you can pick up again and take with you. It also Averts Bottomless Magazines in this mode, as it'll only have whatever was left in the clip when you throw it.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Guards will not fire at you past a certain distance, even assault rifles (except snipers). When you get close enough, they try to punch you out instead of shooting you.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous ones to other sci-fi and Cyberpunk works.
    • The design of Area 51's laboratories, hallways, and even the autopsy rooms is lifted straight out of Independence Day.
    • The flying cars and neon billboards could be an homage to Blade Runner.
    • The K7 Avenger is visually based on the design of the pulse rifle from Aliens.
    • The cloaking device and other elements are taken from Ghost in the Shell.
      • The "cloaked alien" motif may be from Predator.
    • As a Call Back to Golden Eye 1997, all of the guns from the game appear in glass cases on the firing range, and some of them can be used in single player with cheats.
    • It may not be intentional, but a desert planet with more than one sun sounds familiar from somewhere.
    • Given the game's overall tone, it may actually be a reference to another desert planet.
    • Bonus materials imply that the real Skedar are the tiny alien creatures, which reside in mechas. Where have we heard this before?
    • One of the weapons might count...the Slayer, a rocket launcher like the one used on the Judge.
    • Joanna's auto-targeting HUD, and the MagSec machine pistol, both make it clear that somebody on the design team has watched RoboCop before.
  • Sigil Spam: The weapons-manufacturing Mega Corp 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 was ever captured!).
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Single Biome Planet: The Skedar homeworld is implied to be one big battle-scarred wasteland, due to a combination of earthquakes, scorching heat from the star system's three suns, and thousands of years of constant warfare on the Skedar's behalf.
  • Sinister Geometry: The weird polyhedral structures that are scattered all over the Skedar planet. (Overlaps with Spikes of Doom.)
  • Slow Doors
  • 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.
  • Sniping Mission: The first part of the Villa. Averted on Perfect Agent; instead of sniping the guards to save the diplomat, you are the diplomat and have to use the laptop gun.
  • Soft Glass: You can even punch through it.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Twice - in Area 51, and the Carrington Institute.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Nearly every level has a faster variant of its music, which plays during critical junctures.
    • Exaggerated Trope 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Golden Eye 1997.
  • 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.
  • Stealth Based Mission: Numerous examples, but being stealthy is rewarded in just about every level.
  • Stealth Pun: Joanna Dark.
  • Sticky Bomb: The Devastator's grenades have this option.
  • Strapped to An Operating Table: This nearly happens to Elvis.
  • Stripperiffic: Mai-Hem's outfits have to be seen to be believed.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The ending cutscene for "Deep Sea" contains plenty of Scenery Porn.
  • Super Soldier: Joanna is something like this.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: The Laptop Gun (see above) three functions (laptop, SMG, and sentry).
  • 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.
  • Technicolor Toxin: The bright green nerve gas in Area 51.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Joanna and Jonathan.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: "Deep Sea" has warp portals.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The "CI Operative" theme plays during some cutscenes, usually after Joanna does something awesome.
  • They Look Like Us Now: Mr. Blondes, although there's still a Glamour Failure since they all look the same.
  • Throw-Away Guns: The Dragon on its secondary mode, which turns it into a disguised proximity bomb, as well as the Laptop Gun. Also, there is one point in the last level which requires you to leave one of your guns behind before progressing.

 Make your sacrifice to the god of war.

  • This Is the Final Battle
  • 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.
  • Title Drop

 Carrington: Good luck, Perfect Dark.

  • 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.
  • Try Not to Die:

 Jonathan: Oh yeah, that crate? It really doesn't like being shot.

  • 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.
  • Unguided Lab Tour: In Area 51.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Rerelease: Re-released for the Xbox Live Arcade on March 17th 2010 with bright, shiny new high-def visuals and online play!
  • Vader Breath: Mr. Blonde has it.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: If you disarm or surprise some foes, they'll surrender and cause you no further trouble [3]. But...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Are you evil enough to shoot an enemy in the groin after they've been disarmed and surrendered? Yes.
    • In the original, foes who have been knocked out can then be killed rather easily, especially if you like headshots.
    • In the first mission, you can shoot down flying cars that go by, obviously killing whoever was inside.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: In some levels there are civilians wandering around. You are not allowed to shoot them, and if you do so you instantly fail the mission.
  • Villain Shoes: "Mr. Blonde's Revenge".
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Against the Skedar.
  • Virtual Ghost: Dr. Caroll.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: In multiplayer.
  • Virtual Training Simulation
  • Visible Invisibility: The Cloaking Device leaves a faint trace of the user's outline. As well, users have to decloak to attack (see Invisibility Flicker).
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Usually Mr. Carrington, although other CI staff sometimes fill this role (see Mission Control).
  • Walk It Off: Perfect Dark Zero has a unique version where your health only partially regenerates, 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. Fall Damage? All Shock Damage.
    • 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.
  • Weak Turret Gun: The Laptop Gun in its Secondary Fire mode.
    • Most drone guns in the game can be destroyed without much effort, although the ones in Area 51 can be pretty tough.
  • Weapon of Choice: The Falcon 2 for Joanna; the Phoenix for Elvis; the DY357 for Jonathan; the DY357-XL for Trent.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Some Maian body skins sport stars and stripes outfits and shirts. The Maians really like America.
  • We Can Rule Together: Cassandra invokes this when Joanna encounters her at the end of the dataDyne mission.
  • We Need a Distraction: Reprogramming the taxi on Chicago to crash into the police robot.
    • Cassandra gives her life to make one in "Attack Ship".
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Joanna's evidence of the conspiracy is a recording which the President proclaims "overwhelming" after seeing roughly three seconds of it.
  • What Could Have Been: The original Perfect Dark would have been able to link to the Game Boy Camera. And you would be able to take a picture of your face into game, as an avatar in multiplayer, through a feature called "Perfect Head". Sadly, Rare scraped it due to "technical issues". Later Rare admitted this was because of the Columbine massacre and the concern they and Moral Guardians would have over students and teachers being killed in game.
  • 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 level where you have to board Air Force One and the level where you're on Air Force One, you will fail the mission if you kill guards. You can, however, kill NSA troops, since they're part of the conspiracy to kidnap the president.
  • 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, 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.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Apparently, your enemies.
  • Why Isn't It Attacking?: When Joanna and Elvis enter the Cetan ship, they comment on how unusual it is that there are no guards around. The reason is that they all have cloaking devices.
  • You Are Too Late: Joanna rescues Daniel from being held hostage at the villa, but not before dataDyne recovers Dr. Caroll from him.
    • Trent invokes this when he has the President hostage at gunpoint. Jo has about a half second to shoot him before failing the mission.
  • You Fool!: Trent seems to love saying this about the President.
  • You Have Failed Me: When Mr. Blonde kills Trent at the end of the Alaska mission.

 Mr. Blonde: "You have failed, Easton. You are a flawed device, and we need you no longer."

  • You Shall Not Pass: Joanna attempts this during the evacuation of the Carrington Institute. It doesn't work because she gets knocked out and captured.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Cassandra rightly claims this. You can still knock her out though.
  • 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.
  • Zeroes and Ones: Dr. Caroll displays this when his backup is installed.

Notes

  1. What, no cloud computing in 2023?
  2. Since they're wearing night vision goggles as well, turning the lights back on temporarily blinds them, making them easy to kill.
  3. And if you save the civilian with the keycard in Area 51, you can get a cool hidden weapon

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