Perfect Dark, the preview of what to expect from The Initiative's first game

Perfect Dark, the preview of what to expect from The Initiative's first game
It had been talked about for years and by now the rumors had become insistent for several months: the new project of The Initiative, the first for the "dream team" created within the Xbox Games Studios, had to be linked to Perfect Dark, in some way. Finally, the confirmation came with surprises during the 2020 Game Awards, just hours after Aaron Greenberg told everyone to moderate expectations because there shouldn't be huge news coming to Geoff Keighley's event. Pre-tactics, of course, since there were some interesting announcements during the night, although obviously not at the level of the first Xbox Series X trailer shot by Phil Spencer a year ago. Among these, in any case, the presentation of Perfect Dark was certainly the most important event, on the Xbox front, both for the fact of finding the Rare brand that has now become a sort of cult among fans, and for the first contact directed with what The Initiative has been harboring for a couple of years now in its brand new Santa Monica studios.

Except that, as often happens in these cases , the trailer told us very little about the game itself, limiting itself above all to setting the tone of this production, to introducing its particular atmospheres, the setting and something of the narrative background but showing practically nothing of the gameplay and elements of actual game. What can we expect from Perfect Dark? It is not easy to say, because it does not seem that The Initiative intends to follow precisely the path marked by Rare with the previous chapters, in terms of game structure. It may not be a first-person shooter, in short, and instead focus on the most peculiar elements of the reference universe, such as espionage and the use of various gadgets, to stage a different type of action that, on the other hand, already transpired. from the original on Nintendo 64.

The Introductory Trailer

Launched into the fray of the 2020 Game Awards, the trailer was a real surprise, catching attention since the appearance of The Initiative logo, so far never associated with official video material. The cut undertaken by the team is different from the classic one, both from the futuristic cyberpunk / alien of the original and from the 007-style tone of Zero, so until the last it was difficult to understand precisely what it was, which amplified the impact of the logo placed at the end, just anticipated by the shot of direction in the frame on the symbol of the DataDyne, which had already put all fans to attention. Unfortunately it is a video in computer graphics, so we can only take it as a starting point to understand something about the setting and the style, but it already provides very interesting suggestions, in particular as regards the vision of the future developed by the team and the topics it could introduce. . Moreover, it establishes at least one certainty, namely the presence of Joanna Dark, who appears in the last seconds of the trailer complete with a classic haircut.

The story seems therefore to speak of eco-terrorism, or in any case some threat that weighs on the planet of the future linked to the climatic and ecological upheavals that have occurred over the years. As the trailer tells us, the Earth has suffered floods, storms and various fires due to climate change, until the corporations intervened and proposed new solutions for survival, saving the planet but obviously imposing its own super power over any social, political and economic aspect of all humanity. In this new situation, the world seems to have found a period of peace and a new balance also in the exploitation of resources, but remaining in the shadow of these disturbing superpowers the situation appears precarious, until something has cracked and the balance of forces has begun. to change until it leads to a real war, more or less hidden. In the midst of this chaos, we find a Joanna Dark looking for "answers".

A new setting

The references to the previous chapters are, of course, but the setting seems completely different and also the sci-fi style adopted. The Initiative's reinterpretation of Perfect Dark feels much more modern and in some ways mature than Rare's somewhat naïve and colorful sci-fi, which you may or may not like. The work done on the creation of the game world seems very interesting and also original, staging a future very focused on the issues related to climate and ecology, which are also reflected in the representation of the settings, as the "reclaimed" desert clearly suggests. and transformed into a crop also visible in the trailer. On the other hand, everything has a much more cinematic and modern aspect even in taste, rather far from the 90s style of the previous chapters, in which among other things the light-hearted spirit of Rare shone. In short, the certain thing is that, despite having taken over an already existing and known intellectual property, The Initiative wanted to give its own strong and innovative imprint to the brand.

This is also true in response to those who perhaps would have liked to see a new intellectual property in the hands of The Initiative: there is no doubt that Microsoft also wants to aim at preserving the historical memory of its brands, trying to strengthen its identity in the videogame field focusing on the recovery of some well-known franchises as well as the creation of new titles, but this operation seems a fairly radical relaunch of the series. On the other hand, the words of the developers in the video interview published on the occasion of the announcement say it quite clearly: "we must avoid excessive devotion to the past", they reported explaining their approach to classic IP, "the important thing is to find a happy medium ". The intention, according to team leader Darrell Gallagher, is to create a thriller based on secret agents and set in a world of the near future.

Glimpses of the possible gameplay

For a long time time we thought that The Initiative had in mind a third-person action adventure with a narrative and cinematic cut, in a certain sense a response to the blockbuster productions typical of Sony and that are scarce in the internal offer of the Xbox Games Studios, but the choice of Perfect Dark could confuse such a point of view. The thing could be positive, as the premises suggest rather original solutions in terms of gameplay, compared to a normal action adventure with shooter phases. In particular, the idea of ​​espionage, the future and the technological applications that derive from these bases open the door to particular and interesting game situations. In addition to Gallagher, game director Dan Neuburger, design director Drew Murray and lead writer Christine Thompson also seem to insist a lot on the aspect of futuristic espionage and staging a thriller starring a super spy: Joanna Dark will be at grappled with a threat of ecological disaster on a global scale and will have to fight against an overwhelming force relying on his skills in several areas.

There will likely be shooter features , but the idea is that The Initiative also intends to tend towards stealth action with the use of super-technological gadgets, recalling the translation of Splinter Cell and perhaps the dynamic approach to missions seen in Deus Ex, except in the same original Perfect Dark. In the interview, an element on which particular attention is paid is what the developers call "spy fighting", that is the combat in the role of a spy, contrasted with the traditional first-person shooter dynamics, which seems like a statement. of intent on the desire to leave the original structure and propose something different. Moreover, within these spy dynamics also falls "the exaltation of moving in ways above normal", the authors also reported, talking about the possibility of jumps, slides and various ways to explore the setting and interact with the elements. of the scenario, in addition to the possibility of using highly technological gadgets and particular weapons to face situations.

Perfect Dark is based on an imaginary and a protagonist that was worth recovering, given the breadth and possible applications of the first and the charisma of the second, remained in the hearts of many players. The particularly positive thing is that his vision of the future and the spy story characteristics can be taken and applied to quite different experiences, so The Initiative can count on a considerable freedom of approach for his new project and we can't wait. to understand where the talented team at Xbox Games Studios has decided to take the series. The prerequisites for a challenging game both from a narrative and gameplay point of view are all there.


It's the return of Perfect Dark! The reinterpretation of the setting already looks great The spy action is very interesting The Initiative is full of capable personalities DOUBTS Virtually nothing of the game has been seen The wait could still be very long

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