I normally get around to games before they've hit the classic range but I heard nothing but bad things about this one so I skipped it.
After playing for a while I'm regretting waiting this long.
The stylistic changes from the original Perfect Dark on the N64 aren't the greatest, however I do agree that they were necessary in order to give the game the depth it requires. Old 'realistic' Perfect Dark just doesn't fit this generations idea of realism, so it had to change.
Its important to note that the changes were well done. The new style is consistent through out the game. So if you like this semi-animated style then it should be a pretty fun ride.
In terms of gameplay its a pretty good shooter. Lots of weapons, cool gadgets, the AI is pretty dumb but they balance that out well enough.
One thing I think they did miss was the objectives. This game had all that sorted out really well in theory but let itself down in the implementation. In Goldeneye/Perfect Dark you would run back and forth around the map completing the objectives. In Perfect Dark Zero you run through the map completing objectives, occasionally turning left instead of right to complete a secondary objective.
As subtle a difference as it is I think that was point where the game lost people.
One thing I wasn't expecting was the cover system. They've done a really good job of it but again its a case of tripping over the finishing line. The key to a good, functional cover system is something a lot of developers miss even today.
You have to have your players snap to cover. If you have to pay any more attention than getting close to something and hitting A you are better off standing there and scoping for headshots.
Perfect Dark Zero is a perfect example of it. I've used this great cover system a total of three times because its easier to go with your traditional duck behind some creates tactics than to go up to something, get in the right spot, then hit A and start aiming.
The multiplayer is really good. Its one of the few games I've seen lately (2005?) that gives offline multiplayer the attention it deserves. Its also one of the few modern console games that allows for bots in multiplayer. As far as game modes and stuff go its got enough to keep you occupied.
Its also one of the few XBOX 360 games I've played that allows you to buy items between rounds. It isn't normally something I like but its refreshing to have a new way to play.
I haven't played online yet but I'm guessing the online community is pretty much dead. You can count on most copies of any given XBOX 360 game being stuck in EB trade and save baskets three months after release, so the multiplayer communities of most games end up dying too soon. Its a shame but that's how it goes. =(
The only thing I can really say is sucky is the achievement list. Like I normally say when the subject comes up, for me it isn't about gamerscore its about the achievements themselves, and these achievements blow.
You've got about 20% 'complete co-op/solo on difficulty', which are ok, but the rest are just 'do this 10 times, do it 100, do it 1000' multiplayer achievements. Ranging from headshots, to weapons, to modes. About as boring as you can get.
Overall I think a lot of this games features were ahead of their time but just a degree or two off course. Every time I see something that is good or creative in it I always seem to have to add 'but it just needed that fraction more...' to the end.
Its definitely a good game and definitely worth the price of a classic range game. I think it would have had a bigger impact playing it when it was released as a lot of the cool features became standard (and were better implemented).