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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot better than you might expect., 28 May 2007
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This review is from: Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears (Prima Official Game Guides) (Paperback)
I must admit, I picked this up with sceptisism. After all,this is Perfect Dark, a series of two games which both sport some of the worst writing and characters ever concieved. However. Microsofts quest to turn one of Nintendo's biggest games into a franchise continues, despite the minor stumbling block of PD Zero being... questionable.

This, then, is the second piece of spin off material to date, the first being Greg Rucka's surprisingly good novel 'Initial Vector'. The major plus point for that book was how it turned poorly written non-character Joanna Dark into something special and unique, and turned her universe into a classic sci-fi setting (cleaning up a lot of the mess left by the games) Basically, you could now be a PD fan having never played the games at all.

The reason I'm going on about the novel in a review of the comic is that the two both had writer Eric Trautmann invoved (he wrote this piece) and as such are closely linked. This is the Jo from the novel, in the world the novel created. The events of both the game and the first novel are covered in flashback sequences here, so as to tie everthing together nicely.

It also has the benefit of having the ice cold, tortured child form the novel as its main character, rather than the whiny kid from the game. Indeed, where Jo was, of course, the central character of the book, here she basically narrates. We, the readers are insider her head the whole time, and we get closer to her as a charcter than we've ever come before. It is here that Rucka and Trautmann's creation really shines. You FEEL for the girl. She human, but at the same time detached, vulnerable yet tough as nails. You really feel ever cut and scrape. The comic does go to lengths to keep her human and not an action robot. If you see her bleeding in one panel, chances are she'll be telling you how much it hurts in the next. We also get to see the more cerebral side to Jo such as her strategy and detective talents, which adds credibilty to her as a character.

The plot itselt is fast and lean, but keeps you guessing until the end. There is just the right mix between action and dialogue, so it never becomes a vacous circus of bullets and never becomes slow either.

It has to be said, the art style triumps as well. PD has gone from ultra-realsitic in the first game (at least, it looked that way when it came out) to the whole bizzare 'plastic manga' look in PD Zero. The art style here does lean towards manga but also keeps the realistic element. Its all very suitable and fits the PD universe like a glove.

If there is a flaw here, its that the story never goes particualy deep. Jo is still upset over the death of her father in PD Zero, but other than that it is quite an impersonal tale of espionage. I for one feel that there would be a great story in really opening Jo up more, but the writer steers clear of it for the most part. Also, in some of the action scenes the backgrounds are removed from some panels, presumably to give a feeling of speed and action, which works, but does lead to confusion as to where everything is taking place sometimes, particularly during the final fight.

Overall, This is another great piece for the PD collection, and if you like either of the games and/or the novel, this is well worth looking into. But the fact remains that if Microsoft want this series to last there will have to be another actual GAME at some point, and after PD Zero insulted so many fans of the original, it'll have to be a damn good one.

Also keep an eye out for the second novel, Second Front, which should be out shortly after this is released. What with all this Perfect Dark all of a sudden, maybe Microsoft is leading up to something...
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Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears (Prima Official Game Guides)
Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears (Prima Official Game Guides) by Greg Rucka (Paperback - 26 Feb. 2007)
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