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The game features a single-player mode consisting of seventeen missions in which the player assumes the role of special agent Joanna Dark, an operative for the fictional Carrington Institute, as she attempts to stop a conspiracy by rival corporation dataDyne. It also features a range of multiplayer options, including co-operative and "counter-operative" modes in addition to traditional deathmatch settings. Technically, it is one of the most advanced games developed for the Nintendo 64, with optional high-resolution graphics and Dolby Surround Sound. A Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak is required to access the game's campaign and most of the multiplayer features.
Perfect Dark was developed over the course of three years and uses a modified version of the GoldenEye 007 engine. The game met with critical acclaim and commercial success upon release, selling two and a half million units worldwide. Critics widely praised its customizable multiplayer modes and replay value, though opinions were mixed on its inconsistent frame rate. The game's success has led to the development of the Perfect Dark franchise, which includes the 2005 prequel Perfect Dark Zero and other types of merchandise such as novels and comic books. A remake, also titled Perfect Dark, with enhanced graphics, online multiplayer and some other minor changes, was exclusively released as an Xbox Live Arcade game for the Xbox 360 in 2010.