Perfect Dark Zero uncovered

Again - back to those rooftops. It's the ideal stomping ground for the RCP-90, one of many weapons making a comeback from PD64.

It's ideal thanks to its threat-detecting vision, a secondary function which paints allies as green and enemies as red, also marking out body armour and helmets and ideal for picking out the trouble spots among whatever fracas Jack Dark is embroiled in down below.

Another section sees Jack ascending through the floors of an exposed building, an area under construction that's fronted by walls of glass.

It's best to use the conveniently placed sniper rifle here; the RCP-90 is useful, of course, but its threat detector is foiled by glass, so you'll need to make a mess, shattering the panes and likely setting off a number of sprinklers as you go as a destructive bonus.

Near to the end of the section comes a confrontation with a gunship, most notable for a completely unexpected 'taunt' menu that pops up at the bottom of the screen.

Selected by pressing a direction on the D-pad, these are optional retorts to the smack talk trotted out by the gunship's pilot. Select an apt comeback and he'll be irritated to the point of spoiling his aim.

Quite how this will work isn't clear, since each of the options is currently simply marked 'taunt', but that's for the next month's worth of design twiddling and fiddling to decide.

With Jack successfully escorted and the level complete, it's on to the true showdown with the gunship, staged in a square dock area and complete with plenty of graphical showboating.

Large blocks of ice are stacked around, slipping and shattering as the fight progresses, and presenting the world behind them in convincing distortion.

In the background, an enormous curved tower touches the sky, gleaming intensely, while a futuristic, mid-air traffic system shows numerous hover vehicles going about their business.

It's certainly pretty, as is the closing section of the game's first stage, but that's for later. The aforementioned taunt function raises a question: so, Dark now has an American accent, as opposed to an English one, as heard in PD64?

"Yes. A mid-Atlantic one," confirms Botwood. Does he think that it'll upset some people, if only on the grounds of faithfulness to the series? "It's possibly a minor thing, but it's increasing the game's appeal. PDZ and Kameo are the first Rare games to use professional voice actors, too."

On the subject of accents, is Elvis due to return? "Do you want him to come back? We were conscious that the aliens didn't go down too well in PD64," says Tilston, a statement that includes the aforementioned Elvis, a freaky-voiced grey alien that joined Dark in the closing stages of the game.

"Players like humans killing humans, but you've then got Halo, that's a game about killing aliens. But... people will have to wait and see." It's a non-committal comment that, for some, will hopefully have their waiting result in seeing him exploding somehow.

Throughout the whole of the first stage there's a new voice, one persistent enough to drown out any Elvis angst. It belongs to Chandra, Dark's radio contact and advisor. Her script dwarfs that of Dark, whose speech is restricted to a relative handful of lines.

During the opening mission, she's chattier than a Halo marine, offering not just guidance but a handful of curt or encouraging responses depending on whether or not you act on her suggestions.

This opening level - an infiltration of the Trinity Platform complex - begins with a swift cutscene that ends with a classic GoldenEye touch, as the camera swoops into the back of Dark's head, switching the view to first-person and handing control to the player.

After all these years, it's still an effective trick. What follows is a conventional training run, schooling the player in the game's basics, including a neat application of Dark's cover move - taking out a security camera before it has time to close the doors between it and her.