Recently I've come to play Perfect Dark again after learning about it's grand and glorious remake on Xbox Live Arcade. Absolutely one of my favorite games of all time and with Live added into the mix, it just got a whole lot better. I never really did get a chance to see counter-operative really fleshed out though, which is a shame because it seems like such an interesting mode, but after a few skirmishes on Live, I was instantly hooked on it. So I'm gonna keep on playing it, but as I do, I'd like to give my own personal observations on it as well.
Counter-operative is, probably more-so that any of the solo mission game types, all about knowing the level. This includes little secrets within that level that either player can use to their advantage (such as the Laptop Gun on the first level on Perfect Agent, Jo for instance can try to use the dataDyne employee to get it or the CO can try to block her path, possibly using the employee as a shield so Jo might accidentally hit him). This style of gameplay often forces out some very well played and interesting strategies from both players, both of which are crucial in making this mode truly an exciting game to play. I'll give a rundown on each particular level as I play them more and more starting with:
dataDyne Central - Defection
Agent Level: Definitely the most commonplace counter-operative scenario you will find on XBL, this stage should be the one you will master first. Read this one first even if you are trying this on a harder difficulty as it contains the bare bones fundamentals of surviving (or countering) this stage.
Objectives: 1. Gain entrance to the laboratory
As Joanna: Right off the bat you want to start using your radar to find which guard the CO has first inhabited. Lean over the helicopter pad to get a quick look at the guard down below, usually it's a good idea to kill him but if it's the CO there can be another approach. Simply jumping off the helicopter pad onto the ground and trying to get to the end while getting as far into the stage as possible can buy you some much needed time before he decides to respawn closer to you, so if you think you have a chance at this, I would definitely recommend it (of course put a bullet in him if he knows your trying this). If the CO first spawned inside the building, it's a bit trickier as he'll have the element of surprise, usually hiding underneath the ramp as you come in or in the door leading to the first staircase, so be sure your ready before entering.
The biggest challenge for Jo in this stage is often the CO's 1st and 2nd spawns, because there is only one way for her to get down to De Vries office floor and it's quite a narrow route so it makes for an excellent spot for the CO to deny you access to it. The best way to prevent this is to get down there as quickly as possible so before you climb down the stairs, shoot out the glass railing and jump down behind the staircase, then crouch down underneath it (this is also effective for surprising the CO if he's already waiting underneath the stairs for you). Try to get out of the stair room as quick as you can but if the CO is guarding it (and a good one almost ALWAYS will be), your best chance is to figure out where he's guarding the door from and try to goad him into making the first move, often opening the door just shy of passing through it but it'll be different almost every time. Either way your bound to take some hits in this situation.
However once your out of the stair room, you now have the advantage as he has a very narrow way to get to you, and you have an elevator taking you straight to the bottom which is the closest one to you as you exit the stair room. If your fast enough in getting downstairs, then the elevator should be on that floor ready to use. It may be at the very bottom sometimes though which you can choose to wait out as you'll still have a commanding spot to defend or go for other elevator which is probably on one of the two floor below you. This is usually where your adversary might be however so it could be another opportunity for him to get some much needed hits on you if your not careful (of course you could just try calling the other elevator on the Office floor as well). Once your elevator takes you down below, be wary as the CO might be waiting to pick you off as it makes it's way down. Best way to avoid this is to hug against the front of the elevator as that side is bulletproof and is extremely difficult from most angles for him to get a shot, but he may get crafty and try to shoot at you from the other elevator as well, where that side is unprotected.
Once your down you may be in the clear depending on how smart the CO is. If he suicides then be prepared for him to take control of the guards down below, in which case clear the whole floor of enemies (excluding the enemies in the comms hub room if you choose) so you don't get shot from behind. Make your way to the room on the left and kill everyone in it, but bear in mind he may still get one last spawn on one of them so act accordingly. Once that room is dead, head right and to the lab elevator, and your done. Mission Complete!
As the Counter-Operative (CO): Stopping Joanna from reaching the ground floor is basically your best chance at stopping her, remember she is a lot stronger than any one guard. You are but many guards however so use each one you are given to the best of your ability. Your first spawn is usually (that I've seen) one of three guards, the one underneath the helipad where Jo starts, the guard in front of the door as she comes in or the one at the top of the staircase leading to the De Vries Office. Any one of them is a threat to her if used correctly. The first guy not so much if Jo is smart enough to hit you from the helipad but if you get away from her, you have a great chance to hurt her here as there is a lot of cover. The two inside the building are a good place to hit Jo as she's making her way in, but the guy near the first door is in a good position to rush Jo as she's about to come in.
A big advantage the guards have is that Jo players have to discern you from the regular guards, which (at least on this stage) aren't that big a threat to her. You however are a threat so if she's slow getting inside, get up to the roof and wait til' she wastes the first guard, she may have thought she hit you and then you attack. This trick is especially handy pretty much anywhere as a CO, try to blend in or stay near your ill-equipped brethren and surprise Jo when she thinks she got all of em. If she makes it past your initial spawn, then your next guy's focus is the stairs.
Remember Jo players want to get out of that room as quick as possible so if your next spawn is a ways away from it, spare no time in getting there first. This is where you can really hurt and often times kill her before she goes to the ground floor so guard it with your life. If she's making her way down the elevator try to pick her off from whatever floor your on and if you didn't get her, IMMEDIATELY suicide pill as you will never catch now with anyone but the shock troopers down below, unless you've got a shot at hitting her from the opposing elevator as u both make your way down (if your not sure where she is, the music changing means she's on the ground floor). Some Joannas like to clear the floors of enemies which is ill-advised on this difficulty as it basically gives you more guards to hit her with, so happy hunting if she tries to kill you all ;).
Once she's on the ground your in trouble, but definitely not out of it...if you suicided early enough before she got to ground floor, chances are she's gotta kill you twice as your first spawn should put in one of the shock troopers surrounding the elevator. Your second one may give you a guard inside the lab elevator room and it's here where you can make your final stand, and it's a good room to do it in. Jo will have a hell of a time getting in here if she's slow to do it, especially if you hurt her enough on the floors above. Jo players can be tricky however so make sure you don't let her get the jump on you, that room is your last stand, so make sure you stay in it ;).
Final Notes: Joanna needs to be fast in this stage! After all she only has one objective to complete so the less time she does it in, the less the COs can do anything to her. On the flip side, COs need to be equally fast to defend those key areas Jo only has one way of getting to, otherwise they'll find she's already on ground floor before they even knew what happened.
Secret Agent Level:
1. Disable the internal security hub
2. Obtain the keycode necklace
3. Disable the external comms hub
4. Gain entrance to the laboratory
As Joanna: Not much changing here from the Agent difficulty, but this time your gonna have to make a few detours before you can speed your way down to the ground floor. The first is to the internal security hub, which is located underneath the ramp as you come into the building. There are cameras now but your main focus is still speed here so don't worry about them as you will be disabling them on the hub. If you didn't already waste the CO outside on the roof, make sure you take him out wherever he's hiding inside, you definitely don't want him shooting you in the back as your placing your ECM Mine.
Once your on the office floor, you have to obtain the necklace from Cassandra De Vries, who is in the big door between the two elevators. To get in you must first hit the switch on a nearby table (there should be a guard near if the CO didn't take him already) and then knock Cassandra out to take her necklace. She may sound the alarm if you take too long so do it quickly (use your pistol whip so your not switching weapons needlessly, also i forget if that other girl in there will sound it but knock her out anyways if you feel it necessary). Be careful as you exit her office if the CO is on the floor below as he can get a few shots on you from there. Actually this is a good place for him to trap you on the same floor anyways, so even his third spawn now could be a considerable threat.
Once you hit ground floor, you now have to place another ECM Mine on the external comms hub, which in the room to the right as you exit the elevator. Again make sure your back isn't turned when placing it so if the CO's nearby, take him out before you switch to your mine. Once your done that, head for the lab elevator to finish.
As the CO: Your prime focus is still keeping Joanna from escaping the stair room, so make sure your on top of that. Now however you have more objectives to defend, which gives you more of an advantage over her as she needs to complete these before reaching ground floor.
An ideal tactic is using the NPCs as a human shield so with your 2nd spawn, open up the office to Cassandra yourself as it is possible to do so with the guards and get between Cassandra and Jo. You can't kill Cassandra yourself as it's impossible to directly tamper with Jo's objectives...but Jo can still kill her. So while she's trying to hit you without hitting Cassandra and failing her mission, you've got impunity to shoot back at Jo, also buying Cassandra time to sound the alarm to send more guards, possibly giving you more spawns to work with before Jo hits ground floor.
On the ground you still need to stop Jo from reaching the lab elevator, but not before she has to hit the external comms room first. If she's rushing it, she may try to put the ECM mine down before she's dealt with you, so punish her if she's trying! Otherwise just pray she doesn't reach that elevator...
Final Notes: Joanna still needs to be fast here, those new objectives gives the CO a few extra spawns he can work with to take you down. The CO's can get a new weapon in form of human shields as Jo needs to get that necklace before going ground floor, so Cassandra can really turn the tide in the COs favor here.
Perfect Agent Level:
1. Disable the internal security hub
2. Obtain the keycode necklace
3. Download Project Files
4. Disable the external comms hub
5. Gain entrance to the laboratory
As Joanna: You only have one more objective this time around but it's a doozy, this is essentially the objective where Joanna needs to go from speeding down to ground floor, to an all out shooting spree. Though to make things fair, the guards themselves are still relatively easy to dispatch as opposed to the Solo play missions. The CO is still your threat and here's where things change in how you beat him here.
Ok basically everything from Secret Agent up until after you take the necklace from Cassandra holds true, but now you must download the project files. To do that you must go two floors down from Cassandra's Office floor, find the locked door with the dataDyne employee in it (you can get double Falcon pistols from the shock trooper in the room next to his), wait until he comes out and then bring him to the floor above using the elevator so he can access the computer where you may then proceed to use your data up-link to download the files (but NOT before knocking him out like you do with Cassandra as soon as he's into the computer, otherwise he'll be nasty and erase Dr. Carrol's files thereby failing your mission).
Now here's where this gets tricky, to bring the employee to the floor above you, he has to go on the elevator. More likely than not, your old pal the CO will have a nasty surprise for you up there if he hasn't tried to come at you already and with a gun in his hand, your pretty much a sitting duck there. You could try to go up the stairs to get to that floor while the employee takes the elevator, but remember he tries to escape from you if your too far away and since the you and the CO both have radar, he'll know what your up to. Also this is basically you handing the employee over to him to use as another human shield while you make your way up. Here's an effective method of gimping the CO instead. Since the CO needs an active guard to spawn with a gun, simply kill everyone on the floor below you once you take the necklace from Cassandra...and then proceed to do the same on the floor with the employee (this time make sure to take the camera out on both floors so as not to attract more guards for him to spawn with).
This way by the time you reach the employee, the CO won't have any nearby active guards to spawn with so he can only spawn as an unarmed guard (he won't be able to spawn as a shock trooper on ground floor just yet), usually on the floor above giving you a lot of time to complete this objective. Once that's done, proceed to finish your last two objectives as normal. I realize this method means more encounters with the CO, but at least these two floors offer you a lot of room to maneuver around so if your smart, your much better off at beating him this way...this isn't Perfect Agent for no reason after all ;).
Oh also I made mention of the employee running away from you if he's far enough away. Well where he runs to is a locked room on the same floor you find him on, which he opens and then proceeds to lock himself inside which in turn fails your mission. However the room he opens contains some Falcon ammo (double falcons i believe if you haven't taken them from the nearby shock trooper already) but more importantly than that, a Laptop Gun. This can be a key weapon for you to win the day against the CO as its a solid gun all around, but more importantly can be used as a portable turret which can prevent the CO from getting to you at certain choke points (planting the ECM mine at the ground floor comes to mind). Be warned though the the CO might realize your trying to get the Laptop Gun so he may make a charged at you, gimped or not, to try and force the employee into the room so he can lock it, him being used as a human shield in the process, so only try for the Gun if you see a clear opportunity for it.
As the CO: More objectives for Jo = An easier game for you. And this dataDyne employee is an excellent new way for you to put down the agent for good. As I mentioned with the Jo part of this mission, once she tries for the employee either try to divert her attention away from him or wait for his inevitable climb towards the left elevator. Usually Jo will go with him so go on the elevator next to it to get some good hits in on her (depending on where that elevator is).
If you haven't really hurt her that much yet, then there's no way in hell you want her getting that Laptop Gun so keep the pressure on her and try to make sure she puts the employee's co-operation ahead of her itchy trigger finger. Remember try to put yourself between Jo and the employee at all times during this phase of the game as it's a lot easier for Jo to make a mistake when dealing with him under fire. Remember you can't kill him but if he dies, you win. Game over Jo!
An excellent opportunity for this is while he's opening up the computer, because at that moment Jo needs to knock him out, so stay close while he's working. This will conflict the Jo player between knocking him out and trying to deal with you, so it may give him some time to kill Dr. Caroll while Jo's busy with you in turn winning you the game.
Final Notes: The dataDyne employee is a game changer in every sense of the word here. It's an extra "no kill zone" NPC which is always good news for the CO, but it also gives Jo a chance at the Laptop Gun which can give her that clutch win as she hobbles her way to the lab elevator for (to say the least) an epic win!
Overall thoughts on dataDyne Central - Defection: I think I spent the entire day playing Counter-Operative on this...it is simply just that fun! Each side has its own advantages to win in this map and if you pick the "Any" settings when starting a CO game, your gonna be playing this one a lot anyways so it's a good practice for either side to learn how to play a different brand of Jo and a new flavor of armed guard standing in her way. Love it! But remember this is a mode where human error is still a major factor so this shouldn't be followed to the letter exactly every time, each game is different and the beauty of this game mode is, it forces the players to think differently about completing their task, so mix it up when the situation calls for it.
The fact it's so fun may also prevent me from learning other maps but i'll keep you all posted once I do, till then thanx for reading everyone! Hope this mode catches on like it in the 64 days again :D