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Review – Beyond Good & Evil HD | Level Up News

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Review – Beyond Good & Evil HD

 

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network (Coming Soon)
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: Teen
ESRB Content Descriptors: Comic Mischief, Violence

The Scoop: After many years of speculation and promise of a true sequel Ubisoft has finally made a move by releasing an HD re-release of their critically acclaimed cult classic video game, Beyond Good & Evil.

The Setup: Originally released during the holiday season of 2003 for four different platforms Beyond Good & Evil was truly one of the standout games of the previous generation. With exceptional graphics, an engaging story, a huge variety of gameplay features and a soundtrack that still stands as one of the greats it is obvious why nearly every critic placed the game on their top 5 lists for that year. Unfortunately despite all the praise the game received it seemed unlikely that we would ever see a follow up to the series because the game was one of the biggest commercial flops in video games of the last decade. Praise and hype weren’t enough to get people to pick up the game, it actually got so bad that Ubisoft started to offer a $40 dollar discount and eventually just give the game away with copies of Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia (This is why I happen to have multiple copies of BG&E). But despite all the efforts the gaming public just wouldn’t give this amazing game a chance, it’s pretty sad. I have even seen someone refuse the game for FREE when buying a copy of Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within, even when they were informed they could just trade the game back in later they still refused saying they had “no interest”… This is why we can’t have nice things people, because you’ll drop fifty bucks on an uninspired sequel like Warrior Within but not accept a great game for free, it isn’t like it is E.T. for the 2600!

Uncle Pey'j is a pig-man... A PIG-MAN!!! With fart boots!!!

As far as the game itself goes Beyond Good & Evil is set in the world of Hyllis, a peaceful planet that is at war with a parasitic alien race known as the DomZ. Hyllis has some unwelcome allies in the Alpha Sections, a militaristic dictatorship that is also at war with the DomZ, but many people don’t believe in the Alpha Section’s ability to protect their world. Those people have formed the underground resistance group known as IRIS, who believes that the Alpha Section are in league with the DomZ and are going to radical lengths to obtain proof and unite the people of Hyllis against the Alpha Sections and the DomZ.

The protagonist in the story, who gets mixed up in the war between the DomZ, Alpha Sections and the IRIS Network is a young woman named Jade. Jade runs an orphanage on Hyllis for children whose parents have been taken or killed during the DomZ attacks. She owns a lighthouse on an island near the main city of Hyllis along with her adoptive uncle Pey’j, which acts as the orphanage and the base of operations for her job as a freelance photojournalist. During an attack by the DomZ her electricity, which is essential to powering a force field that protects citizens from the DomZ, goes out due to non-payment on the bill. With the help of Pey’j she is able to hold back an attack on the orphanage and protect the children, but following the ordeal she must find a way to make money and pay the lighthouses electric bill. It is during one of these odd photography jobs that she gets mixed up in the IRIS network and her journey to save the people of Hyllis begins.

What’s Hot:

  • A Colorful World to Explore: The world in Beyond Good & Evil was pretty sizable back when the game first came out; though by today’s standards, set by series like Fallout and World of Warcraft, it may not seem so big. The game was very much inspired by the explore and collect games by Rare, like Banjo Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day with a bit of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker’s world design thrown in for good measure. There is the main city located in the middle and a series of islands containing little dungeons and mini-games spread around it. The characters that inhabit the world are quite interesting and contain all the imagination you would expect from a Hayao Miyazaki or a Pixar film. My only main wish is that all the characters were fully voiced, there is so much going on that it ruins the experience when you encounter an interesting looking NPC only to have a text box pop up.
  • Tons of Gameplay Variety: I can’t really think of a game that offered the wide variety of different gameplay that you will see in Beyond Good & Evil. It is part adventure platformer, with plenty of action sequences squeezed in. Many of the dungeons are based around stealth similar to Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell. While those games offer action alternatives though be warned, stealth is key during these parts as Jade is not able to stand face to face with the power armored Alpha Sections soldiers. Getting around the world of Hyllis is largely done by driving around in Jade and Pey’j’s Hovercraft, this also leaves the opportunity for a series of races and chases that can earn you money as well as pearls, which are used to upgrade the hovercraft to reach later sections of the game. The camera is a key element to the IRIS missions, which require you to obtain proof of Alpha Sections corruption, but you can also use it to make some extra money by taking pictures of wild life for a scientific catalogue; this is essentially just another collectable, but figuring out how to get some of the pictures can be pretty fun and challenging.There are also a couple of mini-game which can be challenging to the point of frustration, the first one is a competitive game similar to air hockey where you must move all the pucks from your side of the table to the other persons while they in turn do the same. There are two difficulty levels and offering up 1000 credits on a match will give you the opportunity to win a pearl. The first pearl match isn’t so bad, but the second one literally had me yelling obscenities at the shark-man you are playing against. The second one, which is unlocked for locating every single pearl in the game, is an extremely difficult and addicting little game in which you must control two pearls, one with each stick, as they roll through an obstacle track. It is a very simple yet good way to build hand/eye coordination and skill.
  • An Engaging and Interpretive Story: Beyond Good & Evil may have started development back in 2000, but the bulk of the story is very much a product of post 9/11 life, with the DomZ perhaps representing the terrorist threat and the Alpha Sections representing a corrupt government that is failing to protect the people (not to mention the big brother/patriot act tactics they use against the people of Hyllis). Each of the different bipedal animal species seems to represent a different ethnic group, probably showing how the rest of the world thinks about the situation (not favorably). The main character, Jade, is also a good neutral ethnicity, with a distinctly Eurasian look and an American accent; she is completely impartial to the story which makes her a good character to be seeing this world through. Of course I may in fact be entirely wrong about this, but it really seems to be a post 9/11 paranoia that heavily inspired the story and even though I don’t agree with the theories I am a fan of what they tried to do.That by the way was my point; the story is very good for a game of this type and can be interpreted in many different ways. It is clearly inspired by real world events and feelings, and anyone is free to form their own opinion on it. You really don’t see that too often in video games as that is more of a quality more often seen in movies.
  • A Top Notch Soundtrack: Seriously this is one of the most diverse soundtracks you will see this side of a Tarrantino film. You have a fantastic score than ranges from epic to eerie. There are also some vocal tracks mixed throughout, which all have a nice cultural flair that really brings the world to life. I would highly recommend trying to find a copy of it even if you don’t play the game, though I don’t think a real release of the soundtrack has ever happened.

Why do I have a feeling that something is sneaking up on... oh balls...

What’s Not:

  • This is HD? You Could Have Fooled Me: The game is still easily worth the $10 price tag, but as far as the recent string of HD re-releases are going this one shows no real improvement. The graphics don’t seem to have been updated as far as textures and animations, and when comparing it to the original Xbox release running on an original Xbox with a component cable I didn’t see any major difference. This normally wouldn’t be a huge problem but there are some odd water effects that were not that bad on the original release but really stand out in the re-release.
  • The Controls May Not Have Ported So Well: This is very noticeable in the puck game against Francis but the controls seem a lot less fluid than they are in the old Xbox release (I have it on PS2 and Gamecube as well but I can’t find them at the moment so I am using the Xbox version for comparison). When you do a 360 the arrow seems to move a few degrees at a time instead of a fluid circle like in the old version. It doesn’t affect the core gameplay too often but it does become noticeable during the few chase sequences in the game and in the races. Not a major problem though.
  • This is Not Beyond Good & Evil 2: Nope. It’s not. Seriously. Where is Beyond Good & Evil 2?

Final Verdict: It may be 7 years old and not the best of re-releases but this is seriously one of the best video game ever made. The $10 dollar price tag only sweetens the deal, and if enough people buy it the chances of the second and third game actually seeing a release will greatly increase. You have been shafting it for years (statistically 99% of you have as I am pretty sure the game sold less than 100,000 copies on all four original platforms combined) so now I think you owe it to yourself to play it, at least get the demo.

 

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