BRR: Beyond Good and Evil HD Review

Beyond Good and Evil is often considered to be one of the most overlooked games of the sixth(Gamecube, Xbox, PS2) generation of gaming.  This can be attributed to many factors, namely how crowded the 2003 holiday season was, and the fact that the game’s publisher, Ubisoft, released Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a game that was built upon the same engine, a mere week after the launch of the new IP by Rayman creator, Michel Ancel.  Thankfully, Ubisoft released an HD remastering of the game in early 2011, I just got around to beating it, and am here to tell you whether or not it is worth the asking price of $10.  Yes, yes it is.  But if you want more information, click the jump below.

Beyond Good and Evil HD Review
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade(Reviewed), Playstation Network
Release Date: 2/3/2011 (XBLA), 28/6/2011 (PSN)
Price I Paid:  $3.00(Black Friday sale)

The opening scene of the game features a calm looking cluster of islands, known as Hillys, being attacked by a group of space insects that are referred to as the Domz.  They end up attacking the lighthouse home of the two main characters, Jade, an acrobatic journalist who I think may be the first main playable character in gaming to be a young woman with Carmel skin.  And Pey’j, a pig-human hybrid who is Jade’s adopted parent and your surprisingly well programed partner in combat.  After a brief combat sequence, you meet the protectors of your islands, or planet, it’s not really clear, The Alpha Sections.  Their debut is delayed and the numerous human-animal children that Jade is the guardian of are nearly captured, and would have been if not for the fact that giant bugs are apparently made of money, and money powers shields.  

After the section you are given a mission to go to a nearby island and go through a series of contracts and discover a conspiracy.  The plot of the game does continue to be solid, but I was expecting something a bit more.  Perhaps it is the fact that the title infers that the protagonists and antagonists are beyond two dimensional morality, and the heroes and villains are as different as night and day.  It is well executed, with good characters and voice acting that feels like it comes from a good, accent filled, Saturday morning cartoon.  The music also works very well, with there being anything from ambient sneaking music, to upbeat foreign melodies, to fairly epic confrontation, but it’s not really worth listening to outside of the game, and mostly just enhances the atmosphere, which is not bad by any means. 

On the visual side of things, the game has wonderful character design, with 56 unique biological creatures that are found and taken pictures of as part of a side quest.  On the other hand, the world is fairly small, and the two of the four dungeons blur together, with the only difference being the fact that one of those two areas have you driving around your tugboat, which is your means of transportation across the fairly small world map.  The primary problem with it is the fact that the camera for the boat only works if you are in an open area, not and enclosed corridor, where you can only look behind the boat, or from an overhead perspective.  Other than that, it controls fine, except that the targeting system for shooting is kind of wonky.  This issue also affects the main combat of the game, which is basically just running around and hitting things with a stick.  It remains fun, unless the game forces you to use and overhead perspective, where the Jade occupies a ninth of the screen.  

It is incredibly awkward, especially if you are fighting enemies that leap over jade’s head whenever they are hit.  Combat itself is not bad though, utilizing Jade and her partner to perform combo attacks that are mostly just knocking enemies into each other can feel very rewarding, but it’s not very deep, and only serves as half of the on foot gameplay, the other half being stealth.  As someone who only played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I’m not the best to critique on stealth, but Beyond Good and Evil’s stealth is rudimentary at best.  Every stealth section can be summed up in this, you are in a room with guys, get caught and you may die, observe the guy’s looking patterns, moreover the chest high walls, and make it out to the next room.  There is also platforming, but it is very simple and feels like a waste when you look at Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.  All I ever did was press X to jump climb, or run on and over obstacles to find a switch.

Pretty much all of the gameplay variants feel underdeveloped except for the boat, which has two four-part side quests that give you this game’s collectables, Pearls.  Pearls are used for upgrading your vehicles and repairing a spaceship, which is not a spoiler, since I knew that would happen 30 minutes in.  My problem with them is the pacing, you can try to get a 8 pearls after playing for about 80 minutes, or you could get 12 in 10 minutes.  I understand this is a way to make things easier for players who only want to get the 71 necessary pearls, as apposed to all 88, but maybe you could just have the player wait to unlock the jumping upgrade for the boat, and make it a fifth of the price, and remove the bonus area that gave me about a dozen pearls for fighting some giant dragonflies who never managed to lay a hair on me.  Which is surprising, since I died at least 50 times in this 15 hour game, maybe I just too reckless, or maybe rats should not take off an entire heart, and instead take off a half heart.  

Beyond Good and Evil ends up feeling more like an experiment, or test for a much bigger game that was planned, everything feels compromised, the world is small, and the cutscenes and story are brief and underdeveloped.  The gameplay, while varied, is underdeveloped and feels like it was holding back for a sequel that has been in development hell for several years now.  But maybe I’m judging this too much as a retail game, and not enough like the XBLA title that I bought.  The game did manage to keep me entertained, often poor camera controls aside, and it does have a lot of creativity in just about everything but it’s dungeon sections.  I recommend that anyone buys it, you could do a lot worse for $10, and it will increase the chances of Beyond Good and Evil 2 being completed.  It’s overrated, but it still remains a create and fun little romp.

There are evident flaws, but the game still manages to remain fun and is competent in its execution.

//No commentary other than the fact that Beyond Good and Evil 2 might be revealed at E3, which I will talk about, since every press conference will get a part in my massive (I hope) impressions bit, even Konami’s, since it was probably amazing.  Or Michel Ancel is just going to keep working on the sequel to the amazing Rayman Origins, which will receive a glowing review soon enough, but I chose the co-op path, with my partner being a very busy man.

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