Beyond Good & Evil HD Reviews

    05 Mar 2011
    51 3 8
    Beyond Good & Evil was originally released as a multiplatform title in 2003 and was one of those games that was highly praised but wasn’t met with high sales. The people who played it were very vocal about how they felt about the game, but that didn’t sway other gamers into investing in the world of Hillys and the characters that inhabit it. After experiencing Beyond Good & Evil, it pains me to know I was one of the many who didn’t enjoy this gem when it was first released.

    I was still in high school when BG&E was released and didn’t have any source of income, so I couldn’t just go out buying games whenever I pleased. I was initially interested in the game, but I didn’t know much about it and my desire to play it waned as the years passed. Now, with this re-release, Beyond Good & Evil is back to invite players who have fond memories of the title to revisit and welcome those of us who didn’t have the pleasure to come in and explore. Having never played BG&E and knowing so little about it, I didn’t know what to expect from it going in. I was pleasantly rewarded with an engaging adventure game that is true to the genre’s roots by crafting an intriguing story filled with memorable characters and stages filled with environmental puzzles and collectibles.

    In the game, you play Jade, a kick-ass (like literally kick-ass… she knows the kung fu) investigative reporter with a heart of gold. Jade and her “uncle” Pay’j (an anthropomorphic boar) have taken in several orphaned children in their lighthouse home and have come across hard times in the war-torn world of Hillys—which is being constantly attacked by the alien forces of the DomZ. While both great characters, Jade is the real star of the story and is presented in a way that is believably human. She doesn’t need to be sexualized to be compelling as her motivations and emotional connections are believable. Rather than being categorized as a “great female character,” she should be regarded as a great character. Period.

    Jade, being a reporter in need of cash, takes up a job photographing the wildlife of Hillys for cash—which is one of the first gameplay mechanics you are introduced to after a brief combat scenario. Throughout the game, you’ll be using your photography skills to catalogue the creatures of the planet for money, rewards, and an achievement as well as completing story missions. It’s a neat aspect to the game that I (especially as a completionist) find engaging and addicting as I track down animals I need pictures of in a scavenger hunt of sorts (the search for these creatures is made easier by a device you can purchase that enables you to see animal locations on the map). It also can serve to add a layer of intensity to certain battles as you struggle to get a clean shot of your opponent before it has a chance to attack you (something that reminded me of scanning enemies in Metroid Prime).

    The story progresses to introduce new characters that never cease to be amusing as you struggle to uncover the truth behind the DomZ attacks. It’s an interesting premise that becomes more involving as you progress and are introduced to new characters and plots, but it’s one that never takes itself too seriously. That isn’t to say that the plot doesn’t have moments where it surprises you with some grim revelations or ever evoke emotions, but it doesn’t burden the player with forced depth or lose itself in attempts at being profound or self-elevating. The writing is well executed and managed to keep me engaged through the game’s entirety with new story developments and witty character quips.

    Gameplay wise, BG&E is an action-adventure game not terribly unlike the Zelda franchise. You are presented with a world that you are free to explore (with a hovercraft as your main mode of overworld transportation) and more areas open up to you as you acquire new tools. The world isn’t so large to the point of overwhelming the player with exploration possibilities, but it’s plenty large and has enough diversity in its locations that each new area you reach feels interesting.

    With each new area you encounter comes a mission to complete and the player controls Jade as she makes her way around traps and various other hazards, solves environmental puzzles in order progress to her objective, stealthily sneaks around enemy units, and occasionally engages in combat. The hazards you encounter are fairly easy to overcome; Jade’s maneuvering abilities are limited to doing a forward roll and crouching, so most of the traps you will face will have you diving over or crouching under them (or just looking for a way around altogether). The environmental puzzles are never too challenging, but they do provide a nice diversity and are rarely uninteresting. The stealth scenarios, on the other hand, could have used some refinement.

    The stealth mechanics themselves worked fine—having Jade crouch and move silently in the shadows from cover to cover is a satisfying experience that gives the game a nice dose of intensity, it’s the camera that needs reworking. The game’s standard camera works as you would expect a third-person game’s camera to work: press up on the right stick, the camera rotates to look upward; press down, camera rotates to look down. In the stealth segments, the camera removes that upward/downward rotation and replaces it with a camera that elevates and lowers as if it were sliding up and down a pole (I tried to think of a better analogy, but I just couldn’t… sorry). I can understand why they had the camera like this because it allows you to better see over ledges than a rotating camera, but an option to change the camera back to standard or a context sensitive elevating camera would have been appreciated (e.g. only operate like that when you are behind cover).

    Combat is simple but requires strategy and is rewarding. Jade has an attack, a charged attack, and a dodge while her companion has a “super action.” Jade’s charged attack takes quite a while to actually charge, so I rarely ever actually used it; you can string her standard attack into devastating combos, though, so I don’t feel like I really missed out with not using the charged attack. The dodge move is useful for avoiding attacks (duh) and is absolutely necessary when facing enemies with shields. Your partner’s “super action” comes in handy during combat several times as it will launch the enemies up in the air allowing you to give them a good thwack.

    The game’s soundtrack is fittingly diverse and weird. The music ranges from tracks that are wonderfully composed and beautiful to more mellow stuff during emotional parts to obnoxiously catchy and just plain fun tunes. It’s a suitably strange set of music that is oddly enjoyable. The voice acting is pretty strong, especially for the main cast, and never detracts from the experience—which is a good thing. The line reading often feels sincere and rarely ever forced.

    Graphically, this game is dated… but it’s not ugly. With games (old, new, and even HD re-releases), I often judge graphics based more on artistic merit than polygon count and texture resolutions and BG&E has a beautiful world full of fantastic locales and oddball anthropomorphic animals. You won’t be “wowed” by the character models or raving about how beautiful this game is in the strict sense of polys and textures, but it’s very easy to get sucked into the world of Hillys and all of its imaginative locations.

    The game is not without fault, though, as I encountered several issues with the camera I would have liked to see fixed (including the aforementioned stealth camera), some issues with your AI companions, and achievement unlocks.

    Initially my only problem with achievement unlocks was that the game would pause for a couple seconds (no sound, frozen image, and no controller input feedback) before an achievement unlocked and fooled me a couple times into thinking my XBOX had froze—and one time it actually did. It wasn’t such an issue that I couldn’t live with it, but it was annoying. Then, one of the achievements (“Moneybags” which has the requirement of collecting 80 pearls) unlocked before I had actually earned it. When the achievement unlocked, I was still missing 23 of the 88 pearls (I went on to collect the rest of the pearls (using a guide to find two or three of them), so I didn’t just take the achievement and run).

    The AI partner issues I had were more humorous than anything, but still should have been addressed. You can talk to your companion at times and they’ll give you hints about what you need to do next, but my companions didn’t like me or something because, more often than not, when I tried talking to them, they would turn their backs to me and walk away. It was somewhat funny, but kind of frustrating at times (not that I needed the hints, but sometimes I just like having somebody to talk to…). Also, there are some time-sensitive scenarios in the game where you have to reach a certain objective before the timer runs out (usually I am not a fan of these because they usually give you just enough time to complete the task, but BG&E is nice about it and gives you plenty) and I found my partner getting hung up on geometry or just plain refusing to move. I found their lack of motivation to remove themselves from dangerous situations astounding.

    The game’s camera is usually fine when it’s operating like a standard third-person camera (even the fixed angle cameras work fine), but the stealth camera, as I have mentioned, and sometimes the hovercraft camera can be downright frustrating. The hovercraft’s camera usually works like the standard camera and you can have it angled downward so you can see what’s in front of you, but there are parts in the game where it decides your vision is not important and places the camera directly behind the hovercraft to destroy your viewing area and perception of depth. When the camera is like this, it does a sort of “snap” thing where you can’t control it in any fine sense and you are forced to assume whether or not something is in front of you. It’s frustrating and something that should have been addressed in this re-release.

    Even with those complaints, Beyond Good & Evil is a satisfying experience that can easily keep you engaged for 10+ hours (it took me and my dinking around 14 hours to do everything). Progression through the levels is varied enough that it never feels stale, the story and characters are intriguing, and it’s just a solid and fun experience. At a mere 800 MSP ($10... and most XBOX re-releases on Live are straight ports with no HD capability and no achievements cost 1200 MPS) and 10 or more hours worth of content, there aren’t many better ways to spend your money on XBLA.

    Throughout the game it becomes clear that this was intended as more than just a one-off providing setups for a more expansive story than can be contained in one game. So, now that I know what all the fuss was about, when are we getting that sequel, Ubisoft?
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    CHIGGUMSThis review touches on every single topic a good review should and then some - and does it eloquently and without bias. I wish more reviews were like this.

    Mind you I have not played or seen a second of BG&E, so I have no stakes in this (yet), but seriously - write more reviews because you're awesome at it.
    Posted by CHIGGUMS on 04 Sep 13 at 01:14
    Crimson DrifterGreat, well written review. Personally, I don't agree with it though. I don't find why people find it so great, its OK at best to me. I can't connect to the characters or the story, the game play is average. The controls are pretty good though, but sometimes the camera really sucks.

    Maybe if I played it back when it was a new game amid my PS2 gaming hay-day I would have enjoyed it more.

    Regardless, +1, Bravo!
    Posted by Crimson Drifter on 06 Oct 14 at 22:25
    Straight BlazenGreat Review! But is this MineCraft or Fallout 4 ?
    Posted by Straight Blazen on 08 Aug 16 at 06:29
  • MingledorffMingledorff362,549
    07 Mar 2011 10 Mar 2011
    19 0 1
    Beyond Good and Evil is an HD remake of an Action-Adventure game from the last generation. It was a cult classic and was admired by those who played it. With strange and lovable characters and an interesting plot, I immediately saw why. But the splendor of this game is not without a few faults.

    You play as a young girl named Jade. Her name fits her well considering she wears nearly all green and even her eyes are green. She runs an orphanage and is a photo-journalist. Her main weapon is a pole that she swings at her foes in a way that resembles Kung-Fu.

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    The controls were fairly good other than the odd "X button to confirm." The only other control issues I had were with the vehicles. They seemed too loose. The slightest movement for a turn could be more drastic than you anticipated it would be until you get used to the steering. The aircraft controls are, strangely, not inverted for the controls like most games; In Beyond Good and Evil when you move the stick upward, you go upward, and vice versa.

    There are two forms of currency in this game, Dinero (normal money) and Pearls. The latter used to buy vehicle parts off of a "Black Market." Money is earned very easily throughout the game and is never really a problem to obtain. Pearls, though, are slightly harder. These are earned by chasing down looters, killing somewhat tougher enemies, sneaking through warehouses full of enemies, winning some of the fun hovercraft races, finding them around town (harder than it sounds), winning them by gambling in the bar and are rewards for completing rolls of film - which brings me to my next topic.

    The in-game camera was very neat in my opinion. Not only was it used to take pictures of creatures to earn money but it had many other uses. It could be used to take a picture of a map on the wall to give you a full map of the area in your menu. It would also tell you information about enemies and let you know their weak spot if you focus on them.

    The "camera-view" also comes with an FPS style of aiming a, for lack of a better description, frisbee launcher. While the discs do not damage enemies strongly by any means, they can distract guards, hit switches, and weaken certain enemies so that your normal attack will kill them.

    The combat system is very simplistic but it is perfect for the game. When you are attempting photgraph enemies while also fighting them a more complex battle system would be a nuisance. The battles are generally with mobs of foes but they are normally done away with fairly easily. The only difficult fights are boss fights, but only until you realize how to beat them which doesnt take long.

    The puzzles in this game were quite fun. They ranged from just finding your way through a cave to having to stealthily sneak past guards. They were not too challenging but took a little thought. If I didn't analyze the situation enough it generally took me two or three times to complete each one.

    The camera-angles were probably the most annoying part of the game to me. Most of the time they were pretty good but some points of the game had me looking at walls when I tried to move the camera for a better view instead of showing me what I wanted to see. This isn't a huge problem except when the view is blocked while trying to get past guards. In those cases, you have to nearly come out of hiding to see where the guards are. Heads up though, rushing in and hoping the guards don't see you doesn't work that often....I tried and failed.

    This game makes you not only watch your character's health, but your companions' health. If you accidentally strike your ally/allies too many times, or do not keep your eye on them during fights, it could be a fast and unexpected Game Over. Luckily, you have the ability to give the others items, before and after battle. If you give them something while they are injured, they immediately use it. But on the other hand, if you give them items while they have full health, they hold on to them and use only when necessary.

    Regarding AI partners, they are not too bad but do not always help as well as you would want. The biggest help they give is launching enemies into the air so you can baseball bat them at certain targets. Other than that, they do not provide too much support in battle, or at least that was the case when I played it.

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    This game gave me a good 10 hours of gameplay and I still didn't obtain all of the pictures. I will definitely go back and play it again in the future. This game is a gem from the previous generation that was over-looked by many gamers and knowing there is a sequel in the works gives me much joy. With the $10 (800 Microsoft Points) price tag, the interesting, although somewhat cliché, story and fun gameplay (not to mention an easy 200 for the achievements hunters) this game is a MUST HAVE for the XBLA, especially if you are a fan of action-adventure style games.
  • CheneyHeadshotCheneyHeadshot353,197
    10 Aug 2011 10 Aug 2011
    10 7 0
    Firstly, let me note that I never played this game the first time round so any perceptions are strictly of the moment, rather than tinted by any sort of nostalgia.

    Once the sizeable 1Gb+ download has finished (walk the dog or make dinner or something other than staring at an interminable progress bar), the first thing that’ll strike you is that for a game of its era, Beyond Good & Evil has aged pretty well, despite the HD visuals, character models (with their GTA3 style hands) and textures betraying their last-gen origins. Also despite one of the incidental characters supposedly being Spanish, you’ll notice how very French it all feels.

    The game opens with an idyllic cerulean coloured planet with lens flare a-plenty. Your playable character Jade is cavorting with her animal chums as the planet is suddenly beset by an onslaught of alien drop-pods (imagine Half-Life 2 capsules only with seven foot tall floating aliens instead of headcrabs).

    You get right into the action, revelling in the one button combat. Again this highlights the fact the game has its roots on the Gamecube with its one big green A button. After an all too easy boss fight and some thankfully brief plot exposition you’re introduced to one of the game’s central mechanics, taking photographs with your soon-to-be-ever-present camera. The schtick, to begin with at least, is that you’re helping to catalogue each unique species on your wonderfully diverse planet. So far, so Pokemon Snap. Hey, it’s a leap forward from Michael Ancel’s previous creation Rayman. I hated that whole series. Broke-ass floating limbed sucker. But anyway. For each photograph you capture of a new species, you’ll get some in-game currency and for every roll of film you complete you gain a power-up, the first being a zoom lens for your newly acquired pictobox.

    What passes for the in-game narrative soon shepherds you off your island refuge into the great wide world in a rickety hovercraft (also unlocking your first achievement) which soon breaks down, leading to your being towed to a garage by yet another thinly veiled racial stereotype, mon.

    Rather than go through the entire plot and potentially spoiling it for newcomers, there soon ensue exploratory larks a-plenty during which you collect CDs (one achievement), pearls (another one, yep) and take a minimum of six rolls worth of photographs (you guessed it, with an associated achievement). Thankfully the criteria for these collect-oh-achievements aren’t so stringent that you need to collect every single item, all giving you a little leeway to miss one or two along the way and still fulfil the required conditions. Sorta like the barrels in FUEL only without the sweeping vistas.

    You’ll soon see what all the fuss was about in 2004, although sometimes you’ll notice how incredibly of its time the game is, down to the clumsy eco-warrior vibe that sometimes pervades or the needless races that remind me of the awful swoop races in KOTOR (in terms of arbitrary chore at least).

    In short then, a benchmark for retro-revivals via download. This is how it should be done, not the horrid mess that was Perfect Dark 64‘s rehash or the somehow-made-worse-by-the-exclusion-of-The-Offspring hotchpotch that Sega made of Crazy Taxi XBLA. Well worth your 800 space groats and saves you having to dig out the Gamecube/Wii* to play it.

    *(delete console gathering dust you don't own)
  • Limelight1979Limelight1979145,095
    16 Dec 2011
    4 12 0
    -Platforming at its finest.
    -Although its a small cast of characters overall, they are well voiced and likeable, especially the main character Jade.
    -Vibrant, colorful graphics at 60FPS.
    -Taking pictures of all the animals gives you money to buy upgrades...and its actually pretty fun too.
    -Plenty of things to collect and buy to upgrade your character's stats without making it feel like its tacked on.
    -Good length overall (I clocked almost 12 hours).

    -Combat is very simplistic.
    -Using the hovercraft to get around the world is fun, but there really needs to be a mini HUD with GPS to see where you are/guide you to your selected location instead of going to the menu to see the main map every time.
    -You are forced to collect a certain number of "pearls" within the game to advance the story and complete the game which could be annoying if you overlook them or if youre in a hurry.