Xbox Live Arcade
Beyond Good & Evil was released eight years ago and became quite the cult hit, though it’s sales were not great thanks to poor release timing.
I never played it when it was first released, and even after hearing wonderful things from friends over the years I’ve still never played it. But now it has come to Xbox Live Arcade for the cheap sum of 800MSP, and it’s had a HD makeover.
Beyond Good & Evil, or BG&E, is a 3rd person action adventure game and is a melting pot of different gameplay styles, a jack of all master of none if you will, offering combat, platforming, puzzles and stealth through its adventure while providing a charming world and characters to interact with.
Like any eight year old game it’s not exactly able to stand up to its modern day counterparts in terms of graphics, or even story, and even it’s HD makeover hasn’t really made that much of a difference. Happily the art style makes up for that.
You play as Jade, an investigative journalist, who uncovers a global conspiracy involving her government, the planets supposed defenders and the alien attackers. She’s accompanied by her Uncle Pey’j who is, quite literally, a pig. He’s just one of the animal characters you’ll meet in the world of BG&E and he’s also one of the most interesting.
The characters are by far one of the games draws with Jade being an easy character to relate, though the games ending does spoil that somewhat, and other characters you meet and interact with all have personalities of their own and feel unique and distinct. The Rasta Rhino’s go down as some of my favorites from the game.
Equally compelling is BG&E’s deceptively small world. It’s a fair small place, but manages to pack in enough personality to make it feel bigger than it really is. You’ll spend a good bit of your timing bombing around the place in your Hovercraft which gets upgraded with parts during the game and admiring the scenery, even if it does look rough.
Gameplay is where BG&E both excels and fails, providing plenty of varied gameplay to keep you happy but never managing to become great an any one area.
Jade can wade into combat with her trusty staff and tap X to unleash basic attacks and combo’s, but aside from a single special attack and a dodge there isn’t much to combat and it eventually boils down to spamming X and using the special attack to take care of certain enemies. it’s a fun system, but by the games end combat feels more like something you just have to do instead of something you want to.
Jade is also a fairly agile character allowing her to clamber around to reach those out-of-the-way switches and to navigate the different area’s. Once again it’s a simple system: just run at a ledge and Jade will jump up. The main challenge simply comes from working out the roots to get to area’s, but it does like to throw in plenty of death lasers to keep you on your toes and there is the occasional challenging section.
The stealth aspects are one of the most satisfying elements of the game. Jade is light on her feet so you can simply hold down the left trigger and she’ll become silent along you to sneak mere inches behind guards, and you’ll be doing that often as the game delights in giving you narrow windows of opportunity in which to get through. There are some pretty tense moments as you narrowly make it through a section filled with guards. memorizing guards routes are the key to success and there are some tricky ones to get through.
Puzzles also make up a part of the gameplay and tend to stick to simple idea’s, but usually require just enough thought to make you pause for a moment and consider your moves. Usually they boil down to get across a bridge, or helping out a companion.
BG&E’s gameplay aspects never excel on their own, but as a package it creates a varied experience that stops you from becoming bored through repetition.
The pacing is spot on and each section never lasts to long or is over too quickly. The game shines even more when it combines all the gameplay elements into a single section and it all flows nicely from one to the other.
Throughout all of this you’ll also be able to earn cash by taking pics of animals, race your hovercraft around and take on a few little side-missions as well.
Ubisoft haven’t gone through the game and removed the bugs and problems though, and the result in the occasional frustrating moment with the camera, AI that get stuck and a few other little things as well. They never detract too much, but it’s a shame Ubisoft didn’t try to remove these problems.
Judging Beyond Good & Evil HD is tough, it’s a re-release of an old game onto Arcade, and as cuh must be judged against other Arcade titles. In the technical aspects BG&E would lose out, after all it’s eight years old and can’t compete on graphics or game engine, but the final score will contradict these facts because, simply put, Beyond Good & Evil is still fun evento this day.
+ It’s aged well!
+ Double HH kicks ass.
+ Hovercraft racing!
– HD or not it’s rough.
– There are still bugs and glitches.
By todays standards this game doesn’t look good, even for an Arcade game, but the art style is still pleasing.
The voice acting is decent, but it’s the music that shines here with some great pieces.
A fun and often barmy story told in a unique way as you fight against the government by using journalism. And a staff.
It may never excel at any singe element, but as a package it’s a varied and fun experience let down by a few niggles and problems. it has aged well.
For your 800MSP you’ll get a ten or so hour singleplayer, but it’s unlikely that you’ll replay it.
Compared to modern games on Arcade this game loses out, but then at eight years old that’s understandable. However the gameplay and story still remain fun, and for the price you’re getting a singleplayer length that most modern boxed games don’t even have.
There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t download this and experience part of gaming history.
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