It's easy to describe Beyond Good & Evil, the 2003 release from Rayman creator Michel Ancel.
Its main game play is very similar to certain Zelda games, especially the generally excellent The Wind Waker, with puzzle filled dungeons and transport to different parts of the game world, an intuitive combat system, and even heart containers.
Add to this plenty of stealth levels, hovercraft racing, classic shooting sequences and even some platformer style elements then wrap it all up with a sophisticated story involving rich characters in a vivid, beautifully realized game world, basically It's Zelda for grown-ups without the annoying fetch quests so very big plus there.
You play as Jade, a 20 year old scraping by as a freelance photographer, Her home the island city of Hillys, is under attack by a sinister alien race called the DomZ, Jade has taken in a group of kids whose parents have been lost in the attacks.
Jade and the orphans share their lighthouse home with Pey'j, a half-hog, half-human. Pey'j is essentially Jade's adoptive uncle who raised her almost from birth, her parents mysteriously disappearing years ago.
This game is amazingly filled with twists and turns, having you at one point fighting for your life to escape the invading DomZ only to later have you commiting domestic terrorism, I would explain the reason but it would be a very big spoiler and I dont wish to ruin this game for anyone.
Beyond Good & Evil is essentially an action-adventure game, as Jade travels to different locations and speaks with a variety of characters in order to gather photographic evidence and expose the truth behind the Alpha Sections and the DomZ. Her basic tools include her dai-jo stick for melee attacks, light discs for ranged attack, and her trusty camera.
Jade's camera is a central part of the game, as not only is it used to complete assignments and gather evidence but it also features a scanning function to reveal information about her environment. T
he scanning here is instantaneous and far more helpful than frustrating.
Through most of the game Jade has a friend with her, whether it's the charmingly portly Pey'j or Double-H, an IRIS operative.
Not only are both characters extremely well developed offering witty remarks and information but you'll also rely on them to solve various puzzles.
One of Beyond Good & Evil's most obvious strengths is that the game is breath takingly beautiful. It's shimmering, detailed and fluid.
Shadows dance upon cave walls, the waters of Hillys ripple and reflect in detail, cities teem with vehicles, pedestrians, and floating video screens and it all runs with very few hitches. The framerate did drop occasionally but this never got in the way of game play.
Beyond Good & Evil is one of those rare games that shines from all points with an unmistakable quality of intelligence and personality, it hold is own against so many others the only problem that I had with Beyond Good & Evil is that is can be wrapped up all too easily within 18 hours of gameplay after the eye watering visuals and amazing storyline I wanted to carry on.
But any gamer should really check this game out as I found it completely involving and beautiful on the same level as the final fantasys.
After taking limbless platform hero Rayman as far as his invisible legs would carry him, Michel Ancel devised a new intellectual property in 2003 called Beyond Good & Evil; an adventure game that owes a lot to the likes of Zelda, whilst retaining some of the 3D platformer traits refined in the development of his Rayman series. BG&E is a brief but refreshingly inventive tale, told by lively and unusual personalities, making for a fun and engaging experience while it lasts.
You play as the racially-ambivalent reporter Jade, a now-cult heroine famed for her matching green denim and lipstick combination, initially equipped with nothing more than a big stick and a camera as she gets drawn into a struggle to save those dear to her. She becomes part of a small resistance movement battling ever-increasing numbers of the otherworldly, ghoul-like DomZ creatures and the Alpha Sections, a corrupt militant leadership permeating lies about their success in dealing with the invasion. This David and Goliath formula is well-worn to say the least, but what makes this standout from your average adventure is that Jade's skills as a reporter prove her greatest asset; her camera her greatest weapon, as by taking the necessary snapshots, she helps to win over the hearts and minds of the people of Hillys. That, and her Uncle is a talking pig called Pey'J.
There are several different facets making up Beyond Good & Evil's gameplay. You get to navigate the games island on a hovercraft (this area acts as a hub linking the various locations, similar to how an RPG would use a World Map), while you must carry out a number of tasks and favours for the citizens of Hillys in order to obtain pearls, which are integral to your progression through the game. Add to this a dash of 3D platforming, fighting and a fair bit of stealth and espionage action and you're a little closer to understanding BG&E.
The early stages in particular are excellent, revealing a glimpse of the variety the gameplay has to offer as well as the competence and care that has gone into the games design. Things kick off with a mini-boss fight as a means of allowing the player to acclimatise to the simplistic but exceedingly well-executed battle-system. Then, after assuming control of Jade in her lighthouse home, the role-playing elements come to the fore, giving you the chance to chat with others as a means of getting information and ultimately aiding you in your hunt for pearls. The camera is undoubtedly the best addition to Jade's armoury, and likely one of the best accessories you'll come across in a game. Pressing R1 brings up a first-person, lens-view of the world around you, complete with a zoom function. You are challenged to help assemble a database on Hillys wildlife, and this means photographing the many species found within the game, of which there are literally dozens. They range from the common human variants, to bugs; birds; flora; fish; thought-to-be-extinct bosses and some remarkable though distinctly camera-shy creatures whose image on celluloid fetches quite a sum. The camera is for more than just sight-seeing and species-spotting however, as it also reveals points of interactivity in the game world, giving you useful pointers if you're unsure as to what to do next. Taking a shot of map blueprints found on the walls of certain locations will reward you with a fully-completed, detailed version to view at your leisure from the pause menu, which is a superb touch.
Ironically whilst Jade's camera is such a masterstroke, the one the player must navigate with the right analogue stick is rather less impressive. Third-person perspectives have always created viewpoint problems and, though far from game-breaking, it proves a nuisance from time to time when it decides to correct itself. Graphically, there's a lot to like but also some technical shortcomings that are hard to ignore. The colourful environments look the part and are structurally sound, whilst the cut-scenes appear amazingly sharp and well-defined. The various points of Hillys you get to explore whilst on the hovercraft are nice, particularly the civilian districts that showcase some waterways and a legion of hovercrafts passing by - very evocative, even if the frame-rate stutters a bit during such moments. Bizarrely however, it rather shoots itself in the foot by adopting such an extreme aspect ratio. I played the game on a widescreen television and yet black bars occupied the top and bottom sections of the screen, accounting for almost a third of the picture. On a smaller, non-widescreen TV it's even worse as everything appears squashed and though black borders are not unheard of in games, I've never seen them used to quite this level of excess.
For much of the game, you are accompanied by a companion, something that fits so comfortably that it becomes second nature very quickly. You are able to perform certain tasks such as block-pushing and assisted jumps that would otherwise prove impossible for Jade alone and by pressing triangle in battle, you can summon your partner to perform a special move, usually exposing a weakness in the enemy which, with a bit of smart timing, Jade can follow up with some big damage. Teamwork is a two-way thing of course and in return, you need to keep in mind that your buddies require health on occasion. They're pretty handy in a fight and to be fair, don't get injured all that much either.
Some compromise has been made to the platforming side of Beyond Good & Evil - you can't plunge to your death by falling off ledges as far as I am aware - but it's a lot of fun as Jade still climbs, jumps, rolls and crawls through caves, factories and assembly lines dodging laser-beams, mines, turrets and other traps - it's good to see most of her abilities are put to the test repeatedly during the course of the game and not left forgotten as soon as they've been introduced. There are a handful of puzzles that spice things up nicely too, the best being a mind-boggler towards the end of the game whereby the player must rotate a series of mirrors in order to direct a continuous path of light through several corridors thus opening a door at the end - not dissimilar to efforts later used on a smaller scale in, oddly enough, Resident Evil 4 and 5.
It's fair to say that the first half of the game is a little better than the second, chiefly because there's a better variety of challenges and also because later on BG&E develops an over-reliance on stealth sections. That's not to say they're poor - they're pretty well-integrated in fact - it's just that the game loses a bit of its pace and inventiveness, with dark, militant interiors feeling too prominent. You get the impression that spending long periods pushed up behind cover memorising guard patrol routes is not where the games strengths lie, and these parts feel less than comfortable at times due to the sluggish controls and choppy frame-rate.
Still, from beginning to end you'll be hooked. A good mixture of objectives mean the gameplay rarely feels samey, and the strong cast of characters offer the kind of quirky light-relief you'd expect from Ancel. More surprising is Beyond Good & Evil's ability to evoke emotional highs and lows in the player, something that lends the decent finale some real gravitas. Kudos must also go to Ubi-Soft for making sure the voice-dubbing is up to scratch as well, as that always helps.
The challenge presented is relatively gentle, with the large stock of health items making some of the potentially trickier bosses more bearable. Despite a modest array of mini-games and the prospect of obtaining all the photographs and pearls the game has to offer, it can't disguise its greatest weakness - a serious lack of longevity. It can be completed in less than 12 hours; just over half as long as Psychonauts and way short of the 40 hours you can expect to get from Okami. But whilst these two titles are better games, you should definitely give Beyond Good & Evil a try, as such a dynamic combination of fun and inventiveness deserves to be recognised.
Introduction: This is game was created by Michel Ancel who was also responsible for the Rayman series of games. Beyond Good and Evil (BG&E) is an adventure game emcompassing many genres of gameplay. It is a Ubisoft game and was released in Europe in November 2003 on the PlayStation 2. It was also released on the GameCube, X-Box and PC. This review will take account of the PlayStaion 2 version of the game. What's the game all about - the Storyline: You play as a photograhic reporter Jade. The game takes place on the planet of Hillys where we see the Domz (space creatures) attacking. The planet is suppose to be protected by the Alpha Sections. Jade is offered a chance to take photos by a stranger, and so our adventure begins proper. Our main character's best friend is a talking pig - Pey'J - who will assist Jade on her travels. It is up to our hero's to expose the conspiracy to the people of Hillys. Gameplay: Jade's basic moves include being able to roll, dive, sprint, move stealthily to avoid detection, climbing ladders, hanging from objects and pushing objects. As a reporter she has a camera which players use to take photographs of the various species of animals in the game to collect money and as a means to receive information. Taking pictures may sound a like little lacklustre affair, but actually plays out rather well. It really adds to the feelings of experience and progression as the game unfolds. Pey'J can help us by pressing switches when we tell him to using the triangle button. Alternatively he can use his Special Attack (jet-boot) knocking enemies into the air whilst Jade hits them against particular objects. This is a rather impressive gameplay element for we have to co-operate with our allies to progress in the game. We use a hovercraft to travel around Hillys, which can shoot when required in a boss battle or in the numerous races and chases the gam
e provides. This hovercraft can be upgraded even as you collect more pearls and buy new equipment. Late in the game you even get to control a spaceship to the Moon. Cool!!! I rather enjoy the fact that there is no difference between the cut scenes the game provides and the in-game action. So you will see your foe in a cut scene and all of a sudden your be controlling Jade. (The first time you play the game you may not even realise this). Fighting is a basic affair with Jade striking using her stick (Dai-Jo), dodging, backflips and using her Super Attack, and Pey'J assisting wherever possible. Some players may rather more moves at their disposal but the limited array of moves personally did not take anything away from a great gaming experience. The stealth sections of the game are well implemented with you sneaking through the Alpha Section bases. Hide in the light, creep past that guard looking the opposite way, crawl through fog, and sneak behind a guard and kill him by hitting his weak spot (his oxygen tank) are all features the game offers. It is important to concentrate very carefullyfor in certain parts if you get caught then you are instantly killed. One aspect of adventure game which can be irritating is what happens when you die. Here this is not a concern. When you die you go back to a place very close to where you died and go back to 4 hearts life. This can be advantageous if, for instance you die with 2 hearts entering the room then after you die you will have more life. However most players will lose out slightly, for they will likely have upgraded the number of herts they have available in the game to up to 16. Critical comments of the game: It is not the longest game one will ever play. After 10-15 hours average players will have completed it. If you have taken all the pictures of the the beautifully designed creatures in the game, and colletced all the pearls then there is little replay value h
ere. However, there is a mini game, far enough, which sees players use both analogue sticks to guide two pearls through a pinball style maze which can be fun. Some players may even complain that about the difficulty of the game. It is not difficult in truth, and could have used a harder setting. The screen is in a wide screen format, which is a minor annoyance. I would rather a full screen to take in the marvellous planet of Hillys but that is just me. Overall I would rate this game: Graphics: 9.5/10 - superbly designed gaming world with beautiful environments and creatures to behold. Gameplay: 9.5/10 - varied gameplay styles; stealth, fighting, puzzle, racing and photography. Longevity: 8/10 - the game is absolutely brilliant whilst it lasts but once it ends then it is time to play another game. Sound: 9.5/10 - good dialogue between the characters. Music blends in well with the game Overall: 9.3/10 I really enjoyed this game. It definately did not sell as many units as it deserved to which is an awful shame. If you have a spare £10-15 to spend on a computer game then you could without doubt do worse than BG&E. Based on the lack of sales it seems likely there will not be a sequel despite the fact that the ending of the game suggests heavily a sequel would be created. Shame really!!!!