Beyond Good & Evil HD
“The weak, the wimps and the wussies still have three seconds to get the hell outta here, and get back to their knitting!”
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platform: Xbox 360 reviewed on Xbox One Backwards Compatibility
Availability: Ps3, Xbox 360
Playing older games is like visiting old friends. Those that you haven’t seen in a few years, but still think about from time to time, or come up in conversations when visiting others. It’s a great feeling to reminisce, but a greater feeling to actually see that friend again, and catch up.
In somewhat of a personal new-games rut, I settled and gave the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility a try. Since Call of Duty Black Ops 2 has yet to be made available, I booted up Ubisoft’s Beyond Good and Evil HD remastered release.
I played the original back in 2004 on the Playstation 2, and it’s always been a mainstay on my list of great games I remember having played during that generation. In 2011 a HD re-mastered edition was released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 which included improved textures and character models, as well as an updated soundtrack, achievements and leaderboards.
Beyond Good & Evil is an adventure game about an alien invasion and the conspiracy surrounding the involvement of the planet’s military dictatorship. In the game, we play as Jade, a photojournalist and caretaker of a home for orphaned children. Jade, I believe, is the primary reason I fell in love with the game eons ago. She’s a character with a lot of heart, but can hold her own when pressed. Her character design was very spunky, with her baggy pants, white tank top, jet black hair with a headband and green eyes and green lipstick. If one could fall in love with a video game character… Alongside Jade is her uncle, and guardian figure, Pey’J, who is a boar-like creature. Only Jade is playable, but large portions of the game have Jade being paired up with another character to solve puzzles and help in combat situations.
The story of Beyond Good & Evil takes place on a small mining planet called Hillys, with its population a mix of humans and anthropomorphic animals. The local town has been under attack by aliens called the DomZ, who have been abducting and enslaving the civilians. The planet’s military, Alpha Section, has promised to defend the population, yet have been unable to stop the alien attacks thus far. An underground resistance group called IRIS Network believes that the Alpha Section is actually working with the aliens, and are working towards uncovering the truth. IRIS enlists Jade’s photojournalist skills to reveal Alpha Section’s true motivations. Once proof has been obtained, IRIS will provide the evidence to the Governess and create promotional material to gain favour with the citizens and help overthrow the military dictatorship. On the side, to help fund her adventure, Jade is also a freelance photographer, taking pictures of all the species on Hillys for a science museum. This photography gameplay mechanic is part collection, finding all the species throughout the game, but also provides the player with currency, allowing them to buy health restore items and upgrades.
“ITS A GOOD THING I’M HERE, OTHERWISE THIS WHOLE PLACE WOULD FALL APART”
The majority of the game takes place in a small floating town built around canals, and small surrounding islands. Primary mode of transportation is a hovercraft that allows the player to navigate the open, but modest, world. The main city serves as the hub, where we meet vendors, and visit the Akuda Bar which is the headquarters for IRIS. The Alpha Section’s many headquarters are also found in the city, and can be unlocked and accessed throughout the game for more collectibles. The city also hosts 2 hovercraft races.
The closest island boasts a lighthouse, and is our protagonist’s home, where she lives with her uncle and orphaned kids. The game starts on this island as the focal point of the initial alien attack, and jump starts Jade’s adventure. Other nearby islands include caves and a volcano, and the final large island is the slaughter house. This final island also hosts 2 more hovercraft races. Each area gets unlocked as we progress through the story and unlock new items for the hovercraft.
Aside from taking a break and admiring the local beaches in said hovercraft, Beyond Good & Evil’s other two gameplay mechanics are Combat and Stealth. On our missions to unlock the truth we come across many different types of creatures while exploring the islands, some are not so friendly. Jade is equipped with a staff to help her in fights, and more often than not, paired with a companion in Pey’J or an IRIS operative named Double H. With their help we can fight off any baddies that come our way. They will also aid with navigating the islands’ inner workings and cooperative puzzle areas. The other bad guys we stumble upon are the Alpha Section’s elite. Most of these sections require stealth to navigate around, as this enemy has strength in numbers and Jade is ill equipped to deal with them on high alert, especially later on in the story when breaking stealth is an instant fail.
The pacing of the game is its notable weakness. There are only a few proper missions involving the Alpha Section investigation, and these are quite bloated, but afterwards we always have to run back to the town to turn in our findings. We then have to re-explore the town and its new available areas to collect the required amount of Pearls (in-game currency to upgrade our Hovercraft) to advance. It feels like, as Jade, we have to do a lot of unnecessary leg work just to help the resistance complete their story of corruption. They’re very thankful for our assistance, but I don’t feel that we are properly compensated, aside from a few donated Pearls from the resistance supporters.
Story gripes aside, the game is just as enjoyable as I remember, if not a little weak on the writing – some of the one liners from Pey’J are groan-worthy. The HD re-mastering is also not a huge leap forward in visuals, but the game is much brighter and more colourful. The water reflections are most noteworthy, as some times it looks like we’re hovering across glass.
The camera was my biggest complaint. When piloting the hovercraft in tight corridors, or as Jade when in a combat situation or hugging the walls in stealth, the camera was very difficult to wrangle into the ideal direction, and sometimes left me turned around, or having to restart the segment.
I did also notice a few points where the game hung between gameplay and cut-scene and quite a few instances where the dialogue audio was not synced with the character’s facial animations. These could be chocked up to the HD re-mastering with new frame rates, or even the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility emulation.
The game is still fun to play, the puzzles fairly smart, and since it’s been 16 years since I originally played it, everything felt fairly fresh.
Achievement-wise, the game is quite light, as it was released as an Xbox Arcade game. So it only had 200G worth, mostly item collection oriented, and the standard “introduction” and “beat the game” achievements.
-For those who talk to animals, enjoy photography, or always fall in love with the first video game female they meet.
Wildlife Photographer (Take 6 film rolls of animal photos) – 20G
Racing Champion (Score 1st in all 4 hovercraft races) – 20G