Beyond Good & Evil
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
Ubisoft
Developer
Ubisoft
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Comic Mischief
 
Grade
The Good

• Wonderfully realized audio and visuals
• Camera-based gameplay nicely implemented
• Great story

The Bad

• Combat is lightweight
• Minor framerate issues

 
Grade
A-

From the creator of Rayman, Beyond Good and Evil creates a wonderfully imaginative world and forms it into a memorable and enjoyable adventure. Rarely, outside of adventures staring a certain young elf-boy from Nintendo, has an adventure been both engaging storywise and by the sheer ambiance that the game presents. Starring photo-journalist Jade, the story behind BGandE is fine one indeed - Jade and her porcine uncle Pey'j become involved in a major conspiracy during an interstellar war on the planet Hillys between the Alpha Section, so-called protector of the citizens of Hillys, and the alien DomZ. As an undercover operative for the subversive IRIS Network, Jade must find photographic proof that the planet's supposed defenders are up to no good.

First and foremost, BGandE is a third-person adventure title, where the player will take Jade, alone or with the occasional sidekick, to locations to perform tasks that moves the story forward. These locations will have Jade looking for photographic opportunities, whether it be taking photographic evidence or just pictures of the local wildlife. Along the way, you'll be able to collect PA1s, which give you more health, and Pearls, which can be traded/sold for upgrades at the shop. You'll find that BGandE focuses a lot on both puzzles and stealth gameplay. When it comes to puzzles, you'll find yourself needing to locate keys and essential items or resort to environmental manipulation, like pushing crates or knocking down powerlines. When it comes to stealth, this is by and large another puzzle element where Jade must sneak through a room past the guards to get to the next location. Luckily, with the quick and easy crouch, sneak and dive moves, you can get past most guards just by waiting for them to turn their backs to you. When forced to, players can even attack the guard's weak points - the jet packs on their backs. In rooms with more than one guard, though, you may find attacking a hearty challenge as the guards will help each other.

Combat, at best, is pretty basic. When confronted with enemies, Jade will pull out her Daï Jo stick and perform attacks with the X button. You can sidestep attacks, backflip and even do slow-mo heavy attack in combination with Pey'j's special attack, but Jade's repetoire of attacks is never really all that deep. When you have an ally along, they'll fight beside you and you can even hit the Triangle button to get them to perform special attacks. Combat is really only a means to get to the next stage as it's obviously an underdeveloped element.

Where the gameplay gets its strength is from the well-executed implementation of the camera, which is essential in many aspects. To earn decent enough funds, players must take pictures of every species as part of a world-spanning quest given relatively early in the game. This quest will be the major source of income as certain, rare photos are worth a good bit of funds. Also, you must take pictures of coded locks and transmit them to a source who will give you the passcode. And, after an upgrade of equipment, you'll be able to shoot minidiscs while in camera mode, which will give you the ability to solve switch-related puzzles that are out of Jade's physical reach. To be honest, using the minidisc weapon is an evil necessity at certain points as Jade doesn't treat small enemies, like rats, as a threat worthy of her Daï Jo, even though they can still do some damage to her.

When not on foot, players are given the opportunity to pilot a hovercraft, which offers some exploration and even diversions such as hovercraft racing. Since the pearls needed for upgrades are stashed in various locations, you'll need to pilot your hovercraft to places that the main story may never take you. Also, you can partake in races and even use the craft's upgradable cannon to defeat enemies that show up out on the game world.

The game world of Beyond Good and Evil is magnificently realized, with large, well-detailed environments and some excellently executed animations for even the smallest of things. Considering that players spend a portion of their time with the camera, Ubisoft was sure to make sure each location has a good layer of polish and even some pretty good draw-distance. In the outdoor locations, you'll be treated to a great view, often with a lot of extra activity to fill the screen. To accent this are some fine lighting and ambient effects that help to strengthen the mood of each location. To go along with this are a fine array of well-designed and animated characters that make the cast. Jade herself has a surprisingly wide array of emotions in just the way that she contorts her face during the story sequences. If there was any issue I could take with the graphics it's that the game rarely has framerate issues, where the game seems to move a little sluggish, but this happens so rarely that only true nitpickers would hold it against BGandE.

As well as the visuals are executed, they only truly succeed with the wonderfully handled audio portion. First and foremost is the large amount of voice acting in the game, all of which is performed excellently, shaping each of the characters and giving their animation that little extra charm and life. Sound effects and ambient noise is likewise an essential portion to fleshing out the fantasy world. To top it all off is a fantastic soundtrack that ramps up when the action get exciting but keeps a more tempered pace when the mode requires it. Composed of oddly unique techno, symphonic and even tribal motif arrangements, the soundtrack is the healthy backbone that solidifies the whole experience.

I must say that I'm very pleased that UbiSoft has spent time thinking about the elements that often hamper this type of game. The in-game camera, a usual failing of the genre, is rarely an issue, especially with the player being able to control it themselves with the right analog stick. Checkpoints are well placed throughout the game so on the occassion that jade is defeated, players don't have to do a ridiculous amount of backtracking. And, your AI-controlled allies seem more than capable of taking care of themselves and even staying out of your way in the heat of battle.

Beyond Good and Evil is a wonderful experience that tells a fine story. While the game can be completed in anywhere from 10 to 12 hours, the pacing feels just right. If you were ever remotely interested in an adventure title without the words Legend and Zelda in it, Beyond Good and Evil is the first title you should check out.

- - Kinderfeld

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