Game Review: Beyond Good & Evil HD (Xbox 360)
Beyond Good And Evil was first released in 2003 on a number of platforms including the GameCube where I first stumbled upon it. I never played the game to completion back then but with its HD re-release on the X-Box 360 Arcade I finally saw a chance to finish the game once & for all.
A commercial failure but a critical success Beyond Good And Evil tells the story of a young photojournalist, Jade & her home…Hillys, a remote planet in the galaxy. It is under attack from aliens known as the DomZ who abduct the inhabitants & turn them into slaves. A military group known as the ‘Alpha Sections’ makes efforts to protect the people but consistently fail.
Jade & her uncle, Pey’j run an orphanage for children who lost their parents at the hands of the DomZ. Money is a constant problem & when their electricity is shut off deactivating their defence shield Jade takes a job cataloguing the different species that reside on Hillys. From there she is recruited into IRIS network, an underground resistance movement that suspects the Alpha Sections are working with the DomZ.
A 3rd person action adventure game that mixes stealth & puzzle elements. The player controls Jade in her quest to protect those she cares about & uncover the truth behind the Alpha Sections & DomZ. The main city of Hillys serves as a kind of hub for the surrounding areas that Jade can explore. Her aim normally being to get into an installation controlled by the Alpha Sections & find evidence of wrong-doing. Jade is very versatile…jumping, climbing & fighting are all part of her repertoire.
Jade will be joined at times by a partner who will be needed to progress past a certain section. The partner is computer-controlled but their instructions come from the player.
In addition to the main quest-line Jade can take pictures of the planets species & sell the pictures for money as well as pick up additional quests from various NPC’s spread around the world. Money earned from quests or photos can be spent on additional items for both Jade & her vehicle, a hovercraft.
The HD touch-up of Beyond Good And Evil really does the game justice…I mean it looked really nice back in 2003 but now it has some down-right beautiful locations. Hillys is a colourful looking planet & HD just makes it look even better. That same quality isn’t as evident when exploring certain darker & dinger areas of the game but it’s a minor complaint.
Story-wise Beyond Good And Evil has an extremely satisfying plot that will have you on the edge of your seat at times. Jade & her supporting cast are excellently voiced & easy to get behind. The enemies of the game are both exciting & threatening with numerous variations offering up several different kinds of challenges. Combat is fun, Jade knows martial arts & there are a number of attacks that can be dealt out.
Stealth can be a bit of a mixed bag…it’s a fun addition but there are sections that can mean instant death/capture if caught. This can result in a frustrating trial & error process but most of these areas are so straight-forward you’re unlikely to be replaying them too often.
A lot of the side-quests seem a bit tacked on & there isn’t much motivation to deviate towards them. The same can’t be said for the documentation of the planets creatures…easily the highlight of the game for me. There are a large amount of creatures to photograph & some will take real timing & effort to get but it’s extremely satisfying to do.
There isn’t as much exploration possible as it first appears but the areas that are freely open offer up a wide variety of things to see. I love the Alpha Sections propaganda that plays out in the city & as the game progresses that the citizens begin to rebel against them. It is always brilliant to see a world you have invested time in change alongside you.
One of the most memorable things about Beyond Good And Evil is the wacky but so endearing soundtrack. Everything just fits the scenes so well…it can’t have been easy finding the right music for visiting 2 rhinoceros mechanics!
Beyond Good And Evil is one of my favourite games to date & it is a genuine pleasure to play. That it sold so poorly back in 2003 is a shame as it has meant an original planned trilogy has been on hold since. The love & care taken with this HD update is proof that old games can have more life in them if done properly. If you haven’t played this game…there is no excuse now.
Beyond Good & Evil HD
The Final Score - 9/10