Review: Beyond Good & Evil HD

Review: Beyond Good & Evil HD

Typically, a great game is the sum of all the parts; everything within meshes well to create cohesion between the parts and result in something that is beyond enjoyable to play.

However, every so often you stumble upon a game that falls into a strange limbo where each part, by itself, is respectively great, but when added together, result in something that is not quite good, but not entirely bad.

The opening sequence of the game introduces the storyline in a more than somewhat confusing manner. You meet Jade as she sits meditating on a hillside with a cat-like creature when suddenly, the sun explodes and the whole sky is filled with a green black hole. Gigantic meteors begin raining down on the watery planet of Hillys and before you know it, you are fighting demonoid crystals with arms alongside an oversized pig named Pey’J.

 

The whole story slowly unfolds and you find yourself tasked with assisting the Alpha Sections, humanity’s protectors, in saving the world of Hillys from an evil alien race known as the DomZ. Although the story is intriguing and quite thoughtfully written, its presentation is about as smooth as sandpaper. The main character, Jade, is a freelance photographer who takes it upon herself to care for the world’s orphans while at the same time photographing every single animal species in the world. Her uncle Pey’J is somewhat of an inventor whose inventions tend to cause a bit more damage than good. The two main characters do not really seem to mess and their interactions are beyond forced.

The first go around, eight years ago, may have seen this game and its story in a different light, but age has not treated this aspect of the game well. A story that originally prided itself on its ‘grey areas,’ subtle plot points, and the desire to discover the truth now comes across as flat, forced, and incredibly predictable.

That’s not to say that the game’s story isn’t worth experiencing. Remember, this is a remake of an eight year old game and that must be taken into consideration. Despite feeling forced and the predictability of most plot points, this game weaves a tale that strangely pulls you in and keeps you interested until the end.

Where Karate and Photography Meet Back on the Otherside

The combat in the game is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done. Jade, aside from being an expert photographer, is also a relative master in bow staff martial arts and slow motion butt-kicking. Every battle in the game consists of pressing the square button repeatedly or holding the square button for a charged power up. As you battle through the world, you will encounter a multitude of enemies that require a different approach to defeat.

This may sound odd especially since you only have one button to use, but that is where your partner comes in. Throughout most of the game you will have another character trotting around with you who is more than capable of lending a helping hand. Pey’J will be with you most of the time and lend a hand with his jet boot power stomp. You can give a few commands to whoever is assisting you by pressing the triangle button for aid in battle or the square button for help opening a door or stepping on a switch. It adds a bit of dynamic value to battle, but doesn’t change the fact that it is very one-dimensional.

 

It’s obvious that combat is not really the main focus of the game, however. Jade spends most of her time running around trying to capture decent photographs of each animal species in the world. With each new species photographed and submitted, Jade gets a bit of money. Photographing enemies is such an intruging concept that it almost becomes an obsession. I found myself stopping every time I saw an creature and checking to see if it was already in my inventory. If it wasn’t, I meandered round for the best shot or snuck as close as I could without scaring it away.

It isn’t only enemies and wild life that can be photographed. The world’s inhabitants range from walking sharks and walruses to goats and half-breed cats. Every species needs to be categorized in the world’s database and Jade is single handedly responsible for doing so. So get to snapping.

Traveling and Listening in an Upgraded World

The game has a very open-world feel to it despite the frequent loading screens between areas. You will traverse the world in Jades upgradeable hover craft. Although a fun way to move about the world, the hovercraft has less than intuitive, floaty controls. Often times navigating a simple corner finds you smashing into a wall or careening out of bounds into the wild blue yonder. Luckily, that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the experience. Upgrading your craft with new engines and weapons can be quite fun and provides a level of depth to an aspect of the game that could have very easily been overlooked.

Graphically, the game has aged well, but most of that is thanks in part to the HD overhaul that was given to the title. In its day, Beyond Good & Evil was your everyday, run-of-the-mill platformer with graphics to match the style and dress of the era. However, not all of those games it ran with back in the day aged as well as this title did, which is probably why it was chosen to receive the HD treatment. The beautiful rolling hills and the vibrant sun sets shimmer off some of the best water effects in their day. The game is filled with a multitude of vibrant colors than really bring the game to life.

As far as sound goes, this game has some of the best, and some of the worst audio I’ve come across. One minute you will be tottering around the countryside listening to some soothing, mystical, orchestra music and the next you will be battling misshapen demonoids to the sound of pseudo death metal. The two do not really mesh well and the transition between the them is about as graceful a face plant.

Unfortunately, all of the good mentioned above is offset by an equal amount of evil.

The Beyond Part of the Title

For those who have never played the game before, it suffers from a massive identity crisis. This game tries to take so many different ideas, concepts, and styles and tries to smash them all together into one giant pile of fun. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it just creates a sense of awkwardness.

Right from the very beginning I still felt as though this game had no real direction or grand concept in mind. Despite a somewhat decent story, the characters within the story really feel out of place. Jade and her pig uncle Pay’J are the most unlikely duo in all of video gaming and their interactions feel far from genuine.

Not only do the two main characters mix like oil and water, everyone else you encounter is just as awkward. For some reason, Jade carries around a metrosexual Italian guy in her pocket who feels the need to comment on every single that she picks up for the first time.

The battles aren’t too bad in and of themselves, but they can often be made nearly unbearable thanks to an incredibly wonky camera. Often times I found myself blindly swinging towards the screen in hopes of connecting with an enemy that I thought was there. The camera also makes lining up certain jumps somewhat difficult as well, especially during the multiple stealth missions. It takes a bit of getting used to, but just remember; this game is eight years old. We’ve seen far better cameras since.

It’s really hard to describe the feelings that this game evokes because there are so many. Feelings of sheer pleasure and enjoyment will be met with distain and frustration, which does nothing but create a sense of confusion as to what to think about this game.

Final Verdict

All in all, I think this game is an experience and a half, but it is important to note that his game is like no other platformer that you have ever played before. The sum of all the parts fail to really add up into something monumental, which is something I think is a result of too varying ideas trying to be packed into one small package. Everything lacks a certain sense of cohesion. If you were to strip the game down to its basic parts, everything would look great on paper. Environments are gorgeous, characters are intriguing, enemies are well done and varied, the music is entertaining and relaxing, the side quests are addicting and rewarding, and the story is intriguing. However, you take all of those pieces and slap together into one giant adventure and you are left with something that doesn’t fit very well together.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this game and recommend that everyone give it at least a try, but there is just something about the game that leaves me underwhelmed.

Pro:

  • Upgraded Visuals
  • Intriguing Storyline
  • Photography for Money
  • Soothing Audio

Cons:

  • Simplistic Battle System
  • Forced Emotions
  • Characters Don’t Fit Well Togther
  • Too Many Elements Shoved Together
  • Lack of Cohesion

Score: 7.5/10

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