Beyond Good and Evil HDESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Purchasing my original Xbox roughly a year before the launch of the Xbox 360 created many missed opportunities on some amazing titles, especially since I hadn't owned a previous console since the Super Nintendo. Beyond Good and Evil is a title I have heard only good things about and is a must play for any of the consoles it has been released on. As it turns out I am very lucky, getting my chance to try out this title and judge it for myself.
Beyond Good & Evil has been given an upgrade into the HD era and with this upgrade the graphics rival some recent games released on the Xbox 360. However, you can tell that this title is not quite current generation by how some of the characters and environments were created, especially when you see very strong jutting lines that stick out like a sore thumb. With all of this in mind the graphics are impressive for an arcade title and I especially loved the character designs of Jade, Pey’J, Double H and the rest of the IRIS Network.
The environments, for the most part, are well designed and easy to navigate, but a few times I got turned around and it felt like I was going in circles; everything seemed to blend together and even repeated itself, which left me with the option of trying to navigate the map. Unfortunately, the map system is not well designed and I wish it had a waypoint system where I could easily plot destinations to easily find them. The progression through the environments is linear, so in theory you will eventually get to where you need to go, but it may take a bit longer if you get into one of these loops that sometimes crop up through gameplay.
Overall, the upgrade to high definition has created a decent graphical experience and all but a few design issues makes Beyond Good & Evil a little bit “beyond good.”
While playing through the game the voice acting really stood out to me with the quality and how well the characters interacted with each other with just their voices. Briefly scanning the voice cast and seeing some of the work they have done in the past is a clear indicator of what this cast brings to this game in quality.
The music and sound effects are just as well done and create a sci-fi feel and a sense of wonder as you explore this world full of mysteries. To say the music and sound effects are well done is a bit of an understatement as this title was nominated for Outstanding Achievements in Original Music Composition and Sound Design when it was originally released.
The music brings you deep into this amazing world and the sound effects jump in your face making you jump, cringe and excited at all the right moments, as beautiful sound should. As I have said in many of my past reviews, with good sound you will barely notice, as it compliments the rest of the gameplay and graphics to create a total package. Beyond Good & Evil does this superbly.
Beyond Good & Evil takes place on the planet of Hillys where the once peaceful world has been invaded by aliens called the DomZ. The Alpha Sections have risen up and have taken power, trying to protect the populace as best as they can, but often they are unsuccessful. The IRIS Network, an underground resistance, believes the Alpha Sections are a front for the DomZ working against them, so they search for proof that they are in fact not who they say there are.
Enter Jade, a photojournalist and martial artist who becomes recruited by the IRIS Network to find the proof that they need to unmask the Alpha Sections. Jade’s Uncle Pey’j, a pig-like humanoid, aids her as she infiltrates, solves puzzles, battles creatures and Alpha Sections soldiers using her skills as a photographer and martial artist to figure out exactly what is going on.
The character you have full control over is Jade who uses a combination of stealth, running, jumping, climbing and simply bashing things in to navigate through the environment. At times she requires aid from her companions to activate switches or use their special abilities to gain entry to areas she wouldn’t normally be able to get to. The main tools Jade uses to complete her missions are her staff and her camera, which when combined with a Gyrodisk Glove can shoot discs to activate switches or attack creatures with missile attacks.
The usage of these weapons and tools is simple with one button actions and no worries about linking together complicated combos. Combat will get repetitive as you do perform the same actions over and over again, but there is a bit of variety because your enemies will have specific ways that you must attack them by, especially boss bottles. For example, in one boss battle there is bi-ped robot with an alien spore in the centre controlling the bi-ped. To get to the spore you must instruct Double H to attack one of the legs and after he hits you must attack the other leg knocking the creature down to the ground. After the bi-ped is on the ground you rush over to the back where the spore is open to attack, using your Gryodisk Glove to launch a missile attack. Overall the combat portion of the game is well done but could have used a bit more detail and some extra types of combat as well.
The main negative aspect to gameplay is that the overhead camera often doesn’t move into the best position to see what you need to see, or you can’t focus it on areas where you want to see. There is some definite fine tuning that needed to happen to the camera that did not happen and even if you try to use Jade’s Camera to get some different views you will end up with the same problems that the overhead camera has.
The game progresses by giving you missions to perform, which moves along the storyline; however there is one mission that continues throughout the entirety of the game. That mission is to photograph and document all of the species of the world and send them off to the science center. This is probably one of the best ways to earn credits to purchase items throughout the game, and as a special treat after every eight new pictures taken you can earn pearls, which are another form of currency. Credits are used to purchase health restoration items such as: Starkos & K-Bups, health powersups (adds a heart/wrench to Jade or your Hovercraft), repair pods for your hovercraft and detectors (pearl, animals). Pearls on the other hand are used to upgrade your hovercraft, and ultimately your spacecraft. The rest of the missions are straight forward where you solve series of puzzles, combat the enemy and fight some fun and often entertaining boss battles. Throughout the game you will also be able to compete in hovercraft races where your amazing driving skills, combined with some well-timed boosts, will lead you to victory.
The hovercraft is your main mode of transportation between the areas of Hillys with the city being your central hub and everything else surrounding the city. The compass works well in guiding you to where you need to go and the basic controls for the hovercraft work well with the analog sticks steering the craft, X to shoot your weapons and the RT to accelerate the craft.
The gameplay is a lot of fun, although it is a lot more simple than I’ve become used to with action/adventure games. Hardcore gamers may not like the simple controls, but it is a good way to introduce new gamers to a different genre they may not of played before. The gem is the story that unfolds and has you yearning to find out what happens next.
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