Beyond Good and Evil HD Review

Beyond Good and Evil Logo

Ubisoft and Michel Ancel's Beyond Good and Evil is back and getting a second chance at life in HD.

In the lush and vibrant planet Hillys things aren't quite what they seem. The normally peaceful planet is being attacked by the DomZ and the only military force around, the Alpha Sections, doesn't seem to be helping much. Enter our hero, a twenty-something female appropriately named Jade. As a photographer her main weapon throughout this action adventure is her camera as she works with the IRIS Network to uncover the truth about what's really going on. It's been described as the right game that came out at the wrong time, but even by today's standards it's still a little out of it's league.

Beyond Good & Evil

As a whole Beyond Good and Evil HD has little to complain about. Overall the controls aren't exceedingly difficult to learn, but like every other game they just take some getting used to. That said, for those who have played the original Xbox version, the controls have changed substantially. The only aspects that haven't noticeably changed in terms of maneuvers are the basic Jade and  hovercraft/Beluga movement controls. Ubisoft elected to switch the A and X action and defense buttons, the camera now uses the LB and RB which was a good choice on the redesigned controller, but the zoom and pan has been switched from the right joystick to zoom on the left stick and pan on the right stick.

These new controls aren't a deal breaker though, as the learning curve certainly isn't intolerable. Fighting is a bit of a button masher as Jade whips her Dai-Jo stick around. That said, combat is smooth, and moves are varied; with direction changes, flips, and combos thrown into the mix. Keep in mind as you make your way through the game that not every battle can be a button masher, precisely timed and directed hits are important if you want to make it out alive. There are no significant weapon upgrades here, although the player does, at one point, collect an additional weapon in your fight against the DomZ. A gyrodisk glove becomes available fairly early on in the game and while it's use can be limited it's the only real (physical) shooting done by Jade apart from in the hovercraft.

Beyond Good & Evil

While there are only four main missions that need to be completed to finish the game, there's plenty to keep would be adventures occupied around Hillys. Photography plays an important role in the game, beyond just getting evidence to confirm the conspiracy. Players can collect pictures of all the animals around for a camera upgrade and pearls (black market currency). There are a total of eighty-eight pearls that can be found throughout the game and finding them is another good way to waste some time while still being productive. With these pseudo side missions, there's very little chance of failure.  If you're having trouble or just need to get things done faster there is both a pearl detector and an animal detector available for purchase in the city. As the player progresses through the missions, there becomes fewer and fewer new things to fight, namely because there's a small amount of stealth involved. The guards aren't exactly hard to sneak by either. To the contrary, they are predictable in their movement patterns. Whille convenient but compared to more recent games the stealth part really doesn't match up. If you do get spotted it will provide more in-game action, provided there aren't any insta-kill laser shooting turrets around. Besides the two collections there is also racing, some mini games in a bar and hidden explorable areas of the city.

Beyond Good & Evil

One major factor Beyond Good and Evil was and is still lacking in it's HD format is multiplayer. Throughout the entire game the player is accompanied by one or two other characters and they're the typical bumbling NPCs. While they occasionally have helpful information, most of the time they just slow the player down. For all their faults they are lovable, though. We often found ourselves wished that we could switch things up, and play as Pey'J, Jade's half hog adoptive uncle, or fellow IRIS member Double H. They both have their own weapons, special moves and abilities, and would be much more affective if they were controlled by a real person. There is bonus content that allows you to play with a friend though, same as there was with the original version. Its not much but it's good for some mindless fun.

Beyond Good & Evil

Moving on, if the game's plot isn't enough to prove suitably enticing, at least fire up the demo to check out the amazing design and the incredible soundtrack. Michel Ancel said he planned it out as a cinematic experience and he definitely delivers on that without making you suffer through endless cut-scenes. There is so much to see in this world, and each little area is its own little masterpiece. The characters and creatures are especially well thought out, which makes taking pictures of them all the more enjoyable. Christophe Héral, who has composed many French films, did a superb job of making Beyond Good and Evil HD a memorable and enjoyable game to just sit and listen to. Each location has its own feel and as the danger or action builds so does the music. It's done fairly subtly, though, so as not to spoil any of the game's surprises, but is a wonderful compliment to the world of Hillys. The only issues here were during the final reveal there are in game screens that make your reports almost unrecognizable and during the loading screens half the text all fuzzy and the off centered camera iris loading image instantly evokes thought of a recycling symbol.

Not many people had heard of, let alone played, Beyond Good and Evil during its original release back in 2003. With the surge of first person shooters such as Halo and Call of Duty being released around the same time it didn't mesh well with the genres that were popular. Despite critical acclaim, it was a commercial failure, and wasn't even backwards compatible with the Xbox 360. It may seem odd to people new to the series to re-release a title that was so commercially unsuccessful, but with a sequel having been announced during Ubidays 2008 by way of a teaser trailer called 1. The Pig, it's certainly possible that Ubisoft is testing the waters and letting the public have access to the original again as they figure out a release date.

Beyond Good and Evil HD
Clearly, a great deal of time and effort went into crafting the story. As a result, the game is engrossing and fun to play.
Christophe Héral did a beautiful job with the soundtrack. The Mammago's theme will be stuck in your head forever.
The overhauled HD visuals look fantastic, but are slightly marred by a handful of poorly rendered video screens.
Controls are substantially different from the original Xbox version, but are easy to master.
Beyond Good and Evil HD is a fantastic port of an already great game. A must have for anyone's XBLA library.
Voting statistics:
Click to share thisClick to share this