The lights are on
Originally developed in 2003, Beyond Good & Evil was met with generally positive reviews, and dismal sales. Eight years later, is an updated HD version enough to win some fans for the upcoming sequel? Yeah, sort of.
When BG&E first came out, it was lauded for its original and compelling story, endearing characters and clever puzzle design. Thankfully, these elements have aged well. The story of Jade and her fight against an oppressive government provides a solid background for the Zelda-esque gameplay that follows. You'll travel through dungeons, gather some items that access new areas, and even increase your heart gauge significantly. Fans of Dead Rising and BioShock's picture-taking mechanic will find a lot to like here, as the plot finds your green-clad protagonist using her camera to expose evil, shoot CD missiles and tag wildlife to make an extra buck or two. Targeting can be a little iffy, but I enjoyed the picture-taking segments, and most of them are completely optional.
Speaking of optional, there is a huge amount of fun side content to devour. Intense hover boat races and chases, dozens of small, but clever, side dungeons and myriad shops and mini-games are strewn throughout the world, and most of them offer you all-important pearls as rewards. Working like Mario Stars, pearls allow you to upgrade your hovercraft, and access more of the beautiful world. The amount of variation is impressive as well. One minute you may be dodging revolving lasers to reach a timed door, and the next your sidestepping explosive barrels on a conveyor belt.
The art was top-of-the-line in 2003, and the new HD coat of paint makes it that much more gorgeous. You're not going to mistake it Gears of War, but the unique art style and pleasant color palette are easy on the eyes. Solid voice acting covers some of the questionable writing, and I found myself singing some of the music from the game in my car. I even found myself chuckling at the weird redneck anthropomorphic pig-human Pey'J, a character that should have by all rights been annoying.
Unfortunately, the game shows its age in other areas. The one-button combat gets stale pretty quickly, but thankfully Jade doesn't spend too much time with stick in hand. Most of the dungeons revolves around jumping over and ducking under lasers, and sneaking around during one of the many stealth segments. This is probably the most polarizing element of the game. The sneaking mechanic was novel eight years ago, but is a little too simplistic and tedious to stand up today. The game is compelling enough to carry you through to the end, but you find yourself starting to snooze during some of the longer stealth segments. The map could do a better job of letting you know how to reach that next objective, I found myself wandering around more often than I'd like. The boss fights and puzzles, however, remain as fun now as they were then.
Achievements and leaderboards are included, but if you played the original to death, you won't find a ton of new content. For newcomers, it is most definitely worth taking a trip to Hillys to experience Michel Ancel's , creator of Rayman, incredible vision. It's not perfect, but if any game deserves a second look, and a sequel, it is Beyond Good & Evil.