Take A Chance On This Underappreciated Classic - Beyond Good & Evil HD - Xbox 360 - www.GameInformer.com
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Beyond Good & Evil HD

Take A Chance On This Underappreciated Classic

Back in issue 200, Beyond Good & Evil took the final spot, #200, on our Top 200 Games Of All Time. I was new to the GI staff at the time, but I argued passionately throughout our various meetings to win it a place on the list, and if I’d had my way, it would have been higher. The new HD remake of Beyond Good & Evil on Xbox Live Arcade (and eventually PSN) marks the third time I’ve played through the game, and I still love it just as much.

As far as rereleases go, Beyond Good & Evil HD is fairly spartan. No new content has been added to the game, and the graphical update is nice but minimal. It succeeds because the original game already implemented a bright, cartoony art style that doesn’t lose much when compared to the more realistic appearance of most modern games. Even in HD, though, no one’s going to mistake BG&E’s simplistic textures for a current-gen title.

More damningly for some, the gameplay itself shows some telltale signs of being eight years old. The camera doesn’t always offer full control and occasionally goes crazy when backed into a corner, the voice acting is suitable but doesn’t measure up to current standards, and the huge dungeons and city areas are split into surprisingly tiny pieces separated by loading screens. Some gamers may be annoyed that these leftover quirks were not addressed, but they don’t strongly affect the overall quality of the game, which is excellent.

So what makes Beyond Good & Evil such a classic? For me, it breaks down into two categories: the world and the incredible variety in the gameplay. Michel Ancel crafted a truly unique video game universe full of talking pigs, cats, and walruses, an evil authoritarian government, hovercrafts, spaceships, and a clash of European and Asian styles that blend together into something singular.

These seemingly disparate elements are anchored by strong characters who pull you into the story, getting you emotionally attached before you realize what’s happening. Leading the charge is main character Jade, one of the strongest female characters in gaming and one of our choices for 30 characters who defined a decade (issue 212). Green lipstick and visible midriff aside, Jade stands out for being an interesting, complex protagonist rather than just a sexy bada**. She runs an orphanage under the guidance of her “uncle” Pey’j, but when she’s thrown into an intergalactic conflict, she fights back with her skills as a photojournalist rather than strictly weapons. Companions to the cause are fleshed out by providing support and plenty of dialogue throughout the four or five missions that make up the bulk of the game.

The gameplay could also be viewed as a blend of styles: the light action and puzzle-solving of a Zelda game mixed with a simplified version of the stealth from Splinter Cell and just a bit of Pokémon Snap on top. Taking pictures becomes a major portion of the game as Jade seeks evidence to turn the public against the corrupt government, but the sidequest of cataloguing all of the planet’s life forms is just as addictive. Even beyond the primary missions, BG&E is constantly tossing out new ideas, from a fast-paced rooftop chase to hovercraft racing to a boss battle where the game briefly turns into a shoot-em-up.

If you’re among the majority of gamers who didn’t play Beyond Good & Evil when it originally came out for PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube, you have no excuse for passing up its new form. Even if the great gameplay, the spot on our top 200 list, and my general adoration isn’t enough to pull you in, keep in mind that Ubisoft is probably looking at interest in this rerelease to help determine how much support they give to the long-overdue sequel. Even if Beyond Good & Evil doesn’t rank higher than 200 for you, the franchise deserves a shot at something greater.

User Reviews:

  • 7.00
    Beyond Good and Evil is a critically lauded yet undersold adventure that began in the 6th console gen as a tri-console release on every major platform at the time. Publisher Ubisoft was supposed to go all out on a multi-part series but like everything that doesn't turn into a money dumping machine...
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  • 9.00
    There are always games in a console cycle that get overlooked and passed over for the shinier, newer games. They are more often than not shifted to the bargain pins of store shelves and eventually forgotten, destined to be lost in the fold of gaming history. Beyond Good and Evil is one of those games...
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  • 9.50
    Every console generation, it seems that there are always a few fantastic games that fly under the radar of the majority of gamers upon initial release, only to become well regarded among gamers sometime later as its reputation is built up via word of mouth. What makes Beyond Good & Evil different...
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  • 8.25
    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...
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  • 9.00
    Beyond Good and Evil is a great game, but with a few minor issues. It was a game that, when it was originally brought out, people didn't pay much attention to it. I played that original game and it was great fun. Now however, my brother bought me the HD version, which is more or less the same as...
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  • 8.75
    Score: 8.75/10 Beyond Good & Evil: HD Xbox 360 Arcade/ PSN(May 11') Cost: 800 Microsoft Points Developer : Ubisoft Publisher : Ubisoft Release Date : March 2nd, 2011 Pros: Despite being 8 years old, gameplay still holds up well HD Visual touch ups give it a much more polished look Fantastic soundtrack...
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