Beyond Good & Evil
Once A Year, Ubisofthold an event called Ubidays. Like so many industry events, it's essentially a dick-waving exercise, and 2008's undulating penis show was notable for two main things. First, the misjudged use of Vernon Kaye as an MC. I'm sure he's a nice bloke but having him scream "I'm so addicted to GAMES," and genuinely expecting a cheer, was mortifying for everyone involved.
The other thing that sticks out was the ripple of excited cheers that shot through the audience when people realised that the teaser trailer at the end of the show, was actually the Beyond Good and Evil sequel. Making a big deal about something that was a far bigger critical than commercial success seemed brave, and uncommonly worthy.
Since then, there's been mealy-mouthed backtracking chat of pre- h production, on-hold, and defensive " bluster that the game was never officially announced, so how can it be technically cancelled? To which the correct response is "Sod off, it was the big reveal at an event you organised, remember? Stop being a semantic tool about it".
A Hit That Wasn't
So, it looks like all we've got for now is the original game (available on Steam and Good Old Games). Luckily, it's charming enough to reward first-timers and historical snufflers alike. The pretentious title sounds like something Peter Molyneux would cook up, but there's none of that in the game - we start off with a battle against a plant, relax with a bit of nature photography, before getting embroiled in a speedboat race and some platform puzzling.
BGE attempted - and pulled off - what Tim Schafer was trying to pull V off with Brutal Legend, something to all people. Another similarity is the tepid reception: while Beyond was loved by journalists, there's something about a game that does more than one thing that's hard to passionately explain.
These days people buy soundbites and quick pitches, and Beyond Good and Evil defiantly resisted a quick and cheap summary.
Download Beyond Good & Evil
There's a lot to like about Beyond Good & Evil, the best action-adventure game since Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC). You play as Jade, a plucky freelance photojournalist working for a rebel organization out to prove that the planet's militaristic government is hiding sinister secrets from the populace. In you charge, camera in hand, to get the truth. But you don't just take pictures in BG&E, you get to drive a speedy hovercraft, sneak through top-secret installations, coordinate with a partner to solve puzzles (much like in Ico for PS2), and beat up foes with a big stick. Not only does the game do all of these things well, but it also imparts a constant, magical feeling of exploration as you discover more about its involving story and the colorful inhabitants of the lighthearted, Fifth Element-like world around you. If you've ever thought you'd prefer a short game that's consistently great over one that's artificially extended with stupid, unfun bits, you were thinking of BG&E. It's short (about 10 hours), but very sweet. It's not so easy that you'll breeze through it, nor is it too hard to be frustrating. That makes BG&E good for casual players (and even your nongaming girlfriend), but you'll surely dig it yourself.
Long after you've shot your last roll of celluloid and blown the lid on a body-snatching conspiracy, you'll reminisce about your stay on planet Hyllis. Mixing Walt Disney's colorful whimsy, the industrial distopias of French cinematographers Jeunet and Carot (City of Lost Children), and Zelda mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto's genius for flexible gameplay, BG&E is mesmerizing, ominous, and, most of all, memorable. Unlike other ambitious games that try to be too many things to too many players, BG&E pulls its components together beautifully. Your hovercraft handles well, letting you explore pristine waterways, chase crooks, and run races without hassle. The first-rate stealth sections escalate tension rather than induce stress with tedious trial and error. Even your responsive starship is a joy to pilot. Only BG&E's relative brevity and puzzles that get recycled toward the game's end disappoint.
Hey Eidos, pay attention: This is the game the last Tomb Raider should have been. BG&E is packed with personality and girl power, and more importantly, it controls like a dream. The play mechanics borrow from the Zelda template in all the right ways (autojumping, enemy targeting, etc.), and the game delivers enough original material keep things fresh. For instance, Jade's camera is an integral tool--a single shutter click can take down an entire government if you're stealthy enough to be in the right place at the right time. Similar creativity manifests itself in Jade's darkly beautiful, Disney-esque world (although bouts of choppiness blight its otherwise fine graphics). An interesting story and entertaining cut-scenes round out this worthwhile package.
Beyond Good & Evil is a short and sweet action game with plenty of quasi-original storyline built around a unique blend of fighting, puzzle solving and picture taking. You assume the role of Jade, a lighthouse keeper and freelance photographer whose struggling to make ends meet in the futuristic world of Hillys. Of course what sci-fi, low-rent storyline would be complete without a nefarious government, evil aliens and a warthog-like sidekick.
What separates this game from the pack is its unique mixture of fighting, racing, puzzle solving and' .um' .photography. I know it sounds bizarre, but the picture taking is actually a pretty fun element of the game. You end up taking pictures in the game for two reasons, either to wrap up a quest by getting photographic proof of something or another or to send off to a scientist looking for pics of the planet's fauna. In turn you are giving credits, which can be used for a variety of things including pearls, which are what most merchants expect to in exchange for items.
Although the game has a multitude of short battles spread throughout the game, it really isn't a high point of play. Fighting basically consists of a lot of whiffing, whaling and hoping your character isn't going to succumb to the enemy at hand. The bulk of the game is really a pretty standard adventure game steeped in average but not too puzzling puzzles.
You'll also have to spend a fare bit of time in your hovercraft, speeding from location to location to complete quests and buy upgrades. The short journeys are at times interrupted by alien attack, but none are too hard to throw off track.
The most impressive part of Beyond Good & Evil is its stellar audio and over the top graphics, with well-rendered cell-shading that helps to add to the games look and feel, making you care enough for the characters to want to puzzle and fight your way through the roughly 12 hours of the game.