The truth is out there somewhere…
Before I start this review, I want to allow you to think back to a time where games weren’t all about running in and shooting as many bad guys as possible and then moving to the next area and repeating this. Games weren’t about moving from village to village, slaying fantasy creatures and taking quests to get more gold and level up your character so that you can get more quests and continue this cycle. I want you to think back to a time where games had a story, with twists and turns and characters we cared about. It is from this school of gaming that Beyond Good & Evil was born.
Unfortunately this time died long ago, causing Beyond Good & Evil (BGE from now on) to be a commercial flop, despite being critically acclaimed as one of the most original games ever made.
The story revolves around a war being waged on the peaceful planet Hillys, by an evil alien race known as the DomZ. The defenders of Hillys, known as the Alpha sections seem to always arrive at the scene too late, and while they, and the ever-present media claim that the alpha sections are hillys’ only hope of survival, the underground ‘IRIS’ network question their allegiances. Add to this the disappearance of hundreds of hillyans following various attacks, and it makes for an extremely original story.
This game really is an overlooked masterpiece.
The game’s protagonist, Jade, was orphaned when she was very young, and brought up by her uncle Pey’J. Following an attack on their home by the DomZ, the iris network contacts Jade, and she sets out to try to uncover the truth.
The game includes some excellent gameplay elements, the main one being the ability to use Jade’s digital camera to capture evidence. The player is also rewarded for taking photo’s of different species of animals on hillys for the science centre. Some of these animals are relatively easy to find, but some require a specific approach, or certain conditions to reveal themselves. This makes for a little extra challenge, and keeps the game interesting.
The game rewards exploration, and the large open-world allows well for this. There are many mini-games and challenges, which are rewarded with pearls (used to buy upgrades for your vehicle) as well as additional money. I never found myself getting bored of this game, as there is always something to do. It is not necessary to complete all of these mini-games, but towards the end of the game it really helps.
Another thing that really stood out to me was the graphics. I played the PS2 version, and considering it was made in 2003 (6 years ago at the time of reviewing) it was still surprisingly playable. Obviously it doesn’t match today’s standards, but it easily matches any other game released that year.
I found that the soundtrack was really the icing on the cake. Christophe Heral really excelled himself, with one of the best game soundtracks I have heard. Apparently, sections of it were used in the recent trailer for Far Cry 2.
In conclusion, this game really is an overlooked masterpiece. I am sure I will play through this game again, and enjoy it as much the second time. It has one of the best stories I have seen in a game, and characters we care about. This is aided by a fantastic soundtrack and some great unique gameplay elements. I really recommend this game to anyone and everyone, and it’s becoming increasingly rare. If you are lucky enough to find a copy, it will be the best £5 you’ve ever spent.
The Bad: A couple of extra levels would have been nice, but I’m grasping at straws to find anything.
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