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Posted by drew10 on Mar 9, 2011
Beyond Good & Evil HD (Ubisoft – XBLA)

Beyond Good & Evil HD (Ubisoft – XBLA)

Back in 2003 Ubisoft released an adventure game of distinction on PS2, that game was Beyond Good &Evil. Created by Rayman creator Michel Ancel the game gained critical acclaim yet due to a badly timed release and the gaming public being ultimately stupid simply it failed to reach the commercial success it deserved. However, over time people picked it up pre-owned and the game became a cult classic. Ubisoft, to their credit, never abandoned the game and now have polished it up for this re-release. Hopefully this time you lot will sit up and take note.

Set on the planet of Hillys, you play Jade, a green-haired photojournalist who becomes involved in a fight to free her people from the constant attacks by the DomZ. As Jade and her uncle Pey’j, who happens to be a pig for no apparent reason, begin to uncover the truth about what is going on Jade joins the revolution to help free the Hillians from a terrible fate and uncover a government conspiracy. Thus sets in motion a brilliant story full of action that somehow blends a deep and sometimes dark storyline with cute characters and bright cartoon-style visuals. It is a blend that works well although some may say it was this cartoon-like look that put off the so-called hardcore gamers all those years ago.

The bulk of the gameplay is classic 3D platform adventuring although the game world’s locations are traversed using Jade’s hovercraft. This can be upgraded by purchasing weapons and boosts.

The gameplay mechanics, despite being 8 years old are still as tight and as enjoyable as they were the first time around. Jade can run, jump, climb and fight with her staff. She also has the ability to fire  discs which operate as a range weapon and can be used for pressing unreachable switches. She is also equipped with a camera which she uses to document what the bad-guys are doing and send reports back to Hillys to gain support from the people.

Along the way Jade is helped by, first her pig uncle Pey’j and the Double H, another reporter. You will need the help of this companions to perform special moves or to solve puzzles. These characters and their dialogue really help shape the story and add a real sense of togetherness into the storyline. What’s more you do begin to really care what happens to them.

Completing quests is the key to gaining currency or to further the story. There are two currencies in the game, one can be used to buy items in shops and vending machines like extra health or repair pods for your craft. The is pearls, despite being banned by the Government they are still used in Mamago’s garage where all upgrades can be bought for your hovercraft and later your other craft which I wont spoil for you. Mamago’s is one of many quirky locations this time inhabited by a family of rasta bears, yes rasta bears.

A great deal of the game can be played in two ways. You can either avoid enemies using stealth or if you prefer you can fight your way through the levels. The main enemies are guards who have air tanks on their backs, these tanks can be hit with one of your discs causing the guard to stagger about struggling to breathe. Whilst they are staggering you can then either sneak past or with a quick kick dispatch them fully. Certain sections require more stealth than others but luckily the guards are pretty thick and wont follow you too far should you get noticed.

Early in the game Jade is also tasked with cataloguing the different species of creatures on the island for a museum. Take photos of every creature you encounter and for every full film you supply you will be rewarded with a pearl. This is one of many mini-games littered throughout the world, including, races for your hovercraft, a game like air hockey and a set of chases where you have to keep up with the raiders car through a series of tunnels. All of which will reward you with more pearls.

Graphically the game is excellent, the HD lick-of-paint brings the already superb art-style visuals right up-to-date. The animation sometimes looks a little outdated but in the main is more-than adequate. However there are some serious camera issues when piloting the hovercraft. These come mainly when you are trying to steer through small spaces and can be really frustrating when trying to avoid mines.

The audio has been given a good going-over as well with a new soundtrack to go along with the already excellent voice acting. Double H is especially excellent albeit a little repetitive.

Of course the game now features achievements and online leaderboards for all you achievement junkies out there.

Overall Beyond Good & Evil HD is a remastering of a forgotten classic and is a must for anyone on XBLA. (PSN version coming later in the year.) With an average of around 10 hours playing time it really shows up some of its contemporary stable mates. At only 800MS points this is probably the best value for money you will get on a console this year. If you played this before you will want to revisit it and if you haven’t go and do it now, before the long awaited sequel is released.

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