Review by Xenon

Reviewed: 04/02/07

A Great Game that just doesn't last long enough.

I like video games. It’s true. This shouldn’t come to any surprise to anyone reading this. I like most genres. Not the biggest fan of sports or racing, but I can be persuaded by a high score in some instances if it’s particularly unique or different from the standard in that genre. Why do I mention this? Because if a game scores well, I’ll generally like it, and I try to play it. For whatever reason, Beyond Good & Evil was missed. Oh, I knew about it. I knew it scored well, and it wasn’t as though 2003 was the biggest game year. But for whatever reason, I missed it. However, now that I have this Gamefly account, I’ve been catching up on all these games I missed before. One of those was Beyond Good & Evil. And it was quite a treat, just like people were saying all this time.

Take a picture, it’ll last longer

Normally, I’ll keep you in suspense until the end of a review to give my recommendation, here, I’m going to give you the bottom line from the start. BG&E is really really good while it lasts. Basically everything in the game is done perfectly. Atmosphere, control, music, varied gameplay, it’s all here, and it’s all done superbly. But I wouldn’t buy BG&E except very cheap (which may be possible actually). It’s just not long enough. What follows is the details, but if you’re just concerned about whether you’ll like the game, then the answer is yes, rent with full confidence.

Beyond Good & Evil tells the story of Jade, a young woman who runs an orphanage on the planet Hillys. To fund this orphanage, she also runs a small reporting business that involves her taking pictures of various things for publications. Along with the orphans, she lives with a short fat pig (literally) man that raised her from the time she was young, Pey’j. As our story begins, Hillys is under attack from the Domz, an alien race that kidnaps people and takes them away to who knows where. As the story unfolds, you learn of a great conspiracy and find out that who you think are your friends really aren’t. It is exposing this conspiracy that the plot of BG&E centers on. I found it to be an entertaining story, even if the plotline has been a bit overplayed in recent years.

There’s more than one way to skin an Alien

Gameplay is highly reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda titles. You explore a “dungeon” of sorts, trying to get to the end by solving various puzzles in the rooms defeating the enemies along the way. BG&E throws in a heavy dose of stealth action with this. Many rooms the goal is simply to remain unseen by the guards. The difficulty and enforcement of this stealth varies, as well. In some rooms, being found simply means that you have to fight a somewhat difficult battle against the enemy that found you. In others, it means instant death by these special all-seeing turrets.

In between these “dungeons”, you’ll explore the watery world of Hillys. Except for in one part of the city, all transport in done by hovercraft. You use this hovercraft to explore the surroundings. As you upgrade your machine, more areas will become open to you to explore, though the overall world is still quite small. Still, there are numerous “mini-dungeons” that you can explore to find new items. Specifically, units (the world’s currency) and pearls.

This brings me to one of BG&Es biggest gameplay strengths, varied goals. The main storyline’s goal is to take pictures of various things to prove your enemies guilt. But that isn’t your only objective. Through the course of the game, you need to upgrade your hovercraft. The shop that does the upgrading only takes pearls as payment. So in order to get to the end of the game, you have to do at least some exploring through optional zones in order to collect enough pearls to upgrade your machine all the way. Pearls are only given at the end of zones or after doing something particularly big, like beat a boss, and so the game keeps track of them. So one goal is to collect all the pearls. Also, at the very beginning of the game, the science center hires you to take pictures of the wildlife on Hillys. By taking pictures of new species, you earn money and pearls. These side missions (even if the pearls are required for progression) give a nice amount of variety to the game and ensure that it never gets stale.

Combat is simple and easy to get into, but has enough depth that you have complete control over what’s going on. While you are basically only able to attack and dodge, this gives enough of a balance that if you get hit, it’s your own fault. Bosses can also provide nice challenges, from trying to figure out just how to beat the boss to finding an opening to actually attack. Really, my only gripe about combat comes from ranged combat. In order to use ranged combat, you have to go into camera mode, then aim, then fire. This can take a few seconds and in the middle of a boss fight, well, sometimes you don’t have a few seconds.

It’s time to face the music

One of the strongest points to BG&E is the music. The entire soundtrack is just beautifully done. Each track sets the mood for the scene beautifully. Whether it’s the plainness of civilian life to the laid back Jamaican tunes of the Mammaggo(something like that) Garage to the pumped up techno of the boss fights, it all feels in place and very well done. It does a wonderful job of enhancing the entire experience.

Summary

Pros
+++Solid Gameplay
+++Excellent Presentation
++ Great Soundtrack
++ Varied Gameplay

Cons
---- VERY Short
--- Ranged combat is a little slow
-- Some puzzles require a lot of observation of very small details.
-- No replay value

As I said before, BG&E is a great game while it lasts, and that’s the most serious complaint that can be levied against it. It’s short. My game clocked in at just under fifteen hours, and I had all but about four animals, and 82 of the 88 pearls. There just wasn’t much left to do. And replay value is basically non-existent. The only thing that changes between games is the codes on the locks. All in all, Beyond Good & Evil is an excellent game to rent or buy very cheaply. It wasn’t worth full price because of its length, but nearly everything else in the game was magnificently done. It’s a shame it didn’t sell well, because a sequel would have been nice. Overall, it’s a great game that just didn’t last long enough.


Rating:   4.0 - Great

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