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July 2, 2011
Beyond Good & Evil HD - PS3 Review
Release Launch Price Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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BG&E HD has been bumped up to 1080p visuals.
It seems there are two types of games that get HD remakes; blockbuster games a little past their prime (e.g. God of War and Prince of Persia) or games that were received well critically but didn't sell well (e.g. The Sly Collection and the upcoming Team Ico Collection). Unfortunately for Ubisoft Beyond Good and Evil falls squarely into the latter category, but with a sequel on the way Ubisoft is trying to get some more fans on the bandwagon. It's been eight years since its initial release and the question is, has Beyond Good and Evil stood the test of time well enough to warrant your time and money now? Read on...

The story goes that the planet of Hillys has fallen under siege by a ruthless alien race. Despite the assurances of the Alpha Section defense squad, the war drags on, terrorizing the once-beautiful planet and crushing the faith of the people. From the rubble of a tiny island rises Jade - a rebellious young reporter left traumatized by a brutal attack on her home. A rebel organization, IRIS, makes contact with Jade, asking her to investigate claims that the Alpha Sections are secretly trafficking humans to the enemy. Unsure who or what to believe, and armed with just her camera, dai-jo staff, and unflinching resolve, Jade sets out to discover the truth and bring peace back to her planet.

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One of the games flying sections.
Beyond Good and Evil HD is an action adventure game played in the 3rd person perspective. Even after all this time Jade moves well, and while she's not as nimble as the likes of Drake, Cole and Ezio, she is quite nimble. She carries with her a dai-jo stick for close range attacks, with single attacks and combos alike both pulled off by hitting a button repeatedly. Jade also carries light discs for distance attacks and triggering switches remotely. The last part of her arsenal, the camera, plays an integral role in the gameplay as you'll have to take photos of any evil deeds being done, and publish them with articles to show the populous what's going on. The camera is also used to take photos of the different animal species inhabiting Hillys, and doing so will earn you pearls which are can be used as currency at the Mamago Garage (more on that in a moment).

Stealth also plays a large part in this game. In some missions you need to sneak past the enemies rather then attack them, which isn't always easy. The stealth part of the game hasn't aged particularly well for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many of the areas you have to stealth through are small, meaning you need to walk extremely close to your enemies who remain oblivious to you provided you're not in their line of sight Secondly, and it's a recurring theme in the game, the camera doesn't always give you a great view of where you have to go. There are plenty of puzzles and often your colleagues are required to help you progress. Pey'j (the half man half pig) will help you in many missions as will Double-H, your journalist partner. Most of the time they'll fulfil their role in the puzzle without being prodded, but you can prod them with a click of a button if needed. The puzzles are straightforward for the most part, and won't tax your brain cells much, though they do provide some variety.

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Jade takes on a much larger enemy!
The other main section of gameplay in Beyond Good and Evil concerns the hovercraft. Although it starts out rather degraded (and hardly running) it can be upgraded, and will need to be, in order to progress through the game. Upgrade parts can be purchased with pearls which are collected after defeating enemies, taking photos of the local wildlife, or bought from a shop. The hovercraft is responsive, with the left analogue stick used to steer and accelerate while R2 provides a speed boost. It also has weapons to take out seafaring enemies and while you can fire on locals it's not recommended as the police hit you with an on the spot fine for such behaviour.

In some ways the game has aged gracefully; the graphics and sound still hold up today, particularly against other downloadable titles. In other ways though, age has taken its toll. The camera deservedly takes most of the blame here, as it is simply not good enough by today's standards. Much of the game takes place in confined spaces indoors, and you're forced to wrestle with it constantly to get the view you want. Even after much wrestling you may not get a good view, or you'll have it obstructed by objects between you and Jade.

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Beyond Good & Evil HD is out on PS3 now.
The other issue is that the game now feels very simple. Combat is performed with a single button, puzzles are a breeze, and there's not much to do outside of the main quest. There are 88 pearls to find, but you'll get about 75 of those from the main quest. Finding all of the animals is tougher, but also unnecessary. With that said, Beyond Good and Evil HD is no longer a full-price game and the simplicity of it makes it perfect for the downloadable market so perhaps this isn't much of an issue at all (aside from how it affected my memories of the game).

As mentioned above graphically, Beyond Good and Evil HD holds its own, particularly in the download market. Even after seven plus years Jade looks and moves well, and environments, while not especially detailed, are bright and colourful outside and dark and claustrophobic inside, both of which suit the tone of the game well. The camera does some weird things at times, going inside Jade, or blocking your view with objects that pop up. I also fell through a wall when attempting a jump, ending up in a vast and endless blackness that could only be solved by quitting the game.

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Another screenshot from BG&E HD.
I'm not sure if it's a sign of how far we've come, or just how grumpy I am, but the voice-acting which Dave originally described as ‘wonderful' grated on me. That's not entirely fair, and really it was Double-H's inability to string more than three words together without adding a ‘Miss Jade' that got on my nerves. The rest of the voice-acting is decent, but nothing to write home about. The music has apparently received a touch-up but I couldn't pick what was new. It's varied and ranges from electronic beats to orchestral sounds giving the game locations even more variety.

Although it's been more than seven years since Beyond Good and Evil was released, it has aged well in many respects. It looks and sounds very good, and while the camera is a major pain at times it never kills the gameplay. Overall it's a bit simpler than I remember it being, but given it's now a download title and not a full-priced release that's not a major problem. In fact as far as downloadable games go, Beyond Good and Evil HD gives you a good run for your money. The story is interesting and you'll want to play through to its end which is a good eight to ten hours away. If you missed it the first time around then this is well worth checking out, though it's not the classic some would have you believe.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSThe touch up to HD keeps things looking good. Jade moves well and the environments are pretty enough. The camera sucks though, and there are a couple of glitches.
SOUNDThe music won multiple awards back in 2004, and is still very good today. If I hear Double-H say ‘Miss Jade’ one more time I might have to break something...
GAMEPLAYCombat and puzzles are a bit simple by today’s standards, but using your camera to capture evidence is fun. Simplicity aside the gameplay is strong, with good variety.
VALUEAt its current price on the PSN it’s great value. You’re given no reason to replay though.
OVERALLDespite its age Beyond Good and Evil still has a lot to offer. The story will keep you interested, and who knows, you may find yourself craving the sequel.

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