Beyond Good & Evil Goes Way Beyond 2003

Now here's something. After years of listening to fans call this one of the great, under-appreciated classics of video gaming, people will actually get the chance to play a polished, updated version of Beyond Good & Evil.

First released all the way back in 2003, Beyond Good & Evil is what happens when you let a Frenchman make a Zelda game. Dropping much of the tedium associated with Nintendo's action/adventure flagship and setting the game in a quirky sci-fi universe, its remembered as much for its unique visuals and colour palette as it is for how it actually played.

Why You Should Care This really is one of the best games ever made. It's got its share of problems, sure, but its look and feel - which is refreshingly European - made people fall in love with the game in 2003 regardless. This new version is that same game, only with updated graphics so it's not afraid to run on a 1080p screen.

What We Liked A Wise Choice: Unlike some other recent remakes and upgrades, Beyond Good & Evil HD isn't a total conversion. So you will in places, like background textures and NPCs, be reminded this game is eight years old. Where Ubisoft decided to make changes were where it counted, on the game's main characters (like star Jade), prominent textures and immediate effects (like the water of Hillys), which are the things you'll be looking at the most. This means that you quickly forget the parts that haven't been touched and only focus on the parts that have, giving the illusion that this select upgrade is a lot more far-reaching than it actually is. Oh, and PC owners, yes, the upgrades go beyond the visual quality found in your version of the original.

It Still Holds Up: Eight years on and, unlike some other supposed "classics" of the PS2 era, Beyond Good & Evil still shines as an excellent - if "bare" by modern standards - action/adventure. The combat still feels fluid and responsive, the hovercraft controls are still a blast and even running around taking photos of animals is still more fun than it should be.

One Of A Kind: There are few games that manage to escape the trappings of influence as much as BG&EHD. While it plays like a Zelda game, that's where the touch of other titles ends, as everything else about the world - from its creatures to its bad guys down to the green lipstick-wearing heroine Jade - stands as something truly unique, a rare treat in video games.

Pitch Perfect: Along with a graphical nip & tuck, BGE&EHD has also had its score and sound effects remastered. You may not notice the sound, since even cleaned up many of the effects still come off a little "weak", but the excellent soundtrack now sounds, well, even more excellent, from the title music to the cheesy takes on rock and reggae.

Keyless Entry: You know, people say the thing they like most about this game was how it starred a normal girl and a pig. Or how it was a Zelda game with all the fat trimmed off. Me, I just love its keypad entry system, and cannot to this day understand why more games don't make use of it. It may sound like a trivial thing, but you need to enter a ton of passwords in this game, and smoothly tapping them in on a giant circular spiral is a lot faster than having to use a "regular" keypad.

What We Didn't Like War Has Changed: While it's unfair to expect advances to have been made beyond the game's graphics and sound, eight years on some aspects of the game that were forgiveable in 2003 are less so now. New players should note that the game is not only short for the "Zelda" genre, lasting around ten hours, but that you're constantly reminded the game was originally intended to be much longer, as story elements can feel either rushed or, using a major revelation at the end of the game as an example, dropped on the player out of nowhere. Oh, and there are too many stealth sections in the game's dungeons. Way too many.

The Bottom Line I can't recommend this re-release enough. If you're a fan of the original, this is that same great game, only now it looks and sounds like it belongs in 2011. And if you've never played the original? And have been missing out on being video gaming's second-greatest photojournalist all these years? Time to make amends.

Beyond Good & Evil HD was developed and published by Ubisoft for Xbox Live Arcade, released on March 2. PlayStation Network version coming soon. Retails for 800 MSP (USD$10). A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed game in just over ten hours. Still can't find every one of those damn animals.


Comments

    its been on GOG for quite a while now.

      Sounds like it's superior to what would have been floating around there: "Oh, and PC owners, yes, the upgrades go beyond the visual quality found in your version of the original."

      As much as those guys do a fantastic job, the game still has serious problems on multi-core PCs.

      Worth it for the soundtrack alone though, its awesome

    The stealth sections were one of my favourite parts! Each one felt like a cool little puzzle to be solved.

    I hope anyone who isn't already in love with BG&E do themselves the favour of buying this updated version. It's easily one of my favourite games of all time.

    I've never really gotten the hype myself. I think I played it until you get to some city after a boat or driving or something bit and felt very "meh" about it...

      The city (the only one- and it is tiny) is gorgeous! A beautifully painted old-world european city. You only got 45 mins in? The rhinos, the faux-Spaniard AI, the hovercraft and Peyj didn't hook you in?

      Each to their own, I guess.

    Its a great game, if a little simplistic, but it aint Zelda!

    Why the continuous Zelda references? Zelda's one of my favourite franchises (admittedly, like nearly everyone else) but Beyond Good and Evil did not remind me of, nor play like, any Zelda game.

      It had collectibles, a very basic combat system, small inventory upgrades (it's even got boots!), it's an adventure game. It certainly has the charm of Zelda. I can see why the references are appropriate.

      perhaps the continuous Zelda references are because everyone has forgotten about the far more appropriate spiritual predecessors in the LBA/Twinsen series!

      I also think it's a bad idea to make comparisons to 'long' games when methinks part of the appeal of the LBA/BG&E titles is the fact you can finish them in under 6 hours (admittedly after several playthroughs), and because they are tightly crafted stories it makes it far easier to replay and enjoy them like a favourite movie (unlike let's say any of the 100+ hour epics that are hard enough to find time to play through even once!)

    "Beyond Good & Evil is what happens when you let a Frenchman make a Zelda game."

    Stopped reading there.

    I won't touch anything even remotely related to or reminescent of Zelda.

      Try the demo, this game is exactly like zelda in the sense that its a game and has a character who wears green, thats about it.

      Personally I detested zelda and adored BG&E

    I could never get it to work on any of my PCs no matter what I did. So I bought this game the moment it was available of Xbox Live. One extremely annoying thing is that you can only alter the X and Y axis controls simultaneously. So, for example, I invert the X axis all the time in games but never invert the Y axis. Unfortunately, in this game, you have to invert the X and Y together, you can't simply do one even though every single game I've ever played allows each to be altered separately.

    Damn annoying. I just left it to default but it's ruining my enjoyment of the game because I can't get used to a non-inverted X axis control scheme.

    I liked Beyond good and evil, but I struglled with some of the stealth parts and it stopped me playing it. There wasn't really a walkthrough for the stealth parts, so the fact that this one has more is really making it a "dop not purchase". I saw nothing wrong with the original visuals or the sound so that doens't bother me.

    Does anyone know if this will be re-released on PC as well? I had a quick check of their forums, but there was nothing definitive - would be a shame if PC players didn't get the shiny updated version!

    Still one of my favourite games of all time! I'll definitely be buying this once it comes out on PSN, hopefully we can convince them to make a sequel.

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