If it's crap ... We'll tell you
It's not often that playing an old game would leave you truely impressed. Let's face it, the majority of the time, they fill us with nostalgic memories, but we spit and curse at their clunky controls, horrid graphics, and downright disappoinement at how the "feel" has all but diminished.
Beyond Good and Evil, is different, Not only does it manage to retain all the charm and brilliance of the original title, but brings some nice improvements too. However, I'm sure several people out there are asking now, what the hell makes this game worthy of a HD remastering, and why should they even care? Let's have a look back at the game...
I'll say this now, I never played the PS2 version, probably just slipped past the radar during those uncomfortable days in secondary school. Then again, it would, because when it was initially released, it was a commercial didsaster. What intentionaly was made to be a trilogy just vanished after poor sales. On the other hand though, it recieved very posative ctitical acclaim, and generated a large fanbase. The new HD release is intended to give the game a second chance, show its worth to the world once again, and line up the long-delayed sequel, most likely destined for the next generation of consoles, though I hope it will be earlier.
The game follows Jade (in picture below), who is looking after an orphanage for the kids created from the current war created by the DomZ. These have been orchestrating suspicious kidnappings to a goal that is unknown to the people of the world, Hillys. A millitary group, named the Alpha Sections, has attempted to reinstate peace and stability to the world, but themselves appear to be taking in suspicious actions. To the public, they accept the Alpha Section's presance and security.
Jade, and her uncle Pey'j, take up a photography mission, capturing photos of the animals that inhibit their island, in order to pay for the expenses of the orphanage. The work gets them in contact with an underground organisation, the IRIS Network, who believe the Alpha Section are in alliance with the DomZ, and want Jade to use her camera skills to get proof of this. Onle when the people see the truth and revold, can Hillys truely be free once more.
As you can see, there's more to this game's story than the cover art suggests, which may be why some people were thrown off when it was first released. But BGAE has a very intrigueing and captivating story, it carries aspects of modern politics, society, culture, all placed in a wonderous Sci-Fi background deep in space. It manages to stand out from the opposition by never forgetting to build the story from the ground up, and let it unfold for the player instead of throwing a bunch of "stuff" in the air and praying some of it sticks.
The gameplay is also of the same manner of originality, it feels like Jak and Daxter, but mixed with some Tactical Espionage, photography, and classic Star Wars. Yes, it is as bizzare as it sounds, and yet.... I enjoyed every minute of it. The game doesn't use gimmicks like a massive open world, or extensive upgrades to draw you in, every item has its significance and every section feels important. It feels just like a great Sci Fi movie does. The camera is used to upload research photos of the wildlife, as a tool to bring the truth to the public about the Alpha Section, and even for planning your stealth movements.
Everything else in the inventory is simple and plain - your weapon is a staff, you have some health packs, keycards, a map, and repair pods for your ship. And that's almost all you need for the game. It's refreshingly simple, and yet, gives you everything you'ld expect.
There's several types of gameplay to shake things up. Following the story will have you exploring mines, seaside caves, industrial factories, and even the boundries of space. Some parts demand two players, but Pey'j is there to give you a lending hand. There's plenty sidequests too that will earn you bonus money, or elusive pearls to purchase new items or upgrades for your ship.
One other thing that must be mentioned here, the music. It's rare for a game soundtrack to leave such an impression, but the one in BGAE is simply marvellous. A mix of Reggae, tunes inspired by the Middle East, orchestra, and , beautifully simple piano. It's a world of different styles and flavours that manage to blend so well into the style of the game. I adore it, it's one of the best parts of the game.
The HD re-release brings some improved and smoothened graphics, an online scoreboard, and collectible Trophies. (no Platinum, sorry guys) Though the Leaderboard seems like a silly inclusion, the slight lift to the graphics is nice to see. I never felt like I needed them to be better, it was enough to compliment the game as a whole. Some things remained however, the camera angles are tricky at best, and at some points almost unmanageable.
But even this rare annoyance wasn't enough to blemish what was a very enjoyable experience. I'm happy to have finally played Beyond Good and Evil, I understand now why it has such a fond following and is a big hitter with the critics. If you want a game that will not only bring you some happy memories, but will be genuinely fun to play aswell, this is what you've been waiting for.
I give it a solid 9/10 , and can only hope that more classics get the HD treatment like this in the future. (notices Ico HD is not far away) Well, looks like we do. ;)