Poorly Thought Through Review: Beyond Good and Evil HD
I play games, quite a lot of games. And sometimes I wonder, what did other people think of this game? If I wonder this, surely others do as well.
In PTTR I review games as I complete them, completely subjectively. I’ll write as much or as little as I damn well please, depending on if, or how much, the game stirred any thoughts or emotions up in me. If I feel like rambling on about some random detail that annoyed me, that’s what I’ll do.
So if you ever wondered what some guy thought of the game you’re playing, I’ve got you covered.
I review games on a true 10 point scale. No 7-10 scale bullshit like IGN does, where you can only get less than 7 if you didn’t send some ad money their way.
This means that 1 = Shit. 2.5 = Poor. 5 = Average. 7 = Good. 10 = The Shit.
Poorly Thought Through Review: Beyond Good and Evil HD
Beyond Good and Evil came out for all consoles last generation. It received some critical praise, but sold poorly. However through word of mouth, it slowly built quite the cult following. By now it has reached the point where you can’t be a douchy hipster gamer without claiming to have played Beyond Good and Evil several times, regardless of if you did or not. This is a pretty rare club, off the top of my head I can only think of Ico and Shadow of Colossus as games talked about the same way.
But now Ubisoft has been kind enough to release Beyond Good and Evil HD for Xbox Live Arcade, a faithful port of the original game with higher resolution textures. Now gamers have no excuse for not having played this classic game.
Is the game as good as advertised? Has it held up well over the years?
I played Beyond Good and Evil on the Gamecube, and remembered it as an interesting, weird, and sometimes frustrating game. I saw it on LIVE Arcade for only 800 space banana bucks, and figured I might as well revisit it, if only to strengthen my already considerable douchy hipster gamer credentials.
After playing through it, my main thought can be summed up pretty quickly: Thank the gods for the advancements in camera design and programming. Thank you Shinji Mikami for making Resident Evil 4 and changing the industry forever.
Back in 2003, a full 7+ years after games entered the third dimension, we were still at the point where no one could come up with a not-crap camera system for third person titles. Actually by the standards at the time, BGAE had a pretty good camera, which is not saying much.
While the old 8bit and especially the 16bit generation of games have held up great, and are still fun to go back and play, I find that the first two generations of 3D games are often painful to revisit, as they hold up really poorly and show how much growing pains 3D game design went through. PSX and N64 games look absolutely hilariously awful and have terrible camera systems, PS2, Xbox and Gamecube games hold up a bit better, but still suffer from some obvious growing pains.
Whenever I revisit old games from those generations, I can deal with the low poly models and low rez textures (although PSX and to a lesser extent PS2 games lack of anti aliasing cause some serious eye strain), but the camera systems always infuriate and sometimes even (literally) sicken me.
This was often the case with Beyond Good and Evil HD, the camera was always jerking around for no good reason, getting stuck on walls and in corners and sometimes inexplicably focusing on all the wrong things, so I couldn’t see what I was fighting. In the slaughterhouse dungeon especially, when you have to drive around in the hovercraft, I started feeling a bit ill. It was bad enough that I seriously considered just dropping the game and moving on.
Then I realized I am a man, promptly located my balls, and played on. It worries me sometimes how much games these days are turning me into a pussy. Old 8 and 16 bit games are suddenly hard as hell to me, and I get motion sickness from bad cameras and blurry graphics. Where once I could play Duke Nukem 3D multiplayer for hours on end, about 5 minutes with that game now will have me projectile vomiting on the screen.
That brings me to another point, there were a few sections in the game where I got stuck. I had no idea what to do next, and the game offered no clues. As always in these situations, the answer is dead easy, and after hours of searching (and cursing), when you find it, you feel like an idiot and the smartest guy ever at the same time. BGAEHD had a few situations like this, and every time the feeling I had, the frustration, felt really unfamiliar to me. I was wondering why that is, and it occurred to me that this never happens to me in games anymore. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any games I’ve played recently that put me in situations like that. Features like on screen tips, or visual clues like a faint glow around an object you can interact with, have almost completely removed those situations where you just get stuck. I hadn’t actually though about this until now. I guess it’s a good thing.. or is it?
BGAEHD is still as charming as ever. The art remains interesting, the characters are distinctive, and Double H is still the lamest, dorkiest sidekick ever. Pey’j is a little bit more annoying than I remembered though. I remembered the story to be really good, and while it is not bad, it’s not nearly as good as I remembered. It’s pretty straightforward, the cutscenes are nothing special, the voice acting is merely ok, and the ending is borderline bad to me.
The soundtrack is also really quirky. The music was catchy though. I liked it.
I really enjoyed the side missions that end in chases. Some of those chase sequences are, to this day, some of the best chase sequences in gaming. Especially the one that has you running from the leader of the Alpha Sections. That was pretty kickass.
There was a strange sequence towards the third act where I had to locate some codes to access my spaceship. Turned out I needed to go into my inventory to check a pair of shoes. Thing is, I didn’t realize I even had an inventory. Either it was never mentioned, or I must have skipped past that part of the tutorial. In any case, if not for that sequence, I seriously would have gone through the entire game without knowing there was an inventory in this game.
I also felt that in the dungeons, where you have to be stealthy, it often is just not very fun. I wasn’t enjoying it at all. And it took me back to that time where everything had poorly implemented ‘stealth elements’. It was all the rage. I’m happy the current trend of including RPG elements in every game doesn’t result in nearly as much aggravation.
You spend much of the game together with a partner, and for the majority of the time, it works well. They don’t do much, but they rarely screw you over either. I died a couple of times because my partner was killed, and twice the AI had a retard moment during scripted events that caused me to have to retry that section. However for the most part, the AI is somewhat competent.
As I mentioned earlier, the story takes a turn for the worse at the very end, and it was compounded by the really annoying credits that run on forever. No scrolling credits here, noo, they fade in, like one guy at a time, and stay on screen for a long time. And you can’t exit it by pressing any buttons. There is a short epilogue at the end, that hints at the events in the sequel, but I bet probably no one ever saw it because no one can’t possibly have the patience to sit through such an obnoxious credits sequence without just exiting the game.
In the end, I don’t think Beyond Good and Evil HD is that good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good game, and it’s really interesting and quirky. It’s… different. And different is good, especially nowadays with all these derivative games. But it’s not THAT good. It’s not so good it deserves to be mentioned alongside the Ico’s and Shadows of the Colossus’ (Colossi?) of the world.
*Puts on his Bill Simmons hat*
I think Beyond Good and Evil is a case of a game that was underrated for so long, and people kept talking about how underrated it was, that in the end, it ended up being overrated.
Rating: 7 – A good, interesting and original game, that is hurt by a bad camera and some stealth sections that just aren’t much fun.