Beyond Good & Evil HD Review

By Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 07, 2011

It's been eight years since the original cult classic Beyond Good and Evil was released, and now Ubisoft is giving fans and newcomers alike the chance to experience one of the most tragically overlooked games ever with Beyond Good and Evil HD. Diehard BGE lovers would have obviously rather had Beyond Good and Evil 2 released in its place, but it will definitely do for now.

The Pros
  • Still one of the best games ever
  • Brilliant game direction
  • Game world is rich and engaging
The Cons
  • Camera issues, especially in tight spaces
  • Final boss fight is just ridiculous

Beyond Good and Evil HD Review:

It’s been eight years since the original cult classic Beyond Good and Evil was released, and now Ubisoft is giving fans and newcomers alike the chance to experience one of the most tragically overlooked games ever with Beyond Good and Evil HD. Diehard BGE lovers would have obviously rather had Beyond Good and Evil 2 released in its place, but it will definitely do for now.

Beyond Good and Evil

For non-cult fans, Beyond Good and Evil tells the story of Jade, a fiesty, green lipstick wearing photojournalist who is tasked with uncovering a government conspiracy that has turned her peaceful planet of Hillys into a violent, war torn dictatorship. Using her trusty staff, and even trustier camera, Jade, with the help of her humanoid pig uncle, Pey'j, must fight against the invading alien forces and bring the truth to the people by joining up with an underground resistance movement known as the Iris Network.

What still absolutely amazes me about BGE is its brilliant game's direction and pacing. I mean, there isn't a proper tutorial (and even then it feels totally natural) until probably around 45 minutes into the game. Players are encouraged to discover all of Jade's moves and skills on their own, and the game only reveals this knowledge when it becomes absolutely necessary. This sense of self-discovery on the part of the player is something of a lost art in "modern" games, and experiencing it from a last-gen game on a next-gen console made its affect all the more pronounced.


There are also so many small details that make exploring Hillys so fantastic; from strolling the streets of the pedestrian district and watching as the conversations and attitudes of the citizens change with every new report you file, to being able to subscribe to in-game newspapers, there is no shortage of ways to be completely drawn into this world. And that’s before being able to compete in hovercraft races, play a futuristic version of air hockey, and, eventually, pilot a ship into space, just to name a few of the activities you’ll encounter. And thanks to the HD upgrade, Hillys and everything in it is more beautiful and enthralling than ever.

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BGE was also way ahead of the curve in terms of giving players the freedom to play how they want. Stealth plays a major part in the game, as it is what allows Jade to sneak into government facilities and snap the photos necessary to blow the lid off the conspiracy. However, if you'd rather fight guards as opposed to sneak around them, you can. There are certain sections where this option is simply impossible, but there are plenty of places where you're free to choose your approach.

Beyond Good and Evil

Stealth is actually one of the areas where the game's direction shines brightest, as there are numerous scenarios where the camera will shift to give you a dramatically different perspective on your surroundings. The best part is that you never know exaclty when these shifts are coming, so it's always wonderfully surprising. There are also several chase sequences where Jade must outrun pursuers through alleyways and across rooftops that, oddly enough, feel reminiscent of similar sequences in the Uncharted series.

The combat is rather limited, since Jade only has her staff and throwable discs that can be used to bust oxygen tanks on enemies' backs or solve puzzles. But, because combat design is nearly identical to the combat system found in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the flow with which Jade moves makes fighting fast, fluid, and satisfying. The game's only major issue combat wise is the final boss battle. For a game that only sporadically asks you to fight and then has an end boss sequence that throws wave after wave of enemies at you and has a boss that is capable of knocking you down, and then, before you can even stand up, hit you again, and do this over and over until you're dead, it's a rather baffling conclusion to an otherwise masterpiece of a game.

There are also times when using the hovercraft, specifically in caves or other tight areas, where the camera basically breaks. This only happens a few times, and one of them does involve floating mines, which isn’t an ideal combination, but it stands out because the rest of the game is so tight. The other notable camera problem is that you can't invert the Y-axis and keep the X-axis normal, or vice versa. It's either all normal or all inverted. This issue will obviously only frustrate fans of inverted controls, but it's worth pointing out, since it was present in the original game too.

Beyond Good and Evil Creator Leaves Ubisoft, Sequel In Jeopardy?

If you missed Beyond Good and Evil the first time around, and you want to finally see what all the fuss is about, now is your chance. Yes, it’s just a beautified version of the original game, and it has some quirky issues here and there, but it’s still a must play for any gamer. Seriously, don't make the same mistake twice and let the re-release pass you by too. Play Beyond Good and Evil HD now!