Beyond Good and Evil is an action-adventure game developed by Ubisoft in which you play as a girl named Jade who is sucked into a world of secrecy in which you fight against a mysterious alien force as well as the military force aiding these aliens. This game was released in 2003, making it fourteen years old from this review. Some older games hold up well while others not so much. Let's find out if fourteen years aged this game like a fine wine, or like milk.
Going deeper into the story, you play as a girl named Jade who lives on an island with other children and her pig uncle Pey'j on the planet Hillys. This planet is constantly invaded by an alien force known as the DomZ, but the Hillyian people know how to stay safe by putting up defensive barriers. Well the power bill came right when they needed power the most, and the DomZ attempted to kidnap the children on the island. But have no fear, for the military group Alpha Section is here to thwart off the DomZ... just a little too late. But Jade managed to keep all of the children safe and even payed the power bill by finding a camera and sending pictures of species to a collector. But even with the camera money, Jade and Pey'j are desperate, and they eventually turn to a strange man who asks of a request to take down a dangerous animal for money. After doing so, the duo discovers that the rebellious IRIS network was trying to recruit them to take down the Alpha Section, as for they believe they are working with the DomZ. The rest of the game is Jade trying to uncover the truth about what the Alpha Section really is and how to truly stop the terror that reigns down on Hillys. I thought the story was great. It was unique, fun, and full of twists.
Within the first hour of my playthrough, I already knew that this would be a good game. Not all older games hold up that well, but I found this game to be the opposite. Right off the bat, I was in the action fighting kidnapping aliens with my pig uncle Pey'j, and I was enjoying. I feel like I have played too many recent games and older games that drag out tutorial sections or unplayable sections in the beginning, but having this game get to it was nice. Also within the hour, I started to love the characters, as for they were unique(in characteristics as well as species) and lovable. Pey'j is the clumsy yet helpful uncle, Jade is the rebellious teenager who loves her uncle and the children she is with, and Double H is a rule-following former soldier who sounds more like a football player than anyone else. Now you don't meet Double H within the first hour, but I still wanted to use him as an example of the unique characters you encounter along your journey. But one thing you do get within the first hour is the camera, which is used to photograph different species in return for money. For the rest of the game, the camera proves to be the best way of making money, which was something I enjoyed instead of whacking bad guys over and over with my stick. Taking the pictures varied up the gameplay and was fun to take pictures of all the different species you find on Hillys(and there are a lot). But within those first hours, some problems popped up as well. I guess this isn't a huge surprise for a game during the time, but the camera angles and the control of the camera are not that good. It would often go into weird angles or would lock up, not allowing me to see. I found myself constantly going to the camera in-game just to have a better view of everything. The other problem I had was running the game. I have a very powerful PC, but for this game even the cheapest of hardware should run this game fine. But I still had technical issues. I isolated the cause of it, but it didn't help. Now, when I have the item on, it causes a glitchy hud, and having it off makes my framerate crawl. I found turning the game on, off, and on again fixes the issue for that playthrough, but it was still something that deterred my experience for the rest of the game.
Now of course, I didn't see all of the aspects of this game within the first hour, but even right to the end the game was surprising me. The first thing I did notice with my time was how good the music is. The soundtrack is extremely varied, with different instruments and genres from around the real world to match with the varied gameplay and cultural variety on Hillys. The music matched well with what was happening on the screen, and was good compared to other soundtracks. But speaking of variety, Beyond Good and Evil knows how to do variety well. From the species on the planet to the different gameplay styles, Beyond Good and Evil shows variety everywhere. the game I went into this game thinking it was going to be 95% Jade swinging her stick around at bad guys, and came out wrong. Exploration, stealth, action, puzzles, platforming, racing, and others fill this game with content that keeps you interested from beginning to end. Also, some things feel well balanced. For example, the stealth segments when you are sneaking around Alpha Section is easy and hard. Their line of sight is terrible, but failing at stealth and being caught is hard, as for your only good option is to run because the Alpha Section are really tough to fight. It's these balances of easy and hard that made the difficulty of the game at a goldilocks level and made stuff like stealth, puzzles, and action a lot of fun. But not everything is dandy in this game. Along your journey, you collect money and pearls. I thought the collection of pearls was fine, but I also thought the collection of money was too easy. I never had a problem with buying things because I always had the money to do it. I had so much money that I was buying consumables, which is something I usually never buy in games because I convince myself that I will find those items on my own. The money flowed, but it was something that hurt more than helped for me. Another problem I had was with the hovercraft controls. I stated earlier that I had bad camera controls, but the hovercraft is the worst offender. Not only was the camera bad, the boat controls were bad too, and I found myself getting frustrated with the exploration parts constantly. But I excused the boat controls for the most part because of the fact that I had fun exploring the open seas. I was surprised to find out this game is open world, even if it is small and mostly water. But I still had a fun time moving around in the water and exploring the different caves around Hillys. Another thing I enjoyed with the exploration was the steady progression of vehicle upgrades, which opened up new parts of the map as you upgraded. Getting enough pearls to get upgrades that allowed movement into new areas which allowed more exploration and story telling was a nice way to keep the game at your own pace.
One final thing I wanted to talk about was the final boss. I won't spoil anything, except for the fact that it is really difficult. It was surprising to me, as for I was breezing through most enemies throughout the entire game just to have a really difficult boss. He was really tough, required fast timing, and even threw some curveballs at you. Of all of the frustrating boss I have fought, this one may be the most frustrating, but is one I still appreciate. I was almost screaming at the game, but by the end I realized that it was one of the more unique boss fights I have had and appreciated it for the fact that I wasn't just whacking my stick at a health bar.
The verdict: Despite showing its age at spots, Beyond Good and Evil has aged like a fine wine and proves to me why people are so excited for this upcoming game. Excellent story, varied gameplay, and fun exploration outweigh the technical problems and poor camera angles and control issues I had. The game feels ahead of its time and is a good example of how to make a good video game. For anyone who wants to play this game because of the announcement of the prequel, or just wants to play a good classic game or exploration game, then I would recommend this title.