When I first considered tackling the vast library of GameTap games for our cheap gaming feature, the first title that popped into my mind was Beyond Good & Evil. Subsequent deeper considerations unavoidably retrieved the same result. It grabs you by the soul. I’ll try and restrain repeating the “propaganda”. So, with news of the sequel on its way, let’s discuss the original.
Released in late 2003 to positive reviews, the game nevertheless sold rather poorly. It was a new franchise with an image that didn’t grab gamers’ attention… until later. Through word of mouth alone BG&E steadily grew a base of adoring fans long after it was considered a financial failure.
BG&E’s perhaps greatest strength is the story and characters. It’s likely you’ll grow fond of them within the first couple minutes of the game — something unprecedented for me. It stars a freelance reporter by the name of Jade, who along with her friend Pey’j have adopted several orphans of a war with an alien race, the DomZ. The Alpha Section is the protectors of the city Hillys. But like all good stories, there’s more than meets the eye.
It’s not often we mention the music in a game specifically, but for BG&E we’ll make an exception. It still stands out for me as one of my favorite game soundtracks. For Christophe Heral this is his ONLY game soundtrack, and yet it shines. You’ll be exhilarated throughout the game by the masterful and thrilling score. I could write some more adjectives, but you get the idea.
This is where the most contention lies as to the quality of the game. Some will say it’s disjunct and has poor combat. Others will point out the variety of gameplay and mini-games. I’m in the latter group. As a whole the gameplay of BG&E is excellent. If you take each element by itself, there’s not much to them. Attacking is mostly button mashing; driving consists of mostly just steering and shooting straight forward; etc. But regardless of each element’s simplicity in design, it’s still fun to do.
One fun gameplay element is photography. At the beginning of the game you’ll be directed to take pictures of various phauna to add to a catalogue of species on the planet. You get paid for each new species you photograph. (yes, even humans) The variety and uniqueness of the creatures makes it interesting and many will be a challenge to capture. If you take a snapshot of all the creatures, you’ll unlock a mini-game.
Some consider the gameplay more difficult than what you’d expect. This is mostly due to later levels that involve stealth and acrobatics. You may get a little frustrated in these areas, but you’ll have plenty of motivation to keep trying. It’s all very worth it.
There’s not much to show that wouldn’t spoil the story and various surprises, but here’s some clips from Beyond Good & Evil.
Ubisoft is known for their poor PC ports so don’t be surprised if you run into problems when running the actual game. The most common issues are poor audio/video sync during cut scenes and a bugged level that’ll require a workaround. To improve your experience, turn on Vsync in your video card control panel, avoid anti-aliasing as it will conflict with BG&E’s own AA, turn off all but one core on multi-core processors, and probably turn water quality to medium or low. Let’s hope Ubisoft doesn’t continue this trend. Luckily, this game is worth a little effort.
WHERE TO BUY
In my opinion this is positively one of the best games we’ve covered here, so I can’t recommend this enough. BG&E is available on Steam for $9.99 or on GameTap for the price of their subscription. ($10 a month, or $5 a month if paid annually)