Beyond Good & Evil HD Hands-On Preview & HD Gameplay - Reliving a Classic
Written Friday, February 11, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
If there’s one thing the Xbox Live Arcade is beautifully set up for... it’s second chances. After all, everyone in life deserves a second chance, except whoever stole my Cadbury’s Creme Egg out of the fridge the other day. You can burn in hell for all I care... For Ubisoft and Beyond Good & Evil though, this is it. This is the second chance that the original – generally heralded as a true great many years ago – truly deserves. Truthfully though, how many resources are lavished upon and how quickly the already announced Beyond Good & Evil 2 arrives, probably hinges upon its success, so although it might seem like a second chance, it definitely feels like there’s more riding on it this time.
When it comes to the game itself, I suspect there will be two camps of people: camp A who played it many moons ago and are looking forward to the HD remake; and camp B, who missed it the first time around and will be snapping it up this time to see what all the fuss is about. Camp B, by the way, is possibly the size of Africa with a London-esque density of people. In short, not enough people bought it first time around.
If you don’t fit into either of those categories, what the hell is wrong with you? Note: there is technically only two camps of people remaining, camp C, who are those who played it and don’t want to play it again; and camp D, who are those who don’t want to play it at all – both camps should be ushered into the corner and treated like plague victims if that’s the case. Anyway, in order to cater to both camps – the non-plague infested ones, of course – I’ll try and address how it’s aged and how it stands up in HD for camp A; and for camp B, I’ll try and give a little insight into the game’s mechanics and story, and such. Not too much though... you know how we hate spoilers around here. We put them with the plague victims... which is far away from us.
Beyond Good & Evil takes place in the year 2435 on the mining planet of Hillys. Jade, a young photojournalist and our fearless protagonist, along with her boar-like uncle, Pey'j, set off on a journey to uncover the secrets of the invading alien race, the DomZ, and in doing so, uncover the conspiracy of all conspiracies. From a gameplay perspective, in a nutshell Beyond Good & Evil is an action-adventure title with a few puzzles, some third-person hack-n-slash combat, a bit of stealth and plenty of exploration mixed in.
You’ll bounce from mission to mission – racing, playing mini-games and riding around in your hovercraft in between things – working with your uncle to uncover the truth and defeat the evil forces at work. So whether you’re earning pearls to spend on upgrades for your craft, earning credits to buy goodies or snapping photos of the planet’s wildlife, one of Beyond Good & Evil’s strengths lies in its inherent variety.
The upcoming HD version of the 2003 classic though doesn’t mean the upgrades have been confined to just improved character models and detailed textures in its upgraded 1080p glory. Far from it, in fact, the remastered soundtrack is every bit as much as an improvement as the HD visuals are.
From a control standpoint, everything is as you’d expect and from what I remember of how the original handled, the differences between the versions is minimal... which is a good thing. If there is one grumble I do have, based on the code we have our hands-on at the moment, there is no option to invert the vertical axis on its own; instead, you have to invert both the vertical and the horizontal axis together as one, which is a huge pain in the ass for inverts like me. It is a pretty criminal error in this day and age of games, but it’s one that doesn’t really ruin the experience. Luckily.
I suppose the big question is; how has it aged? Well, despite its simple one-button combat and its relatively straightforward puzzles, I’d have to say it’s aged surprisingly well, which if I’m being truthful, actually surprised me quite a bit. The charm of the original though was never its gameplay – although I would argue it was probably ahead of its time – but it was the story, the sense of humour and the great voice acting and chemistry of our dynamic duo. In short, it’s aged pretty damn well.
The new HD version of Beyond Good & Evil on first inspection seems to be a great port of the 2003 classic, boasting solid high-definition visuals and a remastered soundtrack that gives the experience a new lease of life. For a game that is effectively eight-years old to still handle well and not feel totally dated is an achievement in itself. For it to look and sound the part as well, oh well that’s just an added bonus. When you talk about classic titles for each console cycle, Beyond Good & Evil definitely stands out as one of the last generation’s iconic titles and it’s pretty damn good in this generation as well. Do yourself – and everyone who wants a sequel – a favour, and when this drops for 800 Microsoft Points, slap your cash on it.... It’s a steal.
Beyond Good & Evil HD is scheduled for a March 2nd release for 800 Microsoft Points. Take this awfully nice gameplay montage to tide you over until then.