Review: Beyond Good & Evil (XB)

Wow. I’ve just beaten the game twice now and I have to get my thoughts on paper. It is an absolute mystery to me how many people love this game. I can’t fathom it. I can’t. Never has a game pissed me off so much with shoddy controls, the worst camera angles I have ever seen in a video game and a plot that is good at first but as the game goes on it JUST GETS HORRIBLE. And sorry, but I will be spoiling the plot under the story section of this review, so you may want to skip it. But I will be honest right now and be glad this game has been cancelled on the European Xbox and Gamecube and is selling so poorly. Because no one should have to put up with a lot of the 2nd rate crap I found in this game.

But then, this is why I stay the hell away from platforms…especially 3D ones. Because platforms today are usually games thrown together with some good ideas but bad implementations and end up sucking. Run run run. Collect collect collect. Jump jump jump. Boss boss boss. Repeat until dead.

Don’t get me wrong. But there are some great things in Beyond Good and Evil. Things that made me excited and enjoy the game. But they were rare glimpses into the hell I went through for 20 hours each time I played the game.

Enough with foreshadowing about the rant you about to receive. Let’s get to it.

Let’s Review

1. Story

Okay. Here’s the plot. An alien race called the Domz is attacking the planet of Hillys. Should be town or island as it’s the only place on the planet. You’re Jade, orphan who takes care of other Orphans. And you also maintain part of the defense shield. And along comes an attack, right as your electrical power goes out. See, on Hillys it’s prepaid juice to run your shit. And of course in the middle of a war and you’re one of the main defenses, you would FORGET TO PAY YOUR ELECTRIC BILL. Lame spot #1.

You need to make money for the lighthouse so you start taking photos of all the species on the planet (including a whale that lives in space?) and each photo INSTANTLY nets you cash? Okay. I can accept that for the basis of a video game. Even though it’s just extra padding to make the game longer.

Then you also take a mission to identify a strange animal which later is proven to be a genetic manipulation by the Domz and are inducting to an underground organization that has proof the Alpha Section (army) is in fact in cahoots with the alien invaders and you then join in to help along with your adoptive father, “Uncle Peyj.” Now this isn’t so bad a plot twist. It’s uncovering a conspiracy with aliens. Fox Mulder would be proud. But honestly. If you’re trying to save the world from aliens, will you really have time to traverse the globe looking for rare and unusual animal species? I think not. Lame Point #2.

And so the plot goes. And just keeps getting worse. Your Uncle is Kidnapped by the Domz and most likely alien chow. You team up with another member of the organization called IRIS. And you start to break the conspiracy.

Now here’s my problem. You only do two missions before you go to the moon where the aliens dwell. Two bits of evidence and the conspiracy is overblown. Hell, even Whitewater needed more than that. Yes, I KNOW it’s a game, but the plot is so shallow. It’s like they couldn’t come up with anything else to fill the void so like Alice from the Honeymooners, they went to the moon.

And here’s the SPOILER people. Quickly skip down to the next part of the review or hit back so I can vent happily.

ARRRRGH! Okay. Why the hell does everything have to be over the top to the point of insanity! Beyond Good and Evil is EVERYTHING that is wrong with video game scripts nowdays and they throw it all at you in the last 1-2 hours of the game so it can feel like a plot.

First when you’re on the moon you learn Peyj is dead. But then you have the before now power to bring people back to life. LAME POINT 3. Then when you encounter the final boss you get some weird plot about there not being aliens but one big god like being who you are actually part of and the Peyj and other stole Jade away from him and this was all an attempt to get Jade back. LAME POINT FOUR.

Now let’s look at this. IF the alien/deity is telling the truth, evil or not and Jade was stolen from him and recrafted and brainwashed into being a human, then he’s actually the good guy and the Hillyans are actually bad. And there is reason to believe this is so as Peyj tells Jade not to listen to him. And so even knowing all of this, Jade fights this Lovecraftian esque thing at the end, not the real bad guy. And then when he dies, you get the most nonsensical ending ever where the Alien/deity is suddenly good and sets the captive humans he was going to eat free and then Jade is shown glowing, floating and smiling. And the credits roll.

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS CRAP? Honestly? This is as poorly written as a B movie. But without the cheap nudity or cheesy puns. Does Jade become one with the Alien again, but now he’s cuddly sweet? Does she go back to being human? And what the hell is up with her having to be a damn alien spawn? That totally ruins the game for me to the point of being glad this gets traded in towards Baldur’s Gate 2 or Metroid Zero. Here’s a hint: The story would actually have something compelling about it if she was just an average human fighting the odds and saving the day. Why does everyone always have to have a stupid magical power or relation to the main bad guy or revealed to have a super plot twist at the end? FUCKING LAME POINT FIVE.
What could have been a great story is ruined by being one of the most shallow and insipid things I have ever watched/played/read through. There is no real depth. It’s a few platforming missions that I could count on my hand and then a plot that was already flimsy is torn to hell at the end of the game leaving more confusion and stupidity than making a five year old watching every episode of Twin Peaks and then have them try to explain the story. Seriously, someone PLEASE tell me how anyone could be entertained by this claptrap? How they could find the story gripping or even entertaining? It’s pabulum combined with happy feely hug-o-rama where you walk away feeling cheated that there was nothing in depth or any real discovery and it was like Ubi Soft threw crap against the wall to see what would stick. It’s not artsy. It’s not open ended. It’s a waste of 17 hours of my life disguised as an electronic story.

One of the worst games I have ever played plot wise and that includes Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.

Oh and at the end, after the credits Peyj is revealed to be a Domz. Was he all along? Is he dead after all and you merely saved one of his evil clones the Domz made to fight you at the end? Is he brainwashed or being controlled like a puppet? Who know? Who cares. It’s just another SWERVE from the Vince Russo of video games that doesn’t have to make sense of follow any logic. It’s a SWERVE!

Plot rating: 2/10

2. Graphics

Again. I’ve seen a lot better on every console right now. When watching the Demo before the game, there was a ton of jaggies and weird shading things. The game also suffered from disappearing buildings and backgrounds and herky jerky motions.

Now there were so pretty parts of the game. But not many. Especially compared to what is out there. Some of the cut scenes are nice, even if they are N64 or DC quality. Jade is well designed and moves and acts like and actual human in the cut scenes, but then everyone else is over the top cartoonish in appearance. Why? Why spend time making a realistic looking character to play as and then surround with buffoons and bizarrely drawn characters and furries? To make her look even better? Or to make the rest of the game look bad in comparison. Seriously, if the game had put as much effort into the rest of the graphics as they did Jade this thing would have been a visual masterpiece. But nope. Most of the animals are blurry when looked up close up and decidedly lacking in detail.

Nothing in beyond Good and Evil catches my eye as amazing. FF7 and 8 had better graphics in places and those were on the dinky PS1. Which makes it all the more impressive and BG&E all the more lackluster.

Graphics Rating: 6/10

3. Sound

Okay. Jade’s Voice actress was great. However if I ever meet the Voice of Peyj or Double H, I will murder them. “CHILI CON CARNE” haunts my dreams, as does Double H quoting his damn rulebook all the time. Why? Why does Double H quote the soldier’s rule book all the time? It’s not funny. It’s annoying. As is nearly everything vocally in the game.

Scratch that. The Jamaican Rhinos are cool. But all the voices are shrill and annoying as hell. And repetitive.

This is another example of where the game focused too much of the design of Jade and not enough of every other aspect of the game. Lara Croft syndrome anyone?

Musically the game is great. The music fits every aspect of the game, from the battles in the Beluga, which is your spaceship (Yes. A space ship is named after an aquatic mammal. Again, I didn’t write this crap.) to how the music changes dramatically when you’re caught sneaking and have to go into full blown combat.

The soundtrack for Beyond Good & Evil may not be worthy of a stand alone purchase, but it gets the job done and serves as a good counterbalance to all the things wrong with this game.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control

Let me say this. BG&E has the worse camera angles I have ever experienced in a video game. Far worse than Resident Evil. Worse than Sonic Adventure. Worse than Muppet Monster Adventure. Beyond Good and Evil is my vote for the most horrible shoddiest most profanity inducing camera angles in any video game.

Here’s some fun example. Half the time the camera stick DOESN’T WORK. Or in boss fights, the camera is in such an awkward spot, you can’t see crap. I don’t really want to ruin the game too much, but here’s one terrific example. After the Domz have blown up your lighthouse, you have to do battle with some flying Alpha Section guys. First of all, you have to do your jump attack which can only be achieved by charging. MOST of the time you will be shot while charging because it takes to bloody long. But then, you have to be able to reach the flying bosses in order to hit them. And thanks to the camera angles, you can’t tell if they are too far away or not! Indeed, you can’t even SEE where Jade is because the camera is almost always fixated on the Boss, not where your character is. And I’m not talking about first person camera view either! I’m talking Third person should see Jade’s body on the screen at all times view. It’s horrible! And like I said that’s just one example out of many where you will be wondering how people could be insane enough to enjoy this game or not to question the sanity of the creators.

As for controls, well there are two modes as I have said. Let’s talk camera mode first. Right out of the gate, it sucks big time. Fatal Frame 1 &2, Pokemon Snap and Cardcaptor Sakura all do their Camera aspects of the video game in such a superior way to Beyond Good and Evil, one has to wonder why they didn’t just still the same mode for this game instead of creating a third rate ultra slow camera mode that takes FOREVER to look at anything. We are talking molasses slow here people.

And then we have normal mode aka “unresponsive as hell mode” Oh boy. Jump towards and Dodge are the same button! How could the developers not see that being a problem. Especially as the game seems to have trouble distinguishing between things. I go to dodge an Alpha Section attack, but LO…I JUMP INTO IT! What fun!

Or my favorite is when I’m trying to run like hell from something in a chase scene and I…START SNEAKING against a wall because the game assumes that is what I want to do. WITHOUT HITTING THE SNEAK BUTTON. Yes, I know the manual says, Jade will try and sneak against a wall if she can. But then why is it whenever I want her to be all stealthy is the game, she doesn’t put her tight ass against the wall and start sliding but instead walks as if she’s going clothes shopping. BUT BUT BUT when I need her to shake the fanny so she doesn’t get killed, she decides she can sneak against a wall with a dozen Domz troops behind her.

Thank Christ for K-Bups. It’s the Breakfast of Fucking Champions.

Oh. And what’s hilarious is the fact that Jade may be sluggish as hell in terms of responding to controls, the vehicles are the exact OPPOSITE? You barely touch the controls and you go zooming in that direction! Again, I ask how people managed to enjoy this game? Are platforming fans just used to maximum suckage and thus accept crap easier than myself who is used to 2D shooters where play control is so very important?

Control Rating: 2/10

5. Replayability

NONE! None whatsoever. There’s so bonuses for playing the game a second time. Go sell it before it devours you from the inside out!

Okay. Not that bad. You can redo all four of the races to improve your time. I mean, if you really want to instead of playing a FUN racing game like Double Dash or F-Zero GX. Or if you missed some pearls or pictures, you could backtrack for those. Oh wait. No you can’t. You’ll have to start a whole new game to get them all. WHEEE! And there is the pearl mini-game Mamago gives you if you collect all 88 pearls. Which isn’t very interesting at all. But at least there are some options right? And who knows, you might actually be insane enough to play this game twice. Like I did so I could 100% it and know that when this game gets traded back in, that the nightmares will cease.

Replayability: 3/10

6.Balance

See, this is why we have such a comprehensive rating system. It weeds out the crap. None of this “Pretty girl video game character = 8.0 rating” crap you see from everyone else. Games get torn apart by 411. And here’s comes another example of it.

Balance huh? Well thanks to the abysmal controls, there is actually a degree of challenge, if only because it takes forever to use your special attack or camera angles screw up where you are.

Battles are far too easy, and there is an obvious emphasis on stealth and backstabbing that straight out combat. But even if you do engage in fighting, every villain has the same exact pattern so it doesn’t matter. You can fight five in a row and bam…you’ll still win without breaking a sweat.

On the other hand, one of the great aspects of the game are the sneaking puzzles. For example the fog based sneakathon where there is an insta-kill laser in the room. Or one of the final Alpha outposts where you need the star key. Now that’s a maze of sneaking and a good fun challenge.

But again, like the other good points in BG&E, these bits of fun are rare. I enjoyed the Space Ship battles as well. Immensely in fact. And the chase scenes were the best part of the game. I just wish there had been more than two.

Overall, I’d say the game goes to extremes. It’s almost always way too easy and only ever gets hard when the camera or controls screw up on you. And that shouldn’t count as a challenge, but yet another strike against the designers.

Still love those chase scenes though. A game that had tons of those would be incredible.

Balance Rating: 5/10

7. Originality

Nothing is truly original here. Third rate conspiracy plot. Third rate boat race game. Third rate picture taking game. Second rate shooter game. Second rate platformer. And first rate kick ass chase scenes you have to play through.

But here’s the kicker. Aside from Batman games, I’ve never seen all of these put together into one single game before. And that’s nice to see Ubi Soft cramming everything into one game. Now if only they had taken the diversity and made it good and playable…

Originality Rating: 5/10

8. Addictiveness
As much as I disliked this game, I felt a deep need to beat it so that I could get the hellish torment of it over with. It wasn’t the love of the game or the gripping need to know what happened next. I just didn’t want to have to wake up the next morning knowing I still had to play this game. That it still was in my Xbox sucking things up and leaving me in a generally pissy mood. Honestly, me swearing at games that don’t involve characters name Ryu or Iori is rare as things can be. And this game just made me pissy.

Still, I guess hate and wishing something to cease existing can be considered a TYPE of addictiveness right? The game kept me playing, just for all the wrong reasons.

Addictiveness Rating: 5/10

9. Appeal Factor

God help me, I don’t know why but reviewers seem to love this game. Must have been bribed with free ponies, because I just don’t understand the love for this game. It’s a pile of rancid poo left by a diseased rat. But it seems to be popular and platform gaming fans, like plentiful in the same annoying way that lots of wood ticks or malaria carrying mosquitoes.

So I guess a new sparkly platformer with a pretty girl as the main character appeals to the average gamer. But of course thanks to those same gamers, we have 5 Tomb Raiders too many…

Appeal Factor: 5/10

10. Miscellaneous

Although my review has been pretty scathing, there are good parts to BG&E and those parts are incredible. I keep harping on I love the chase scenes. I love seeing tons of enemies chasing after you and shooting all over the place in an attempt to kill you dead. Love it. It reminds me for some reason of playing games like Gradius or Radiant Silvergun. I know, I’m a 2-D shooting whore. I also loved flying around in space and blowing stuff up. Lots of fun. But I couldn’t stand the hovercraft piloting and the camera angles…oh how I hate them and wish to destroy their entire family.

The added stuff such as pearl collecting and picture taking is a nice touch, even if the Camera mode isn’t implemented very well.

And I still think the ending is as bad as the ending of the NES Super Mario Brothers 3.

I have a lot of anger towards this game because I view it as pretty but badly designed crap. But I also have to take into consideration the only platformer I have liked in years has been Haunted Mansion or Eternal Darkness if you count it as one. And both of those appeal to the monochromatic wardrobe/Sisters of Mercy fan that I am.

In an attempt to be neutral I guess I can see how people would see what I take as bad camera angles and annoyingly sluggish controls as challenge. Or the fact that compared to a lot of Platformers, BG&E TRIES to have a plot. But then I’ve probably been spoiled by the rich back story of games like King of Fighters or any of my massive RPG collection.

For a Platformer, BG&E does a lot. And it does it…okay. I’ve played better. I know you all have to. But like I said it does things in an adequate fashion. But where it shines, it REALLY shines.

Miscellaneous Rating: 6/10

Short Attention Span Summary
Although this game has annoyed me more so than any game I have played in many years, there are some good aspects to look at in it. I personally feel the flaws denote that this game should be rental over a weekend only and then returned before any major mental scarring occurs. It’s not a good game by my standards however. It’s a little bit under-average. But maybe you’ll find enjoyment where I found at times that suicide seems a far more enjoyable alternative than playing this game.