Review: Beyond Good and Evil HD

If you didn’t catch the daring adventures of Jade, Pey’J, and Agent Double H that graced the PlayStation 2 and its fellow 6th generation of gaming consoles almost ten years ago, nil desperandum. You needn’t dust off your trusty console and hit up Ebay just yet. If you’ve got an Xbox 360 and a few bucks to spare, you can dive into one of the best games that most people never touched in the here and now, all spiffed up in HD and paired with achievements to boot. That’s right – Beyond Good and Evil HD is all that you wanted and more.

Stepping into the shoes of photojournalist Jade, the quintessential poster-girl for everything right about female characters in video games, you also get mixed up in a world of dirty politics – your planet, Hillys, is being invaded by a sect of vicious aliens known as Domz. Jade, innate do-gooder, gets involved with an underground organization that’s set out to prove Alpha Sections, a sort of military arrangement, is actually in cahoots with the aliens, whilst lying to the poor citizens of Hillys and leading them astray. Jade and company are ready to photodocument every single lie and uncover every truth. And that’s all well and good, but like Spider Jerusalem succumbing to a regular column for The Word, Jade still has to make money, so she moonlights as a wildlife photographer, selling shots to a science center to earn her upkeep while attempting to save the world as she knows it.

And that’s just the setup. If you’re already itching to play, don’t feel bad – it’s the world, characters, dialogue, and atmosphere that will keep you coming back for more. Despite the game’s brilliant platforming, adventure mechanics, mini-games, and excellent, tight controls, where Beyond Good and Evil HD shines is in its ability to grab you and keep you on the edge of your seat, all the while immersing you more and more. Simply standing by and observing the reactions of the general public after each published story decrying the Alpha Sections forges a bond rarely seen in more modern narratives — you feel for these citizens, you want to set things straight, at all costs. And so you keep playing. You want to make a difference. And you do.

From exploring the waters, dimly lit factories, and the open worlds of Hillys to fending off the Domz using Jade’s melee strikes and dazzling fighting mechanics complete with Pey’j’s commentary, every part of the game feels tailor-made to keep adventurers, fans of old-school Zelda, and even newer fans with a penchant for shooters only occupied throughout every second of this poignant tale that should have been recognized so much more back then than it turned out – packaging it with Splinter Cell? Really? Though speaking of stealth, those pieces of the game did tend to feel a bit phoned in and frustrating…but since you’re constantly switching to and fro from genre to genre, you needn’t spend too much time with one you don’t particularly like, making BG&E an excellent title to bring non-gamers into the fold with, for both storytelling and gameplay reasons.

This is a crisp remake to boot, boasting crystal-clear graphics, astounding aural treats, and breathtaking environments along with achievements, just in case playing this gem of a game isn’t enough to make it worth your while (hey – there are gamers like that out there!). For 800 MS points, it’s a steal considering the fact that this is a tale you’ll want to unravel again and again, especially if you did happen to catch it on the PlayStation 2 and just want to relive those beloved memories. Compared to a glut of other remakes and reboots on the Arcade, 800 MS points is a steal.

Beyond Good and Evil HD is more than just a remake – it’s a chance for newer generations (and the rest of us) to embark on a journey that should be more than just classic; it should be praised for seamlessly combining a memorable story and addictive mechanics into one simultaneously touching and hilarious ride. With gameplay that seamlessly blends classic Legend of Zelda-style mechanics with precise shooting elements, it’s got something for everyone – as long as you take the time to give it a try. This is what digital reissues are all about, and if you happen to one of the many who may have missed out the first time around, here’s your chance to take the plunge for ten bucks today. You’ll be begging for more, and hopefully, Ubisoft makes good on their promise to deliver its long-awaited (and most deserved) sequel.

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