Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Release Date: 11/19/2003
Also Available On
The Good: Wonderful and charming story, voice acting, and art style, simple yet engaging stealth, taking pictures is always fun
The Bad: Wonky camera, stale combat, a bit short, navigating the game is a pain, finding everything in the world is a bigger pain
Beyond Good & Evil…yes I remember that, but for some reason, a certain game called Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was plastered all over TV and stores and B&E was, disappointingly overshadowed. B&E is a lovely and wonderful action/adventure game that was released during the peak of the last generation: 2003. B&E’s premise is something along these lines: You are Jade who is a caretaker of an orphanage on a futuristic (has a Star Wars feel to it) planet called Hillys. The Alpha Section are fighting a so called war against the alien invasion known as the Domz. Jade and her pig uncle Pey’j must find out the conspiracy behind the Alpha Section and the Domz in order to bring peace and freedom to the planet of Hillys. You take on a job as a reporter/spy for the IRIS Network and along the way you take pictures of animals, take part in speedboat races, and play a familiar air hockey game to earn pearls and credits (the game’s two currencies) to find your way through the world.
A lot of the game is setup around two game play elements; stealth and combat. While the stealth is stronger than the combat both are enjoyable and evenly balanced throughout the game. Sneaking around the two major parts of the game to take pictures of Alpha Section’s activities is rewarding and easy to do. Crouching around corners and learning the guard’s patterns is a typical element of stealth, but the great part about the game is there’s no jump button…yes this makes the game play a lot more smoothly and you actually know what to do. If you see a ledge Jade can hop up on you know to go there instead of hopping around like an idiot trying to, hopefully, find some collision detection glitch and get up onto that ledge. Sneaking around the guards is also like a puzzle in itself since you have to figure out a way to open certain doors, hit certain switches and even get items without anyone seeing you. The stealth isn’t brutal and is pretty forgiving since if you run out of the area everything will calm down and go back to normal. Most guards have a weakness on their backs (a yellow jet pack) so this can blind them and makes things a little easier. Sneaking around the place is pretty typical and there’s not much to describe, but it is very fun squeezing between walls and ducking in vents and what not. Thanks to no jump button dodging lasers are really fun since you have a run button and a dodge button so you just run and jump over lasers and obstacles and it can be really fun.
The combat, however, is a bit weak since it’s so simple. You just mash the mouse button and Jade will beat the S out of everything with her magical staff; hold it down and you get a super charged spinning attack. While you can dodge and roll around while running the camera is one of the major flaws of the game and the combat can get so tedious and boring. Thankfully there isn’t much fighting and you mainly just sneak around and do a lot of traveling. The only thing that keeps the combat from being a snooze fest is the unique way of having to kill certain enemies. Double H or Pey’j may be with you so you can order them to do their special attack and it will stun enemies or shoot them in the air. When they are in the air Jade will spin around and knock them across the room and this is good for taking out certain obstacles in your way.
Traveling around the world can be fun and frustrating since the map is useless and the game is very labyrinthine. Since you’re sneaking around everywhere you don’t really remember where you’ve been so if you forget to take a certain picture you don’t know where it was since the map is just a bunch of white blobs that don’t tell you where to go. Finding things like animals, pearls, and other items is pointless since they are big dots on this white useless map so hopefully you have enough pearls (used only at Mammago’s Garage to upgrade your speedboat) to finish the game. Finding all of the animals can be almost impossible since a lot of them are in spots you never knew you could even access, so earning big money in the game is a bit hard and can make you go hunting for items you have to know idea are there. This being the game’s biggest flaw can easily be overlooked since you’ll usually get just what you need by just playing normally. You can partake in four separate races, but they are impossible to beat since there is no speed upgrade for your boat and playing flawlessly, using speed boosts, won’t get you first place.
The races are seriously impossible even if you drive perfectly so this is just retarded. You can play air hockey at the Akuda Bar or a cups game which can be fun and challenging. There are items called MDiscs which you put in save machines to help evolve the story, increasing your health is done by finding PA1s, Kbup, and Starkos are food that give you health so you can see the game tries a lot of original things and is just a fresh world that has been overlooked by many many people. With the game’s unique story, great voice acting, and wonderful yet simple gameplay design you’re sure to spend a great number of hours on this short, yet sweet, adventure.
Picking up the game for any system has its ups and downs: The PC version’s controls are kind of funky for this type of game, the PS2 has a slowdown, the GameCube’s controller requires a contortionist to play, and the Xbox version isn’t backward compatible on the 360 so take your pick. Either way, you’re going to have a blast with this wonderful yet overlooked game. Look forward to the anticipated game next year as well.