Beyond Good & Evil Review
Beyond Good & Evil (BGE) is one of those cross-genre games that's hard to categorize. There are action fighting elements, stealth features, vehicle races and battles, platform/adventure style puzzles, and even a photo shooting aspect ala Pokemon Snap. Games that try to include so many different types of play often fail to excel in any one area and just wind up as a mediocre sum of mediocre parts. This is not the case with BGE, though. The game manages to do well with each aspect of play, and goes on to wrap that gameplay in an intriguing story set in a unique and fantastic world. The end result is an intriguing game that will keep you interested all the way through to the end.
|Stealth is just one aspect of the game.|
In BGE you play as Jade, a freelance journalist of sorts. Jade's planet of Hillys is under siege by an alien race known as the DomZ. The DomZ make things difficult for Hillys by unleashing periodic firebomb attacks and sending the occasional giant monster to wreak havoc. Jade cares for war orphans at her island lighthouse when she is not on a freelance assignment. However, she does not work alone in these endeavors. Her right hand man, er, pig, is Pey'j who can always be counted on in a pinch, and her computer chooses to represent itself as a holographic Spaniard named Segundo. Both provide the colorfully named Jade with some quite colorful companions.
As the game opens, the DomZ manage to land on Jade's island and try to kidnap her children. Before you know what's happening, you must use her Dai-Jo stick and extensive repertoire of judo moves to fend them off and save the orphans. This serves as an introduction to the insidious DomZ and to the game's fighting system. Soon after, you'll pick up you first two assignments and be off on your way. The first is to photograph all of the species of animals on the island in the event that they are wiped out in the war. This is an ongoing assignment that will earn you credits that can be spent at the various shops on the planet. You'll always have your camera with you, so when you happen to sight a new fish, bird, or animal, you can pull out your camera and try to capture it on film. Some are harder to capture than others, as some are slow-moving and lethargic while others dart about at high speeds. Snapping shots of the faster creatures is made tougher by the fact that composition counts, so you'll need to catch the animal in the center of the frame. Controlling the camera is easy, and you can pan the camera and zoom the lens before snapping a picture with the X button.
Your other assignment will launch you into the game's story. Without giving too much of the plot away, suffice it to say that the war is not exactly what it seems and that Hillys' own government is not being honest with its people. An underground news network known as IRIS suspects that something is going on, and soon enlists Jade's help in trying to unravel the conspiracy. The plot is more sophisticated than your typical rescue the princess or kill the evil wizard fare served up by most video games, and makes a statement about the importance of the role of a free press. This serves to make the story more interesting than in most video games, and you'll appreciate the plot's twists and turns as it makes its way to its culmination.