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Beyond Good & Evil (PlayStation 2) artwork

Beyond Good & Evil (PlayStation 2) review


"With her trusty camera, Jade must unravel the truth behind the invasion. Her evidence, much of it horrifying, easily reaches the masses, and their protesting increases with each new article she publishes. Her investigations into tightly guarded military compounds reveal the reality behind the propaganda war between the mysterious Alpha Sections and the so-called IRIS rebels. "



I wouldn’t call Beyond Good & Evil a conventional sort of game. Sure, it may combine traditional aspects of adventure titles that may not ease skeptics’ cynicism, but it also adds elements that make it unique and memorable. After all, it’s the only game I know of in which you must use photography to instigate political revolution.

The story begins with Jade, a young compassionate woman, living out her seemingly peaceful existence taking care of orphans in the planet’s main lighthouse. That peace is quickly interrupted when an ill-timed power failure negates the facility’s shields, making it vulnerable to attack. Soon after, the sky turns green and strange meteorites crash into the ground. From their slimy depths spew forth the DomZ, an invasive alien force that has been kidnapping Hillys’s population for as long as its citizens can remember.

Thus Jade is forced to fend off waves of ugly monsters, freeing the captive children within their sarcophagus-shaped bodies, until the mastermind behind this small invasion appears. A floating eyeball surrounded by damaging tentacles rises from the ground to finish the job its minions started. Alone, Jade can’t handle the beast, but once her hog-faced “uncle” Pey’j enters the fray and tosses her the powerful Daď-Jo staff, the two use teamwork to overcome an otherwise unstoppable enemy. Pey’j distracts the beast and its minions while Jade launches a twirling special attack that temporarily frees the eyeball from its protective shell, allowing her a few precious seconds to land enough hits to send the creature back to wherever it came from.

And so, within the first ten minutes of play, you’re introduced to one of the most critical aspects of the game: controlling your partner. Pey’j, and, later, the armor-clad Double H, will aid Jade in more ways than just combat. He’ll help her push objects too heavy to move alone, open gated entrances with the use of a wrench, and temporarily immobilize enemies and wildlife so Jade can knock them into each other for easy kills, or into objects to create pathways into new areas. Such cooperative capability doesn’t come without a price, however. Like Jade, her partner also has a set amount of health, which, if not watched carefully or inflated with health-increasing items, can quickly disappear, resulting in death and a restart at the nearest checkpoint.

Shortly after the opening sequence, you’re introduced to the most important feature: the camera. In order to restart the lighthouse generator, Jade is granted a contract with the Hillian science center, which offers to pay her for photos of every species on the planet, each with its own realistic taxonomy. Her first picture, an insect that looks remarkably like a ladybug, is fairly easy to capture, but there are many animals to photograph, including the numerous human-animal hybrids that wander Hillys’s pedestrian district. Not all of them will be as simple as pointing the camera and shooting, however, especially since bad framing often results in failure. Some creatures move too quickly to capture easily while others require a trick to lure them out of hiding. Perhaps the hardest thing for me to photograph was this creature that appeared to consist entirely of bubbles. It would hide behind boxes and walls where only a thin trail of its existence could be seen. In order to lure it out of hiding, you had to strike it with a well-placed gyro disc, where it would scamper to a new hiding place. It was fast, and if you weren’t just as quick, you’d lose your shot in a matter of seconds.

If you’re like me, you’ll even go to such lengths to be as artistic as possible, trying to capture each creature in its best light and prettiest framing. You can’t actually miss a beast – even if you slay the only manifestation of a certain DomZ boss, its corpse can be photographed wherever it may fall. But even so, the most daring will try for action shots, snapping the picture as the thing you’re looking at actively attacks you. I photographed Crochax in this way. The large mosquito-like insect has an attack in which it latches onto your (or your partner’s) face and sucks your life away until someone swats it away or it gets bored. Before it launches this attack, its mouth opens wide and glows temporarily. I took the picture right at that moment.

As much as I enjoyed discovering Hillys’s unique wildlife, the real purpose of the camera is story-driven, and it’s the story that truly gives the game its character. With her trusty camera, Jade must unravel the truth behind the invasion. Her evidence, much of it horrifying, easily reaches the masses, and their protesting increases with each new article she publishes. Her investigations into tightly guarded military compounds reveal the reality behind the propaganda war between the mysterious Alpha Sections and the so-called IRIS rebels.

Of course, in order to gather that essential evidence, Jade needs access to these top-secret facilities. Fortunately, her main form of transport has everything she’ll ever need. But not at first. The hovercraft Pey’j had steadily been working on starts off in sorry shape. The first task in repairing it involves heading over to the rhinos operating their black market auto shop, taking illegal pearls in exchange for upgrades. There you buy a more suitable engine. The added speed allows for quick navigation through the planet’s waterways, handy for dodging torpedoes and chasing after monstrous sea serpents. Other upgrades include a neutralizing cannon that allows the craft to lock-on to enemy targets, and a jump kit for leaping over laser mines.

Once you penetrate a compound’s outer defenses, stealth becomes critical. Heavily armored military personnel patrol corridors in a set pattern. Avoiding detection is key because unlike stealth sections in other games, these enemies can’t be killed through simple combat. These foes have only one weakness, the breathing tanks strapped to their backs, making direct confrontation almost impossible. Adding to the danger, many protected rooms have turrets that instantly kill you if you’re spotted. Even fleeing the room to deactivate the alarm can be risky as the soldiers will send a zone-clearing droid into the corridor they think you’re hiding in. That, too, will kill you instantly if you’re trapped within range of its laser.

If the prospect of sneaking through monochrome corridors like some sort of female Solid Snake doesn’t really appeal to you, I would like to point out that, all things considered, this is actually a rather small part of the game, even if it’s ultimately what drives the story forward. The real love for this game comes from its outstanding openness, exploration and all the little side projects you can complete. As with photographing every animal, a task I enjoyed more than any other, there are plenty of things to do. And, if you’re as captivated by the world’s sheer beauty as I was, you won’t consider it filler. To collect all the pearls, you’ll have to win hovercraft races, chase looters through booby-trapped caverns, beat random NPCs at mini games, and even explore the inside of a volcano.

Beyond Good & Evil has something to offer for everyone. It’d be a shame to miss it.

Rating: 9/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Community review by wolfqueen001 (June 30, 2010)

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EmP posted July 01, 2010:

I’ll show you for countless nit-picky feedbacks!

I wouldn’t call Beyond Good & Evil a conventional sort of game. Sure, it may combine traditional aspects of adventure games that may not ease skeptics’ cynicism,

Game & games too close together. Is skeptic with a k the yank version of the word? I don’t know!

in the planet’s main lighthouse.

Is it a main lighthouse? It always struck me as some run down place they live in because they can.

Hillys’s

This isn’t strictly wrong, but you already use a s’ clause with the (maybe misspelt) skeptics’. Pick a possessive and stick with it -- or else!

powerful Dai-Jo staff

Daď-Jo. Two dots over the I. Shame on you.

I’ve never played nor even heard of this game, but you make it sound very appealing indeed. Good job on that. Perhaps I’ll pick up a copy.
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wolfqueen001 posted July 01, 2010:

XD We'll just see about that! Now watch as I successfully defend the majority of my choices!

Game & games too close together. Is skeptic with a k the yank version of the word? I don’t know!

Fair enough about the repetitive word thing. I suppose I can remove that prepositional phrase at the end of the first occurrence altogether and it'll be fine. Or just use a synonym in the latter case. Skeptic, though, is indeed correct. =P

Is it a main lighthouse? It always struck me as some run down place they live in because they can.

Haha, I dunno. I really called it that just to find a way to describe it. And, despite that it seems to be the only lighthouse in the game at first, I'm under the impression that there are indeed more because when you're in the spaceship, there are numerous spotlights and things overhead from various other islands that I assumed served the same purpose of a lighthouse. Though maybe they were just security measures.

This isn’t strictly wrong, but you already use a s’ clause with the (maybe misspelt) skeptics’. Pick a possessive and stick with it -- or else!

Aha! Now I've got you. The first occurrence of the possessive (skeptics') is a plural possessive. Hillys is a singular noun so takes the singular possessive as shown here. There's a foggy grammatical rule regarding singular possessive nouns ending in s that I think only counts for proper important nouns like Jesus or something but I've never been too clear on that so I sometimes make the rule apply to everything. I decided not to this time, though. XD

Daď-Jo. Two dots over the I. Shame on you.

Hahaha. Oh, thanks. I didn't know how to make the umlaut on the keyboard (I should learn those alt codes). I bet you didn't know it was called an umlaut. ...or if I even spelled that right. =D

I’ve never played nor even heard of this game, but you make it sound very appealing indeed. Good job on that. Perhaps I’ll pick up a copy.

XD Stop lying. You reviewed the game yourself. =P (Yes, I know what you're really doing with this statement). Thanks! <3 I wasn't sure about this one at first. I ran it by Suskie before subbing it, so I had already made some changes to it, though they weren't as huge as the changes I'd intended from the beginning. I was actually thinking about moving whole paragraphs around at some point, but then decided that'd be too complicated and might actually make it worse rather than better.

Thanks also for leaving feedback on my birthday. I wasn't even sure if this review would get feedback to begin with (beyond what Suskie gave me, I mean). =D
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CoarseDragon posted July 01, 2010:

I was going to give you feedback on this but then noticed it is your TT entry and since I am judging I can't do that here.
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zigfried posted July 01, 2010:

Jesus'
Moses'
Isis'
Zigfried'

//Zig
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wolfqueen001 posted July 02, 2010:

CD: Yeah, sorry; I knew you'd be giving feedback for the TT, so I didn't intend for that to apply to you.

Haha, Zig. I guess I forgot to clarify that the rule only applies to names ending in "s".

I hate grammar sometimes.
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Ben posted July 11, 2010:

Excuse all the bolding. Apostrophes combined with quotation marks are hard to read.

Yeah, the Hillys's did make me wonder if that was grammatically incorrect. I, personally, would've put Hillys', like James', Ross', or Dr. Jacobs', but that's just me. It's not something I'm going to worry too much about.
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Ben posted July 11, 2010:

I really liked this review. For now, I'm just going to nitpick and bring up one particular sentence:

Thus you’re forced to fend off waves of ugly monsters, freeing the captive children within their sarcophagus-shaped bodies...

Two things:

1) The use of the second-person was a bit odd, since you write from Jade's perspective immediately before and after this sentence (e.g. "The story begins with Jade...", "Alone, Jade can’t handle the beast..."), so there's a little bit of inconsistency.

2) "...freeing the captive children within their sarcophagus-shaped bodies" was tough for me to understand. After several reads, I came to this conclusion: the orphans cared for by Jade get captured when the alien force invaded, and they are trapped inside the monsters, who have "sarcophagus-shaped bodies". Am I close?
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wolfqueen001 posted July 12, 2010:

Alright. I'll take a look at that first thing. As for the second, you would be correct. If it's awkward, that's probably because I wanted to phrase it differently than EmP did in his review, otherwise I'd feel like I was plagiarizing, and then I'd probably hate myself.

Thanks for the feedback.

Also, man. That's the last time I try to be a rebel with my grammar, haha. =P

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