Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beyond Good and Evil (HD edition) (2011)

Genre: Action / Adventure | Players: One | Developer: Ubisoft

BG+E was originally released in 2003 for PC and consoles. The 2011 version is an HD release with updated visuals to make it look more attractive on modern TV equipment. Beneath the polish it's the same game with the same aged camera system and inherent game engine limitations. I played through it multiple times back in the day (on PS2), so am in a good position to judge whether the update is successful or not. It is, but it’s not perfect. I encountered some minor glitches that I didn't fall prey to before. It was mostly due to bad luck and my trying to cut corners, but I'd to reload twice because I'd slipped between scenery. Freakish accidents aside, the game has aged beautifully.

You play as Jade, a human female. She's aided by her uncle Pey'j, who's... er... a talking pig. The characterisation is top class, and they exist in a believable world. Environments aren't very large and the boundaries aren't at all far apart, but it never feels too squished or constricting.

Combat is simple. If you’re savvy to what goes on around you then you’ll rarely die during fights. The most danger you’ll encounter will be during stealth sections. I detest stealth in games, but there’s so much else to enjoy that I was able to suffer it. Mercifully, it’s not overly challenging either.

You’ll occasionally be required to solve puzzles, in the style of The Legend of Zelda, but they’re few and far between; I’d have liked more.

Your motivation is the exposure of a political conspiracy. You’ll need to participate in some limited non-story quests and item-hunts if you’re to advance it at specific points. Far from being a distraction, they're a large part of what makes the game interesting. Whilst off the beaten track you’ll be on the lookout for wildlife to photograph. Catalogue enough unique specimens and you’ll be rewarded. You don’t need to find every one if you don’t want to.

Likewise, something the game uses for currency needs to be hunted/earned, but you won’t need to find them all to get to the end - and what an ending it is!

It’s no spoiler to say that a sequel is (maybe) on the way. I've been hungry for it for many years, but it seems as if it’ll skip the current gen entirely and if it ever does appear it’ll likely be on PC, PS4 and XBone. That makes me twitch.

A large part of what makes the game special is the stunning voice work. It has the correct amount of pathos, helping the concern each character feels for the other be also felt by the player. I was compelled to push on and remedy the emotional burden that weighs on Jade’s spirit as the story progressed. Gaming experiences like that don't come along very often.

4 boxes of K-Bups out of 5

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