Beyond Good & Evil - game review
When I wrote the announcement of "Beyond Good & Evil" a few months ago, in my eyes was a picture of a game combining selected elements of platformers, adventure games and Japanese role-playing games. I must admit that after the title I promised myself quite a lot, even though the game was at an early stage of production at the time. Michel Ancel, creator of the "Rayman" series, has already proved many times that he is still able to surprise something, and at the same time create works that will equally please children, young people and slightly older enthusiasts of electronic entertainment. With great joy I can announce that the "experiment" was successful. "BGE" combines the best features of the aforementioned game genres. All this means that I am able to forgive the lack of confirmation of some marketing slogans, such as those with ubiquitous non-linearity of gameplay and a huge continent that can be freely explored. The player may not be led by the hand, but he solves all the main threads in one way only. We will not visit hundreds of places, there are at most a dozen or so. As I said, "BGE" defends itself with huge amounts of gameplay that could easily be given to several competitive titles.
If you have only heard about "BGE" now, while reading this review, then you have probably spent the last two years of your life on a remote island, in the army, crazy people or any other place, away from computers, consoles, and especially magazines devoted to this topic websites. There was a lot of talk about "BGE". The game takes place in the fictional world of Hillys. He is inhabited by many peaceful races. In addition to people, we have a whole lot of other intelligent creatures here. No one should be surprised by talking sharks, marmots or goats. Hillys is subject to constant attacks from the partitioning DomZ race. Theoretically, everything is under control. Alpha Sections, local forces delegated to repel the invasion from space, are shown at their best. Commanders ensure the success of their operations. Nobody knows the truth, and this one could surprise many. Until ... The honorable title of the main character (or rather the heroine) "BGE" went to Jade, a young journalist who, along with a pig named Pey'J, lives in a small island, leading an orphanage. The first moments spent with the game of many players can solidly surprise. In particular, I mean those who are used to specific patterns and do not like to go beyond them. It is usually the case that the game begins with a spectacular intro, then we welcome the characters and calmly learn the basics, as well as get to know the presented world. "BGE" is a title that breaks such patterns and praise him for that. I don't know about you, but I haven't met a game that would start with a full boss fight! There is no place for any stoppages here, the player gets to know the main characters as if on the fly. Personally, I liked it and it felt like I was watching some really interesting movie, not another Hollywood mush. Let's return to the story - repelling the attack on the orphanage is only a small fragment of what Jade will have to deal with later in the game. I do not want to reveal too many details, the more that the plot abounds in mandatory twists, I can only add that the local resistance will play an important role later in the game.
IRIS members are trying to find out what their government's activities are really doing. Jade joins them very quickly. It is worth mentioning that this is another title in which the top-down movies were abandoned, and all the scenes are shown using the game's engine. Until recently, I was against such a move. I treated them more as a reluctance to create separate animations (for lack of time or money). However, "BGE" convinced me of this solution. Transitions between videos and events controlled by the player are flawless. The degree of engine sophistication probably played a big role here, but about it later.
"BGE" is an extraordinary game, you should already know. On this basis, it is difficult to describe everything that the authors wanted to serve us in it. This is not a title divided into levels that differ in the architecture used and possibly the addition of a few puzzles. "BGE" can constantly surprise with something new. The player gets used to it very quickly and treats subsequent innovations as something normal. It makes no sense to write about everything, so I will present the elements of the game that in my opinion significantly affect the reception of "BGE" and which most people will pay attention to. I have already mentioned that Jade is an avid journalist. No one should be surprised by the fact that her basic weapon in the fight against spreading propaganda is a camera. The player receives it at the very beginning of the game. There is nothing to measure the opportunity to snap photos. The camera is used here for two purposes: taking photos of local creatures and objects, or people who have an impact on completing a given task. I am already explaining what it is all about. At the very beginning of the game, Jade receives an order to capture the organisms inhabiting Hillys in a film, in case further attacks of DomZ forces lead to their extinction. I have to admit that searching for specimens was a lot of fun for me. As the game progresses, more creatures are better hidden. Sometimes the problem is taking the picture itself. Some animals are timid and you need to use bait, for example, while others (e.g. skylights) are visible only at night. All this means that photographing them all (assuming that the player does not look at any walkthroughs) requires considerable effort. Successful photos, of course, involve a cash reward. The credits earned are spent on buying valuable items in stores and vending machines scattered around Hillys. The second type of photos is no longer associated with any financial benefits (rewards appear only after completing the "large" missions), there is also a problem with finding goals because they are described in detail. Since I have already mentioned photos of local creatures, it is worth adding that you can also collect two other things: pearls (are used when shopping), disks (one of them is used to save the game) and e-mails with information (a great source of comparing messages given by the government and IRIS). There could also be mini-games in the game, with only a few of them in "BGE". Definitely the most interesting are hovercraft races (about their use in a moment), at times it reminded me of the iconic "Wipeout", or more known to modern players "SW: Pod Racer". It is a pity that you can not set the number of laps, as well as the difficulty of racing. It turns out very quickly that they are too simple. In addition, we have a combination of curling with classic Pong and fun for the perceptive (pearl search).
As befits a classic action game, it couldn't go without numerous fights. Those from "BGE" are very spectacular, thanks to Jade herself, who uses a magic staff. The combat module is very pleasant, despite the fact that we are dealing with a conversion, blows with a simultaneous avoidance of attacks from the enemy does not pose any problems. Our heroine skilfully chooses another opponents (the player can help her in this "choice" of course). More advanced players should use combos, i.e. a combination of blows. Later in the game, Jade's equipment is extended with a disk thrower. It is a pity that while targeting opponents the room for maneuver is negligible, so you must treat it as an unusual sniper rifle. Jade's friends also take part in some of the fights, but their role in the battle is usually negligible (not counting the super attacks, which are sometimes required to push the story). There are quite original monsters on our way. DomZ warriors do not resemble anything we would have dealt with before. Robots do a little worse. By the way, I would like to highlight one thing. The monsters Jade will fight do not resemble the freak teleported from the town of Silent Hill, but they do not offend older players with a childish appearance. It is similar with the rest. "BGE" can be easily given to younger players. The only problem is that they will underestimate many seemingly insignificant elements of the plot.
However, a small slap should be given to Mr. Ancel and his people for adding not very successful elements from popular "stealth". I wouldn't see a problem if remaining hidden was just an option. Unfortunately, there are places where it is mandatory. I'm afraid that some younger players may capitulate in these places and if someone doesn't help them, they won't be able to finish the game. So much so, that in case of defeat you can try again, in addition, the field of view of the bypassed soldiers is very limited (they also have poor hearing). "Rayman" lovers can, and should, be disappointed in the lack of a solid portion of jumping. This element has been simplified almost to the maximum. It even went so far as that Jade cannot fall in many places because it is protected by an invisible barrier. It is much better with traps and puzzles. These are definitely not lacking, and in addition most of them were burdened with time limits. People with nimble fingers and above average IQ have nowhere to prove themselves.
I mentioned the hovercraft, it is one of the two means of transport that Jade and her companions will use. Beluga fighter also appears later in the game, but is rarely used. Let's return to the hovercraft - it should be noted that it is very pleasant to control. As before, the authors managed to match the typical console control to the PeCet keyboard. On the downside, I have to include small distortions while overcoming waves, but they appear quite rarely without causing any difficulties in controlling the hovercraft. The vehicle was of course equipped with defense systems. At the beginning we get a rather poor cannon, but later in the game you can get great homing missiles.
During the game, not counting the resistance members stationed at IRIS, Jade is assisted by three other people. Personally, I was most interested in the character of Secundo, the electronic adviser to the main character. As I wrote the announcement, I wondered if his role would go beyond supporting Jade with accurate comments. Unfortunately, this did not happen (except for one scene that the player has no influence over). The possibilities of the other two heroes look much better. Pey'J, the piglet mentioned many times, is a great mechanic and inventor. During combat, he can use his jet boots. Double-H is a former soldier and currently a reporter for the local resistance movement. His attacks are similar to those used by Pey'J.
The game world, despite being very limited, captivates with its beauty. The planet Hillys is a successful combination of typical fantasy and science-fiction climates. No less important is the fact that sometimes we feel like on vacation in the tropics, which undoubtedly positively affects the final reception of the game. The authors of "BGE" prepared about ten different locations. The more interesting are the uninhabited island with huge caves inside, a residential district that also serves as a base, or well-guarded Alpha Sections headquarters. An undoubted advantage of the game is that subsequent locations surprise with more and more new elements of the environment. Fortunately, "BGE" will not share the fate of many other TPP games that have been buried by schematic levels built of the same solids. So far, I have not complained about the level of conversion, but you can see a few console accretions that certain players are annoying. The subsequent rooms are relatively small, which makes the reading screen appear quite often. "BGE" also suffered from a disease known even from the "Resident Evil" series - after finding themselves in a new room, the enemies from the neighboring stop chasing. And what happens when we get back in a moment? Thread! They behave exactly like before the alarm was initiated. The service of the main menu and inventory was quite poor. For example, in many situations you cannot approve specific actions with Enter or Space. Cursors are also inactive, replaced by the mouse or keys responsible for moving the character (usually w / s). However, I'm not going to complain about the inability to perform any saves. I suppose that if they were available, the completion of "BGE" would not pose any problems. It is a pity that the game ends fairly quickly. I managed to watch the outro after about twelve hours of fun, and I spent so much time discovering secrets (specimens for photographing and pearls).
The "BGE" audiovisual setting is at a very high level. This is another title after "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time", which clearly shows that console games do not have to offend with low screen resolution or poor textures. The authors of the game for the needs of "BGE" have prepared a completely new engine - Jade Engine. He works great in action. The characters appearing during the game deserve special praise. They are built of an unimaginable amount of polygons, making videos of them a feast for the eyes. The enormity of work involved can also be seen on the example of the locations visited. In this game, everything has been buttoned up. Apart from the minor problems with the hovercraft mentioned above, I did not notice any distortions or obvious deficiencies.
Standing ovations also belong to those responsible for preparing music for the game. None of the songs appear here accidentally, they are closely related to the events on the screen. If we are dealing with a funny scene is accompanied by a lively song, the sad event is completed with a correspondingly gloomy piece. Speech dialogues were also very good (I tested the English version). The game has relatively low system requirements, of course for a product whose visual setting can easily fight with the biggest giants of the market.
"Beyond Good And Evil" is one of the few titles that the marketing campaign rich in exaggerated promises could in no way harm. We expected a hit and we got a hit. The work of Michel Ancel will definitely shake the gaming industry and soon we will witness the outbreak of "BGE" clones. This is a great title that will interest players of all ages. I would highly recommend!
Jacek "Stranger" Noise