Copyright © 2004 Gene Michael Stover. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, store, & view this document unmodified & in its entirety is granted.
I almost never bought Beyond Good & Evil. It had been on my long list of games to buy since I read a preview of it a long time ago, like maybe a year ago. It wasn't on my short list, which is for games I must have, so when I recently truncated my long list to just my short list, Beyond Good & Evil was lost, a recent issue of Playstation Magazine restated their opinion that the game is great & runs the danger of being overlooked. A lot of the games I respect & enjoy the most are such games1, so I guess that most recent recommendation in Playstation Magazine was just enough or was stated in just the right way to get me to buy the game.
So last night, I bought the game.
After playing the game for about five hours, my overall impression is that it's just plain well-done. It has a solid feel as if the developers put a lot of thought into it & took care of the details. The only times in the game where something seemed not-quite-polished were when the game switched from interaction to cut scenes; once or twice, it seemed to flicker & skip. That's the worst I saw.
The characters seem pretty deep & realistic, almost earthy, which is refreshing in a game.
The story is slow to develop (which is good - you don't want to blow your wad in the first ten minutes) & appears to be headed towards multiple levels of deception. I also like the tones of distrust I've seen so far; they agree with my own outlook on the real world. I have the feeling the story will have a moral by the time it plays out.
The technology in the world of Beyond Good & Evil reminds me of Ratchet & Clank and of Xenosaga. Why Xeno? Because sometimes you can earn hardware upgrades for your camera, & you get them by downloading them into your camera. You download hardware upgrades; that's just like in Xenosaga.
The graphics aren't the flashiest I've seen in a game lately, but they are quality & solid. Big, simple, colorful shapes & pretty landscapes. Reminds me of Ratchet & Clank, though it's darker than that game.
As for the music, I haven't heard any tunes that I'll be humming later, but it makes excellent background music, just right for the story. For example, in one bar the background music was reggae, & the lyrics had something to do with trust or distrust or lies or something. Very appropriate for the story.
It's not just a combat game, but the combat is a lot of fun. It moves really quick, makes me feel like I did something skillful & clever (though I'm pretty sure I'm not very skillful & clever with combat).
There's a nice dose of adult humor. Not ``adult'' as in sexxx; I mean adult as in subtle, makes you think, & not in-your-face. Not too silly. And not too much of it.
So after five hours of play, I recommend it. Table 1 shows the points I give it so far.
I suspect my appreciation of the game will increase as I play it. It seems like a game that's deep enough that I've just barely scratched the surface.
I still haven't finished the game, but I think I'm only about an hour away from the end. My overall impression that it's a solid game still stands.
Beyond Good & Evil is more than the sum of its parts. Possibly with the exception of characters & plot, no single element of the game is superlative, but somehow the overall game is great. Like I said, it's more than the sum of its parts.
It looks like I will have only two complains when it's all over.
There is a flip-side to that second complaint. I would like to see more story & more of the world in Beyond Good & Evil, but I would not want the game's creators to add length by tacking unnecessary obstacles & missions to the game. So maybe the length is appropriate after all.
In the end, I recommend the game to people who like platformer/adventure hybrids with mature plot & character.
Gene Michael Stover 2008-04-20