I got a breath of fresh air when I was choosing what game to review this week because one of my favorite original Xbox games just got revamped and re-released on all major consoles with an HD makeover. It’s not any new ground, but this under-appreciated gem of a game is well worth the revisit. Beyond Good and Evil HD is simply that; Beyond Good and Evil with a graphical makeover that makes the animations and edges look incredibly smooth, even on an HD TV. You play as Jade, a girl who looks to be in her early twenties who is apparently an excellent martial-artist, professional gymnast and photographer on the side. Of course, the game doesn’t give you much back story, so that was all just speculation. Jade and her friend Pey’j (who happens to be a pig) must take it on their shoulders to save the planet of Hillys from the evil alien forces of the Domz.
At face value, it sounds terribly boring. But the developers at Ubisoft made the experience fresh in so many ways, even before the story picks up. I’m tempted to give away the plot developments because they’re what make the game so excellent, but they’re well done enough that you have to play the game yourself to find out.
In a generation of games like Mass Effect 2 and Fallout 3, a lot of the qualities that made this game amazing will be overlooked. This was one of the first games to successfully pull off an open-world experience, and even though the graphics show age, the innovation should still be apparent to anyone who’s been gaming since the early aughts (’00s).
There’s enough material in the game to make the world seem open, but not too much that you throw your life away with side quests. As opposed to Mass Effect 2, there’s a point in this game where putzing around in the free world won’t be worth anything anymore and you have to advance the story. I’d be surprised if anyone even reached that point though, because the plot is one that makes you want to find out what happens next; it’s a page-turner in videogame form.
From the quirky characters and dialog (“Hey Pops, stay Zen! Don’t get your snout in a twist!”) (“The wimps, the weak, and the wusses still have 3 seconds to get the hell out of here, and back to your knitting!”), to the fairly serious and borderline political commentary plot, there’s so much to love about this game. It’s available in some form on every console since Xbox, so there’s no excuse for not showing the developers of this marvelous experience some love. Don’t let the $10 price tag give you any false ideas about the quality. Instead, let it be one more draw to a fantastic gaming experience.