Blog 503: Beyond Blog and Evil

Well, they said it was legendary, so it had been on my radar for a while. Critical acclaim, and all that. Then GoG.com said it was 50% off last weekend, so I thought I may as well take the plunge (consumerism ho!).

So, Beyond Good and Evil is an action-adventure game from 2003.

Witty, endearing and brilliantly surreal, it wraps its narrative tendrils around the sci-fi staple of the conspiracy-backed alien invasion. Obviously, as an “action reporter”, it falls to protagonist Jade to save the world by exposing the conspiracy (rather than singlehandedly killing everyone, though murder is by no means off the agenda).

My impressions are somewhat if Sonic Adventure had been a good third-person hack ‘n’ slash rather than a shonky 3D platformer, then burst its banks and flooded onto the plains of Little Big Adventure, only to be sucked up by the hurricane of Giants: Citizen Kabuto. A fairly open overworld, populated by a gamut of stylised anthropomorphs (and humans, natch), houses main quest missions, is traversed by a hovercraft and on foot, and hides bonus dungeons and minigames.

They introduce the pearls like they’re really special and rare, but then you can barely move without tripping over them.

Gotta Take ‘Em All (If I Had a Photograph of You)

Since Jade is a reporter, most objectives don’t (need to) involve fighting; you want to take pictures of things rather than kill them.

Since you get paid for photographs of new animal species, a peculiar attitude to combat is engendered. Instead of rollicking straight in, you stop and think — have I photographed this before? If yes, great — get to smashing. Otherwise, take a step back, let your companion take the heat for a few moments, and try to get a quick snap off to the science centre. With rarer animals hooking up to three grand, it’s well worth taking a couple of hits to get that picture (and the game is infinite-resets so there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain).

Look, it’s a picture of a picture. Mind = blown.

Sneak ‘Em Up

When you’re not fighting or taking pictures, it’s all puzzly platforming, so far in the form of stealthily wandering around shady factories. Finding important items, jumping over or crouching under obstacles, pushing crates around, watching patrol routes and timing your movements — it’s all in there.

Of course it itsn’t exactly Thief; guards having extremely distinct routes and very narrow fields of vision (though they do start to stray if you make yourself known). Each individual stealth challenge also tends to have a kind of bolt-hole nearby so that even if you do get noticed, you can run and let the guards calm down for another attempt. Or you die and have to start again from the last invisible checkpoint (don’t worry, they tend to be frequent and/or in the right places (unlike save points)).

Luckily the guards have giant weak spots on their backs.

Cameratastic

Of course, like Sonic Adventure, the game has a habit of stealing the camera. Sure, for some places where you need visibility of a doorway that’s just opened or some crucial puzzle element that’s on the ceiling, it is fine for the camera to pull back and give you a complete view.

Otherwise, it’s a third person mouselook and that’s all fine and dandy, except when you enter sneaking mode and it stops being normal mouselook and starts being some bizarre mutation thereof. Controlling the hovercraft is also a bit squiffy when the mouse gets involved — one wrong tap and you’ll find yourself quite happily spinning in circles. Luckily for hovercrafting there is a first person mode, which makes life considerably easier.

For this little side-mission segment, it actually DOES become a modern Sonic game.

Overall

Overall, though, it’s been a fine ride so far. The game looks pretty running on full settings (style over substance wins every time), and the only compatibility issue is the odd graphical splutter (apparently disabling “HW Vertex Buffering” solves this, but that cost me all my framerate so I’ll take the occasional fits any day). It plays well, the fluid combat having the right level of difficulty to be no slouch but not overly frustrating either. The puzzles are intuitive enough, though one or two so far have taken up disproportionate amounts of time (probably down to me being a bit herpy derpy rather than any real design flaw).

Obviously you’ve missed the half price sale, but at $9.99 it’s hardly out of one’s normal price-range. I just took the sale as a cue to jump on the wagon (and an excuse to take a break fromY4).

I have no idea how far through I am, so my opinions may vary as progress continues.

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2 thoughts on “Blog 503: Beyond Blog and Evil

  1. I miss games like this. (And Little Big Adventure). Not trying to be cool or have some obscure feature which is heavily advertised in every annual release (I’m looking at you Need for Speed…. or any EA title, actually). It is just a good ol’ plain game which does what games are meant to.

    You’ll end up being charmed by the game when you’ve finished even if the ending won’t float your boat. But you’ll still be charmed and remember it fondly the next time it appears in someone else’s blog.

    Like

    • Too much money invested in the industry to take risks on mental stuff like this, I suppose. Word on the tubes is that BG&E didn’t sell very well, so we’ve all failed at the positive reinforcement angle. 😦

      Like

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