Beyond Good & Evil (video game)
|Beyond Good & Evil|
Ubisoft Milan (Xbox, Windows)
Ubisoft Shanghai (HD)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
NA 2 December 2003 (Xbox)
NA 11 December 2003 (GC)
AU 2003 (GC)
2 March 2011
Beyond Good & Evil is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft and released in late 2003 for the PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, Xbox and GameCube platforms. A full HD re-mastered version of the game was released on Xbox Live Arcade in March 2011 and on PlayStation Network in June 2011. The story follows the adventures of Jade, an investigative reporter and martial artist, who works with a resistance movement to reveal a planet-wide alien conspiracy. The player controls Jade and allies, solving puzzles, fighting enemies, and obtaining photographic evidence.
Michel Ancel, creator of the Rayman series, envisioned the game as the first part of a trilogy. Beyond Good & Evil was a commercial failure, but was critically acclaimed, receiving a nomination for "Game of the Year" at the 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards. A sequel, Beyond Good & Evil 2, is currently in development.
Beyond Good & Evil is an action-adventure game with elements of puzzle-solving and stealth-based games. The player controls the protagonist, Jade, from a third-person perspective. Jade can run, move stealthily, jump over obstacles and pits, climb ladders, push or bash doors and objects, and flatten herself against walls. As Jade, the player investigates a number of installations in search of the truth about a war with an alien threat.
In the game's interior spaces, the player solves puzzles and makes their way past enemies in order to reach areas containing photographic evidence. Jade's main tools are her Jō combat staff (a melee weapon), discs for attacking at range, and a camera. Jade's health, represented by hearts, decreases when hit by enemy attacks. It can be restored using fictional food items and can be increased beyond the maximum with "PA-1s" that, when held by Jade or her companions, increases their life gauge by one heart. If Jade's health is depleted, the game will restart at the last checkpoint. Certain stealth segments later in the game automatically kill Jade if she is detected.
At times, it is only possible to advance in the game with the help of other characters. These characters are computer-controlled, and players direct them via contextual commands. For example, the player can order them to perform a "super attack", either pounding the ground to bounce enemies into the air, allowing the player to hit them from long distances, or knocking them off balance, making them vulnerable to attack. These allies possess a health bar and are incapacitated if it is depleted. Jade can share some of her items, such as PA-1s, with these characters.
In addition to obtaining evidence and completing assignments, Jade's camera can take pictures of animal species in exchange for currency, and scan objects to reveal more information about the environment. When the "Gyrodisk Glove" is obtained, Jade can attack enemies or activate devices from a distance by using the camera interface. There are also various minigames and sub-missions offered by NPCs scattered throughout the world.
A hovercraft is used to travel around the world, and also used for racing and in other minigames. Later, the spaceship Beluga is acquired. The hovercraft can dock with the spaceship. Both vehicles require upgrades in order to reach new areas and progress through the game. Upgrades are purchased using pearls that are collected throughout the game, by completing missions, exploring areas, filling in the animal directory or by trading credits for them. The vehicles have a boost ability, and can be repaired using a "Repair Pod" if damaged by enemies.
The main city serves as a hub, giving the player access to the various areas that must be explored in order to expose the conspiracy. Jade can earn credits by defeating enemies, taking pictures, or completing assignments, which can be used to purchase additional items for both Jade and her vehicles.
Setting and characters
Beyond Good & Evil takes place in the year 2435 on the mining planet of Hillys, located in a remote section of the galaxy. The architecture of the city around which the game takes place is rustic European in style. The world itself combines modern elements, such as email and credit cards, with those of science fiction and fantasy, such as spaceships and anthropomorphic animals coexisting with humans. As the game begins, Hillys is under siege by aliens called the "DomZ", who abduct beings and either drain their life force for power or implant them with spores to convert them into slaves. Prior to the opening of the game, a military dictatorship called the "Alpha Sections" has come to power on Hillys, promising to defend the populace. However, the Alpha Sections seem unable to stop the DomZ despite its public assurances. An underground resistance movement, the IRIS Network, fights the Alpha Sections, believing it to be in league with the DomZ.
Beyond Good & Evil's main protagonist, Jade (voiced by Jodi Forrest), is a young photojournalist. She resides in an island lighthouse that doubles as a home for children orphaned by DomZ attacks. Pey'j (voiced by David Gasman), a boar-like creature, is Jade's "uncle" and guardian figure. Double H, a heavily built human IRIS operative, assists Jade during missions. He wears a military-issue suit of armor at all times. Secundo, an artificial intelligence built into Jade's storage unit, the "Synthetic-Atomic-Compressor" (SAC), offers advice and "digitizes" items. The main antagonists are the DomZ High Priest, who is the chief architect of the invasion, and Alpha Sections leader General Kehck, who uses propaganda to gain the Hillyans' trust, even as he abducts citizens to sustain the DomZ.
Jade and Pey'j are care-taking the children of Hillys orphaned by the DomZ. When Jade runs out of money to run the shield that protects them, she finds a photography job, cataloguing all the species on Hillys for a science museum. She is recruited by the IRIS Network, which suspects that the Alpha Sections are behind planet-wide disappearances. Jade's first target of investigation is an Alpha Sections factory. She discovers evidence of human trafficking orchestrated by the DomZ under the Alpha Sections' authority. Along the way she rescues Double H, who was kidnapped and tortured by the DomZ. Pey'j is abducted by the DomZ and taken to a slaughterhouse that is to be launched to a lunar base. After failing to extract Pey'j from the slaughterhouse in time, Jade learns that Pey'j was, in fact, the secret chief of the IRIS Network.
Jade learns that the Alpha Sections are being possessed and manipulated by the DomZ. Using Beluga, the ship Pey'j used to travel to Hillys, Jade and Double H go to the DomZ lunar base. There, Jade finds Pey'j dead, but a strange power inside her brings back his soul, reviving him. After rescuing Pey'j, transmitting her final report, and sparking a revolution, Jade confronts the DomZ High Priest. She learns that her human form is the latest container to hide a power stolen from the DomZ centuries ago in the hope that the High Priest, who must have spirit energy to survive, would starve to death. The High Priest managed to find a substitute energy in the souls of all those kidnapped from Hillys. Using the stolen power within her, Jade is able to defeat the DomZ High Priest, though nearly losing control of her soul in the process, and then revive and rescue those that have been abducted. In a post-credits scene back on Hillys, a DomZ spore grows on Pey'j's hand.
Beyond Good & Evil was developed by Michel Ancel, the creator of the Rayman video game, at Ubisoft's Montpellier studios in France. The game was developed under the codename "Project BG&E", with production lasting more than three years. A group of 30 employees comprised the development team. Ubisoft's chief executive officer, Yves Guillemot, fully supported the project and frequently met with the team. After years working on Rayman, Ancel wanted to move on to something different. He recalled that the goal of Beyond Good & Evil was to "pack a whole universe onto a single CD—mountains, planets, towns. The idea was to make the player feel like an explorer, with a sense of absolute freedom."
A second goal behind Beyond Good & Evil's design was to create a meaningful story amid player freedom. Ancel said that the linear nature of the gameplay was necessary to convey the story; player freedom was an experience between parts of the plot. He also strove to create a rhythm similar to a movie to engage and delight players. The game drew on many influences and inspirations, including the Miyazaki universe, politics and the media, and the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In creating the lead character, Ancel's wife reportedly inspired the designer, who wanted to portray a persona with whom players could identify.
Beyond Good & Evil was first shown publicly at the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo, where it received a negative reception. Originally more "artistically ambitious" and resembling games like Ico, the game was substantially changed in order to make it more commercially appealing. Jade, originally a teenage girl, was redesigned to be more powerful and befitting of her job. The game was also shortened by removing long periods of exploration, due to Ancel's dislike of this aspect of gameplay in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The development team was "demoralized" by the changes, with Ancel commenting that the finished game resembled a sequel more than a reworking. Prior to release, playable previews of the game were offered in movie theaters.
The soundtrack of Beyond Good & Evil was composed by Christophe Héral, who was hired by Ancel because of his background in film. Hubert Chevillard, a director with whom Ancel had worked in the past, had also worked with Héral on a television special, The Pantin Pirouette, and referred him to Ancel. Héral was assisted by Laetitia Pansanel, who orchestrated the pieces, and his brother Patrice Héral, who performed some of the sound effects and singing.
The soundtrack incorporates a wide variety of languages and instruments from around the world. Mainly Bulgarian lyrics were chosen for the song "Propaganda", which plays in the game's Akuda Bar, to allude to the Soviet propaganda of the Cold War. It uses a recording of a telephone conversation by Héral with a female Bulgarian friend to represent the government's control of the media. It also incorporates Arabic string instruments and Indian percussion. A song called "Funky Mullah" was originally planned for the Akuda Bar, but it was replaced by "Propaganda" because Héral decided that its muezzin vocals, recorded on September 8, 2001, would have been in bad taste in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Fun and Mini-games", a song that plays during hovercraft races and other minigames, includes Spanish lyrics. The lyrics for DomZ music were created from a fictional language with prominent rolling "r" sounds. The crashing metal sound effects of "Metal Gear DomZ", the music played during a boss fight, were recorded from the son of Héral's neighbor playing with scrap metal. The voices in the city of Hillys were also recorded by Héral himself. The music has never been published as an album, though it has been released in its entirety as a free download by Ubisoft. The soundtrack is featured in the Video Games Live international concert tour.
|1.||"In the beginning"||2:27|
|2.||"Dancing with Domz"||4:36|
|3.||"Home sweet home"||2:51|
|6.||"Isle de Noir"||4:25|
|8.||"Say cheese, fellas"||1:59|
|9.||"Akuda House Propaganda"||2:41|
|10.||"Ancient chinese secrets"||3:00|
|11.||"Don't fear the reaper"||6:38|
|12.||"Fear the reaper"||2:02|
|13.||"Fun and Mini-Games"||1:54|
|14.||"Funky Bar 100"||2:43|
|15.||"When Domz attack"||1:27|
|17.||"Sneaky Jade suite"||3:14|
|19.||"Violent Jade suite"||5:23|
|20.||"Heart of darkness"||4:35|
|21.||"Metal Gear Domz"||2:38|
|22.||"Something completely different"||1:52|
|23.||"Behind enemy lines"||3:23|
|24.||"Free your mind"||1:20|
|27.||"Above and beyond"||5:44|
|29.||"In hot pursuit"||1:16|
|30.||"Sins of the father"||3:50|
A full HD re-mastered version of the game was released on Xbox Live Arcade in March 2011 and on PlayStation Network in June 2011. It features improved character models and textures, as well as a modified soundtrack. Achievements, trophies and online leaderboards were also added.
Prior to its release, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine and PlayStation Magazine praised the game's showing at the 2003 Electronic Entertainment Expo and described it as one of the best titles on display.
Beyond Good & Evil received generally positive reviews from critics. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox version 88.61% and 87/100, the GameCube version 88.14% and 87/100, the PlayStation 2 version 87.09% and 86/100, the Xbox 360 version 85.08% and 84/100, the PlayStation 3 version 84.42% and 83/100 and the PC version 83.22% and 83/100.
The game's graphics were generally well received. In reviewing the GameCube version, Game Informer wrote that "Every moment of Beyond Good & Evil looks as good as a traditional RPG cutscene" and that the game's effects and character animations were "amazing." On the other hand, Jon Hicks of PC Format wrote that while some effects were excellent, the game's otherwise unspectacular graphics were unwelcome reminders of the game's console roots. 1UP.com and Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine cited glitches such as frame rate as irksome, because the game did not appear to tax the console's hardware.
Edge commended the game for its storytelling and design, but criticized its plot as unable to "match Jade's initial appeal," becoming "fairly mundane" without "the darkness and moral ambiguity suggested by the title," with Jade's everyman appeal undermined by the revelation of her "mysterious hidden identity." Dan Toose of Icon called the game's setting "dark, baroque and earthy, a far cry from the squeaky-clean action of the Final Fantasy games," and described the game as "a very European take on the role-playing genre" and "one of the best adventure games in years." Star Dingo of GamePro commented that the game was a "jack of all trades, master of none" that "never really lives up to its title," adding that its vision could have been more focused. Among complaints were control issues and a lack of gameplay depth. Game Informer's Lisa Mason wrote that the game's controls were serviceable, but simplistic, and that she wished she could do more with the character. PC Gamer's Kevin Rice found most of the gameplay and its exploration refreshing, but called hovercraft races "not much fun" and felt combat was the game's weakest element. Edge called the gameplay interaction "hollowed out," as an unintended consequence of Ancel's attempt to streamline the game.
Beyond Good & Evil was not a commercial success. The game saw poor sales upon its release in the 2003 Christmas and holiday season. Retailers quickly decreased the price by up to 80 percent. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine staff attributed the poor sales of the game—among many other 2003 releases—to an over-saturated market, and labeled Beyond Good & Evil as a commercial "disappointment". In retrospect, Ancel noted that consumers at the time were interested in established franchises and technologically impressive games. Coupled with the amount of "big titles" available, he stated that the market was a poor environment for Beyond Good & Evil and that it would take time to be appreciated. The Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine staff further commented that the lack of marketing from Ubisoft and the game's odd premise naturally reserved it to obscurity. Part of the disappointing sales stemmed from Ubisoft not knowing how to market the title, something that Ubisoft North America CEO Laurent Detoc labeled as one of his worst business decisions. At the time, Ubisoft's marketing efforts were more focused on the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Ubisoft's former North American vice-president of publishing, Jay Cohen, and its European managing director, Alaine Corre, attributed the commercial failure of the game to a lack of marketing. "The game play was there, the technical excellence was there but perhaps the target audience was not there," Corre told the BBC. Corre later commented that the Xbox 360 release "did extremely well", but considered this success "too late" to make a difference in the game's poor sales. The game was intended to be the first part of a trilogy, but its poor sales placed those plans on hold at the time.
Awards and legacy
Beyond Good & Evil was nominated for and won many gaming awards. The International Game Developers Association nominated the title for three honors at the 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards: "Game of the Year", "Original Game Character of the Year" (Jade) and "Excellence in Game Design". Ubisoft titles garnered six of eleven awards at the 2004 IMAGINA Festival in France, with Beyond Good & Evil winning "Best Writer" and "Game of the Year Team Award." The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences nominated the game for "Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development" at the 2004 Interactive Achievement Awards. In IGN's "The Best of 2003", the PlayStation 2 (PS2) version won "Best Adventure Game," while the GameCube version received "Best Story." Beyond Good & Evil's audio was also recognized. The game was nominated for the "Audio of the Year", "Music of the Year", "Best Interactive Score", and "Best Sound Design" awards at the second annual Game Audio Network Guild awards. It was similarly nominated for the "Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition" and "Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design" awards at the 2004 Interactive Achievement Awards.
In 2007, Beyond Good & Evil was named 22nd-best Xbox game and 12th-best GameCube game of all time by IGN. Game Informer listed the title 12th on its "Top 25 GameCube Games" list. In another list, "Top 200 Games of all Time", Game Informer placed the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube versions of Beyond Good & Evil as the 200th best. The Official Nintendo Magazine ranked it as the 91st-best Nintendo game, while Nintendo Power ranked it 29th. Nintendo Power placed the GameCube version as the 11th-best GameCube game of all time in its 20th anniversary issue. Destructoid ranked the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox versions as the 6th-best game of the decade. In 2010, IGN listed it at #34 in their "Top 100 PlayStation 2 Games". GamesRadar placed it as the 70th best game of all time.
Ancel stated his desire to produce a sequel to the game. Ubisoft announced at the Ubidays 2008 opening conference that there would be a second game. A sequel, tentatively titled Beyond Good & Evil 2, is currently in development, although the project was temporarily halted so as to focus on Rayman Origins.
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