Beyond Good & Evil Xbox Review

Beyond Good & Evil

Introduction

In some distant gaming future, the silver lycra-clad gaming population will look back at 2003 and no doubt regard it as the annum of lost classics. Without getting too obscure, Ubi Soft (those lovely, Montreal-based design geniuses) developed two gems last year that, by this point, everyone who reads the industry mags. is aware were almost completely overlooked by gamers far and wide. Those games, for those of you too intoRainbow Six 3 and Pandora Tomorrow to notice, were Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Beyond Good & Evil (BG&E). Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always been a sucker for innovative design, good mechanics, original concepts and dazzling graphics. Go figure.

With this in mind, I turn the focus of this review to what was easily the most overlooked of the two aforementioned beauties, BG&E. Imagine a far-flung future on the idyllic green world of Hyllis. This world has come under attack by a dire alien threat, and as adventurous female reporter Jade, it is up to you to unravel the mystery surrounding their dark intent. Conspiracy theory, action and betrayal all play suspenseful parts in the game’s well-orchestrated plot, reminiscent of such age-old PC favorites as King’s Quest or the Roger Wilco series of Space Quest adventure games. Of course a new generation of graphics and the Xbox’s powerful features make the experience as captivating today as its distant SVGA cousins were in yesteryear, and not without flair.

Gameplay

Anyone familiar with a platform-jumping adventure might, at first, believe they own this territory and feel right at home. In actual fact, the control scheme is extremely streamlined with most special actions Jade can perform in the environment (from flipping switches, to kicking open chain-link fences, to jumping) being governed by a single, context-sensitive ‘action’ key. With the exception of the fast-paced fight sequences Jade is occasionally drawn into, the unobtrusive HUD will prompt you when an object in the environment can be interacted with. Simply running toward a gap between two catwalks will result in a jump (carried out automatically) that will lead you to the other side. As a platform veteran (and a player who recently completed Prince of Persia) such spartan controls might make one skeptical. However in a game more interested in telling a compelling story than having the player replay the same jumping puzzle over and over again, they work exquisitely.When Jade must fight (and fight she often must) the action key combined with the run and dodge buttons let her bust some gymnastically-accented martial arts moves. Apparently a seasoned combatant, Jade’s preferred weapon is a half-staff called the ‘Dai-Jo’ which, apart from busting major heads, can be powered up to release an expanding energy burst for dispatching multiple enemies. She kicks, flips and strikes with sumptuously detailed, and satisfyingly varied, combat animations. In fact, all of Jade’s animations (and there seem to be a great many of them) are as fluid and expertly crafted as we’ve come to expect from each and every Ubi Soft title.

When Jade must fight (and fight she often must) the action key combined with the run and dodge buttons let her bust some gymnastically-accented martial arts moves. Apparently a seasoned combatant, Jade’s preferred weapon is a half-staff called the ‘Dai-Jo’ which, apart from busting major heads, can be powered up to release an expanding energy burst for dispatching multiple enemies. She kicks, flips and strikes with sumptuously detailed, and satisfyingly varied, combat animations. In fact, all of Jade’s animations (and there seem to be a great many of them) are as fluid and expertly crafted as we’ve come to expect from each and every Ubi Soft title.

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