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Beyond Good & Evil Package Art
†GENRE
††Action-Adventure
†DEVELOPER
††Ubi Soft
†PUBLISHER
††Ubi Soft
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Beyond Good & Evil

If you were to listen to television commercials, it would seem like every new movie is brilliant. There is always some critic quoted who says that the newest sequel to a movie series that never should have been made in the first place is the best movie of the year, if not all time. My personal favorite though, comes when a no name critic tells you that if you liked (insert the name of some famous film), then youíll love (insert the name of the newest Ben Affleck movie). In the same vein, Beyond Good & Evil, like so many games before, has been compared to Shigeru Miyamoto's classic The Legend of Zelda series by means of an aggressive use of the phrase ďZelda-killer.Ē

To be compared to Zelda is a huge claim that is impossibly hard to accept. Not only have the Zelda games been continually popular for more than 15 years and have sold millions of copies worldwide, something that canít be true of a new action-adventure game, but, most importantly, it's a claim that has been made too often to be taken seriously. You can only hear ďZelda-killerĒ so many times before even the most optimistic gamer ends up jaded about any game attached to the term. Instead of the polished, fully-realized world of Hyrule, you end up with some half-formed world and a hero that is as easy to control as a marionette with tangled strings. Beyond Good & Evil, the newest game from Rayman creator Michel Ancel, mimics the familiar Zelda gameplay style while exchanging the fantasy setting with a science-fiction story. But does it kill Zelda?

visuals

The graphics can best be described as lush, and I donít mean that you have to be drunk to enjoy them. The environments, characters, and their movements all look smooth and beautiful. The level of visual polish really showcases the developer's hard work. The best comparison I can make is to the Lord of the Rings movies. There was a clear effort to make the entire world believable, so the design team invented a style of architecture for Hyllis and the Hyllian, a style of movement for the different species of sapient creatures, a unique music for each area of the game. Even specific color schemes to separate the different regions of Hyllis that you can explore. From the simplest textures to lighting effects to the detailed character models this game boasts some one of the best graphical presentations I have seen on the Gamecube. The only complaints I have are that there are some of the same camera issues common to the genre (although nowhere near the degree of Mario Sunshine). Also, there is no Progressive Scan support, nor is there 16x9 support for widescreen television. The second one is particularly startling, as the entire game runs in a letterbox format.

audio

The audio, again, shows the sheer effort that Ubi Soft put into Beyond Good & Evil. The game has a well orchestrated score that rivals that of a Final Fantasy or a Legend of Zelda at its best and still packs more punch than the average game at its most mediocre. Some of the tunes are especially catchy and memorable, and all of them effectively add to the overall presentation of the story. Beyond Good & Evil also uses a large amount of well-acted dialogue to tell the story in cut scenes and in game cinemas. Unlike The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Jade, the gameís heroine, does more than simply grunt and listen to other characters explain objectives and plot points. This does wonders for the stories, allowing the designers to craft characters that you care about and in which you can become personally invested. The voice acting makes every character seem fully realized. My only complaint with the voice acting is that some dialogue appears as unspoken on-screen text. Iím not sure if this is an issue specific to the Gamecube with its limited disk-space or not, but it was mildly bothersome in what is otherwise a spotless use of voice samples.

gameplay

The game starts and has players immersed in the story and the action within a first few seconds of entering your name. The evil Domz have started a war against the Hyllians, but, luckily, the Alpha Sections, a new branch of the military, is here to defend Hyllis and defeat the Domz... or maybe not. After the initial introduction you become immersed in a larger conspiracy and it's your job to show the people of Hyllis the truth about the Alpha Sections and the Domz. Overall, the best word to describe the gameplay is variety. There are the action sequences that feel like a good Miyamoto game, the stealth sequences that feel like a good Metal Gear game, various puzzles and mini-games, and even a little Pokemon Snap in the form of camera quests.

In the action and stealth portions of the game, the influence of the three-dimensional Zelda games is blatant, but Beyond Good & Evil is able to use them with enough originality that the game never feels like a direct rip-off. Just like Link, Jadeís main job is to defeat minor enemies, solve puzzles, and figure out the solution to defeating the boss of the current dungeon. Also like Link, Jade's movements and actions are based primarily on the A button; jumping is automatic and the linear progression of the story is based on the acquisition of new items or weapons. The stealth part of the game is very reminiscent of the Ganonís Fortress sections of The Wind Wake, although there is more depth and variety to it here. In the majority of the dungeons you have to avoid detection by the Alpha Sections. Much like Ganonís minions, you can attack them, but only from behind. The boss battles also reek of The Wind Waker. Each boss has a weakness based on your most recent acquisition, and you have to discover in order to achieve victory. Here, as in The Wind Waker, the boss battles (except for the final boss) are extremely easy. The only variance from The Wind Waker are the two chase sequences, where you must evade the Alpha Sections and numerous obstacles while running towards the camera. Unfortunately, this is all too familiar to fans of the Crash Bandicoot series.

The game also has several side quests and mini-games to keep you busy. There vary from chasing bandits or racing in your hover craft to playing a futuristic version of air hockey to taking pictures of Hyllian fauna for cash. None of these objectives are overly difficult and they donít keep you busy for very long. The futuristic air hockey game was my personal favorite activity in the game, but you only have to play it twice and there is no multiplayer support. Freelance photography is a nice addition to most of the action of the game and some of the animals do have fairly complicated puzzles to solve in order to get their pictures, but the animal detector that you can purchase early in the game makes the job too easy. The biggest flaw of the gameplay is that there isnít enough of it. There are only four major dungeons in the game, less than The Wind Waker, which many people criticizes for being too short. Even with the sub-quests you will get around fifteen hours of gameplay out of Beyond Good & Evil before you reach the satisfying, albeit premature, end.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

So does Beyond Good & Evil kill Zelda? No. But it does come close to the same level of quality. The story is fascinating and the use of voice acting to tell it tops The Wind Waker, in my opinion. On the whole, however, there is nothing here that you havenít experienced before. I still found it a very enjoyable game and I didnít want it to end. In fact, my biggest gripe with Beyond Good & Evil is how short it is; a testament to the depth of the Hyllian world. This is a very involving game that any fan of the last Zelda game will enjoy. It just ends far too early for me to recommend it as a must buy. This is a game you should at least rent, but, really, with the low $19.99 price-point buying is just as reasonable. So Beyond Good & Evil isnít quite the Zelda-killer you might have heard, but itís as close as any game Iíve played.

final score 8.4/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Mark Martinez
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"Unless you're being ironic, turn that off."


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