Beyond Good and Evil is a 2003 action-adventure stealth racing photography air hockey game developed and published by Ubisoft and directed by Michel Ancel, creator of the Rayman series and noted Dasani enthusiast. This Zelda-style game puts you in the green clothes of Jade, a woman who looks over orphaned children in her lighthouse and loves the color green. Green headband, green lipstick, green eyes, the whole green enchilada. Living with her is her uncle Pey'j, a mechanic and engineer who also happens to be a pig.
The game's plot revolves around a conspiracy regarding the DomZ, an alien species that are invading Hillys, Jade's homeworld, and the Alpha Sections, the "defenders of Hillys" that are supposed to be fighting off the DomZ. Jade joins the IRIS Network, an underground organization that publishes news exposing the connection between the DomZ and the Alpha Section. Much of the game is spent infiltrating the Alpha Sections' various bases, taking pictures of the nefarious things that they are up to with your most important tool: your camera. Money is earned in this game buy taking pictures of different species which is a neat mechanic as it encourages you to take time to look around at the wacky character designs and environments that this game has to offer.
While inside the strongholds that house the evidence that you take the pictures of, you must solve puzzles that could vary from combat rooms to stealth or even traditional puzzles such as in a Zelda game. Sneaking around the Alpha Sections can be frustrating, but it is just a matter of learning their patterns or attacking their weak point, the air tank on their backs. You are almost always with a companion, either Pey'j or Double H, The Duke of Dukes, The Contest, The Intellectual Killer..., you get the point(Triple H). They are controlled with one button that tells them what to do and are hardly ever frustrating. The puzzles are never too complicated and neither is much in this game, but the joy comes from the cinematic plot and the fleshed-out and personality-filled characters.
Hillys is a beautiful European-inspired world that you travel around using your hovercraft which is a joy to control. There is something to do in almost every corner of the admittedly small world, but each area is densely populated with characters and a great soundtrack. Ship upgrades are bought from Mammagos, a black market shop run by Carribean rhinos. These upgrades are bought with pearls, a currency that you will get from photographing a certain amount of animals or completing side quests throughout the world. Just running and rolling around feels good to do, though I have gotten stuck in very awkward camera angles that I couldn't get out of.
For a game released in 2003 that I played on the PS2, this game looks surprisingly decent. The cartoonish aesthetic and colorful world make the game pop in a way that makes it memorable. Lighting, shadows, and reflective water all add up to a pretty great-looking game. The music can range from a Carribean-themed tune to a grand, epic symphony that plays while you are being chased by the Alpha Sections. Composed by Christophe Heral, I was never turned off by the music or any of the sound design, including the voice acting at all.
Now, you can't talk about Beyond Good and Evil without bringing up it's upcoming(hopefully) prequel, who seems to be enjoying their stay in development hell. We have had trailers shown at two of the past three E3s and streams about the game every few months, but I do not believe that this will come out even in the next two years. It has constantly been delayed due to the development of games like Rayman Legends which is fine with me, but at this rate, it feels like the follow-up will never release. All gameplay shown has been very barebones and the streams are heavily comprised of concept art. And the thing is since it's a prequel, we most likely will not get a satisfying resolution to the ending, where it is shown that Pey'j gets a DomZ growth on his hand.
Jade's journey from a freelance photographer and an orphan caretaker is one filled with emotion. Jade's character is always expressive. Cutscenes with her are never bland, as her facial expression is always dynamic and reflective of what is going on in the story. Beyond Good and Evil is known for being a commercial flop, but it was a hit with critics and those who played it and was the best Zelda game on the PlayStation 2 until Okami(or so I've heard). Throughout my entire journey, I played ten hours, in which I played Active Time Battle eight puck air hockey with a seal and saved my kidnapped "Sus sapiens" uncle from the moon. Any fan of the Zelda series or games similar to that should try this game out.
four outta five