Beyond Good & Evil could safely be called one of the biggest cult hits on the original Xbox. Ubisoft's blend of a relatable main character, high production values, and varied gameplay garnered the original a following vocal enough to inspire a sequel despite limited commercial success¬. Although Beyond Good & Evil 2 has achieved near vaporware status over the past couple of years, Ubisoft has thrown the cult of Jade a bone in the form Beyond Good & Evil HD, a graphically improved version of the original. While we were in Las Vegas for CES we got a chance to take a look at this attendee of the XBLA House Party to see how it is transitioning into the next gen.
One of the most impressive aspects of Beyond Good & Evil HD is just how well the game has aged. The original wasn't photorealistic, but the cartoonish art direction is a fine bottle of wine, only becoming better with age, HD textures, and 60 fps framerate (okay, maybe wine doesn’t have the last two). Sure, it won’t make a dent in any top 10 visuals list, but gamers who pick up this remake won’t feel like they’re looking at a last-gen title. The already impressive soundtrack has also been improved, making for an even better aural experience this time around.
Unsurprisingly, not a whole lot has changed on the gameplay front other than a new control scheme. The new layout itself is intuitive and allows for easy inventory searching and photo taking, the latter being one of the more unique parts of the game. The one issue with the updated version is that Jade’s movement feels a little stiff and clunky. That aside, the team has done a solid job porting the original Xbox controls onto the 360.
Given the criticisms of the original, the decision to keep all the mechanics intact, especially fighting is a head scratcher. Combat is solely mapped to the X button, a choice that makes getting through waves of enemies a depthless hackfest. Even the addition of your bovine friend Pey'j and his special attack didn’t add unbelievable depth to the boss battle we played. However, if memory serves me correctly, what we saw is one of the earlier fights, so the developers’ promises of more complex combat later on could very well hold water.
Now, there are also a fair number of upsides to keeping the game static. Most notably, everything that fans loved in the original is back. This means that all the variety, the picture taking, the stealth gameplay, the hovercraft riding, and the excellently enaging story will be back in action in a prettier form.
The decision to leave the core experience unchanged is obviously both a blessing and a curse. Members of the cult of Jade will scarf it down as something to hold them over until Ubisoft reveals any serious information about the sequel . If you’re one of the types who didn’t like the first game, then this will assuredly be a pass for you. For middle types who never played the original, it will probably be worth your while to pick this one up when it attends the XBLA House Party.
[Beyond Good And Evil HD]-$TBA