I'm sick with a cold right now though and miserable so I'm likely going to be harsher on this than it deserves, especially after all the trouble I had to go through to get the PC version running right, setting CPU affinities, disabling hardware vertex whatevers etc. Plus it doesn't even support a controller on PC so I needed to set up joy2key to get around that. I'm in the mood to rant about something basically.
(Click the pics to view them big.)
You can tell this is a world under siege just by looking at it. People performing tai chi under a setting sun with a gentle sea breeze rustling through the tree leaves and a woodwind melody playing in the background... it's a fucking warzone down here.
Or at least it wouldn't have been a concern if they'd paid their electricity bill. The meter runs out and the shield fails, allowing sinister meteors to rain down around them.
Jade grabs a burning stick, dramatic music kicks in, and it goes straight into the action.
Combat in this is very straightforward, I've got an attack button and a dodge button and that's it. Jade seems to automatically lock on to the right enemy as long as I'm pointing her in the right direction so assigning the hurt is very intuitive. Jade flips between enemies fluidly, with my crude button mashing translating into a flurry of graceful swipes and somersaults.
Then as they start to surround her and things start seeming bleak, the game shifts into slow motion and the music drops out leaving only a choir singing a hymn of desperation. Basically, it's awesome.
daï-jo staff so that she's got a fighting chance to take the creature out. Somehow.
I can chat with NPCs using multiple choice dialogue, but weirdly there's no voices, it's text only and I miss them. It makes me realise just how good the voice acting had been so far.
Well the kids are safe for now, but we're still left with the problem of having no electricity, no energy shield, and no cash to pay for it.
This creepy looking horn bug didn't earn me enough cash to pay the bills, but it didn't take long to find a couple more animals to snap and get the shield running. Now all the electric doors work again my next job is to go out and get my hovercraft fixed. It's a wreck right now because the garage only accepts pearls as payment, but it just so happens I picked one up in that boss fight.
It actually took me a few tries to kill this thing, because I was determined to get a photo of it before blowing it to pieces. No regenerating health or armour in this it seems. Fortunately the game saved a checkpoint as I left the garage so I wasn't sent all the way back to the last save point... which was also at the garage, but that's beside the point.
It's a shame it's not actually that big. It's pretty much just a crossroads, with the exit behind me, another exit in front of me, a racetrack to the left, and some streets to the right.
Wait, a racetrack?
Winning the race got me another pearl, which makes me think that maybe this wasn't as optional as it seems. I need the pearls to upgrade my hovercraft to reach new areas.
I suppose I'll grab a shot of Pey'j first though, seeing as he's determined to get in my way. He's even waving at me!
Well, yeah of course it is. Duh.
My path seems to be blocked by crates of dynamite, so I'm going to have to find a way through them. I'm thinking that hitting them with a stick from close up probably isn't the correct solution. Not that I could anyway, as Jade only gets her staff out when an enemy is nearby.
You know, it's a shame this doesn't have co-op, considering this guy's going to be following me around everywhere anyway.
Each kill gets me money, but they never drop any health items for me. Though even with this many enemies on screen the combat isn't exactly what I'd describe as being challenging. And yet somehow I am still entertained.
Actually I can't be mean to Pey'j, the guy's awesome. Sure he's a funny looking bloke who invented fart boots, but he's not an irritating comedy sidekick or someone who needs escorting around. He's smart, helpful, likeable, and is basically Jade's foster dad, always trying to look out for her. Plus he keeps saying things like flagnabbit and cramity when he's frustrated.
Unfortunately we're trapped on this pillar of rock now, and it seems pretty determined to kill both of us. I don't want to sound like I'm picking on the games, but playing Metal Gear Solid and Ocarina of Time this week has made me appreciate how far game cameras have come since the 90s. The camera keeps the whole creature on screen at all times, with no messing around on my part, leaving me free to worry about how I'm going to get away from it.
Turns out it just took a few stomps on the head and a little bit of stick violence to sort it out. I mean Pey'j stomped on it, not me. Like Link in Ocarina of Time, Jade doesn't have a jump button, and can only leap automatically across small gaps.
The man reveals that this was actually a test of my skills to see if I'm good enough to be recruited into into the IRIS Network, a rebel group working against the Alpha Sections. There was never really a Mr DeCastellac, the limo was actually a clever trick.
Nope I still don't get it, why put a taxi inside a limo?
They want me to break into this Nutripils factory and take some photos on the inside to find out what the Alpha Sections are up to. It's a shame to call a game 'Beyond Good and Evil', and then make one side obviously good and the other obviously evil by the end of the first mission. Barring any twists of course.
I didn't much want to pick a fight with the Alpha Sections before I was absolute certain of their dastardliness (I can't believe that's actually a word), but this drone thing keeps picking me up and carrying me away whenever I get close to the factory entrance. I suppose it's time to see if this new homing shot I've just bought works.
I suppose I'll scan that map in with my camera and check my other options.
Hey wait, is that it? The thing I'm here to photograph... sticking out of the dead cow's nose? Man, that's gross.
I just hope there's no security cameras in here. I'm only here to take some photos, I wasn't planning on becoming a wanted fugitive over this.
Oh wait, I just found a Gyrodisk firing glove weapon in a locker, so now I can shoot things in first person camera view. Okay I'm just gonna break this guy out, then I'm running back down to sort out that bloody ceiling fan.
This isn't a shot from a cutscene by the way, this is actually gameplay. I'm controlling Jade right now, trying to dodge out of the way before he lands. For most of the game I've been steering the view with my
You know I hate boss fights more than anyone, but these fights haven't been so bad at all. Once I've figured out what I'm meant to do they're usually over with pretty fast.
Time for me to shut down this operation and... actually I can't do shit, I'm just one photojournalist in a base full of bad people. The best I can do is take my photos and get out in one piece.
Metal Gear Solid. Up to this point I was sure it was Zelda; I've been going around a world map, travelling to dungeons, collecting keys, solving puzzles to open doors, then fighting the big boss at the end. Of course Ocarina of Time had a tiny bit of stealth in it too, but at least in this I can clearly see which way the enemies are facing. Plus they've got a big 'kick me' sign on their back for when I get in real trouble.
I've been spotted once or twice, but running away reset the enemies pretty quickly. This doesn't seem to share Metal Gear's 'if you're seen, you're fucked', philosophy.
Still, that's what I'm here for, exposing the truth. Time for some heroic action photojournalism as I bravely dodge security fences and creep along ledges to get into a position where I can photograph his ugly face.
Wait, is that a smiley face on his shoulder? Does Pey'j have a Watchmen tattoo?
The trick to taking this guy out is perfectly obvious: I just take out both its legs at once. Kinda hard to do when my sidekick's been pignapped though. Fortunately the captured IRIS agent returned to help me out, and between the two of us we took this thing down in like 20 seconds. Well I got my photos, time to get the fuck out of here.
So is Beyond Good & Evil actually any good, or did it really deserve to bomb as badly as it did?
I think the biggest problem with the game is that it promises more than it can deliver. The title hints at a depth and moral ambiguity to the story that just isn't there, and the mystery is uncovered pretty early. The first time I got out onto the ocean in my hovercraft I thought there was a huge world to explore, Elder Scrolls style, but there really isn't; there's a bit of water and a few islands, and that's the game. Plus the one and only town is actually just a crossroads of canals and a handful of streets with like three shops in it.
I suppose I could whine about the combat getting a bit boring as it went on as well, and surprise stealth levels are never the best way to win me over, but I don't want to hate on this game. I love this game! The levels are a good mix of exploration, combat, puzzle solving, (and later sneaking), and the science center photography job gives you a good reason to always keep your eyes open and pay attention. The story is basic but involving, thanks to the likeable characters and well crafted world. Even the children don't come off as annoying, which is a big achievement.
Plus it looks fantastic for a ten year old game, and the music's just as good as the visuals. Good art design and a cartoony style helps keep it from looking too dated, and it's modern enough for the animation and voice acting to be at a level where they can convincingly bring the characters to life.
Honestly, it's not the best game I've ever played... but it's definitely my Game of the Year 2003. Here you go BG&E, have a gold star.
Actually I'm in a good mood, so have a trophy as well!
Oh, and Merry Christmas!