Beyond Good & Evil HD review

  • Beautiful visuals
  • Excellent soundtrack
  • Rewarding exploration
  • Poor voice acting
  • Flat characters
  • Constant load screens

Back in the archaic days of 2003, Michel Ancel’s Beyond Good & Evil experienced a veritable avalanche of rave reviews. The game managed to mix hovercraft racing, stealth, hand-to-hand combat, platforming, photography, mountain biking, underwater basket weaving, wine tasting and umpteen other gameplay mechanics together without becoming an absurd incongruous mess. Even crazier, it featured a female protagonist who didn’t dress like an S&M fetishist. Too bad it was a complete financial flop.

With nearly a decade gone by, Ubisoft has brought this underappreciated classic back from the grave with an HD upgrade and remastered soundtrack. Are these superficial improvements enough to entice the modern gamer into giving Beyond Good & Evil a second chance? The answer is yes…well, sort of.  While eight years of gaming innovation have made the wrinkles all the more apparent, this game has actually aged fairly well.

You take on the role of Jade – a human freelance photographer who lives on the alien planet of Hillys. Jade spends her free time rescuing orphaned children from the Domz. The Domz are a violent alien race and the game begins with them invading Hillys. The only thing that’s keeping Hillys from becoming completely overrun are the Alpha Sections – a group of elite space soldiers tasked with protecting the galaxy from the Domz threat. However, Jade isn’t so sure if things are really that cut and dried, so she embarks on a quest to uncover the truth with her adoptive uncle – Pey’j.

First things first: Beyond Good & Evil looks incredibly beautiful in high definition. From the shimmering water to Jade’s ridiculous green lipstick, everything pops out in a colorful dynamic way. The remastered soundtrack is also an absolute treat with everything from the reggae to the soft piano medleys helping to create the illusion of a living breathing world.

The story is well written and competent; however, newer gamers who pick up the title will most definitely notice that this isn’t the brilliant sci-fi epic everyone’s been talking about. Rocking a name like Beyond Good & Evil, you would expect the game to be filled with mystery and suspense where you can never be sure of anyone you meet, but that simply isn’t the case. Characters are either patently good or unashamedly baby-stomping evil, certain emotional sequences come across as rather sterile, and the voice acting really can’t hold a candle to the modern generation games.

On the plus side, the world of Hillys is still (surprisingly) quite engaging with a menagerie of unique alien inhabitants and a fairly large world that begs to be explored. Exploration is actually the greatest strength of Beyond Good & Evil HD. Whether you’re investigating new areas to photograph alien wildlife for the Science Center or hunting for pearls to sell on the Black Market, the game never feels like it’s stalling for time.

Combat and level design are two other aspects of Beyond Good & Evil that show the game’s age. The entire game world is split up into numerous small environments that are separated by loading screens, but the load times are thankfully short. Combat is also very simple and only requires the use of one button (two, if you have a companion running with you); however, this game is by no means a button-masher. Encounters with major enemies and end-level bosses require a surprising amount of strategic thought to be overcome. Likewise, the variation in stealth sections, puzzles, high-speed chases, minigames and shooter sequences make for a game with incredible pacing that grabs hold of your attention and refuses to let go.

If we could put it in one sentence, Beyond Good & Evil HD is a game that has aged reasonably well. While there are a few hiccups here and there, the visual update is fantastic and the gameplay is still incredibly well paced and fun. The uninitiated may not understand what all of the fuss is about; however, if you’re a fan of the original, Beyond Good & Evil HD is guaranteed to bring on the nostalgia.

Mar 4, 2011

More Info

Release date: Mar 02 2011 - Xbox 360
Jun 28 2011 - PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Comic Mischief, Violence

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  • Infininte - March 14, 2011 1:16 a.m.

    I played the original version on the xbox, and it is still as good as it was back then. I still have my original copy, but still decided to download it again. It brings back great fun and memories, plus I have to refresh my brain if I am going to play part two. Enjoy guys!!!
  • cart00n - March 11, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    While the camera IS wonky, if you just stay with and focus on the game for a little while, the camera becomes easy-ish to get used to. Oh, who am I kidding - it DOES frakking suck - however, the game is truly worth playing DESPITE its faults. Still, I'm not sure what Ubisoft was thinking when they re-released it this way. Because I was such a huge fan of the original, I got this day one, and plowed thru it again from beginning to end in about 3 days. I think my final tally on it was 16 hours altogether to get every single achievement. I did this for for a few reasons - nostalgia, obviously, which it payed thru in spades; the fact that I knew I'd be able to 100% the thing relatively quickly because I've completed the original on Xbox like 5 times; and because I didn't want to continually reacquaint myself with the wonky 3rd person camera. Also, I want that mighty sequel we all caught a glimpse of a couple years ago - that leaked footage was pretty rough at the time, but the sense of movement and place was simply stunning to behold. If $10 will help to convince Ubisoft that they need to finish the sequel, and SOON, I'm all for it. Plus, after dealing with the pretty unforgiving stealth missions of BG&E, the new insta-fail stealthies I've been reading about in the new ACB dlc should be pretty easy to take - at least the camera will work!
  • stephenyoung01 - March 10, 2011 3:51 p.m.

    I totally agree with TheDarkslyder. If you need inverted Y (like me), then this game is unplayable from the first minute. This is a STUPID control scheme and Ubisoft should patch this. There is just no call for it at all. For now the game is, in my opinion, broken and unplayable.
  • FVDub - March 9, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    I agree with the major points of this review after replaying BG&E, but what GR was supposed to do was inflate the score to the 8-10 range so the idiots who haven't played the game and who only look at numerical scores and not review content will finally play this game. I WANT A SEQUEL.
  • Charlie_Fubar - March 9, 2011 1:05 a.m.

    Horrible review... GREAT GAME STILL... I havent CARED about completing sidequests ever except for this game. Its brilliant and the art direstion is brilliant. The Reviwer was on the rag the day he reviewed this.
  • hanktherapper - March 7, 2011 4:23 a.m.

    The horrible camera angles are ruining a rather fun, engaging game.
  • talkraider - March 7, 2011 2:54 a.m.

    Either this or torchlight.
  • AlpineGuy - March 5, 2011 9:56 p.m.

    I'm still trying to work through the original, but for $10, I definitely recommend it.
  • Spybreak8 - March 5, 2011 12:20 a.m.

    Dude it's finally here. I think it's funny the load screens are a minus here after playing through all the Fable games and not being bothered by them. I guess it's personal preference. I mean if they took a really long time then I can see it as a minus but they don't. Kinda exploring this game for the first time, (bought it on Steam a while ago but it runs like shit on my PC for some reason). I played it for 3 hours last night without even realizing it. I love the open world feeling even though they direct you to a linear story progression.
  • Snowyjoe - March 5, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    Will the HD remake ever come out on the PC..... The original did... why not this one...
  • Redeater - March 5, 2011 12:07 a.m.

    @GamesRadarEricBratcher Yeah I figured the load screens would still be there but I thought they might just load quickly. Like when you play an older game on your newer pc. Oh well I might look into this as I did love playing it on the original xbox.
  • EricBratcher - March 4, 2011 10:41 p.m.

    Sorry Redeater, it doesn't work that way. Loading screens are just the physical manifestation of the game's disc access and memory/disk cache management routines(which definitely have more official names that I don't know). In other words, you can make loads happen faster with a quicker drive and CPU, but you can't make a game that was originally designed to load at certain places into a game that streams everything all the time. At least, not without a very deep, very serious overhaul. But seriously, this game is fantastic, even in these modern times when genre-blending is expected, not experimental. Although I still hate the last plot revelation and the battle that comes right after it.
  • TheDarkslyder - March 4, 2011 10:12 p.m.

    As someone who inverts, the inability to separate the x and y axis in the camera options (not the photo taking variety) actually makes this game unplayable for me. Selecting 'invert' reverses both axis! Apparently this was an issue in the original too. I'm very surprised this was not addressed, and unless they patch it (which I doubt) then I've just wasted $10 :(
  • Redeater - March 4, 2011 10 p.m.

    Uh....load screens? Maybe it is just me but shouldn't we have gotten past load screens for a game from the last console? HD or not?
  • oryandymackie - March 4, 2011 9:58 p.m.

    'Even crazier, it featured a female protagonist who didn’t dress like an S&M fetishist. Too bad it was a complete financial flop.' Are we seeing the link yet guys?
  • FrozenImplosion - March 4, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    YAY! I loved the Gamecube version and for just 10 bucks this is a MAJOR steal.
  • AlmightyFuzz - March 4, 2011 9:11 p.m.

    I downloaded the trail after hearing all the good things, played through and thought it was amazingly fun! Upon discovering that it's only 800MS I immediately bought extra MS points and bought it :)
  • EvilChicken - March 4, 2011 8:55 p.m.

    Really, huh, maybe worth a check or price drop
  • chrisat928 - March 4, 2011 8:55 p.m.

    It's funny, MS said HD remakes were a waste of time, yet they grabbed timed exclusivity on this...