Beyond Good and EvilReviewed By: Reviewed by: Phil Rownd (a.k.a. Boyward)
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
Before you can expose the conspiracy you will be chased across rooftops by laser-wielding knights; steer your hovercraft through a minefield in a high-speed street race; collect photographic evidence of conspiracy at several top secret government facilities; break out of your planet's gravity field in your personal spaceship; and enjoy every minute of it. BG&E is short, but what's here is polished and purposeful. There's none of the tedious item-collecting that plagued the middle of Zelda: The Wind Waker. BG&E knows exactly what it wants you to do, and it's the rare game that is a jack of all trades and masters most of what it attempts. All of this variety is wrapped around a twisted story that only gets better the deeper you go. Be sure to stay through the end credits, as polish can be found even here.
Jade has the pleasure of uncove"ring conspiracies with two lovable sidekicks: Pey?j (pronounced "Page?), and Agent Double H. Pey?j is Jade?s sweet but gruff uncle who happens to be a… pig? Well, at least this pig can joke about his almost being turned into a ham, bacon, or pork dinner. Pey?j comes in handy when you need help in battle or solving a puzzle. He?s laced up a pair of jet boots that launch him in the air for a moment before slamming him into the ground, launching enemies and explosives into the air so you can smash them across the room for massive destruction. Pey?j is also a mechanic, handy with saws and wire cutters…
Agent Double H is best compared to Buzz Lightyear from Disney?s Toy Story. He?s a square- jawed super agent with a small brain and a soft spot for the ?Carlson and Peeters? spy manual. Double H can ram doors down and carries a ground-pounding hammer that, like Pey?j?s jet-boot attack, leaves your foes airborne and perfectly exposed to your super attack.
Dungeon architecture often forces you to leave your sidekicks behind, and since Jade can?t take on the whole Domz army, you?ll have to use stealth: one of BG&E?s highlights. When a guard senses something is wrong he lets out a ?Huh??, the music suddenly swells, and the controller shudders. Veterans of Metal Gear Solid will recognize the feeling. Unfortunately, there are times when you have to ?outwit? the unpredictable game camera. Adjusting the camera sometimes takes as much thought as moving Jade. In fact, you?ll sometimes have to memorize the level layout from a certain angle before moving into the area from another angle. Failure to compensate for the camera often leads to capture. This should not be so.
BG&E doesn?t pamper novices with lots of tutorial. Instead it thrusts you into the action with minimal energy and forces you to figure it out for yourself. Automatic lock-on and auto jumping help simplify thing, but because you start out with only two energy hearts, you can expect to replay combat scenarios over and over again until you get it just right. Fortunately, you re-spawn in the same room with full health each time you die. This works out better than you might think. Less experienced gamers will be challenged to improve their skills, and hardcore players can feel good about getting through an area on the first try.
Both your hovercraft and spaceship control as well as any vehicle in gaming today. True, you can?t pull off advanced maneuvers like barrel rolls, but why should you be forced to learn a complicated control scheme for each new style of gameplay? The team behind BG&E keeps it simple, and in this case keeping it simple keeps it fun.
BG&E was in the oven for three years, and it quickly becomes clear that much of that time was spent imagining, creating, and polishing Hillys. Unlike other games that feature either a modern, futuristic, or medieval theme, BG&E goes for the eclectic approach, combining all of those styles. Some of the environments look like they came out of the Aliens movies, while others could have been inspired by a Caribbean island postcard. There?s really no way to summarize the game?s look. But it looks great, has remarkably fast load times, with lots of detail, special effects, and imaginative character design. I played through the beautiful Xbox version and the only problem I encountered was the occasional blocky texture. Word on the street is that the Gamecube has a little trouble handling the special effects, and the PS2 is a step down from that with low-res textures. Regardless, this game looks great even in screenshots.
Not to be outdone by the variety experts in the graphics and gameplay departments, the people in charge of BG&E?s sound have assembled an international voice cast from many corners of the world. This is the first game I?ve played that has Jamaican rhinos. But it works. The voices are well done and range from annoying to creepy to hilarious. I never got tired of hearing Agent Double H quote from the ?Carlson and Peeters? spy manual (?D.B.U.T.T…, Miss Jade! Don?t Break Up The Team! Carlson and Peeters, page 283!?). The music isn?t going to win any awards. It?s a mostly forgettable score with some highlights here and there. The sneaking and chasing music is guaranteed to raise your heart rate, as is the climactic score that accompanies the last boss fight. THAT song is still running through my mind a day after the fact. But overall, BG&E?s soundtrack is like finding three great songs on a mediocre CD.
I finished the game in under 13 hours and that?s after finding nearly all the items and talking to everyone. There?s no reason to go back and play through it again, and the only bonus features are a BG&E trailer, a ?Making Of? segment that consists of storyboard art, and the credits. That?s it. But while it is short, what?s here is so sweet that it?s easily worth the recently reduced price of $20 (US).
There are some frightening images and jump scenes that may make BG&E inappropriate for younger players, especially since many of the victims are children. The grand conspiracy Jade uncovers may also be unsettling. There is no blood or gore, but most of your defeated enemies explode in a shower of special effects.
BG&E is ERSB rated Teen for ?Violence and Comic Mischief?. Let it be known that the game is not devoid of bad language. One character uses Jesus? name in vain twice, and the Lord?s name once as an exclamation. At the start of a hovercraft race the announcer gives the frail-hearted three seconds to ?get the hell out of here!? Since there?s a fair amount of racing, you can expect to hear that at least three times.
Jade wears a halter top under her unbuttoned jacket.
At the start of the game we see Jade in deep meditation, Buddhist style. One of the characters eventually comes to have mystical powers of healing.
BG&E gives us a shining demonstration of the ultimate example of friendship: self-sacrifice. Jesus said, ?Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends? (John 15:13). Pey?j and Double H repeatedly demonstrate a willingness to lay their lives on the line to ensure your survival, and after getting to know them their sacrifice really means something. Players are encouraged to think for themselves, and to do the right thing even when it flies in the face of what is normally acceptable. BG&E also challenges players to observe what?s around them in order to find a solution to a problem.
While the Zelda series is designed to appeal to gamers of all ages, Beyond Good and Evil is perfect for teen and adult gamers who like their quests short and sweet. At a reduced price point of $20 (US) the game?s length is no longer an issue. Cautious gamers may still want to keep their distance, but the good in BG&E is leaps and bounds beyond whatever evil can be uncovered.
Year of Release—2003
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.