Beyond Good and Evil. What is there? What you seek is "THE TRUTH". OK, hammy stuff aside (which isn't in the game), this is a great game. A solid 3rd person action-adventure game which is pleasing to the eye and to the brain. It has a few faults I'll go into later but in the end, I think this is still one of the most enjoyable games I've played in some time.
Please keep in mind that I played the Playstation2 version and I'm not sure how the controls on the PC version work. With a game controller, I can't see that they would be much different or more difficult than the console version.
You play Jade, a reporter on the planet Hillys, who lives in a lighthouse and looks after a bunch of orphaned children. Also living with you is your "Uncle" Pey'j, an upright walking, talking pig remeniscent of a cross between an inventor and a teamster.
There is a war of sorts going on. The DomZ are an angry bunch of aliens who have been kidnapping the people of Hillys for their own evil ends. Defending the planet are the Alpha Sections who fight off the DomZ whenever the bad guys penetrate the shields protecting the populace. According to the news, the Alpha sections are doing a great job.
But are they? When the DomZ attack your home, you are forced to fight them off to save the kids and only after you have defeated them (in a fairly easy action sequence intended to get you familiar with the controls of fighting), the Alpha sections show up, complete with their own public relations, to take credit for "once again" fighting off the DomZ.
The game progresses to you getting a job photographing animal species on Hillys to earn money. This is an amusing way of moving the story along as the reason that your shields failed to protect you was because you didn't have enough money to pay your electric bill. So you start taking pictures. This leads to another job taking pictures of a strange alien in a mine. This leads to an interview with a rebel group who believes that the Alpha sections may not be what they say they are and may possibly even be in league with the DomZ. You seek to discover the truth behind this.
This is a beautiful looking game with great sound. I had no lag playing it (on console but I've had stutters with some games). The music is great and it flows smoothly between gameplay and cutscenes with virtually no change in appearance. Jade does not appear to look like a cutout moving through the environment but is a seamless part of it.
This is a traditional 3rd person action/adventure with a couple of twists. You have the normal battle mode where you use a Dojo stick to beat on enemies. Later you will get a gyrodisk shooter which you can use to shoot at enemies from a distance. This is used in camera mode however, during which you cannot move and are defenceless to enemy attack during a close battle.
The first twist is using your camera. You take pictures for the rebels to print in their underground newspaper to inform the people of Hillys about what is really going on. This advances the story. Second is the pictures of animals and other species on the planet. This gets you a few things. It gets you credits (money) and as you fill each film you get other things. After the first 8 pictures, you will get a zoom lens. This is indispensible in obtaining pictures both for missions and of other species. After that, you will get pearls. These are the underground currency which you will use to buy certain items.
Pearls are also obtained after some battles and found in various places around the planet. Later on in the game you will have the chance to buy a pearl detector which makes finding them a lot easier (but not necessarily getting to them).
As I said earlier, in camera mode you are unable to move, just to adjust your view, so you are relatively defenseless unless you are well hidden.
Next is moving around the planet in your hovercraft. You need to do certain upgrades as the storyline progresses (this requires pearls) and this gives extra abilities to your hovercraft. This is a fun part and there are races you can enter to win pearls and money. There are also hidden areas which can be accessed with your hovercraft leading to more pictures and more pearls. The hovercraft is very easy to control and fun to use.
Both you and your hovercraft have health meters. These meters can be increased by finding certain items, one for you and one for your craft, along with items which will heal both partially and completely. If your meter reaches zero, you die but thankfully it is not game over (I didn't die in the hovercraft so that part is assumption). When you die, you will be returned to a point (not all the way back to your last save) which is usually shortly before the area you died in. This is very handy later in the game. Invariably you have the occasional boss creature to beat with the final boss being the only time that I was really challenged by the action sequence, but having brought a lot of max-healing items, I got through it the first time.
Besides the action are a number of puzzles which are, in their own way, quite challenging. There are the traditional "get key-open door" objectives but also some neat ones as well. Some involve trying to figure out just how to get a picture of an animal that seems to be going out of its way to avoid that picture being taken. Others are remeniscent of adventure game puzzles (getting the blasted elevator running which took me a bit to figure out).
The last aspect is stealth. Not a huge factor early on but the overlying factor later as you get further behind enemy lines as they say. The enemies defences are great including laser guns which will destroy you almost immediately no matter how high your health. But, they must be activated by the guards who have to see you first. The guards can be incapacitated but if there are more than one then they may be alerted to your presence which is all the security guns need to gun you down. One, even two guards aren't too hard to deal with but what about three or four? This is where the game gets downright brutally difficult sometimes but I had an incredible sense of accomplishment when I got past these rooms (sometimes after many, many deaths).
The action in this game is very easily controlled, even for casual action gamers. The stealth, with crouching, picking off guards from a distance, and moving your camera (both the one you are taking pictures with and the one adjusting your gameplay viewing angle) take a bit of practice but are nothing complex. The game's simplicity in control is one of its great strengths as is the depth of its story.
The game is too short. I finished it in 13 hours of gameplay (plus a few hours of dying because I just wasn't sneaky enough). While the story wraps up neatly and is very satisfying, you still want more. Maybe a few side jobs along the way that are unconnected to the main storyline but, darn it all, I just didn't want the game to be over yet. I've read that a sequel is being considered and if one develops, I'll be first in line. Just make it longer.
Also, I hit a bug. Partway through the game, my uncle Pey'j disappeared. Not as part of the storyline but just vanished somewhere. I didn't really notice at first and consequently saved a few times looking for him and had to start over once I realized that this was a bug. Having 5 save files to use, I of course didn't the first time, you can be careful in your saving and avoid having to restart.
This is a beautiful game with a simple control system. Some innovative aspects (the camera especially) give this game an interesting and charming atmosphere. Great characters up your interest in what actually happens to them. The drawbacks are minor nitpicking (though the bug annoyed me greatly at the time). I anxiously await news that Beyond Good & Evil 2 will come soon.
Now playing: Too bloody many (sigh)
Now reading: Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 9th edition (1995)