There have been more than a few critically acclaimed titles that failed to make much of a blip on gamer's radars when originally released.
And then there are games like Beyond Good & Evil, which didn't appear on the radar entirely.
Criminally overlooked and underplayed, there is still nothing quite like Beyond Good & Evil available in the market today, which is precisely why we need another installment in the franchise.
What Is It?
Describing Beyond Good & Evil isn't exactly easy -- probably why it failed to find an audience when Ubisoft released the title during the 2003 holiday season. Part platformer, part action-adventure, players step into the shoes of Jade, a photojournalist hot on the heels of a government conspiracy. Jade must solve puzzles, gather evidence, pilot vehicles, collect pearls and battle her way past government forces (and aliens) in order to save the day. Along the way she is joined by a cast of colorful characters and anthropomorphic animals like Pey'j. The game is a unique blend of urban fantasy and science fiction that is, once again, difficult to explain. It is that combination of genres and themes that helps make Beyond Good & Evil worth playing.
What Makes It Great?
While Beyond Good & Evil isn't without problems, the game is just so darn refreshing that they are easy to overlook. Jade is one of gaming's most well-realized female protagonists (of which their are painfully few). Her intelligence, strength and resolve push the plot forward in ways that feel believable. She is throwing herself in harm's to way to topple an authoritarian regime not with guns or martial prowess (though she has plenty of that too) but with the lens of her camera.
Jade may be the game's greatest strength, but it is the game's blending of genres that keeps you playing. From stealth sequences to vehicle combat, platforming to puzzle solving, the game is always finding new things for you to do. The whole experience is glued together with the game's photography mechanics and some great voice acting that manages to elevate the initially silly idea of a talking pig uncle into something much, much more.
Why Does It Need A Reboot?
The game, originally meant to the first in a trilogy, bombed when it released in 2003 for PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube for a number of reasons, ranging from lack of audience to poor marketing, but it definitely didn't help that the title was released during the incredibly crowded holiday game season. Be that as it may, an HD remastering released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011 reportedly sold well. In 2008 Ubisoft announced a sequel was in the works and a teaser trailer for Beyond Good & Evil 2 would later make its way online, as would a supposedly "leaked" trailer claiming to be footage from the game.
Nothing has been heard about the project since then. Throwing even more doubt on the project ever seeing the light of day is the fact that Beyond Good & Evil creator Michel Ancel left Ubisoft last year to form his own independent game studio, though he is still working with Ubisoft on certain projects in some capacity. It would be a shame for Jade's story to end after only one title, especially considering the revelations that come at the end of the first game. The gaming industry is in desperate need of women heroes and fresh ideas.
The original Beyond Good & Evil delivered all that and more to become one of the best games of its console generation. A new installment of the franchise on current generation hardware would allow for an even bigger world for players to explore. Combined with the game's themes of friendship and government censorship, and you have a story that is as relevant now as it was in 2003, perhaps even more so. It's for that reason we will continue to hope that Beyond Good & Evil 2 will one day make it to store shelves.
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