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        Beyond Good and Evil

        Of course, we've got a qualified philosopher on the staff, but we just gave this to Jon Hicks instead

        Beyond Good and Evil

        Dammit, this just isn't fair. We've spent years practising to attain a sense of omnipotent smugness, and this game's just popped it in a trice. Barely 10 seconds in, with not a shred of exposition or training, you're literally plunged from a countryside yoga session into a subterranean pit, frantically fighting an alien boss alongside a humanoid pig. Expecting a weedy tutorial level, we're left shaken, confused, and - horror of horrors - reaching for the manual to find out what's going on. Oh, the shame.


        Coffin up
        Still, we should expect such iconoclastic behaviour from Ubi Soft, killer of the French reputation for comically atrocious games and depriving us of a lot of bitchy fun in the process. Consider BGE another nail in that coffin, as once past the bewilderingly exposition-free opening, you discover that it's a highly entertaining action adventure that, though simple, is rather hard to dislike.

        It transpires you are sassy space-orphan Jade, combining freelance photojournalism with managing a multi-species orphanage. Suspecting the government of recent alien attacks, you set out in your jet-powered hovercraft to work for the resistance, taking nature photographs as you go.

        Not one to challenge Call Of Duty, then. However, this lunatic setting contains an awful lot of things to do, and does a great job of drawing you in. Kicking off with the combat, you soon progress to naval defence, platforming and puzzle-hunting, with a bit of wildlife photography thrown for the hell of it.

        While there's little to stretch your grey matter - stealth consists of a crouching walk past scripted guard movements, combat is simply a matter of tapping the right mouse button, and puzzles are solved in seconds - it's just involving enough to be enjoyable, with hidden areas to promote exploration and even a version of Bullet Time in combat.

        This all flows together so smoothly it's hard to get bored, and is overlaid with a further coat of charm by the polished design. While the graphics aren't spectacular, there are some impressive effects, and the character scripts, voices and animation can be so endearing - even funny, in places - you're genuinely upset when they start to suffer later on.

        Unfortunately, there's still the irritating third-person camera and chugging graphics to remind you of BGE's console origins, and it never comes remotely close to justifying the pretentiousness of the title - at a mere 12 hours or so it's undoubtedly far too short. However, if you're looking for some pleasingly-flavoured popcorn for the young 'uns, it's a cracker, and even undiscerning elders may find themselves enjoying it too.
        Jon Hicks

        This article first appeared in PC Format Issue 158 - February 2004

        Format page for printingFormat page for printing
        £35.00 (inc. VAT)
        Ubi Soft

        Beyond Good and Evil

        • Thoroughly entertaining, very well polished
        • Short, simplistic, plot not as clever as it thinks it is
        Entertaining, but quite possibly a guilty pleasure.
        PCF 210, Feb 2008
        February 2008

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