Beyond Good and Evil

This ambitious project from the creator of Rayman is a bit too far-reaching for its own good.

Beyond Good & Evil is one of those epic adventures set in a surreal science-fiction/fantasy world where animals are people, too, and knights fight alongside laser-wielding mechanoids while alien menaces threaten to advance. You know the type: It?s a little bit of old-tyme graphic adventure and a healthy chunk of Zelda-style dungeon adventure with stealthy Splinter Cell segments and obvious Pok?mon Snap influences. There?s a lot here, but none of it ever really goes much beyond just plain old good.

Beyond Good & Evil takes place in what you can only imagine is Earth?s distant future, a place covered in water where all animals (cows, pigs, sharks, etc.) have evolved into some sort of sentient species. You?re a likeable enough human reporter named Jade with a camera and a Star Fox?like staff for fighting who gets involved in an underground movement whose goal is to blow the government?s fa?ade of benevolence and reveal them for the dastardly slave-traders that they are.

Pigs in Space
BG&E; most resembles The Wind Waker (a world of islands connected by water) and Jak II (a cute but evil fantasy universe of much gameplay variety). The game isn?t as seamlessly integrated as Jak II as each piece feels like it belongs in a different game; and its water-covered overworld sequences are not nearly as intriguing as Zelda?s. The art direction is confused, like a Disney movie that takes place in an H.G. Giger art gallery, and the subject matter (slavery, oppression, revolution, and best friends packaged like meat) doesn?t really jive with the style. The voice acting can either be good (Pey?J) or jarringly out-of-place?is the game really saying that the people of Jamaica will one day evolve into rhinos?

The Past Is the Future Is the Present
The gameplay switches styles often, and none of the many different control schemes are ideal. Controlling your camera is a bit of a struggle (especially during the many stealth portions), fighting looks fancy but would greatly benefit from a lock-on system, your bizarre sidekicks are only really there to help you out when it?s convenient for the level design, and controlling your hovercraft just isn?t fun. Jade?s camera stands out as the game?s most consistently implemented device as it?s used constantly to earn cash and spice up the many factory-crawls.

About What You?d Expect from Good and Evil
Beyond Good & Evil is good, but it never really lives up to its title?a vision that could have benefited from a little more focus. It?s a tired clich? but one that Beyond Good & Evil exemplifies: jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

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