Beyond Good and Evil HD

The Hillys are alive.

Jade, plucky photo-journalist and guardian to a lighthouse full of orphans, was never a pin-up heroine. With her short shock of black hair, loose trousers, furrowed brow and smear of green lipstick, she always exuded a tomboyish quality. She seemed at odds with gaming's ever-fashionable, always sassy big-titted female protagonists.

As individual as early years Lara, Beyond Good and Evil's main character nevertheless has a Parisian sort of appeal. Her sexiness is derived from a depth of character, inner strength and air of continental detachment, not her voulez-vous-coucher-avec-moi eye shadow. With that in mind, is it wrong to be excited by the prospect of spending time with her in high definition?

Jade, much like the game she fronts, has always inspired infatuation. Partly it's a sense of pride in her achievements. Here is a woman who, from BGE's opening moments, shows a selflessness and generosity in caring for those weaker than herself that is rare in videogames.

The very first act in the game is one of protecting the weak - albeit expressed in the down-to-earth-challenge of topping up an electricity meter that's run out of credit, in order to fire up the shields protecting the orphans' home from invasion.

Then, over the long haul of the game, the narrative curtain draws back to reveal a woman who grafts at her profession. By photographing trafficking atrocities, Jade inspires a planet to rise up against its invading captors.

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BGE's tortured development process led to Ancel once saying it was really BGE2, the design having changed so much since day one.

She can fight too, of course, but gaming's default language of violence is muted in favour of other, more cerebral tools in her arsenal. That's the sort of theme to power an inspirational Hollywood blockbuster, not a videogame: a protagonist who saves the day using steely determination rather than weapons. And since the game's launch, those who spent time in her presence have long clamored for her return.

So the answer to the question of whether it's wrong to be excited by spending time with Jade in high definition is: no, not at all. The only definition that ever really mattered in Beyond Good and Evil was found beneath the skin, and it's as sharp today as it ever was.

But while the most exciting prospect of this XBLA/ PSN re-release is the opportunity to revisit one of the Xbox's most beloved and idiosyncratic releases, it's important to give appropriate credit to Ubisoft Shanghai for what seems like an assured, technically accomplished overhaul.

The game appears to breeze along at 60 frames per second and loading times have been vastly reduced. The updated textures and models solidify and add detail to what were always fairly handsome clusters of polygons.

The world of Hillys may not have had its boundaries expanded, but it has been smoothed and rendered for a modern audience. With the help of the extra definition we see creator Michel Ancel's vision more clearly.

The addition of leaderboards, no doubt to ensure the game falls in line with Xbox Live Arcade technical certification requirements, seems a little superfluous. But alongside the introduction of achievements and trophies, these new features do nothing to diminish BGE's appeal.

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