Beyond Good & Evil HD • Page 2

Jade's empire.

Not all are convinced of the Alpha Section's good intentions. A guerrilla movement known as ISIS believes that Alpha Section and the DomZ are one and the same, with the ensuing fear and paranoia used as a cover for something more sinister.

Jade goes from freelance photographer to conspiracy-busting adventurer, and Ancel's skill at videogame narrative means that your gameplay goals help the tale to unfold at just the right speed; never so quickly that her transformation seems implausible or so slowly that your attention wanders. Whatever else it brings to the table, Beyond Good & Evil is a fantastic piece of interactive storytelling.

It's also great to have a female protagonist who wears sensible clothing and doesn't have a chest that looks like a dead heat in a zeppelin race. Jade is very well rounded for a videogame character, motivated by family and financial need, with just enough spunky go-get-'em attitude that you believe she'd willingly creep into deadly peril.

While she uses a fighting staff to batter the various creatures and enemies that get in her way, her greatest weapon is a simple camera and the ability to document what she finds. This, more than anything, makes her a uniquely interesting character and a great example of how meaningful videogame action doesn't have to involve pulling a trigger or pulverising a jaw.

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Bizarrely, her favourite colour is actually orange.

Deeper into the actual mechanics of the game, not everything has aged so gracefully. The camera is a particularly fractious beast, requiring constant attention in confined areas and becoming a real problem during the game's well-intentioned but frustratingly woolly stealth sections.

Trying to get past pairs of Alpha Section guards by firing remote discs at the breathing tanks on their backs becomes a real fiddle, especially as you need to disable both of them at the same time to prevent one from fixing the other. The lurching camera makes evasion a pain, while simply aiming your reticule is hampered by the invisible barriers that jut out from corners.

Is that enough to take the shine of an otherwise memorable game? Not at all. It's a problem, but whatever frustrations the camera causes are more than compensated by the wealth of imagination elsewhere. Strip it down to its constituent parts and there's nothing here that's particularly new, but what remains refreshing is the seamless confidence with which Ancel blends the pieces together.

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Combat is a one-button affair, but it's fast and fluid.

In fact, only the rather simplistic character models and occasionally stiff animations tip you off that this is a game soon heading for its tenth anniversary. The HD makeover is both thorough and beneficial, and while I can't compare the new soundtrack to the old, it's suitably nuanced for the varied tale being spun.

It certainly shows that Ubisoft recognises the value of its overlooked cult favourite, and bodes well for the treatment of the long overdue sequel.

Most pleasing of all is the cost. At a time when many downloadable games are sliding up to the 1200 MS Points barrier, the 800-Point price tag for this much-beloved classic shows that a little generosity can go a long way. If, like me, you let this one pass you by, there's no excuse not to rectify that mistake now.

9 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy Beyond Good & Evil HD Dan Whitehead Jade's empire. 2011-03-03T08:00:00+00:00 9 10

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