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Beyond Good & Evil PlayStation 2

Published by Ubi Soft Entertainment
Developed by Ubi Soft Entertainment
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

The year finally draws to a close and many of you will be doing your last minute shopping over the next few days looking for that special game to play over Christmas. Well if you play games on your PC or PlayStation 2 you're in luck because here we have a game that really is something special although it's only released on the PC and PlayStation 2 at the moment and the Xbox and GameCube versions won't arrive until next year.

Beyond Good & Evil puts you in the shoes of Jade, a rebellious reporter, who wants to find out just what is happening on her home world of Hillys. Everyday the planet comes under attack from creatures known as DomZ. These attacks are causing terrible damage and are endangering the population of Hillys. Hillys' defence, the Alpha Section, are a complete waste of space and this gives much cause for concern. Jade has had enough of it though and she decides to find out what is going on and who or what is behind these DomZ attacks. If the story seems a little strange there's no need to worry. Beyond Good & Evil has an impressive pedigree as it was designed by the creator of the Rayman series, Michel Ancel, and has taken 3 years to develop.

The game is basically a mix of puzzles and stealth with a liberal sprinkling of platforming goodness. Jade is accompanied by the half-man half pig Pey'J and later on in the game Double-H, a soldier in the IRIS rebel forces. I would say Jade is one of the best ever female characters in a game as she actually seems to have some substance rather than simply being a shallow bimbo. Pey'J is Jade's adoptive uncle and together they live in a lighthouse with plenty of orphaned children that they look after, whose parents have suddenly disappeared. Pey'J is mechanically minded and has a knack of being able to fix almost anything. Together they make a great team. Although you almost exclusively control Jade there are times when you'll need Pey'J to help out and pressing the triangle button will perform the relevant action.

Cameras have proved to be rather a useful tool in this years games. Project Zero, Dark Chronicle and now Beyond Good & Evil have all used a camera as an essential part of the gameplay. Jade has to earn credits as these will enable her to buy various objects throughout the game. The most effective way for her to earn credits is to take pictures of the different species of animals that she comes across throughout the game. Every picture of a species that she has not taken a picture of before will earn her credits. This also adds a bit of a twist to the gameplay as more often than not before she simply attacks the enemies with her Dai-Jo (which can perform standard slash attacks as well as super-charged ones), it pays to take a picture of them as it will earn her valuable credits. Simply destroying the enemies could cost you a fortune. The camera is also used in a more normal sense in that it is used to take pictures of maps and other valuable information that Jade must get hold of.

Beyond Good & Evil looks very nice indeed. The game uses bright and vibrant colours in a similar way to what you would expect from a Disney movie. The graphics have a slight cartoon feel to them but not overly so, which will please those of you who have probably had enough of the amount of cel-shaded games out there. Jade looks and animates very nicely. The cutscenes are particularly impressive and some of techniques they have employed such as a gentle blurring effect really helps to the give the game a movie like feel in places. You can control the camera with the right analogue stick but occasionally you'll wind up in a location where it's not possible to control the camera. Overall the camera is well behaved and doesn't cause any problems.

You'll be pleased to know that the game is subtitled. The only comments that are not fully subtitled are those you receive from the rather camp digital assistant when you are in one of the games menus. This isn't a problem though as the information he talks about can already be seen onscreen so it's not like you're missing out on something. The text is clear and easy to read. The text is placed on a dark overlay and a picture of the character who is talking is placed next to the text which is very impressive. The games manual is only 16 pages long but does a good job of telling you all you need to know to fully enjoy the game in a clear and well layed out manner.

Beyond Good & Evil arrives on the PlayStation 2 in the face of some stiff competition including Jak II, Ratchet & Clank II, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time etc. In my opinion it compares rather well against all of these and has the added bonus of being very deaf gamer friendly too. The only real downside to the game is it's length and most will have the game finished in around 10-12 hours which is short by all accounts. Still the gameplay is very enjoyable and it's quite unlike any other game on the PlayStation 2 at the moment. Let's hope a sequel is being planned because this is an impressive effort.

Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10
Three years in the making and it was worth it. It's a bit short but it's also one of the best games we've seen on the PlayStation 2 this year.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The game is subtitled and deaf gamer friendly.