A remake of the action-adventure title Beyond Good & Evil will be hitting the Xbox Live Arcade in late February. Despite having never played the original, I’ve somehow found myself hooked on this HD update and the future of the franchise. The original, which was released in late 2003, has gained somewhat of a cult following on the internet. So what’s the big deal with Jade and Pay’j?
The first time I saw footage surrounding the HD remake, I was left with an overwhelming sense of ‘meh’. Achievements and trophies? A leaderboard system? These were perhaps the most mundane, boring and unimpressive features that a PR official could possibly choose to show off at an interview. The visuals appeared reasonable, but it was difficult to tell whether or not they were much of an improvement over the original.
Back on the last generation of consoles, Beyond Good & Evil had adequate, but by no means inspiring sales figures. The futuristic title follows Jade, a young reporter who uncovers an alien conspiracy on her home planet. Human trafficking, abductions and social revolution blend with basic combat, platforming and puzzles. Presumably it didn’t entice many gamers at the time.
Therefore, my initial assumption was that the HD remake was a simple cash in for Ubisoft. However, that was before I stumbled upon a few scarce details on a rumoured Beyond Good & Evil 2. Suddenly it seemed like Ubisoft was carving out a future for the forgotten franchise. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told Kotaku that:
“We were, as we are, working on the game. What is very import with this next product is that it will be perfect.”
Developer Michel Ancel’s “intention is to come [out] with something really exciting. But everybody needs a little bit of patience.”
A brilliant CG teaser trailer was circulating the internet at the same time, showing off Pay’j in a delightfully humorous scene. In my eyes, decent action-adventure games (and to some extent, even 3D platformers) were starting to become thin on the ground – so this instantly caught my interest.
More speculation was thrown into the fray when a second piece of footage hit the headlines. The black mop of hair, combat staff and outlandish clothing certainly made it look like Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, but was it legitimate?
Ubisoft, as far as I am aware, has never claimed ownership of the footage or quoted it as being authentic. The apparent ‘gameplay’ looks highly scripted and set in a locale that I wouldn’t expect from the franchise. Fans continue to speculate its origins.
Despite all of my cravings for a sequel to Beyond Good & Evil, I have still never played the original. Ridiculous, I know. Thankfully, Ubisoft is ready to cater to newcomers and outsiders such as myself with the release of the aforementioned HD remake.
I’m still not entirely convinced on its high definition credentials. It still looks like a last generation title and without playing the original, it’ll be hard for me to tell what textures have been changed. Still, I’m happy that the game is getting another outing and hope that it will pick up more followers as a result. With enough support, Beyond Good & Evil 2 might finally come to fruition.