|System: Xbox 360|
|Release: March 2, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
The biggest highlight of Beyond Good & Evil back in 2003 was the gorgeous graphics. A great color palette, Jade's flawless facial expressions, and backgrounds perfectly molded to fit each area immersed the player into the world of Hyllis. Considering the amount of other titles that could benefit from a high-definition makeover, it's surprising to see a facelift for this one. But it has made a great looking game even better. With nice textures, good lighting and shadowing, and nice water effects, you'll feel compelled to oppose the notion that this is simply an updated port of a 2003 game, miles in the past by technical standards.
Equally impressive is the digitally remastered score, with orchestrations that add to the mood of the scene. After entering a new area or solving a puzzle, the ensuing piano, ensemble, or synthesized tunes keep your attention and intrigue you to continue to uncover the next part of the story. The sound effects and voice acting are considerably well done as well, with Jade's believable conviction and anxiety well portrayed, and every water drip or electrical current having a nice, crisp sound.
Along with the addition of HD, a few extras have also been included. There is a list of twelve achievements to unlock, but most of them will be awarded without straying too far from the story, or by mastering the minigames with only a few attempts. The other feature is an online leaderboard, but this too could have been more polished. Basically, you're ranked by the percentage of game completed, and while you still can view other player's gamer cards, there's no real lure for you to claw your way to the top. A few simple additions, perhaps an achievement or rank for a devilishly difficult race time or total credits earned, would make it a little more difficult.
Small disparities aside, Beyond Good & Evil remains a truly great piece of programming and written genius. While its short ten to fifteen hour completion time will likely leave you wanting more, you'll probably appreciate the pacing afterwards. You won't feel bogged down with mandatory side quests, and the next mission is always a quick hovercraft ride away. Even small touches like grayed out questions relieve you of having the same conversation twice and keep the story moving along.
Currently, Beyond Good & Evil HD is available to download through Xbox LIVE for a meager 800 Microsoft points ($10), but is expected to be available on the PlayStation Network later in the year. It is possible that the fate of a sequel could depend on the sales and reception of the HD version on both systems. If so, I've done my part by offering well-deserved praise through this review. Now it's your turn to dole out a few bucks and play a great game.
CCC Freelance Writer