When I first had Beyond Good & Evil in my hands, I was more than a just a bit skeptical. The only real marketing I saw for the game was a couple of pictures scattered around game magazines. The pictures showed a woman with a camera sneaking around some big armored men. I wasn’t exactly sure what the draw was supposed to be. X-treme Paparazzi?

After popping the disc in, I didn’t put the controller down except to sleep and go to work. It was immediately apparent the designers put in a lot of time and effort. Since this is somewhat of an adventure game, I’m going to try to say as little as possible about the actual characters and storyline to keep it fresh for you. We all know the PS2’s graphical abilities are looking more and more dated. Being impressed by graphics on the PS2 is a rarity these days unless you’re playing the next Final Fantasy game. Beyond Good and Evil is one of those rare graphical beauties. The overall look of the game reminds me of a something like the movie Titan AE. It has a cartoony feel, but set in 3D. The results are impressive. Creatures and other animated objects are VERY fluid and extremely detailed. Motion blur and the loads of other effects present in the game do a great job of sucking you into the game. The environments are also well thought out, very detailed, unique and beautiful. Although the PS2 is notorious for frame rate drops, I don’t remember a single place where the frame rate dropped to a noticeable amount. Ironically, there are maybe three or four spots in the game where it really feels like they realized they forgot something graphically at the last minute and just tossed something in. For example, overall water effects for the game are amazing. Reflections and fluidity were very impressive, but splashing and wave effects look cheesy. The graphics were so great overall that overlooking these tiny mistakes is very easy. This game has great music, awesome voiceovers, and excellent ambience. Much of the in-game composition includes some really deep piano and orchestral work making environments creepy, mysterious and suspenseful. The game has a little twist of Spanish added to it, which REALLY comes out in your personal computer’s personality, Secundo. It’s also extremely apparent in the great tunes played in the game’s race sections. I’d like to find out the name of the band responsible for those tunes! It all works very VERY well. The ONLY negative thing I have to say about this category is that there is a lack of any audio support beyond stereo. I can only imagine how great it would be in surround/5.1.Beyond Good and Evil plays from a 3rd person perspective. A lot of games played from this perspective have what I call “Camera-itus.” The camera is always getting stuck on walls or is always forced into a horrible position when you need it most. Fortunately, this adventure only rarely suffers these symptoms. Most of the time, the user has control of the camera, but if the camera position IS forced, it is almost always in a very useful spot. There are no jumping puzzles so you won’t be reloading because of some ridiculously stupid and unnecessary leap. Controlling the main character, Jade, is intuitive for the most part, but every once in a while I would hit the wrong buttons. I think the buttons probably could have been laid out in a better way. Adding changeable controls in the options menu could have solved this, but there’s no changing them here. Controlling vehicles is fairly intuitive and pretty fun. In the end the controls for the game are pretty decent. The ability to modify them would have really helped this score.

Beyond the gorgeous visuals and the great audio lies a very, VERY engrossing game. As soon as I picked up the controller, I didn’t want to stop… And I didn’t until I was done (besides sleep and work that is). You play the game as Jade, a freelance reporter living on the planet Hillys. Hillys is currently at war with the Domz and is protected by the newly arrived Alpha Sections. Jade and her close companions learn more and more about what is really going on with the war and must expose the evildoers to the populace. Along the way Jade meets all kinds of people, takes propaganda pictures, collects weapons, items, and upgrades vehicles to help her in her quest to free the planet from war. She’ll race hovercraft, sneak past guards, use her camera to expose enemy plots through propaganda and take pictures of the local fauna for cash.

The plot is what really drives the game. After the first ten minutes I was engrossed in the storyline and couldn’t wait to see what came next. It is magnificent to say the least. All of the characters have depth and you truly become drawn into Jade’s psyche. I think the presentation of the story is what really sucks you in. The cinematics, narration and voice acting are all wonderful!

The only way the game could have been better is: MORE. The game is fairly short as I finished it in less than 15 hours and I like to take my time. The storyline leaves you wanting MUCH more. Let’s just say they leave it open for a sequel. Oh yeah… One more thing… A request to game developers everywhere: When I pause the game DON’T run the game timer! When all is said and done, Beyond Good and Evil is an adventure game with great action elements, combat, suspense, stealth challenge, and intrigue.

The best thing about the gameplay is that it feels unique. FINALLY! Something new! I guess if I had to compare it to something it would be something like a cross between Zelda, Metroid, Spinter Cell, Dark Cloud 2 and Indana Jones.

Ironically, this isn’t the type of game someone would normally play again. There isn’t much to unlock and it’s not too hard to get everything the first time through. But for some reason… I wanted to play it again. There is an incentive to play through trying to get everything and all the extras in short time. The official website has a top players list that you can get on by entering a code shown on any of your save games. I placed 142 or so out of 700 some. In addition to the scoring you can unlock an “air-hockey” type mini-game for multiplayer. But that’s not why I want to play it again… I think it’s mainly just because I loved the game! As far as value goes, you could get more hours out of another game for the cost, but there isn’t a dull moment throughout the entirety of Beyond Good and Evil.Beyond Good and Evil is an adventure that no one should miss. The colorful mix of characters and exciting plot combined with great gameplay make this one a must play. Beyond Good and Evil brings a breath of fresh air to the slightly stale selection of games found in the console world full of sequels and recycled ideas.