Beyond Good & Evil is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft and released in late 2003 for the GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox platforms. The story follows the adventures of Jade, an investigative, who works with a resistance movement called the IRIS Network to reveal a planet-wide alien conspiracy. The player controls Jade solving puzzles, fighting enemies, and obtaining photographic evidence, as well as companions whom the player can control via button commands. The game runs on the Jade Engine, created for Beyond Good & Evil and named after its main character.
Michel Ancel, creator of the Rayman series, envisioned the game as the first part of a trilogy. Beyond Good & Evil was a commercial failure due to its ill-timed release and lack of popularity; however, it was critically acclaimed and received a nomination for "Game of the Year" at the 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards. In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. The sequel, Beyond Good & Evil 2, is currently in development.
Beyond Good & Evil takes place in the year 2435 on the mining planet of Hillys, located in System 4. The architecture of the city around which the game takes place was designed with a rustic European style, but also takes inspiration from many other cultures including Chinese. The world itself combines modern elements, such as e-mail and credit cards, with those of science fiction and fantasy, such as spaceships and anthropomorphic animal hybrids, coexisting with humans. The once-peaceful planet is under siege by aliens called the DomZ that abduct beings and drain their life force for power. A military dictatorship called the Alpha Sections takes power, promising to defend the populace. However, the Alpha Sections seem unable to stop the DomZ despite their public assurances. An underground resistance movement, the IRIS Network, fights the Alpha Sections, believing them to be in league with the DomZ.
Beyond Good & Evil's main protagonist, Jade (voiced by Jodie Forrest in English), is a young photojournalist. She resides in an island lighthouse that doubles as a home for children orphaned by DomZ attacks. Pey'j (voiced by David Gasman), a boar-like creature, is Jade's "uncle" and guardian figure. Double H, a heavily built human IRIS operative, assists Jade during missions. He wears a military-issue suit of armor at all times. Secundo, an artificial intelligence built into Jade's storage SAC, offers advice and "digitizes" items. The main antagonists are the DomZ High Priest, who is the chief architect of the invasion, and Alpha Sections leader General Kehck, who uses propaganda to gain the Hillyans' trust, even as he abducts citizens to sustain the DomZ.
Jade and Pey'j are care-taking the children of Hillys orphaned by the DomZ. When Jade runs out of enough Units to run the shield that protects them, she finds a photography job, cataloguing all the species on Hillys for a science museum. She is recruited by the IRIS Network, which suspects that the Alpha Sections are behind planet-wide disappearances. Jade's first target of investigation is a factory under Alpha Section occupation. She discovers evidence of human trafficking being orchestrated by the DomZ under the Alpha Sections' authority. Along the way she rescues Double H, who was kidnapped by the DomZ and subjected to torture. Pey'j is abducted by the DomZ and taken to a slaughterhouse that is to be launched to a lunar base. After failing to extract Pey'j from the slaughterhouse in time, Jade learns that Pey'j was, in fact, the secret chief of the IRIS Network.
It becomes clear that the Alpha Sections are being possessed and manipulated by the DomZ. Using the Beluga, the ship Pey'j used to travel to Hillys, Jade and Double H go on a mission to the DomZ lunar base. There, Jade finds Pey'j dead, but a 'prodigious energy' within Jade seemingly brings him back to life. After rescuing Pey'j, transmitting her final report, and sparking a revolution, Jade confronts the DomZ High Priest. She learns that her human form is apparently the latest vessel to hide a power stolen from the DomZ centuries ago (Shauni). According to the Priest It was stolen in the hopes that the High Priest, who must use Shauni's energy to survive, would die upon being deprived of it . But he managed to find a substitute energy in the souls of all those kidnapped from Hillys. Using the power, she is able to defeat the DomZ High Priest, though nearly losing control of her soul in the process, and revive and rescue those that have been abducted. In a post credits scene, A DomZ spore grows up on Pey'j's hand back on Hillys, suggesting this may not be the end of the story.
The game mainly consists of combat and stealth with many puzzle-solving elements, set in a third-person perspective. The player controls Jade through her exploration of Hillys and infiltration missions with the ultimate goal of exposing the DomZ conspiracy. Her tools consist of a Daï-jo combat staff that she uses as a melee weapon, a Gyrodisk Launcher for ranged attacks, and her camera for taking photos and collecting evidence. If Jade is attacked, her health gauge will deplete. She can use health restoring items called "Starkos" and "K-Bups" to refill her health, and use devices called PA-1s to increase the amount of hearts in her health meter. If Jade loses all of her hearts, she will restart from the last checkpoint.
During the adventure, Jade is also aided by computer-controlled characters: her uncle Pey'j and the IRIS agent Double H. Jade can direct them via contextual commands to perform specific actions that she is unable to perform herself in order to advance through her missions. These characters also have a health gauge, like Jade, and can be incapacitated if they lose all of their hearts. Jade can also share some items with them, such as Starkos, and can even increase their health bar by sharing PA-1s.
Beyond Good & Evil HD
A full HD, re-mastered, version of the game was released on Xbox Live Arcade in March 2011 and on PlayStation Network in June 2011. Upon the re-release, the HD version was regarded by numerous media: "No one has an excuse now to miss out on this game". In reality, the HD version is the PC version of the game ported over and the controls were mapped to a controller.
It is also available for retail purchase as part of the Ubisoft Xbox Live Hits Collection, packed with 'Outland' and 'From Dust'.
- The game runs on a stable 60 frames per second on a native 720p resolution
- Textures and character models were improved. Some textures were completely redone.
- Some sounds are changed (e.g. the camera sound when you are pointing at an animal; the gyrodisk once it collides with a wall).
- Achievements and trophies were added.
- Online leaderboards were added.
Due to the so called 'Trillinear texture filtering', the amount of work to 'polish' the textures with higher resolutions was significantly decreased. It is a setting found in the programming (e.g. in many UDK-related games these advanced settings can be altered in .ini files) that can easily be altered in the file by changing: "trilinear=false" to 'trillinear=true'.
This is essentially not a bad thing when the level of detail in the world is done with the utmost care and highest settings possible. However, with the HD-version, they forced the game engine to use the highest level of detail (LOD) on textures. The problem that occurred is that once the player is too far away from a particular object with an applied texture (most notable in the overworld Hillys), a lot of these textures collide with one another which creates a distorted effect.
Because the HD-version came with quite a view new features (leaderboards, new window for controller settings etc.) these 'windows' had to be implemented in the game. For whatever reason, the developers decided to put these windows in a very obvious spot in the game world. A few of these can be found right besides Looters' Cavern 4 and another set can be seen while looking out of the windows in room 3 in the Akuda Bar.
Behind The Scenes
- The original idea for Beyond Good & Evil came about from a glitch in Rayman 2, where a player could jump onto a flying ship and fly over the world. The dev team wanted to make a game that could capture that same feeling of flying over a world. This concept was later scaled down due to the processing power of the consoles at the time.
- Originally Jade was a much younger woman name Sally, she also had a brother named Toy'l (whose model was eventually used for Nino). Along with Pey'J, the three were part of an Alien-busting group called the "Insecticide Gang". Sally and Pey'J and possibly Toy'l were able to communicate with each other via a bug-like helmet they originally wore.
- Another version of the game included a story very similar to the final one, but with a couple of significant differences. Read the entire script here.