You're probably hearing a lot about Beyond Good & Evil lately, but if you weren't paying attention back in 2003 you may have no idea why people suddenly seem to care so much. Before sequel talk fans the flames of hype ever higher, catch up with this crash course on the Beyond Good & Evil phenomenon. Here's your first hint: we're not talking about the famous philosophy book by Friedrich Nietzsche.
It's an action-adventure game that first came out in 2003 for PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, and PC. You play as a photojournalist named Jade as she unravels the massive conspiracy behind the alien military force that has occupied her home planet - benevolently, or so they claim - for a number of years. The game mostly follows the 3D Zelda formula: you're free to explore much of the world early on, but you'll need to clear out dungeons and earn their associated upgrades to progress through the story.
Well, you can take pictures of animals. Every species of creature in the game has its own scientific classification and you get rewards for documenting them all. You can drive a floaty-fun hovercraft into town, soup it up, and win some surprisingly tough races. You can play futuristic air hockey with a socially awkward shark. You can meet cool characters like a grease monkey (that's just a figure of speech) pig man (that isn't), a procedure-obsessed ex-soldier who is very serious about the life debt he owes you, and the most adorable goat orphan ever committed to polygons. You can, er, do your best to ignore the rote, by-the-numbers stealth sections.
And you can get to know Jade, a well-crafted woman protagonist from an era of games when those were pretty rare. Jade has moments of strength, weakness, and growth, and through it all she never stops being the brave yet caring kind of person you definitely want to be when you grow up. And some way, somehow, she pulls off that green lipstick.
Beyond Good & Evil was principally developed by Ubisoft's Montpellier studio, which is also home to the Rayman series. Speaking of which, Rayman creator Michel Ancel directed BG&E (as well as co-designing and co-writing it), and he's most commonly held as the primary personality behind the project. Ancel is still working with Ubisoft, though he has also formed an independent studio called Wild Sheep. Its first project is a prehistoric, shape-shifting shaman simulator called Wild.
Ubisoft announced that it was working on a sequel for Beyond Good & Evil way back in 2008. Every few years since then the company would re-confirm that it still intended to make the game, but it didn't seem like much progress was being made. Then Michel Ancel started teasing some familiar looking concept art on his Instagram account in recent weeks.
"Pre-production" could mean any number of things for a game that's theoretically been in some stage of development for the last eight years; at the very least, you shouldn't expect it to come out this year or probably next year either. But even if it's not much to go off of, this is the most solid news we've had about Beyond Good & Evil 2 in years. People are understandably excited.
It's much easier to play Beyond Good & Evil now than it was five years ago. A pretty good HD remaster of the game came out for PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2011, and it's now backwards compatible on Xbox One. Or you can play on PC if you prefer; Beyond Good & Evil is currently free on Ubisoft's Uplay platform in honor of the company's 30th anniversary. It's also available on Steam.
Aside from Jade? Double H, obviously. Dude knows his military protocol and how to take down a barricade with a well-placed headbutt. What's not to like?
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