Not Beyond Enough

A disappointing re-release of a timeless classic

I recently sat down to play the “HD” version of an all time favorite of mine: Beyond Good & Evil. Though honestly I can’t see how one can call it anything other than an upscaled port, resolution wise. I’m pretty certain all they’ve done is taken the PC version of the original game and ported THAT to the PS3 & Xbox 360.
Let me elaborate: I played the original to death on the PC. I’ve completed it countless times and I can remember the many instances when I was frustrated with a multitude of bugs, including some which could be considered game-breaking. However,  the exact same issues seem to persist on the re-release, with new additional bugs. Issues with the camera being dodgy, the controls(e.g. being able to navigate the map menu only with the analogue stick), a minimalistic and utterly pointless leaderboard, etc. So clearly, upping the resolution for the 7th gen consoles was the only thing that was done. Oh and a small list of achievements/trophies were added but that can’t really be counted as any sort of improvement or even an extra.

SD                                                                                                                             HD

Firstly, there are the less-critical problem that further strengthen my argument that it’s a direct port from the PC. For example, there was a common problem with the audio being out of sync in the cutscenes, mostly on computers with multi-core processors. In addition, there were a whole bunch of issues with stuttering textures that would pop up all over the game. Basically the exact same problems in the exact same places that were on the original PC version, were (at least) on the PS3 version, with possibly even new bugs showing up as well, or so the reports on various forums goes. Apart from the (mostly) cosmetic issues, the game felt somewhat broken and lesser than its original SD counterpart. While I’m all for re-releasing classics, they should not only be buffed up visually but also, at least, work out the kinks that were originally present for whatever reason.
However, there’s at least one instance that I can account for which was fixed on this re-release and it was the biggest issue I had while playing the original. A section where on completely random times an item you needed to progress didn’t appear, which meant you couldn’t continue the story. Loading up a prior area from a save file usually didn’t help. Your best bet was to start the game from scratch and hope that the bug wouldn’t be present on the new playthrough. Mind you, by that point you’d be about half way into the game and depending on the play style, that would likely mean a hefty amount of hours spent for nothing. Luckily, I didn’t come across any of such game-breakers on the PS3 version, so a little thumbs up for that at least. Though there have been reports of other types of issues ending with a game crash.

Now I’m one of those diehards who has been anxiously waiting for a sequel that was first announced back in 2008. Well, in actuality only one teaser trailer was ever officially released, though it had been said back in the day that BG&E was meant to be a trilogy. Poor sales were mainly to blame for the supposed cancellation. Ironically, I was one of the few people who never expected a sequel. To me, as a kid, the game seemed finished – You accomplished your mission, defeated the main villain. What more was there? Only after re-visiting the title many-many times over the years did I actually start paying attention to the somewhat subtle hints. Some of the topics in dialogues, especially the optional, are left vastly unanswered. Jade’s background stays almost completely unexplored, even though the game makes it clear that whatever happened in her past is the reason why the bad guys want her so much.

Image from the 2008 teaser trailer “Pig” for the supposed sequel

So again, the game at this point is starting to show pretty clear signs of age. Visually it has stood the test of time, no doubt. The sound-track and voice-acting are amazing. The latter especially, considering the original release date. The gameplay and story-telling however… well, a lot has changed. But if you look past its many faults, both the technical and the artistic, and get immersed in the world with its many colorful characters and beautiful sounds, you’ll find an excellent gem that although critically acclaimed and having a strong cult-following, never got the love it really deserved. I just wish Ubisoft would produce a proper remake and not hire a third-party to half-arse it, in an attempt to make a quick buck. I’d even take a proper remake over a sequel, if that’s even ever actually coming. If this keeps up, we’ll have another Duke Nukem Forever on our hands, god forbid!