What if the army that had sworn to protect you became entangled with the enemy? This is the question Rayman creator Michel Ancel has put forth in his latest creation Beyond Good and Evil. Adapting and expanding upon the style of solid gameplay found in the most recent of the Legend of Zelda series, developer UbiSoft has created a very compelling adventure for gamers to immerse themselves.
Although the core gameplay of Beyond Good and Evil is very much borrowed from Nintendo's Zelda series, UbiSoft has employed enough variety to keep things fresh. Protagonist Jade is a photographer and missions are more about taking incriminating pictures than they are about senseless destruction. Jade's camera is also used on the side to record pictures of the diverse animal life on the planet, unique in that it rewards players for becoming more fully aware of the gaming environment.
Since she is an investigative journalist, a lot of stealth is involved in gameplay. For the most part this is pulled off well, although some of the challenges can get to be a little frustrating. Thankfully, the developer was very forgiving in terms of punishment for failure and tends to place Jade right before the challenge in which she was defeated.
Although stealth is an infiltrator's general rule of thumb, occasionally Jade will find herself in a mess where the only solution is to run like mad. There are a couple very fast-paced chase sequences reminiscent of the Sonic Adventure series that really provide a rush of adrenaline.
Similar to Link, Jade has a vehicle to move around in the overworld. UbiSoft has employed this element to much greater lengths than Nintendo did in Wind Waker. Jade begins with a basic hovercraft, but throughout the game can upgrade it and eventually replace it all together with a spaceship. Besides basic transportation, these vehicles are used for racing, entering facilities, chasing bandits, and Star Fox-like combat.
What's most impressive about Beyond Good and Evil's variety is the way in which the diverse gameplay elements flow together almost effortlessly. At one point in the story, Jade must enter a slaughterhouse and finds out that the only way in is in the middle of one of the racetracks. Meanwhile, missions often go on much longer than you expect them to. Just because you defeated a boss doesn't mean you're done with the area. You never really can predict exactly what will be coming next in this adventure.
Jade is accompanied by at least one sidekick much of the time, and this system is employed very well. They act on their own for the most part but can be given context-sensitive orders by Jade with the touch of the Y button. They occasionally do get in the way of either Jade or the camera, but it never became a major issue for me during play.
Probably the most compelling aspect of Beyond Good and Evil is its narrative. Unlike many games where the story is really more of a purpose such as