To the Editor: I wish I could find the game Beyond Good and Evil that everyone's talking about.
I found a game with the same name and cover, but I can't shake the feeling that we're somehow playing two completely different games.
People I know to be both reasonable and intelligent, describe a game set in a stark, Orwellian future, where a corrupt government runs a secret underground slave ring, and only a single brave, if somewhat morally ambiguous reporter can bring the truth to the oppressed masses.
Wonderful! I'm sold! I grab it, pop the game in, and get Jax and Daxter.
You begin to get a sense of the taught political drama at the start...then funny animal people show up...then aliens...then platform jumping...then you collect big pearls to spend on upgrades...and what the hell?
I'm not saying that Beyond Good and Evil is a bad game, but why do people keep selling it as it's the long awaited sequel 1985? It's a simple, typical adventure game. At best it's competent, and although it does try to be political, Deus Ex did it better.
I think there are three reasons some reviewers give it the 'Psychonauts' treatment, even though it's not really deserved:
1. Reviewers of all types are enamored with the renegade reporter character, and all secretly wish they were ducking the 'man', revealing corruption, and receiving the praise and worship that tattletales never seem to receive in real life.
2. The time was right to have a game that fit the 'reporter defeats corrupt government' mold. It didn't seem to matter much that although the plot followed this theme, the actual environment, characters and play were more similar to a Spyro game than a drama. They wanted a drama, marketed it as a drama, reviewed it as a drama and then sold it as a drama. What people got was a slightly serious, yet mostly silly adventure game. Her sidekick is a giant talking pig-man, for crying out loud. Ever notice the reviews never mention that?
3. As Yahtzee once mentioned in a review, many games try to do too much, and wind up doing nothing well. It almost seems like the kiddie, fun and collect all the magic jelly beans elements were added as an afterthought, to please the mass market. Instead, it merely alienated and confused the players that expected a serious, political thriller.
Remember Titan A.E.? It was a sci-fi cartoon that tried to please both adults and kids alike. Ultimately it did neither. The kids went and saw Tarzan (Jax and Daxter, Spyro), and the adults went and saw non-cartoon movies (Halo, Half-life, Fable and such).
All that was left were the slightly confused geeks sitting alone in the dark, wondering if they accidentally wandered into the wrong theater.
- Robert Max Freeman
In response to "Mass Effect Saves Humanity - for What?" from The Escapist Forum: To a certain extent, it's ironic that Mass Effect, by trying and succeeding so well at being a product of pulp sci-fi from yars of yore, managed as a consequence to leave the core thing that makes something sci-fi: A new place, a new idea, a new experience. Sci-fi is fundamentally about the unknown, or the unknowable, or the eternal mysteries (what is man? what is the purpose of life?) that are at least somewhat revealed when you throw humans into weird places.
Instead, it seems, the game turned into a time capsule of thoughts about the future from a few decades ago.
I actually struggled to decide whether the article was pro Mass Effect, or con. I really enjoyed Mass Effect, and despite the notion that its not the most world shattering creation ever, I never forgot this was a video game. That it still had to provide an action packed adventure for the gamer to enjoy, instead of focusing on being the most unique sci-fi story ever told. And that while the sex scene might not have been the most artistic work on sexuality ever, were still talking video games, where its main claims to sexual content are Hot Coffee, and God of War sex mini games. The Mass Effect sex scene felt no different than something pulled out of a movie, which I think is a step in the right direction for video games. Like it was said, these things have been done before in the past. But were they by video games?
Honestly what really saddens me aside from the fact that we haven't yet left the nest (thanks cold war and death of JFK thanks) What bothers me is that we still in most media have to imagine aliens as bipedal and similar to us, look out there how many different "things" do you think are out there. Do you really think we would be able to mate with them let alone communicate with them, cmon that is daydreaming and is almost the same as believing that we are alone amongst all this debris wandering through space.