58: Green-Eyed Grrl

"Of all the female protagonists who now inhabit the landscape of gaming, there is one who stands apart: Jade, the central character in Ubisoft's Beyond Good & Evil, exhibits an admirable kind of cosmopolitan verve. She has somehow been freed of genre expectations. With her green lipstick and a powerful sense of loyalty to her family and the people around her, she cuts an idealistic but believable figure against the absurd backdrop of games." Jim Rossignol writes a touching love letter to an under-appreciated classic in "Green-Eyed Grrl."

Green-Eyed Grrl

BGE is one of the most memorable experiences I ever had with games. From the juxtaposition of fairy-taily colours and dictatorship world through great characters and gripping story to small details, everything is just spot-on. And the theme song, Propaganda, I remember until now although I played the game more than two years ago. And the song is not even very prominent in the game, it only plays in background! Some say that the game is short and I quite agree, with an addition that - unlike most much longer games - it is never dull. It flows, is homogenic and connected. You never have to grind through something, you are only having fun. Very few games achieve that.

I found it unfortunate that this game didn't sell as well as I believe it could have. There was something absolutely magical about this dystopic world, and the fight to save it. It's hard to put my finger on it.

It felt...real. It was so well thought-out that it became absolutely palpable. Because of this, it has a greater ability to pull the gamer into the actual world; to CARE about what's happening to a fictional planet.

And when trying to describe it to my friends, the questions were usually the same. "So it's a Zelda clone, then?" "Oh, it's like Metal Gear Solid?"

And the answer was simply: "No. It's Beyond Good and Evil."

I bought Beyond Good & Evil the first week it was available. I sat on it for a few weeks while I focused on other games like Need For Speed Underground and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. But then, one day, I decided to put it in.

Boy am I glad I did.

The game is a masterpiece, and I consider myself one of the lucky few who got to play it. The only possible complaint I can make about it is there's simply not enough of it. But after you finish it the first time, you plug in the code it gives you to the website and you realize you're number 1296 in the world, so you play it again, this time trying to get all the pearls, animals, etc. And suddenly the game is a lot longer, deeper and meatier.

BG&E is truly an underappreciated classic.

(On a related note, PoP:SoT was an equally unique and daring game from Ubisoft at the time that managed to sell well. Then they went all aggro and Godsmack on us for the sequel. :( )

And one more thing... CAAARLSON AND PETERSSSSSS!!!! ;)

I wasn't aware that The Escapist was in the business of writing game reviews. Usually there's at least something more to the article than just talking about a game.

Personally, I've been avoiding BG&E - not because I expect it to be bad (quite the opposite in fact), but because I'm worried that if I play it, I'll find its undertones heavy-handed, which is the one sure way to annoy me. As it stands now, I see it as a very good game, and I don't want a good game to have a poorly-told story, not when the story is so central to the game. One of these days I'll probably work up my nerve, but it'll take more than a plain old game review to do that.

Bongo Bill:
I wasn't aware that The Escapist was in the business of writing game reviews.

Interesting - I don't know if I consider this to be a review, but I do know that one of the original 'goals' of The Escapist was to call attention to underappreciated works. Hidden gems as it were.

I definitely think this qualifies. BG&E should be sitting on every gamer's shelf, right next to Psychonauts.

Agreed. To criticise a game mag (even one as universally assumed to be "stodgy" as The Escapist) for reviewing a game misses the point I think. But I don't consider this article a review; it's more of an homage.

Besides, Rossignol is one of the industry's best writers. I'd read his shopping list, and probably print it - after a few edits, of course ;)

I was watching this game before its release. I was quite excited by it, in fact. But I was in school at the time and not able to purchase many games. This is one that has managed to stay on the underside of my radar for a while. The more I see it, the more I want to get it. So, which platform?

Four of us took turns playing this on the PS2, each picking up where the other left off. We all watched the others play. It was entertaining even when you were only an observer. Only Oddworld games have ever been so enthralling to me. And it was completely original. I just recently purchased it for PC from eBay and look forward to playing this again.

Doesn't really matter which platform, IMHO. Just play it. I played it on Xbox, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it because it places emphasis on the notoriously hard to hit black and white buttons on the controller.

Beyond Good & Evil avoids Tomb Raider's leaping and jumping repetition. An action adventure with a female lead it might be, but recognizable as a clone of previous genres leaders it is not.

I always thought it was a Zelda clone in an interesting universe.

Making something alike isn't a clone in my eyes - that kind of thing just smells the same way as of the whole Portal discussion going on about who got portals first, Valve or 'the makers of Prey'.
Just sayin'.

I bloody loved Beyond Good & Evil and still play it on the odd day. I finally managed to accept the whole Pey'j-thing which I found so very 'they can't do this when things are just so beautiful!' (which I don't spoil, naturally).

I really think it's a work of art and it's a bit sad for me to see Michel Ancel working on new Rayman games. I love his cunning inventions and Rayman really is a game series that I began to dislike halfway through replaying Rayman 2 and upon the demo of Rayman 3; I just thougth 'this is too... too... just knock it!'. I still adore the first one, though.

I hope one day Michel Ancel makes something new - a sequel to BG&E I don't need (I saw the story as finished the moment the end-credits arrived, thank you :P) but a new game would tintalize my artistic organs. Whichever those are.

One of the most fitting characterizations of the game I've ever read. I actually loved the game the first time I heard about it (can't remember where that was) and the buying felt really easy while mostly when you buy a game you are still a bit uncertain if it's really as good as it's supposed to be.

However it is one of the few games where story and game have found the perfect type of cooperation, where the action doesn't stop the narration and vice versa. As the article says everything about it is unique. Through this and another game called XIII Ubisoft has proven to be a publisher that is willing to bring innovation to the market and give a chance to new ideas which other companies - like uhm... EA - don't even seem to try. If there is any future to games as an art form I'm sure BG&E will make it to the hall of fame. Well, for now, it is in mine.

I played this on PC and my PC struggled like a hogtied pig to run the game, I was missing textures, things wouldn't render correctly, and it would crash, but I STILL had to play it. The game was just too good to ignore, and I'm so glad I played it.

For all the amount of people who say they played it and loved it, surely this game should have done well!

I just want to add my name to the list of people that played and absolutely love this game. It's an amazing piece of work. I particularly enjoyed the level design, the way your path interweaved upon itself without ever backtracking. It made the environments feel more real and less linear while still keeping on you on track with the level's progression.

If you haven't played it, do so.

Well, what you all can imagine into a game, I wonder?

I'm obvious one of the few who didn't enjoy the game as much as others. As much as I tried to like it I find myself in the "clash of gaming cultures" that is depicted in this article. I didn't know what to think of the game and while I got the political references (Iraq? never crossed even once my mind) and it's really something different.

Yet the gameplay ultimatively was boring IMHO. Maybe I should get that game from my book shelf and start up my console again...

It's a bit dangerous to suggest that Beyond Good & Evil is for everybody. Sometimes it seems we need to 'excuse' ourselves for playing unpopular games such as Psychonauts or Beyond Good & Evil by saying that, hey, it was just overlooked. I wouldn't mind playing it if it wasn't popular with most people (that might even be a pre for my liking).

The problem does lie, of course, with those who make the games. They'd rather make a popular game than an unpopular one, sadly. Then again, who can blame them. Apart from me, that is.

Jeroen Stout:
Then again, who can blame them. Apart from me, that is.

If we had sigs, you'd be mine.

retronaut:
Well, what you all can imagine into a game, I wonder?

What a funny trend to find games that are critically successful but commercial flops, and put them on a pedestal of profundity. The purpose of this article seems to be: proselytize the unwashed masses who were obviously duped by "Prince of Persia" and "Zelda Wind Waker" back in the day.

I picked up BG&E back when it came out, and was amazed by the high production values and obvious love put into the game...but the platformy/racing/photography mish-mash of gameplay sent me right back to Zelda and PoP. If BG&E had been a run-away commercial success do you think it would have place here among the disenfranchised? A place of derision perhaps.

FuriousBroccoli:
What a funny trend to find games that are critically successful but commercial flops, and put them on a pedestal of profundity. The purpose of this article seems to be: proselytize the unwashed masses who were obviously duped by "Prince of Persia" and "Zelda Wind Waker" back in the day.

Well, the article doesn't mention The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and makes no comment on whether Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was a good game. I don't think that for BG&E to be good, ZWW or SoT have to be bad. The difference in this case is that SoT was anticipated and commercially successful, not that BG&E is good and SoT is bad.

I played and loved all three games, myself. :)

FuriousBroccoli:
I picked up BG&E back when it came out, and was amazed by the high production values and obvious love put into the game...but the platformy/racing/photography mish-mash of gameplay sent me right back to Zelda and PoP. If BG&E had been a run-away commercial success do you think it would have place here among the disenfranchised? A place of derision perhaps.

It seems like you prefer focused gameplay: platforming is for platformers, racing is for racers, and so forth. That's not an indefensible position, but I think it's worth keeping in mind that some people like games that draw from mutiple genres. That BG&E is a "mish-mash" of genres isn't inherently a criticism.

Indeed. I greatly like the 'mish-mash' found in BG&E and in Psychonauts - which is why I like the way Valve made Episode One, really. That has a mix of playing styles as well (though not as far as I would've liked).

I just finished this game about two days ago, and it was a very good game, but I felt some of the puzzles and level design were too contrived for example in the last level there are parts were you had to have two people stand on seperate presure pads to open a door, why would the doms build it like that? and then there was a door that needed three people to open it, so when I had to save peyj there was never any real concern about him because I knew he had to help us open this door. I fealt that the bit about her parents at the end was just mashed on there. That said I really enjoyed the game, I liked the photgraphy elements and the whol game flowed very well

id read this article a while back, but recently saw the game and decided to get it based on what id heard here.. and its so fun :D

A great article about a great game.
I've tried BG&E several times myself, never found any time to actually finish it (yet!), but came to really love it. Political matters put aside, it has some real magic in it.

I disagree, I found Jade to be almost the same as Alyx (and not just because they look similar.) While they don't dress in skimpy outfits or have huge tits, they're
just as much of a cardboard cutout stereotype, only they're built to pander to a different group of males.

i do agree with everything, except the sequel thought. without spoiling, the ending if the first has me worried about what would go on in the second.

i would like to see something of this variety though. something that relies on other things than just beating a boss(although technically there was that) or fighting it out.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here