Hail Freedonia!
A Metal Gear primer

Curbing my Beyond Good and Evil 2 enthusiasm

Bge_art_02_2 Beyond Good and Evil is one of my favorite games of all time. Sure, it's not perfect - the combat system is  simplistic and repetitive, for example - but how refreshing to encounter a game that doesn't require guns and focuses more on investigating and documenting than killing or blowing things up.

The allegorical story evolves naturally through dialogue and gameplay, and the game flows in and out of its cutscenes more seamlessly than any other I can think of.  In fact, Beyond Good and Evil may be one of the best arguments against the current critical obsession with eliminating cutscenes. And the game is an aesthetic marvel, even by today's graphical standards, with the distinctive world of Hillys beautifully rendered and full of interesting characters.

And then there's Jade. I've mentioned both here and on the podcast that she's one of my favorite characters in any video game, and Beyond Good and Evil's presentation of her as a tough, smart, compassionate, and resourceful woman (with a normal-sized chest) proves what's possible when developers are willing to break the Lara Croft mold. Jade's relationship with her rough-edged uncle - the boar-like humanoid Pey'j who raised her - is one of the warmest and most affectionate of any pair of characters in video games.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard yesterday that the game's creator Michel Ancel has announced a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil. Oh happy days!!

And then I saw the screenshots. Followed by the teaser trailer recorded entirely in-engine. Uh oh.

Beyond Good and Evil is going from this:


to this:


and from this:

to this:

Is it an improvement? I realize I'm working with very little information here, so you should probably take everything I say with a big grain of salt. But it appears that Ancel and crew have jumped head-first into the deep-end of the next-gen graphics pool, jettisoning the beautiful, stylized environments of the original in favor of a CGI-enhanced Pixar rendition of the planet Tatooine. And poor Pey'j has been transformed (and re-voiced) from an adorable rough and tumble handyman to a hulking juiced-up creature out of Orwell's Animal Farm. Ugh!

I'm interested in the way developers often translate "more horsepower" to mean "more realistic," even when their source material may not be best served by such a treatment. Beyond Good and Evil is such a case. I mean, why is it necessary to create a photorealistic rendition of a talking boar who walks upright and has a penchant for hovercraft maintenance?

I don't want to fly into a tizzy over a trailer and a screenshot (I'll leave that to the Metal Gear zealots <grin>), and I suppose we'll all find out more soon enough. In the meantime, I'm encouraged by a remark recently made by Ancel: "I really hope that Jade will continue to keep her values and her personality."[1]  I hope the same may be said about the game as well.