Beyond Good and Evil HD Hands-On

Ubisoft polishes up a fan favorite action game for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.

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Ubisoft had a nice little surprise for fans of Beyond Good and Evil when it unveiled an HD upgraded version of it at a recent press event. The game, developed by Michel Ancel’s Montpellier studio, was originally released in 2003 for the GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox and garnered attention for its unique gameplay and colorful characters. Ancel’s studio is working in conjunction with Ubisoft Shanghai, who is handling the upgrade, to polish up the beloved title and toss in some modest extras.

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The original Beyond Good and Evil was a stylish, unique title when it hit stores in the fall of 2003. The game cast you in the role of Jade--a reporter on the planet Hillys--who was tapped to investigate the military dictatorship that was allegedly defending the planet from an invasion from the alien DomZ. The game featured an eye-catching art style and gameplay that mixed stealth, action, puzzle-solving, and photography into a surprisingly cohesive and fun package.

The upcoming HD version of the game will offer a cosmetic upgrade to the original visuals and bring them up to 1080p. There will also be improved audio. In addition, you can expect the standard inclusion of achievements and trophies, as well as an all-new leaderboards feature. While there wasn’t much information on just how the leaderboard feature is going to play out, the work-in-progress Xbox 360 demo on display at the event featured a handful of levels to showcase the visual upgrades. The five levels on display let us explore the ancient mine, pedestrian district, east district, Alpha Section HQ, and main shaft areas. The selection of areas alternated between letting us control Jade by herself or in conjunction with her right hand pigman Pey’j to explore levels, as well as pilot her hovercraft vehicle. The demos handled pretty well, with the camera being a little tricky in spots--just like the original game. As far as the visuals go, the game is starting to look nice and shiny. The game’s art style seems to be scaling up well.

From the look of things, Beyond Good and Evil HD will be a solid upgrade of the fan favorite game. The promise of high-definition visuals, improved audio, and the chance to earn some achievements or trophies should please fans. We’re curious to see just how the leaderboard feature is going to work, although we expect it to be tied to how fast you can get through an area or your picture-taking skills. We'll also be interested to see if there are any ties to the next installment in the series. We know, it’s doubtful, but we can dream. Most importantly, the upcoming digital release of the game gives it a second chance to find a bigger audience. If you never had the chance to play Beyond Good and Evil, you should definitely keep an eye out for the game when it is released next year. At the moment, there’s no word on an exact release date or pricing. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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