Beyond Good & Evil HD preview: There is power in numbers (Carlson and Peeters, chapter 21)

Beyond Good & Evil HD
In November of 2003, a much younger Ubisoft was launching two high-profile (and excellent!) titles: the Montreal-developed reboot of the Prince of Persia series, subtitled "Sands of Time," and the Montpellier-developed Beyond Good & Evil, the supposed first installment in creator Michel Ancel's planned trilogy. By now, you know how this story goes. The Prince of Persia reboot – fueled by Ubisoft's curiously siloed marketing muscle – was a massive success and spawned two immediate sequels, a 2008 reboot, a 2010 feature film and associated tie-in game. The remainder of the Beyond Good & Evil trilogy? Despite a sequel being announced five years later at Ubisoft's Ubidays event in 2008, the company has subsequently ignored, mismanaged, or forgotten that promise.

But now, seven years after both games made their way to retail, we're being treated to HD rereleases and, while Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was released on PS3 as a lazy up-rezzed port (even retaining major bugs from its original release!), Beyond Good & Evil appears to be benefitting from a degree of care (and marketing) it was never afforded in 2003. Talk about karma. %Gallery-112902% Beyond Good & Evil HD is included in Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade House Party, one of its seasonal cross-promotions, and a significant marketing opportunity for a seven-year-old game that failed to find much of an audience the first time around. Now, unlike Sands of Time, much of BG&E has been reskinned through the course of its seven-month (re)development. A Ubisoft developer told us that 90% of the textures had to be replaced, a claim that's awfully easy to believe when you see the game in motion. And speaking of seeing it in motion, it runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, a product of involvement from Ancel who, while not overseeing the Ubisoft Shanghai production, nevertheless has taken an understandable interest in the project.

Also included in the update are the requisite Achievements and Leaderboards which provide a notable gameplay encouragement. Much of the charm of the original game was found by exploring the surprisingly rich world of Hillys – taking pictures of the wildlife, collecting all the data Mdisks, or even gathering all the pearls in the game. All actions that earn players Achievements. There was even some difficulty balancing in some of the game, including the hovercraft races.

I won't bother recapping the game itself – there are plenty of great writeups of its various successes and failures, notably this piece from Edge. While an HD update, however competent, might not be enough to encourage those of you who've already played it to do so again, there's a silver lining in the game's initial inability to find an audience: it's getting a second chance. Perhaps, if enough people try Beyond Good & Evil HD and recognize something redeeming in it, Ubisoft will remember that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is in production. Somewhere.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.