Unique and a whole lotta fun.
You play Jade, a reporter and photographer, you need to uncover a government conspiracy while taking photographs of wildlife. Now that’s it in a nutshell but the actual game really is quite brilliant, it's a mix-mash of genres, but each one is done really well. You'll start off at your lighthouse home on the watery and hilly planet of Hillys, there’s a war goin on and the aliens have chosen this peaceful moment of relaxing by a tree and enjoying the view to bombard your home planet once again, a quick dash to the shield controls to protect your home and all seems to be well, for about two seconds, "Sorry, your electricity supply is short by 350 credits" Bzzt Bzzt Bzmm.. The shields down and an alien monster/meteorite has impacted with your lawn, dragged the kids underground, popped its three heads back up again and begun to attack. You’re thrown into third person combat straight away, to get the hang of Jades' fighting stick and super attack. Your side kick uncle Pe'j is a pig with a penchant for high quality wrenches, he'll help you sort out the immediate problems and will be in tow for much of the game, then its a nice break of taking snapshots of the local wildlife to raise a bit of cash. This is a mini side game of sorts which is ever present and is more fun than it sounds, there's whales, insects who have to be lured out with cheese, enemy creatures, bosses and bartenders (such as a groovy cow with sunglasses), all have to snapped. The boss battles are fairly frequent and all are very well done, some are huge affairs taking place in the air.
The planet of Hillys is the main hub of the game, you’ll travel from place to place via your hovercraft - which can be upgraded as you gain pearls, the only thing that the Rasta rhinos at Mammagos Garage will accept as tender, these fellows are much more chilled out than the rhinos here on earth and will upgrade your hovercraft with everything you can afford. There's four race tracks you can take part in that are very fast and very fun and will reward you with pearls and cash, there’s other race-like sections as well, a pedestrian town district and numerous other islands and areas. Another mini game involves playing a table top ice puck game against a shark.
Pretty soon you'll be embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens the whole population of Hillys, you’ll be contacted by Iris, an underground network of operatives who claim the Alpha Sections (the peace enforcers and planet defenders), who are always five minutes late for any fight and claim the Iris network are terrorists, are not all they seem. It's pretty obvious who you need to trust from early in the game, and due to its linearity there’s not much else you can do anyway, but the whole things so enjoyable it doesn't really matter. You'll often have to infiltrate areas relying on stealth to photograph evidence for the Iris networks’ underground newspaper. The stealth I liked a lot, not quite thief, but just right for this game. I kicked one of the Alpha Sections from behind in his luminous green air tank and his colleague exclaimed, "Buddy's in trouble!" and ran over to re-connect it, a small touch but I thought it was pretty cool, Beyond Good and Evil is full of nice touches.
There's a bit of puzzling to get around, usually involving getting from one area to another, I missed a not so obvious route through the scenery a couple of times at first.
The music is vastly varied and all very good if not excellent, the bars blare out an unusual brand of hip hop, while they'll be more ambient stuff for the cutscenes etc. I found this game genuinely funny a lot of the time, it made me laugh a lot, which was all very good and happy.
The camera angles can be a nightmare at times, when the cameras not fixed and it's following Jade things are not usually so bad.
The game is really rather easy, and short, but the quality’s there so again not so bad.
The Bottom Line
It’s a little arty, a reporter/wildlife photography who looks after kids at her lighthouse may seem a bit to cute to begin with but it all works, once you get into the game proper it's always throwing fresh challenges and play styles at you, the pace is pretty fast but there’s usually a chance to take a break and zip about the waters of Hillys and explore the extra caverns and areas, or do a bit of shopping or upgrading. It's also crying out for a sequel.