Michel Ancel, sadly, is not a household name these days. As the creator of the Rayman franchise, Ancel helped Ubisoft soar to popularity with both Rayman and Rayman 2. However, Ancel seemingly dropped off the map after 2005's King Kong and wouldn't reappear until 2011 with Rayman Origins, a game that has once again put him at the forefront of gaming where he belongs. Though Ancel is best known for Rayman, there is one other series that a cult following of gamers hold near and dear to their heart: Beyond Good & Evil.
Released in 2003 for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube and PC, you would be forgiven for having never heard of it. Even though the game achieved success among reviewers and the few gamers that played it, overall sales of the game were poor, as it was one of Ubisoft's biggest financial disappointments of that year. With Ancel officially working on Beyond Good & Evil 2 for the PlayStation 4, let's take a look back at why you shouldn't miss this franchise the second time around.
Beyond Good & Evil places you in the role of Jade, a journalist who has a penchant for the color green (and Jade *really* is fond of green: green pants, green jacket, even green lipstick). The story follows Jade as she joins a secret underground rebellion movement against an alien race that has taken over her planet. Throughout her journey she's helped by a group of friends and fellow revolutionaries, who are mostly anthropomorphic animals. One such example is Jade's uncle Pey'j, a stout, gruff pig. As you would expect from Ancel, he takes a familiar theme and leaves his mark on it by including outlandish and whimsical elements: anthropomorphic animals is just the beginning. Without giving away any spoilers, the story will grip you from the very beginning and leave you hanging with its cliffhanger ending: a cliffhanger we're still waiting for the resolution for ten years later.
Similar to how the story is a juxtaposition of many different elements so to is the gameplay. Beyond Good & Evil bears strong similarities with The Legend of Zelda in its exploration and combat, including a large open world to take part in. But the game also features strong stealth elements, sidequests involving the use of your camera and even elements from platformers such as Super Mario 64, as you must acquire pearls to upgrade your hovercraft to move to the next area. You would imagine that none of these genres or elements mix well together, creating some kind of frantic Frankenstein monster, but you couldn't be further from the truth: Beyond Good & Evil mixes in each element with the grace of a ballerina or painter, similar to how a "The Works" pizza should be disgusting but is instead delicious.
If you're thinking to yourself "Well, the game sure sounds great but I'm not going through the effort of digging out my last generation console" then you're in luck! Ubisoft re-released the game in 2011 for both the PlayStation Network and the Xbox Live Arcade in stunning high-definition, letting you go back and relive the magic of one of 2003's hidden gems just in time for the sequel.
The Sequel Is Coming
Wait, sequel? But if this game was such a financial failure, why would Ubisoft go forward with a sequel? This is most likely due to Ancel's insistence, as Ubisoft is eternally grateful to him for helping to catapult their name into the big leagues of publishers. Ancel always had plans for the series to be a trilogy and counted on the fact that a sequel was guaranteed that the first game ends in a huge cliffhanger, as mentioned earlier. While Ubisoft has now greenlit a sequel and are standing behind it, it wasn't always this way. Rumors of the sequel's cancellation have floated around for years, with some rumors even claiming Ancel left the company completely. The truth is, Ancel has worked on the game for years but development was put on hold while he worked on Rayman Origins and then Rayman Legends. With both games finished, Ancel is now fully devoted to Beyond Good & Evil 2, a game that is now officially in development for next generation systems including the PlayStation 4. Or is it?
In the run up to E3 2013 , some teaser images featuring Beyond Good & Evil 2 characters started appearing on the internet, leading some gamers to believe Ubisoft was going to have a complete unveiling of the game. When E3 2013 came and went without a peep from the game, Eurogamer asked the head of Ubisoft Europe, Alain Coore, for an update.
"There are some works on it," Corre explained to Eurogamer. "There are some iterations on it. Now, some games are taking longer to be done, depending also on the creativity the creator can bring. You see the level of quality of the games today is very high. It takes time to find the right angle and message. It's true that the trailer we showed years ago, in the desert with the pig sneezing and flies still resonates very well. These kind of brands are part of Ubisoft's DNA."
"It will happen when it will be perfect."
Hopefully perfect translates to "soon."
What We Know So Far
Up above is the first official screenshot of the game, showcasing the power of the PlayStation 4. The screenshot features uncle Pey'j at the forefront with Jade in the background, who eagle eyed reader will notice is looking decidedly less green. Sadly, this screenshot is some of the only information we have on the game; Ancel nor Ubisoft have given us any other information to work on in the context of the game's plot, characters or gameplay.
Other than knowing the game is coming, we know two other bits of information: that Beyond Good & Evil composer Christophe Héral is set to return and that the new game will be more accessible for the newer generation of gamers. Ubisoft and Ancel both claim that this to ensure the sequel is not a commercial failure like the last game was.
Our First Look at Jade
At a Q&A session held on April 2014 and broadcast through YouTube, Michel Ancel did the unexpected: he produced an image of Jade from Beyond Good & Evil 2. Dan Hindes of GameSpot posted the image up on Twitter and we present it here for your viewing glory:
First pic of Jade in Beyond Good & Evil 2 pic.twitter.com/vOsDqzoCDZ
— Dan Hindes (@dhindes) April 14, 2014
Quite a change from the previous game, isn't it?
The game is in good hands with Michel Ancel; let's just hope that this time, the game gets the sales it needs so we can complete the trilogy and that development starts back up again soon.
Check back with PS4 Experts often to receive up-to-date news on Beyond Good & Evil 2. In the meantime, let us know in the comments what your hopes and fears are for the next entry in this critically acclaimed series.
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 3/25/2013