If you’ve ever taken a look at a listing of underrated or overlooked games recently, there are a couple of titles you’re bound to come across: Psychonauts and Beyond Good & Evil. One of these games was a wonderful platformer with an inventive premise, a genuinely funny sense of humor, and about five people worldwide who were willing to buy it (including myself). Psychonauts is an example of exactly what should be included in those underrated game lists. Beyond Good & Evil, on the other hand, is crap. I realize there’s a decent chance that I will be vilified, maligned, and otherwise bad-mouthed for saying it, but it’s the truth. If you had asked me a few days ago, I would’ve given you a completely different answer… one more in accordance with the blind adulation that gets heaped on the game by anyone who fancies themselves a connoisseur of video gaming. Then again, a few days ago I hadn’t touched the game in over six months, and had completely forgotten most everything about it.
Earlier this year, before I began the One Hundred Percent Completion project, I had started over from scratch on Beyond Good & Evil after having made no real headway in the game a few years back when I originally picked it up. I made some decent progress this time and I recall having been enjoying it for the most part, but for some now-forgotten reason, I set it aside (as is my wont, obviously) and essentially left it for dead. Move forward seven months or so: after completing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, I decided to move on to Gears of War and Beyond Good & Evil, with the idea that I didn’t have too much work left on either of them, and it would be nice to knock ’em out before Halo 3. As it turns out, I wasn’t really that far into either of them, although Gears seems short enough to finish quite quickly regardless. The real surprise, though, was not my lack of progress on Beyond, but rather the sucktasticality of it. The controls are much looser than I recall from before, making it difficult to move through the game properly; the performance of the game was lackluster, with lot of hiccups and slowdowns, as if the PS2 couldn’t handle what are, really, some unspectacular graphics; the camera gets stuck in strange spots rather easily, preventing me from telling where I was or what I was doing.
I’ll be the first to admit that the storyline is quite interesting, and the setting has a lot of potential, but during this third attempt of mine to get through this game I’ve realized something that many people seem to want to deny, which is that a good story cannot truly save a bad-to-mediocre game. The fact is, I’m actually rather pissed off about this whole situation, as I had fond memories from my run at the game earlier this year, and I was looking forward to getting in and finishing it up. Turns out, it’s going to be much more of a chore than I had initially expected.
Speaking of partly-brilliant but tragically-flawed games, I finished Metroid Prime: Hunters this afternoon. While I understand that Nintendo was trying to use Hunters as a bit of a spin-off from the main-line Metroid games, allowing them to utilize the DS’s wifi for an unprecedented portable multiplayer experience, I still feel like I kinda got ripped off on the single-player aspect. The game is a wonderful showpiece for the DS, illustrating just how powerful and versatile the little machine can be. When the only upgrades available in the game are new weapons, however, it quickly stops feeling like a proper Metroid. Where’s my Space Jump? My new visors? My new armor suits? Instead of these items allowing for more interesting explorations, Hunters only offers six special weapons to find, giving Samus a total of eight weapons (the six special weapons plus her trusty Power Beam and Missiles, of course), more than in any other Metroid before or since. This is great news for multiplayer, as more choice means more fun, I suppose, but given that I tend to dislike playing multiplayer, and given that Metroid is traditionally a single-player game, I find Hunters to be a disappointment. Anyway, here’s hoping for a proper Prime on the DS in the future. In the meantime, I believe I’ll switch my focus back over to the PSP, taking on either Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters or Killzone: Liberation.