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Beyond Good & Evil HD: Why you can't miss it a second time

A new lick of paint for the greatest adventure you've never played...

The recent boom of HD remakes is a great step forward for the games industry. A handful of cynics may wish to label the move as an easy opportunity to make money from old rope, but it's hard to imagine publishers renovating and repackaging the poorer games in their library.

Instead, we're beginning to see unfairly overlooked gaming greats given a second shot at hitting the sales figures they richly deserved first time around.

While Ico and Shadow of the Colossus (and Splinter Cell and Tomb Raider...) will once again be venturing into stores nationwide, games such as Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath are taking a wholly different, digital download-focused strategy.

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XBLA and PSN are safer options to re-release renovated classics thanks to the lack of physical media production and distribution costs, and Ubisoft's hoping they're the platforms on which Michel 'Rayman' Ancel's wonderfully evocative adventure, Beyond Good & Evil, can find the success it always merited.

Ubisoft's 2003 classic was intended to be a Zelda for a new generation but weak sales scuppered plans for a three-part series. However, as the years went by something odd happened: the game seemed to get better.

From a technological point of view, the game never actually improved - these were the days before console patches, after all - but while other genres slowly homogenised by latching onto the flavours of the seasons (remember all those WW2 games anyone?), Beyond Good & Evil's unique offerings set it farther and farther apart from the massing glut of similar titles.

BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
Here was a game unlike anything else available and the few people who bought it responded by keenly spreading the word. The unmistakable buzz of cult online fanbases grew and grew until Ubisoft did two brilliant things: okay a sequel and give the go-ahead for a remake for a new audience to enjoy.

Retouched, polished and tweaked though it may be, Beyond Good & Evil HD is every bit the forgotten classic from 2003. Even eight years on it feels as fresh today as it did back at launch.

Associate Producer Eric Damian-Vernet likens the game to James Cameron's Avatar and it's not hard to see why: it's the tale of toil and strife on a beautifully realised alien planet, told with deft confidence and sprinkled with so many subtle touches it's nigh on impossible not to be captivated by its charm.

Hillys is the world in question and, like Avatar's Pandora, it's a mesmerising location. It's a contemporary fantasy planet where humans live in harmony alongside anthropomorphic goats and pigs and where seagulls share the skies with schools of fish.

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Where items are scanned and digitised by electronic satchels for easy storage, and people own AI companions who act as dynamic personal organisers. Hovercraft is the preferred mode of travel and it's a wise choice given the world's vast bodies of water and small islands.

An idyllic life? Hardly. The planet is scourged by alien invasions from the hostile DomZ forces, who kidnap Hillyans for purposes initially unknown. Despite the world's undeniable beauty, it's these Hillyans who give the game its inescapable charm.

Central to everything is everywoman Jade - a spunky lead as believable as any character in any game you choose to mention. She's peppy, she's strong-yet-vulnerable, she's caring and she's level-headed; the epitome of the girl-next-door and the perfect heroine.

JADE EMPIRE
At the game's opening she's thrown straight into the deep end. When a deadly alien meteor shower threatens her orphanage she's mortified to discover that there aren't enough funds at the bank to power its forcefield shields.

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