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Old 01-20-2019, 01:25 PM
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Default TT Club #3: Beyond Good & Evil

Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future is a book by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that expands the ideas of his previous work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, with a more critical and polemical approach. It was first published in 1886.

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche accuses past philosophers of lacking critical sense and blindly accepting dogmatic premises in their consideration of morality. Specifically, he accuses them of founding grand metaphysical systems upon the faith that the good man is the opposite of the evil man, rather than just a different expression of the same basic impulses that find more direct expression in the evil man. The work moves into the realm "beyond good and evil" in the sense of leaving behind the traditional morality which Nietzsche subjects to a destructive critique in favor of what he regards as an affirmative approach that fearlessly confronts the perspectival nature of knowledge and the perilous condition of the modern individual.

Some bon mots from this, the second most readable Nietzche book:

“One loves ultimately one's desires, not the thing desired.”

“The text has disappeared under the interpretation.”

Wait, what? Beyond Good and Evil the video game?!

Oh, that's something else entirely!

Beyond Good & Evil is a 2003 action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft for the PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox and GameCube platforms.[2] The story follows the adventures of Jade, an investigative reporter and martial artist, who works with a resistance movement to reveal a planet-wide alien conspiracy. The player controls Jade and allies, solving puzzles, fighting enemies, and obtaining photographic evidence.

And it is what we will be playing for the next TT Club game!
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Old 01-20-2019, 03:07 PM
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I am really excited this is our next pick. This is my favorite game ever made. It's one I've 100%ed for the HD version, written about extensively, and feel has one of the best protagonists in all of gaming in Jade.

I have to decide how to replay it; hook up my Wii or redownload the PS3 version...
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:55 AM
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Installed on my Xbone and excited to start playing! I think it was a free Games with Gold things years ago?
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Old 01-26-2019, 02:31 PM
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Started playing this again yesterday. Younger me was kinda put off by the slow opening of just messing about and doing a lot of nothing after the initial fight, but I appreciate it a lot more now that I'm older and enjoy engaging in the non-fighty parts of games a lot more than I used to. Had a lot of fun just exploring the island orphanage and snapping photos of species.

I'm still worried that the new BG&E game is gonna miss the appeal of the original game.
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Old 01-27-2019, 08:57 AM
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Stray thoughts as I started replaying the game:

-The game has a great soundtrack, but more than that, it uses it really well. The game just has an incredibly effective soundscape going on, that works alongside all its other strengths to make for one hell of an effective tone and atmosphere and sense of place to everything. This struck me very early on with the DomZ theme kicking in...it worked really well when I first played the game all those years ago, and it still worked incredibly well for me now.


-The combat feels kinda quaint and pokey by today's standards, but it still gets the job done just fine, and its simplicity actually lets it get away with doing flourishes I actually really enjoy that would feel distracting and potentially obnoxious if the combat was tighter and more demanding (like the way the first battle goes into slow motion when the DomZ theme above goes into the slower-paced part)

-I feel the opening does an impressively good and economical job of establishing world-building and character and mood and gameplay tutorial stuff all at once, with most of it all tying in and complementing each other in ways that plenty of other games, new and old, could learn from.

-I wonder if the game and its story would have benefitted from making Alpha Section less obviously evil. I'm actually not sure if making them seem like a plausible force for good at first would have worked better! But it is an interesting choice, to make it so that pretty much nobody playing the game will trust them from the very beginning, as opposed to making it a legitimate twist when it turns out they've got DARK SECRETS.

-I encountered a hilarious and horrifying glitch. Barely even a glitch really, just a case of the camera ending up inside Jade's character model when I got too close to a wall. But the view from inside Jade's head is...astonishing.

Brace yourself. True to the spirit of the game, I took pictures.

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Old 01-27-2019, 09:50 AM
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One of the best things about this game is also one of the things that I thought made it a little difficult to get into at first: it doesn't fit clearly into a single easily-defined genre, instead adapting elements from multiple genres. This makes BG&E pretty unique, but it also makes it a little bit more difficult to get into the proper mindset for playing it. It's one thing to be in the mood to play an action game or a driving game, but it's another thing to be in the right mindset to play an action game with multiple driving sections and intermittent stealth, plus a constant photography game taking place concurrently with all that. Basically, to want to play BG&E, you have to want to play BG&E and not something else, because there's nothing else quite like this.

Amusingly, now that I've caught up on some of the games in the N64's library, I understand what BG&E is doing with its combat and action sequences, because now I recognize "3-D Zelda-like" as a game genre.

In a lot of ways I have the impression that BG&E represents a sort of neglected fork in the road toward the modern open world game, and in particular the later Ubisoft "erase icons from a map" style of game. Instead of taking place over a sprawling map, it features a relatively constrained world that evolves over the course of the game. The game also does a nice job of making secrets fairly simple to find without just marking them on a map; the game makes it clear early on that you'll usually find pearls and other goodies behind caves and locked doors. The game encourages you to explore, but also makes sure you basically know what kinds of things you should be looking for.

The game also prefigures later Ubisoft open-world games by having a handful of challenge types that are repeated during the course of the game, like the races or the looters' caverns. I don't really mind this method of the designers iterating on a few challenge types that work well, especially if the alternative is the sort of shonky mission design you often see in the GTA 3 games. It helps that BG&E is short enough that none of the challenges really wear out their welcome; there's maybe 4 races and 4 looters' caverns, I think?

It's quite nice that while BG&E has gameplay types from a bunch of different genres, it doesn't implement any of them in a particularly difficult manner. So when I'm transitioning between battle scenes, stealth sequences, and driving challenges, my response is always "Oh, cool, I'm doing something different now!" rather than "Oh no, now I have to do this other thing that I suck at." I do find some of the stealth sequences to be sort of tedious, but at least the enemies' movement patterns tend to be simple enough that it's not terribly difficult to figure out what you need to do.

One other advantage BG&E has that makes me like it better than the 3-D Zelda games is that it has a protagonist who isn't a silent cipher. Jade has personality and an established history with other characters in the game, and the game does a really good job of establishing its central conflict from the beginning. Jade's interactions with Pey'j and Double H keep the game moving along even during the middle sections of the game when the main plot moves along surprisingly slowly.

I also like some of the incidental details, like when you read the disk that has information about the various robotic enemies and security devices in the game, and it explicitly states that the lasers don't have any effect on military-grade armor. I suspect that was just thrown in there to prevent Double H from having to pathfind around lasers, and then his immunity to lasers was used as an element in a couple of puzzles.

Aesthetically, I love how vibrant the town is, and the wide variety of aliens and fashions you see while you wander around Hillys. And the crowds of protesters are a really nice indication of how much progress you've made through the game. Everything about the setting is wonderfully charming and imaginative.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:11 AM
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I'm glad people are rediscovering the game. I have such fond memories and experiences with BG&E and I'm sort of reliving them through you all lol. I plan on jumping in myself to revisit it soonish.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:19 AM
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I’m not currently playing this, but thinking back on it, I always felt the protest elements felt a little too hammy when I was younger. In like of current events, though, I bet they’ll feel just the right amount of hammy these days.

Drat, now I want to hook up my XBone just to play this again...
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Old 01-28-2019, 10:37 PM
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Any tips for the camera? I'm constantly getting the "bad framing" message, even when the center of the reticle is on the creature.
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Old 01-29-2019, 08:56 AM
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The photography can be pretty wonky; if I'm having trouble getting a good photo of an animal, I watch the reticle and start to semi-randomly adjust my aim and zoom until the reticle turns green, and sometimes that happens when you're not aiming directly at your target, for whatever reason. There might be more satisfying or professional ways of doing it, but sometimes you just need to take a picture that the game will accept, and following the will of the god-reticle is the only way to do it.

In other news, man, the IRIS Network's reports are really Infowars-y. "Here's a blurry photo! Here's where we tell you what it's a photo of! Here are your political marching orders, based on that photo and the interpretation of it that we've given you!"

I actually don't mind the Alpha Sections being obviously evil, because making their treachery more subtle would have also required IRIS's reports to be written with a corresponding level of subtlety if they were going to be believably convincing. I think it's a perfectly fine design choice to just plop the player down in a colorful sci-fi setting and essentially tell them "Okay, you've got a society controlled by bad guys who use an external threat as justification for running a police state, now go take them down." It's a sufficiently common trope that I don't mind BG&E just assuming the player is going to be familiar with how it works. It lets the game focus on the offbeat characters and setting without having to spend too much time retreading the usual plot beats.
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Old Yesterday, 09:48 PM
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I tracked down my copy and played a couple of hours of this this week. I hate the camera. Not the taking pictures camera, the game camera. Give me a useful angle!

Otherwise, I am slipping right back into it. It definitely feels like a evolutionary step between Ocarina of Time and Assassin's Creed. It is hard to describe, but it has kind of classic video game vibe to the setting. Like Mario's random assortment of turtles, mushroom and pipes, this game has Jamaican Rhino-men mechanics and weird bugs everywhere. It is an oddly comforting collection of random yet cohesive weirdness. It is a world I want to spend more time in.
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