Beyond Good And Evil 2
Ancel’s space-faring sandbox is all set to be an absolute Knox-out
Michel Ancel has been busy. If you think the French game director has been sitting on his hands these past 14 years since Jade’s snap-happy sci-fi adventure hit the original Xbox, you’re dead wrong. Oh sure, he got briefly distracted making an ‘alright… ish’ tie-in about a sizeable gorilla—the exhaustingly titled Peter Jackson’sKingKong:TheOfficial GameOfTheMovie. Yet despite the detours, a massive amount of work has clearly gone into this hugely anticipated sequel. Case in point: BeyondGoodAndEvil 2 literally has its own solar system. Ancel recently hopped on YouTube to give a walkthrough of the E3 gameplay demo, and the first of Ubisoft’s ‘Space Monkey Program’ episodes (yes, that’s really what they’re called) lifts the lid on BGAE2’ s quite incredible scale. This is a sprawling sandbox where you can perform actions both intimate and epic. Be it whizzing about in a jetpack with a grungy monkey, or blasting off into the vastness of space in a 1300ft mothership, BGAE2 is happy to tackle tiny or tremendous feats. See, Ancel and co really have been busy.
Let’s go back to that monkey, though. Flying above the sprawling city of Ganesha looks all sorts of simian sexy. You can tell just by
“Flying above the sprawling city of Ganesha looks all sorts of simian sexy”
looking at the expressive, weighty animations there’s a real suppleness and subtlety to the hovering controls. Knox’s jetpack will aid your exploration no end, and in the demo Ancel makes the ape land on a 700-metre-tall statue of Ganesh, which you can apparently explore the inside of. Standing atop the mighty Hindu god also gives the director a chance to pan the camera around to highlight some stunning vistas, as the mighty elephant deity casts long, lonely shadows over the urban expanse below.
Once Knox has finished admiring the vertigo-inducing views, it’s time to hop back into the mothership, which cutely, can hold smaller ships you acquire throughout the game. (Ancel compares this mechanic to stacking Russian dolls.) Even though it’s the length of several football fields, this colossal craft is no slouch—it can reach speeds of up to 20,000km/h. And before he jets off into Ganesha’s outer atmosphere, Ancel pulls off a series of effortless rolling manoeuvres and loop-the-loops. The designer also describes the mothership as a dogfighter, an assertion its multitude of mounted turrets back up.
“We want interactivity to be the heart of the whole experience,” says Ancel. “Not just with characters, not just with spaceships, but also with a huge planet.” It’s that last part which really emphasizes the insane scale of
BGAE2. You can blast into the outer atmosphere at any time, the sprawling cities below soon reduced to scuttling ant hills. More impressively, the transition into space is handled instantaneously, with barely a hint of a loading screen. Indeed, intergalactic exploration looks so seamless, you could almost be fooled into thinking you’re playing EVEOnline… with added chattering chimps.
As Ancel stated earlier, Ubisoft Montpellier wants to make every part of this spectacular sci-fi ride truly interactive. He even says planets can be deformed in real-time if they’re hit by massive asteroids. How’s that for ambition? The wait has been agonising, but BGAE2 is reaching for the stars, and we can’t wait to strap ourselves in for the space-faring fun.