For years, Ubisoft has been toying with the hearts and minds of those that loved 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil. The game was a critical darling, receiving a nomination for Game of the Year at the 2004 Game Developer’s Choice Awards, and was originally slated to be the first part in a trilogy. Unfortunately, critical acclaim wasn’t enough to move copies, and the game flopped commercially. Ubisoft crammed the release market around the game with several of its other titles. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and XIII were all titles published by Ubisoft in November of 2003, each holding a strong brand identity, and each contributing to the lacklustre sales of Beyond Good & Evil.
In 2008, at the end of the opening conference of Ubidays, that small audience who had played the game was treated with the announcement of a sequel, alongside a teaser trailer that looked amazing (for its time). Yet after that, Ubisoft grew quiet about the existence of Beyond Good & Evil 2, never confirming nor denying its existence, and offering no further details about its development, save for a few announcements that debunked rumours of the game’s cancellation, just to keep us on tenterhooks. Those anticipating the title despaired that it would never see the light of day.
The release of the HD upgrade of the original title in 2011 reignited hope for some updates on the mythical second game, but, again, Ubisoft kept quiet about it, and hope once more began to dwindle. Then, it was announced that the team was taking a break from development of Beyond Good & Evil 2, in order to work on last fall’s Rayman Origins. As hope springs eternal, there was excitement that we would hear some kind of update about the long-awaited sequel following the release of Rayman, and, now that that game’s PC port has been released, it seems we were correct.
Michel Ancel, creator of the original game and lead designer on the sequel, confirmed the continued existence of Beyond Good & Evil 2 at a Ubisoft dinner last summer, stating that it should not be expected on this generation of consoles. However, he offered little more in terms of details and Ubisoft’s trademark silence of the title served only to make us doubtful about the progress of the sequel. However, in a recent video interview, Ancel offered a little more, restating the game’s existence as a next generation title, though without so much as a hint at its release window:
“We are in an active creation stage, and at this moment we are only focusing on the game and making it the best game that we can. I can say that it’s a very ambitious game, and we need some tech to achieve that ambition. We focus on the game. We create it first, then we’ll see what can run it. We don’t say 2013 because we don’t know when it will come. We’re working to create a great game and it needs more tech.”
He also dropped a hint or two as to what you could expect from the game. He mentioned that the third-person character control would be similar to something along the lines of Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed. (Free-running Jade, anyone?) He also said that the team was using a dynamic camera system that shakes a lot during the action to give the impression of an action news team following Jade. I’ll leave the implications of that one for you to consider. I should also warn you that if you were thinking about checking out the interview, it’s in French. Some nice folks over at NeoGAF have offered a bit of translation, so you can head over there to get the gist of things.
At the moment, I’m just happy that the game is once-and-for-all, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt confirmed. I didn’t really want to believe that this was going to be a next-gen title, but I can’t be upset about that, since it’s actually going to be released. I just wonder whether the game would have taken so long to develop if the first had sold better, or if Ubisoft would have rushed it out just to cash in on the popularity.