Its been an awesome year for Sony's console. The Last of Us was a powerhouse of a title, but now PS3 users get another exclusive treat, and that is Beyond: Two Souls. However, reviews from both critics and gamers, have proven to be divided right down the middle between atrocious and awesome. Well, after seeing the 5 known endings and having ample play time, how does my most anticipated release of the year measure up? In short I am not disappointed.
Right off the bat, there is no mistaking that the game looks amazing, easily pushing the PS3 to its truest limits. Lighting, character models, and environments look painstakingly and eerily realistic. What really floored me was the animations, and Jodie's in particular. When she throws a fit, pouts, is upset, or even cheerful, she will express it though some of the best motion capture I've seen in gaming. There were odd animations, areas that were small spaces and posed a problem to move in, even object clipping, but these were rare , but did slightly break the illusion of the rest of the world. However the rest of the supporting cast weren't overlooked, as is the case with most other games, which is a plus.
The sound and atmospheric effects were also something to be noted. Everyone seemed to have a blast giving their characters their all. Yes Ellen Page as Jodie, steals the show, but lets be honest, everyone saw that coming. Willem Dafoe surprised me too, because to my knowledge, this is the first game that I've heard his voice in. The rest of the supporting cast down to the most mundane of roles, seemed genuine and believable, and their lines were mostly natural. The rest of the sounds, From Aiden to the environmental effects, were crisp and clean too.
Now, love or hate David Cage, you have to hand it to the man, that he has incredible scope and vision, but it is fair to call Beyond more of an interactive movie than a game. First off most everything Jodie does is handled by one or more buttons. Unlike Cage's previous work of Heavy Rain, the controls feel way more intuitive and natural. Gone is holding down R2 to walk. Now it feels natural because you only have to use the left analog stick to move, like most every other game now. Also, you don't have to hold down X or any other button to interact with the world. A white dot represents your interaction level, and flicking the right stick in the direction of the dot makes Jodie interact with the world. Some may have gripes with this, but for me, it really feels more natural. Fighting segments are also under close scrutiny, with time slowing down to a Matrix like crawl while you flick right stick in the direction Jodie's body is moving on screen. Honestly I had to get used to it, but after I did, my Jodie was fighting with grace and precision. Personally, I thought the slow-mo added to the experience, but that's just me. Aiden's part in Beyond was limited to mainly bumping objects, or on occasion, choking or possessing the enemy, but I came out with a feeling of teamwork and an actual level of trust to Jodie and him.
The story is the biggest part of any David Cage game, or Interactive Drama, and Beyond didn't let me down. All of his niches are here, multiple endings and different ways to play each scenario, all told throughout a brain-working story. Its not just the relationship between Jodie, Aiden, Nathan, and Cole, but the world around Jodie is brought into question. What is truth, what is a lie, but happens to us after we die, and more are brought to light in an interesting manner. And this is a 10+ hr experience that begs to be replayed and have it's secrets uncovered.
Overall, Beyond was a worthwhile ride that I'm glad has finally arrived. If you are a Heavy Rain fan, there is no doubt that you'll find something to love here. If you are looking for something different, this may be what you're looking for, but a rental at least is advised. Personally I would love to see a Beyond: Two Souls 2, and that coming from me, who is suffering from sequel-fatigue. As for now, I'm enjoying one of the final good games to end Sony's run with the PS3.