So, while I was out running some errands I decided to check out the RedBox and see if any interesting movies were available. Unfortunately, there were none. However, I did decide to check out the available games for PS3 and found that one of them was Beyond: Two Souls. I hadn't previously heard about this game and I would have passed it up if it weren't for the "ELLEN PAGE" slapped right above the title. Seeing as Ellen Page is pretty much the definition of perfection (in my opinion), I couldn't pass up the game so I went ahead and rented it.
Well, my initial reactions to the game, and I think about half way through (if not further), is that the story is superb. I am playing in single player, but I believe in co-op one player plays the main character, while the other plays Aiden (tho I'm not sure). I imagine the game might be a tad more enjoyable with this, but I don't know and probably wont find out. It's a great story, very immersive and quite unique. The fact that (essentially) Ellen Page is the main character, is a massive bonus as well. The only game I can think of that comes close to the level of story in this game is Last of Us. Although, I personally feel Last of Us has the better story, but that's because I'm a post-apocalyptic junkie.
One thing I absolutely loved is that, at least in the non-combat portions of the game, you are usually given a decent number of options to effect how the story plays out. I couldn't tell if there were multiple outcomes or anything, as I haven't even finished playing the game once yet, but it was nice having at least a minor effect in the story. For example, we went to a teen birthday party. I got to decide if I should drink some beer, should I be friendly with a guy that was hitting on me, should I show off Aiden to get people to like me, etc... I ended up setting things up for the main character to get her first kiss, and I know I could have done things differently and that could have never happened. Or at least I think I do, and that's what counts.
The controls are often quite annoying as well. For example, when you enter hand-to-hand combat (which is basically the only real combat), time slows down and you're expected to use your analog stick to "assist" in the combat by completing action. Due to the confusing nature of the controls, and the often weird-ass camera angles, if you're not extra careful you will often fail or screw up. Thankfully, this is a fully hand-held experience and that's not going to be a real issue and you'll get along just fine even if you completely fail at the combat. Believe me, I learned that from experience.
Speaking of camera, it sucks horribly. Due to the near constant changing of camera angle, the fact that the camera angle often sucks, and the general suckyness of the camera, it makes a lot of things more difficult than they need to be. Something as simple as walking can become annoying just because of the camera. I honestly have no idea what they were thinking when they programmed the camera like this. Hell, I don't even know what they were thinking when they made the game consist of 99% quick-time events and 1% cut scenes/story.
Where the game falls short, and honestly this almost completely ruins the game for me, is the actual gameplay mechanics. After the initial few minutes in the game, you realize that should be called "A Quick-time Event Adventure" instead of the actual title. It's non-stop quick-times. They're needlessly thrown in there every single instant of the game. And, for me, this almost completely ruined the experience. The only thing that kept me playing was the story and Ellen Page. And honestly, if the story was just a tad less interesting, I would have gave up less than an hour into the game and gone ahead and returned it.
Another negative is that I felt that Aiden didn't achieve his full potential. And keep in mind that I'm still not done with the game, so I may be proved wrong later on. However, you can basically do just a few things with Aiden. You can "push" objects, you can take control of a very select few enemies, you can choke others, and you can screw with electronics. Sometimes you can create a "shield" around the main character as well. Also, the taking control and choking can rarely be used in combat situations.
In fact, it seems like combat situations are completely scripted from start to finish, which makes it extremely boring. You don't even get to aim when you shoot a gun (the few times you do get to shoot, that is). It's just another quick-time event where you hit R1, that's it. And, like I said, whenever you enter close-combat, it's just a slow-mo quick-time event that can be incredibly confusing and annoying at times. I am completely dissatisfied with the combat in the game, and I wonder why they even include it.
From my time playing the game, I got the feeling that Beyond: Two Souls was either A)Rushed through development, Completely Over-simplified in order to appeal to larger audiences, or C)Made by incredibly lazy or inept developers. The game resembles a highly detailed Japanese Visual Novel, more than a game. With the a great story, and a massive amount of potential due to the "Aiden" aspect of the game, I had expected it to be more fun. However, in less than an hour I wasn't have any fun due to the mechanics and the only reason I continued to play is that I wanted to see how the story played out. Overall, I am incredibly sad that Ellen Pages first role in a video game had to be in this game, because the potential just was not achieved. Hopefully the next game Ellen decided to take a major role in will be at least a bit better. I feel sorry both for the writers and Ellen, as their hardwork was ruined by this over-simplified "Quick-Time Adventure" that was, for some reason, called a game.
Story: 5/5 - Superb story and I loved the input that we, as players, were allowed. I loved "growing up" with the main character, and Ellen was superb.
Controls: 2/5 - They worked, most of the time. However, they were often frustrating and the constant quick-time events were beyond annoying.
Gameplay: 1/5 - Partially due to the controls and quick time event, but also due to the incredible simplicity of the overall gameplay, it sucked. I'm not going to try and sugar coat it. I can't comprehend why anyone would think releasing a game with this sort of gameplay would be alright. Is the console community really alright by this kind of poor quality?
Overall: 2/5 - So much potential wasted. The story was amazing, but the controls and gameplay were unbearable. I would not have played the game without the story and Ellen Page. I cannot recommend this game to anyone, but I would suggest you look up a Let's Play on youtube so you can at least experience the story.