Rating: 9/10 - Among the best.
Platform: Sony PlayStation 2
In Beyond Good and Evil you play Jade, a freelance photographer. Your world, Hyllis, is under attack by the Domz, a Gigeresque alien race. Fortunatly the Alpha Sections, a military group, shows up to defend the planet. Unfortunately, they're not doing a terribly good job. Jade is recruited by IRIS, an underground newspaper dedicated to exposing complicity between the Domz and the Alpha Sections.
So begins one of the most entertaining games I've played in a while. The game balances several different play styles, all well executed. The majority of the game is a straightforward platform game, but without all of the frustrating jumping. (Many places are starting to call this sort of game an adventure game. Those places are silly. This is an adventure game. Anyway...) You'll explore the world, do a little sneaking around guards, fight some enemies, and solve some world puzzles. Add in some entertaining vehicle combat and an interesting world to explore.
As a photographer a key part of the gameplay is taking pictures. Early in the game you'll be offered a job taking a photocatalog of the planet's creatures for spare change. They're not too hard and make an entertaining subquest. The key part of your game is to hunt down damning evidence of the conspiracy. The game tells you exactly what to take pictures of, but it's still fun sneak behind a guard and take a picture of human captives over his shoulder.
Key to the game's success is the balance between humor and seriousness. Your best friend is a pig with fart powered boots. Yet the creators of the game make him a sympathetic character. The character designs could largely have come from a harmless platformer, but somehow are balanced with the story to create a believable, if slightly strange world. The story is solid, if not terribly original.
I enjoyed myself the entire time, the feeling breaking open a conspiracy for the world was a blast. If you enjoy platformer games, especially those on the edge of the category (like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), you'll want to get a copy of Beyond Good and Evil.