Game review: Beyond: Two souls

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Chris Schulz reviews the Beyond: Two Souls, a blurring of the lines between Hollywood movies and games.

Beyond: Two Souls succeeds at providing an immersive cinematic experience.
Beyond: Two Souls succeeds at providing an immersive cinematic experience.

You can't fault the ambition behind Beyond: Two Souls. With a female lead, a non-linear script and up to 23 endings, Quantic Dream's hugely hyped follow-up to Heavy Rain takes plenty of risks.

There are also no complaints about the game's stunning graphics engine. With fantastic motion capture technology using the Hollywood acting talents of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, Beyond is one of the best-looking and best-acted games you'll find on the market.

And the spooky subject matter that tackles a young girl's spiritual links with the afterlife is handled with style and intelligence.

Unfortunately, it's also a game that comes with its share of problems. Beyond has been designed as an interactive movie experience - but it's an epic sprawl that you will, at times, lose patience with.

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The intro takes more than an hour to set up the back story, and includes tiresome segments playing Page's character Jodie Holmes as a child, an awkward teen experiencing her first kiss, and a trainee spy doing sit-ups in her dorm room.

The fun comes later, when Holmes begins exploring her link to Aiden, the mysterious misfit spiritual guide she was born with. Aiden, a playable character, does most of Holmes' dirty work, commandeering vehicles, assassinating enemies and - in one thrilling scene - distracting police by blowing up a petrol station, then crashing a helicopter.

Aiden's involvement is key to the story, but he can induce motion sickness with his drunkenly woozy manoeuvres.

If you're prepared to sit through the slow bits, Beyond delivers fantastic set pieces: A daring train escape and forest rampage from police is edge-of-your-seat thrilling, as is a fantastically creepy investigation into a portal to another dimension.

But there are complaints that could have been fixed after the flawed Heavy Rain: repetitive tasks that become chores, too many "why am I doing this?" moments and too many options at every turn.

Beyond succeeds at providing an immersive cinematic experience - but it's one that desperately needed a good editor.

Stars: 3.5/5
Format: PS3 only
Rating: R16

- NZ Herald

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