- Action can be satisfying at times, game doesn't shy away from the gore
- The story doesn't do justice to the source material, side missions are nonsensical, you get punished for using the raddest power in the game
Beowulf: The Game is a simple and gory tie-in to the big budget movie. However, it doesn't live up to the epic nature of the classic poem and it certainly isn't going to make you forget about God of War III either.
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Beowulf: The Game is a bloody hack n' slash adventure based on both the Old English epic poem of the same name and the recently-released Robert Zemeckis-helmed movie.
The story is decent enough fodder for a game but the entire enterprise is executed in a questionable and rather forgettable manner.
Lost in translation
Much like the recently released Conan game, Beowulf is as linear as it is gory and it cribs a majority of its control and design cues from God of War. Stylistically, the characters look cartoony and the story jumps around a lot, but we had our share of fun with it even if we felt like we were replaying the same missions over and over.
The overall experience centres on pulling off reasonably satisfying weapon combos and button-mashing "fatality" sequences all while controlling a squad of brain-dead allies who prove to be as useful on the battlefield as a pack of preschoolers. Also mind-numbing is the game's story, which roughly follows the original narrative -- Beowulf saves the Danes from the monster Grendel and then deals with Grendel's pissed off mother -- but it also features a lot of extraneous side missions that aren't related to the main story.
The bad thing is that these side missions are often nonsensical and are obviously present as filler. Here's one example: as Beowulf, you come upon a desolate, burned out village with no survivors. But wait, there are four or five half-naked virgins spread throughout the level and trolls randomly tromping through to try and grab them. Hey virgins, it's called running away -- try it some time.
Still, the game does offer up a decent action experience. The battles are epic even if they are derivative and if you aren't a literature snob, you probably won't care that the game isn't true to the original poem; seriously, how many of you have even read the thing? Just be prepared to go head-to-head against some weak design choices, like the Carnal Fury power. It's pretty awesome -- think Kratos' Rage of the Gods ability -- but it's so powerful that it almost felt unbalanced; there's also a penalty for using it, which just seems counterintuitive.
In the end, Beowulf: The Game is a simple and gory tie-in to the big budget movie. If you liked what you saw at the movies and need a way to blow off a few hours then it's a perfect weekend rental. But it doesn't live up to the epic nature of the classic poem and it certainly isn't going to make you forget about God of War III either.
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