|System: X360, PS3, PC, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 13, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As with the move list, the command list for your personal army is rather small. This is no RTS game. You can order them to move to a certain area, flank you, and put them to work in a few tasks such as moving huge rocks, rowing a boat, and turning a crank. Any interruption from an enemy will typically stop these guys in their tracks. They can also get in the way of your attacks when you enter in the more powerful Carnal Mode, which is the equivalent of an energy boost, but with some repercussions. The Carnal Mode actually attempts to address deeper issues discussed in the original poem. This mode makes Beowulf more powerful, but it also turns him into a beast which his army resents. Beowulf must choose to use this mode wisely as it will give him what he wants, but at the expense of his trusted allies.
Entering into a chant with the Thanes is a way of goading the enemy into a fight. These chants are in the form of a mini-game in which you must press the buttons in a rhythmical sequence. Here's where you'll experience the reason for the Mature rating as some of these chants are liberally sprinkled with blue language. It's quite funny actually, and adds some much-needed charm to the game. Another component of the Mature rating is the graphic depiction of violence. There is plenty of blood, guts, and severed limbs throughout. You do get used to it, as it becomes overkill after a while. There are only a handful of stock finishing moves which are repeated.
Weapons are consistent with the era. There are no guns or lasers. You'll use a variety of spears, hammers, and swords. Most of the slashing will be done with the swords, but like all weapons, they have a short shelf life. The more you use any particular weapon, the faster it will wear out and eventually become useless. This can be particularly disconcerting later in the game when you're up against enemies with armor. Weapons can fail in the middle of a battle. There are some magical weapons that are supposed to stand the test of time, but that time is also limited. You'll have to continually scavenge weapons from the enemy in order to carry on.
Graphically the game is inconsistent. There are some really nice scenes, but some of the darker areas don't display enough contrast between characters and background, making things difficult to see. The voiceacting is forced and there is plenty of repetitious dialogue. The soundtrack is really good, managing to convey a sense of another world in another time. Some camera angles make things difficult, but overall the game is mechanically sound as controls are responsive and easy to access.
Beowulf is recommended for a rental. You can blast through the game on the lower difficulty in less than day. You will notice the title says: Beowulf: The Game. That's to distinguish it from the ancient manuscript. I tend to think of it as a disclaimer, or quite possibly a warning.
CCC Senior Writer