Beowulf is one of those old epic poems that began English literature classes back in my university days. I dreaded and hoped that the course would proceed swiftly so I can pick up my Austen and march towards Victorian literature. After all, the tale of Beowulf was not a particularly complex one. The recent film re-creation of Beowulf is more a cynical abstract of the poem. In it, Beowulf is more of a flawed hero than an undisputed one. We pity as well as admire him. In Gameloft’s Beowulf game, I found the titular character to be more of the classic epic mold. He’s dashing, still bloodthirsty, but one dimensional in that all he wants is to beat up and kill all his enemies.
Psychological analysis aside, Beowulf is a platform action game that takes the best of Gameloft’s expertise with these titles and puts them to work. The rich backdrop of myth provides the developers plenty of artistic freedom to create frightening creatures. Furthermore, it lets them endow Beowulf with ground shaking attacks, range attacks, rage attacks and so on and so forth. Each stage culminates in a boss battle that pits the savage hero against equally savage foes. Grendel, the dragon and serpents, as depicted in the film, make an appearance here. There are far more beasties that appear to make life difficult for Beowulf in the fourteen levels presented.
Presentation of the game is nowhere near the 3D quality of the film released but for a 2D platform game on wireless phones, it’s top notch. The backgrounds are breathtaking and the lighting effects are spot on. Beowulf is the best animated character in the entire game and given his repertoire of moves, deservedly so. The action and the blood, like the film, are all over the top.
The only serious drawback about Beowulf is it is so expertly paced that the game can end pretty quickly. It won’t take you more than several phone sessions to finish the game. In fact, I get the feeling watching the Director’s Cut version of the film is actually longer. Afterwards, your only recourse will be the replay the game at a higher difficulty level. I’m not one to complain about a short but amazingly crafted game. It sure beats a long but ultimately vapid game. However, it would be nice for Gameloft to start thinking of extending the longevity of these games. They make great platform action games but surely they could put some energy into extending how long this should stay on our phones.
If you’re tired of realistic environments (spies, terrorists, war) or you’re simply a fan of action games, this bloodthirsty version of Beowulf will definitely appeal to you.