While the console versions were merely mediocre, the PSP version of Beowulf is as aggressively wretched as Grendel itself.
- You kill stuff, it dies.
- It's easy to get stuck
- The combat is brainless
- Following the story is a quest in itself
- You'll find dead ends in every aspect of the game.
There were two cool things about the console versions of Beowulf: the singing thanes and the impressive levels of gore. Neither of those can be found in the PSP version, which is pure abomination. And not in a fun, "Yay, let's find it and kill it" sort of way, either. If you see this game coming, make like Monty Python and "Run away, run away, run away!"
Beowulf isn't so bad that it ends up being funny--or even interesting. It's just a stripped-down hack-and-slash crucified on a broken plot, left in the heat of the critical sun to die in a desert of consumer disinterest. You are Beowulf, and you go to rescue a kingdom from the yoke of a monster called Grendel. You quickly succeed, which leads to Beowulf ripping off the arm and screaming that he is "Ripper, biter, slasher, gouger, I am the teeth in the dark!" or some such. That's the best part of the game, and you just read it here for free.
Other than that, you and your not-so-merry men travel to ugly locales to fight wave after wave of nondescript enemies, trolls, and the occasional boss. The rhythm games from the console versions are gone, though you still must command your thanes to move stuff. They seem to be even worse in combat than before, which makes sense, because the combat in Beowulf is terrible. You have two attacks: light and heavy. The thing is, your heavy attack hits any enemy near you and renders you completely invulnerable. If you hit that button like a crack rat, no enemy will ever touch you.
You could also go into berserker mode to dispatch enemies even faster, but then you would run the risk of killing your henchmen. When they die the game is over, despite the fact that you're invincible for all intents and purposes. Then again, even with them alive, you won't get far because the game is so boring and repetitive. You're constantly assailed by squads of identical enemies who take too long to kill and offer no threat at all to you. Never has the curse of Grendel's mother seemed so real. Bravo?
Eventually, your weapons will break, and you must pick up a new one from a fallen enemy. You'll fight bosses, but these can all be dispatched easily in berserker mode. In the console versions, this was balanced by the fact that it reduced your health to a sliver anytime you used it. Not so in the PSP version. There is no penalty at all for going berserk (other than the risk of killing your minions). If left to your own devices, you can simply and quickly cut through anything that attacks you.
Periodically, you can go back to camp, pick up new weapons, train new skills, and then head back out for another anesthetic dose of the triangle button (aka the heavy attack). This feels like a chore, and yet it's worse because when you finish, you haven't actually accomplished anything. It doesn't look as bad as it sounds, though. The graphics are OK, and the animations are mostly fluid. The audio, on the other hand, is bad. Beowulf only commands his thanes in one sound bite, "Go, go, go," which sounds tinny, gritty, and cheap.
There's no multiplayer content at all, and it wouldn't matter if there were multiplayer. This mindless slasher still wouldn't be any fun or worth the cost of the UMD on which it's stored. While Beowulf is a classic poem of timeless beauty that shall probably never be forgotten, its wretched and sad PSP offspring surely will be forgotten. Do not let it into your long hall.