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Beowulf - first look

Seeing as it spans 30 years, it wouldn't make sense for Beowulf to be just an endless string of hack-and-slash levels. Instead, your time will be divided between the "dungeons" - levels in which you'll have to slay monsters and save your innocent subjects from being eaten or sacrificed to pagan deities - and Beowulf's castle, from which you'll be able to manage his kingdom and his image. Here, you'll meet characters like Unferth and Wiglaf, who will try to coerce you into ruling a certain way, and you'll also get to choose whether to spend time with Beowulf's wife - which will earn you hero points - or ignore her and go straight for the mistress, like a true barbarian.

The castle is also where you'll get feedback, which you'll hear from your subjects - whispered behind your back in the castle's first-person mode, but still loud enough for you to hear - and see in Beowulf's hanging shield, which reflects exactly what he's become. Get too heroic, and Grendel's mother - presumably as a voice in Beowulf's head - will voice her disapproval by acidly taunting you.



We haven't really seen enough of Beowulf to be impressed by it, and the game's mid-November release - timed to coincide with the movie - worries us a little. Even so, it seems to be doing some interesting things, both with the fiction and its own gameplay, so we'll be brave and get our hopes up a little. Provided it turns out to be as versatile and visceral as it sounds, however, this could be the game Beowulf fans have been waiting 900 years for.

OK, probably not. But with Ubisoft Paris at the helm, it's still got the potential for greatness. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

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