Monday, July 19, 2010

Doing What Vikings Do Best...Conquer!

Game: Viking Battle for Asgard

System: Xbox 360, PS3

Release: March 2008

Viking: Battle for Asgard is a game found in bargain bins priced under twenty bucks American. It did not sell well, and probably flew under the radar for many gamers. Now during the summer lull is a perfect time to revisit this open world hack n' slash game. It's cheap, and there is plenty of fun to be had.

Viking embraces Norse mythology for the setting and plot. The gods of Asgard are bickering, and of course mortals have to pay. The goddess Hel is pissed about her banishment. She raises an army of demons, and threatens to unleash the ancient god Fenrir. Why Fenrir? Cause he will bring about the apocalypse, or Ragnarok, that destroys Asgard.

Freya, the goddess of war, selects the main character Skarin as her mortal champion. Skarin's only desire is to be allowed entrance into Valhalla. (SPOILER) He defeats the Hel and her armies saving both mortal and god. Freya still denies his wish so Skarin unleashes Fenrir. Don't fuck with Skarin.

Ya I know. The story sounds as exciting as a moose pissing against the wind. The pacing and gameplay are what keeps this game going. Skarin must free three islands from the clutches of Hel. Each island follows a similar pattern. Build an army by freeing viking warriors at key locations. Along the way you collect gold, learn new abilities, and summon a dragon. In addition to raising an army each island has a stealth section, a tower to capture, and a large patrol to ambush.

When the army is ready you invade a fortified location. During this segment players charge into battle to take out key enemies and capture objective points. The dragons act as artillery fire, and can be used after collecting dragon ruins. Ruins are rewarded when the player kills giants or completes objectives. Once all the forts are conquered Skarin moves onto the next island.

Skarin controls like a bulky buff viking. He makes strong blows that hack off limbs. He has combos, counters, and magic. Special melee moves take a certain amount of stars to activate. Stars are unlocked by successfully hitting any enemy. The magic consists of fire, lightening, and ice. Just like every other game fire burns, lightening shocks, and ice freezes. Skarin can also share his magic with near by soldiers, which can be devastating during the large army campaigns.
Viking is nothing like the top hack/slash tittles (God of War, Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta). The quick time events lack polish animation and suffers from camera jitters. I saw too often axes slamming into thin air instead of the flesh of my enemies. The sound quality is terrible. The frame rate suffers during large battles. Skarin is slow to block, and the dodge/counter move may suffer depending on the topography. The timing for combos is wonky at best, and the auto lock jumps from target to target way to easily. These annoyances, are just that, annoying. You'll find yourself displeased, but the fun factor is not diminished significantly.

Viking: Battle for Asgard is a great rental or cheap buy. It's everything that Yahtzee wanted Brutal Legend to be. An open world hack n' slash game with large armies and great visuals with no RTS features. The gameplay isn't perfect, but it's fun enough to tolerate. Same could be said for the story. There are crazy vikings, huge battles, magic, and dragons. That spells fun to Snerts, and my Snazzy Score is 3.8 out of 5.

No comments: