Reviewed: April 24, 2008
Released: March 25, 2008
You are the chosen one to lead your army against the army of the dead. You are Skarin the Viking that has been brought back to life by the goddess Freya to help defeat the goddess Hel and her legion of soldiers. The two goddessís battle has spread to Midgard and you must gather troops to help you defend what is rightfully yours. Viking: Battle for Asgard will have you performing numerous killing blows, sneaking around in enemy territory, and navigate through a large island filled with gold and other collectables to help you out along your journey.
The game is composed of three island levels : Niflberg, Galcliff, and Isaholm, each one larger than the next. Here you must navigate the whole island to find your captured soldiers and release them so they can join you in your epic battles that end each island.
To do this you must kill the dead soldiers guarding them and then repeat hitting a button until you have gathered enough strength to rip of the door or untie them. You will come to find that a lot of the commands in fight mini bosses or the final boss you will feel like you are playing God of War all over again. This is not a bad thing at all because you are still interacting while you watch a cut scene of Skarin slice and dice your opponent.
The three different islands are set up similarly and have pretty much the same objectives and missions. You start out completing secondary missions on each island before you head into the final boss battles. On your travels through each level you will encounter numerous enemy camps that are holding dozens of your fellow Viking soldiers. Along with freeing your fellow mates you still have to finance your war. You will find lots of gold bags, urns, and chest hidden throughout the land. If you collect enough money you can purchase maps for a shop keeper on each island that tell you where each item is located. This is a great tool and quickly pays for itself. If that isnít enough for you, you can find kegs of med (alcohol) and sell it to the bar keeper for money.
When dealing with your combat you will quickly notice that the speeds vary in your attacks. For quick attacks you are short and sweet and quick to return to the ready position to strike again. These attacks are great with multiple enemies but donít do much damage. Then there is the much slow strong attacks that take a while for you to load up your blow and then to deliver it. These are much better used in one on one combat. If you are feeling lucky and think you have a great feel for how Skarin moves with each attack, try using the two to make a combo and deal fast action death dealing blows to take out your opponents.
While dealing with these hand to hand combat moments you are bound to get hit once in a while. Your enemy can deal light or heavy strikes like you. This is when your health meter comes into play. If you notice after you are done with a fight sequence your health will slow replenish as you continue on your way. Along with the health bar you have a power bar. You can collect red orbs from your fallen enemies to help refill this bar. This bar is important because it deals with your magic attacks. Along with red orbs you can collect green orbs that help you regenerate your life faster.
The final thing you need to know about is the stealth missions. Let me tell you, they make you prove that you are stealthy. You will have one stealth mission on each island. You are forced to break into the city and stay out of sight. If you are seen you must run run run. There are so many enemies that you will not be able to stay and fight because there are hundreds of them. If you are only seen by a few you can fight your way through them if you stay in hiding. I think they were a bit much and could easily get you frustrated. However it was a really good way to mix up the action and really made you feel like you were truly in an all out war to save mankind.
After you complete all the secondary fighting and complete all the missions in searching every inch of the island, you are finally ready to go to battle! You can engage in this fight from anywhere on the island. Once you start the battle you are there until you defeat every last enemy and reclaim your island. Your troops will follow you into battle and their fate is in your hands. If you use a magic power in fighting, the troops around you will gain the same magic you use until your power bar runs dry.
I am not going to lie, I was a little disappointed with the boss fights overall. The lighting made it a litte hard to figure out if the enemy was dead on the ground or even there at all. Then the second boss fight level really was the better of the three fights. The final boss was a little too easy when you figured out the pattern and the cut scene kill mode at the end was a little disappointing.
Viking has some times when the graphics stand out and just amaze you and then there are times where you are just ho hum about them. This is a hack and slash game that can get a little repetitive, but all of that changes when you have the opportunity to perform a brutal killing blow. This is when the graphics never cease to amaze. When you perform one you get the chance to see everything up close and in slow motion. You get to see Skarin cut off arms, legs, and heads while blood is spraying everywhere. Graphically it is truly amazing to watch.
The light is something that teeters between great and poor. During each level when you are in an area that controlled by evil there is a dark storm cloud feeling and look to that part of the island. It looks amazing in the fact that you feel that evil has a spell over that area.
You also have a light that is dangling over your back, you get this later on in the game that helps you see in dark areas that no mortal is capable of seeing, and you can see the reflections on your back move with the stone. The bad parts of lighting are mostly in the battles. During the final boss battle you are going up the stairways to her domain and you tend to lose sight of some of the dead soldiers. It can get really frustrating because they come out of nowhere it seems and deal big blows, and you have enough to worry about on the that level as it is.
I am torn in this category. I really wanted to score this really well but the sound contradicts itself. In the opening portion of the game you walk by your fellow Vikings and you hear all of them yelling and having a great time while they are drinking and fighting. Then you turn around and while you are getting ready to fight the numerous dead soldiers you donít hear them talking or planning anything. Then you donít hear them rustling around in the bushes until they leap out and attack you.
That brings me to my next point; you hear the rustling of the bush when the enemy jumps out at you but then all you hear when you walk around is the wind. No splashing of water when you run through it and no muddy slopping when you go through the mud. The sound just needed to be more consistent.
The metal sword clashing together, the groans that help give you that extra strength for that last blow, and the panting after a long walk or hard fight they all gave you a realistic feel to the battle sequences. They did a masterful job of getting the right feel to the fighting that seems logical because the whole game is based on the three huge epic battles at the end of each level. I just wish that there could have been more consistency throughout the whole game.
The length of this game is the greatest part of the value. You have a minimum of 30 hours of gameplay. This wide open level design forces you to scout everywhere to get every last possible soldier to help you in our quest. The levels have certain tasks that you must complete that keep the length of each level still appealing and keep you wanting to move on to the next part of the level. There is really no desire to go back through the game for two reasons; the length alone makes you feel like you have played two games in one and the final boss has such an amazing build up that you are left wanting a little more.
This game left you wanting a little more in certain areas but for the overall feel of the game this was wonderfully put together. You have a great story that really flows and pulls you into it. You have these wonderful layouts of the levels with the island having no corner that you canít go to. I do wish that you could go back to other islands after complete them to help pick up some left gold or other combat move upgrades.
I love the slow motion brutal kills and how graphic they really are. The character designs are something that ceases to amaze. I wasnít really sure about this game when I first picked it up but I was quickly at ease when I started playing it. You have a little Assassinís Creed meets Conan on steroids feel to this game.