Still, even we have to admit that once you get into the game then it really picks up. It also isn’t that unreasonable for Creative Assembly to expect gamers to read the manual first – but it is unfortunately a bit unrealistic.
It does have to be stressed though that these are mostly minor concerns and once you’ve learned the basics of swordplay—blocking is another thing never explained to the player—and started building an army then the game is an enjoyable enough romp with gore by the bucketful.
Gore can be a tricky thing to do right in games and, believe it or not, it’s rarely a case of just waving around a few red sprites and hoping the audience will applaud – Soldier of Fortune and Manhunt 2 prove that. If you’re going to chuck a ladleful of the red stuff at the player every time they move then you have to at least make it look good.
Thankfully, the graphics in Viking: Battle for Asgard are up to the task. True, the clarity and detail is never going to be on a par with something like Crysis, but the game still doesn’t look bad and the graphics are definitely respectable.
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The animation of the main character in particular is something we approve of and there are a number of small touches which show the animators have a real attention to detail – such as how the players pace and animation will change when walking on different up or downhill gradients.
The battle moves are good too and the game is careful never to overplay the blood and guts card unless it really needs to. Not every fatality is laboriously replayed in slow motion and not every death-blow sends limbs bouncing through the trees; the game uses a balance of the plain and interesting to avoid desensitizing players too much.
The world of Midgard, where Viking: Battle for Asgard is set (confusingly, the game doesn’t make mention of Asgard very much for the first few hours), is well designed too. Even though the world of Midgard is actually quite small, consisting of some carefully laid bottlenecks and hoops to jump through, it always manages to feel bigger than it really is while still being easy to navigate.
Viking: Battle for Asgard is, as we’ve said all the way through, a simple and fairly predictable game. The story is enough to keep the gameplay ticking over without ever distracting from the gameplay and the battles themselves are fun and challenging.
It’s a shame that the game has a few critical flaws that prevent it from becoming more than the sum of its parts – a total lack of multiplayer as well as unexplained gameplay elements mean that Viking suffers when it comes to longevity and accessibility.
Still, despite those flaws Viking: Battle for Asgard does enough things right to remain engaging and enjoyable. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea or tipple of choice, but for those who are in the market for an enjoyable singleplayer then Viking: Battle for Asgard is a good choice.
Sure, you could do a lot better, but you could also do a lot worse and though Viking doesn't break any boundaries in any real sense, it does at least let players have fun with existing formulas.