Viking: Battle for Asgard

Written by Joe Martin

April 8, 2008 | 07:17

Tags: #hack-and-slash #melee #playstation-3 #ps3 #xbox-360

Companies: #creative-assembly #sega

Big Swords

Gameplay in Viking: Battle for Asgard is immediately familiar, which makes sense since the game is cast from a similar mould as a hundred other hackers and slashers.

Starting off in the Viking town of Brighthelm, Skarin is viewed suspiciously by his kinfolk (already, the medieval talk is rubbing off) who had believed him dead – and yet they also sense that this mighty warrior is their best and only hope. Straight away the quests are piled on.

Picking up quests and missions in Viking: Battle for Asgard is straightforward and, even though there are dozens of people milling around the towns, it’s the ones with the speech bubbles over their heads that you want to look out for. Wander over, press a button and they’ll dish out some info to you. Use the info wisely and you’ll be rewarded with gold.

And this is where the RPG stuff comes in – taking that gold and heading to the local smithys, merchants and undead Viking teachers. Each one of these people can help you learn new skills or restock your supplies, whether that’s in the form of throwing axes, arcane runes or new combo moves.

Viking: Battle for Asgard By The Gods
Click to enlarge

Runes are probably the most interesting of all the options – new moves and throwing axes are fairly self-explanatory and the only thing of real interest in them is the ability to buy treasure maps and upgrade your stealthiness. Skarin’s arsenal is fixed pretty much all the way through Viking: Battle for Asgard and the Norse hero is firmly attached to the basic sword and axe combination he has at the start of the game. To help give the arsenal some levelling abilities for those boss fights, the local blacksmith will sell you ancient runes that he can scribe on your steel.

Sure, you’d expect him to give them to you for free since you happen to be the resurrected and blessed champion of his people and his only hope of survival, but the Vikings were apparently greedier than a boatful of Ferengi. Continued existence is worthless without money.

There are three basic ways to upgrade your weapons – Fire, Lightning and Ice. Each one acts as a power-up which you can increase your damage and provide one-hit kills for yourself and your allies. It’s this latter part that’s important as, when you’ve assembled or freed a group of fellow warriors you can boost their weapons too. Hel suddenly has a lot more to worry about when the lowly human opposition are all wielding lightning swords.

Elemental powers are tricky though and using them in the thick of battle can be difficult, but by and large the runes are a well-balanced addition Skarin’s arsenal. They make hard fights possible and easy fights a breeze, but don’t tilt the balance too much in your favour or ruin the challenge.

Viking: Battle for Asgard By The Gods
Click to enlarge

The final big addition for Skarin comes in the form of dragons that eventually ally themselves with your cause and can be harnessed using the Brisingamen amulet gifted to you by Freya. Using the Brisingamen allows Skarin to take a strategic view of the battlefield and push forward more effectively.

Unfortunately, while the Brisingamen is a nice idea on paper it doesn’t really bring a lot to the game and tends instead to distract players from the primary enemy-chopping appeal.

And there certainly is a lot of chopping to do as well! By landing successive hits on his enemies Skarin can accumulate Rage Crystals – a kind of sadistic currency which can be spent on unleashing learned combos. As you progress through the game you’ll naturally pick up more and more combos from the Viking elders who have passed on to Valhalla.

However, there are problems with Viking: Battle for Asgard and players will quickly find that it isn’t all plain sailing and all-out zombie slaughtering…
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