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Viking: Battle for Midgard review

I actually began playing Viking: Battle of Asgard with some trepidation, as I had heard from various sources that this game creates a love or hate relationship with it and those types of games always makes me nervous. But I'm happy to report that I did enjoy my time with Viking. There's just something about manly men being manly by chopping off the heads of demons while flexing their huge, testosterone-filled muscles. So here's my little review of this gem of a hack-n-slash.

Again, just as a reminder I don't score my games at the end, but take five parts of the game and give each of them a ranking. Here's the five rankings and a little description:

1. Jailbait - "R. Kelly's next concert is gonna be in cellblock 4 cuz' he got caught messin' with jailbait."
2. One Night Stand - I had a one night stand with this guy I picked up at the club."
3. Beer Goggles -When I took her to bed, she looked like Halle Berry. When I woke up, she looked like Keith Richards!"
4. Brown Bag Special -"Sonic: Not the only place with Brown Bag Specials."
5. Desperato -Dude... she looks like a GUY - stop being such a Desperato!"

So, onto the review.

Game Summary: Viking: Battle for Asgard is an action adventure/hack and slash video game developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. It was announced on August 21, 2007 by SEGA Europe and released in North America on March 25 and Europe on March 28, 2008.[2] The game is based on Norse Mythology, where the war between the gods has sparked further conflict in the mortal realm of Midgard, where Freya's champion Skarin must lead Viking forces against that of the Goddess Hel.

Graphics: Without a doubt the visuals in this game deserve the ‘Jailbait’ title. Simply put, they are gorgeous. The landscape is very nice to look at and the images of great castles in the distance really makes you feel as if you are on an epic journey. The people models, while limited in their variety, look fine and move decently. Skarin is obviously the most details and the way his hair and weapons move on his back as he runs or jumps is really awesome.

The enemy soldiers also only have about 4 or 5 models but the damage they take from your weapons are actually visible on their bodies. The executions also look awesome. Watching Skarin disembowel an enemy is truly great fun.

Now there were some issues with the graphics that really bothered me. The first thing is that as you upgrade your weapons nothing ever really changes about them. Either in appearance or in actual effect on the battlefield. That did really annoyed me.

Combat: The combat in the game is broken up into two attacks that I call normal (A button) and strong attacks(X button). The normal attacks you can chain together into a combo of up to 4 or 5 hits. Once you have learned (bought) the techniques from the battle arenas scattered across the three islands, you can then end each of the combos with a tap of the X button to give a final, hard blow to your foe. The Y button jumps and the B button, well, it really doesn’t do much of anything in combat. You also have a guard button and what I call the combo button.

The best part of the combat system was that if you hit your enemy enough or managed to chop off one of his arms, you could then perform an ‘execution’ move on them. The first time you see this you will literally want to go try it out yourself. I recommend that annoying sister that keeps pretending to be characters from your favorite games ( ;) to try it out on first. Unfortunately, there are only about 5 executions so you will see them over and over again and you will eventually become tired of them.

There are three elemental spells you can use to imbue not only your weapon but your allies weapons with to affect the enemy. Fire burns, Ice freezes (the best) and Lightning shocks or stuns. It adds a little something and is very helpful in the large battles in the game. These spells are charged by the Rage meter below your health. This meter fills up when you kill baddies and collect the floating red orbs above their maimed bodies.

Speaking of battles I definitely need to describe these. Without a doubt the best part of Viking is the two large-scale battles you fight on each island. These happen once you have freed enough of your Viking brothers and gained access to siege equipment and the like. There are literally hundreds of enemies and Vikings all fighting on screen at once along with enemy champions and giants. Oh yeah, and dragons. In these battles your goal is to defeat the shamans and close the portals that allow the demons access to the earth. You can do this the old fashioned way or you can earn Dragon Runes to call in air strikes on your targets. Either way, I found myself wishing the entire game could just be this.

Now here are the negatives on the combat. When you are fighting either giants or champions, there comes a point where you have to basically go God-of-War on them. Quick-time-events are really overdone and become very old very fast in this game. I eventually memorized the pattern of buttons and killing giants became a breeze.

On a side-note why does mashing the B button have to be the button that does everything from opening doors and chests to untying your captured Viking brethren? I literally killed the poor spring beneath my B button on my controllers.

Besides that, the combat is fun, if a little slower than I was used to. I honestly never really got tired of killing the bad guys or slicing their heads off.

Story: Um, basically you are fighting to defeat the Norse god Hel, daughter of Loki the Trickster. The god of war, Freya, chose you as her champion to free Midgard from Hel’s dominion. There are some rather confusing cut scenes after each island and you will randomly get them as you wander around the world, but they really don’t explain much.

The story, overall, was weak and I really wish they had taken some time to explain everything much better than what they did. When you have an epic adventure game full of Vikings and old Norse gods, you would think they could come up with a better way to tell the story then still images in the cut scenes. Weak.

Length/Depth: I really hated how short Viking was. It clocked in around 15 hours for me to complete it with all but the skull achievements unlocked. I was really hoping this would go on for awhile since I did love wandering around the world and seeing the beautiful landscape the Creative team had made. Sadly there are only three islands to adventure in.

Another stupid thing about this game is how the map works. Instead of letting the player study it at his leisure and zoom in on it, they decided to only allow your cursor to go from on point of interest to the other. So if you are trying to look at a coastline, you need to make sure your cursor isn’t sitting on something close by where the pop-up text will block your view of it. I know it’s a minor thing, but it did get on my nerves.

Gameplay depth is also shallow, with most of the missions simple ‘kill all bad guys in this area’ or ‘go fetch item A and bring it back’. The missions were very repetitive and I began to go about them with an almost machine-like attitude. I just wanted to play in another fucking battle, what did I care if this stupid farmer wants some honey from these stupid bees?

Transportation: This is the largest complaint I had with the game. Scattered throughout the island there are items called Leystones that can instantly teleport you to any other Leystone on the island. While this is a nice, convenient way to get around, I can’t help but bitch about the lack of secondary mode of transportation since Skarin runs as fast as my grandmother. It takes FOREVER to walk anywhere. Where’s my fucking horse? Or wolf? Or bear? Why not give me a fucking bear to ride and maul things with?

This would have been fucking epic:

The islands of Viking are huge, with a lot of empty space in between them. When you journey through the land for the first time, it takes awhile. A fucking Viking bear to ride would have been nice.

Overall I really enjoyed my time with Viking and if you like a hack’n’slash similar to Dynasty Warriors combined with a small sandbox style of game like Crackdown or Grand Theft Auto, you will enjoy Viking. The negatives the game has are small in comparison to how much it can offer you. I would suggest rental, just because I don’t think after playing through it once or twice, you will play it again.

Also, I think Vikings should be included in the old Ninja vs. Pirates debate because I think honestly, the Viking would really whoop some tail.
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About BigPopaGamerone of us since 8:22 AM on 06.22.2007

Some say BigPopa was not born, but put together using the body parts of the greatest pimps ever to be born. Like some kind of freak zombie, sent here to roam the world. To play video games, terrorize women, and consume the largest amount of whiskey as is humanly possible.

You are not far from the truth...

(Editor's note: sorry bud, Google sent us a "sexually gratifying warning" about your profile
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