In Viking: Battle For Asgard, you are a Viking warrior who is nearly killed by undead Vikings, only to be saved by Freya (Goddess of beauty and love) from near death to be her Avatar. Hel (Goddess of the Underworld) has raised an undead Viking army to take over Midgard and free Fenrir (the wolf god) from his chains. This will start Ragnarok, which will destroy the gods and cause a long winter over the Earth; for the first god to set Ragnorak in motion will be the only god that lives to rule over what is left.
The opening prologues for each world have dark and gritty comic book inspired panels with a very good voice over. They are entertaining to watch, and two describe the back-story of Drakan (Hel’s Avator) and Hel herself.
You start off in your own village, having brought about the end of the zombie siege on your town. One thing you’ll notice, is how lively the area is; there are people fighting with a group of other watching & various people will occasionally stop and sit on the ground to rest. There are around 50 people or more in this town, and you can only talk to 5 of them; you only talk to who is necessary. In later areas, with larger towns and a group of 200 or more people, random people will tell you where the important people are (so you don’t get lost; or, maybe you don’t know how to read a radar), but these people are never on your radar.
Your radar in the upper right hand corner actually has a story purpose. It is a glowing amulet from Freya that allows you to see what is important near you (such as people), and if you select a place on the map, it will allow it to become a dot on your radar so you can find it without pausing to check the map all the time.
The best thing about the map is that every time you find a settlement, town, cave, or important event, it will be marked on your map so you can always find it; which is a really good idea. In addition, the symbol will become blue when you haven’t finished that ‘level’, and red once you have conquered it. Sometimes, these levels need requirements, such as freeing two towns before you can attack the castle.
The world outside the town is large, and you want to search everywhere for captured Vikings, as this will increase your army. You see, in Viking, there are 3 type of things you do; attack, sneak, and go to war.
In the beginning, you will find some random undead that you need to kill that charge at you. Every time you attack, that enemy makes the sound of sword cutting bone, immersing you into the battle. In addition, when you attack an enemy long enough, they will get a Square above their head. This indicates they are dying, and if you let them die, you will get 1 pink enemy to fill your elemental attacks. But, if you kill them quickly before they fully die, you will get a slow-motion cinematic kill, along with 3 red energy balls. Each cinematic attack varies so it never gets old. Plus, you won’t be doing it all the time, as in large groups, doing this will most likely get you stabbed in the back; enemies do not wait in line to attack you.
Regarding the combat, you had better pick your fights carefully; it is hard to run away. If you run from a battle, every 3 seconds you will be attacked in the back because the enemies runs faster than you do. This is also why stealth plays a large element in the game.
In the first captured settlement, stealth is figuring out that attacking lone warriors when they walk away from their captured human will limit the number of enemies by half. When you attack an enemy, every enemy near them within a certain radius automatically knows where you are, and when they know, they create their own radius, resulting in a quick death as they all charge and pile upon you. You can take out only around 4 enemies at once in the beginning, but by the end, with the variety of attacks you can purchase and the fast movement, I was able to take up to at least 10 at once.
when the enemy hasn’t discovered you, or they are dying
The game gets more fun once you purchase the stealth kill. The best part about it is, you don’t have to be really close to an enemy to use it, but make sure that no enemy has spotted you. Later in the game, you will find large patrols of marching guards. You will need to be in a good place so they don’t spot you while roaming the land. After the first island, it gets harder, because most groups will always have a horn blower that, if he spots you, will call every undead near and far to come and attack. In addition, there are 5 cities that must be snuck into to do a secret objective. These towns have hundreds of undead Vikings, and you must study their movements, know when you can attack, and find out how to sneak around, or you will die quickly by alerting the entire city.
Your health regenerates, but only in open areas, and never when a single enemy is still looking at you. You must run away (if you can) or kill everything on the screen before you can heal again, which is why choosing your battles is important. I like this mechanic, as it forces you to be smart about when you engage the enemy.
The attacks in the game seem simple. You press X to attack quick, and Square to attack hard. Square you can hold down for more damage. You can also press Square after X for a combo. Later, you will buy attacks such as X, X, Square, and selecting X while in the air to attack from the sky.
Every time you connect with the enemy, you will receive a small disc shape under your life bar. You can have up to 5. Now, you can hold L1, and chose to attack with X or Square, and your attacks are now more powerful (if you have bought them), but depending on what move you use, you will extinguish 1, 2 or 3 discs, then have to use normal attacks again to build it up again. This is a very interesting idea. It keeps you from being overpowering all the time, and gives you nearly double the additional attacks when fighting the enemy. Plus, since you are using only a few new moves at a time, you are given time to learn each move as the game progresses (and you can practice using each specific move in the arena). Your move set by the end of the game is so large you will learn to fight and improve better, despite the fact your character never gets any stronger or gains any Experience Points; it is you who is getting better.
Later, you can buy elemental attacks (which has a power bar that fills when you collect red energy from fallen enemies). When you chose to activate an element, it becomes imbued to your sword and you can attack with Fire, Lightning, or Ice. Fire and Lighting make you cause more damage, but Ice will actually freeze enemies in place, and if you attack them again, they shatter; this feels much more powerful than the other elements, since it even works on shield and armor grunts if you bypass their defense. You can also chose to use an extremely large amount of energy for a massive attack, but I never found it helpful for Fire and Ice (Ice & Fire always missed, even when I was surround by people). Only Lightning is useful, as it target locks on 1 foes; but only 1 foe; it’s wasted on most regular enemies unless they have shields, or are wearing spiked armor. In addition, you can use your elemental powers near your army, and every troop in certain radius will also get elemental sword attacks.
Finally, is the war. Along the way, you can find and free captured Vikings. When the war finally begins, you will have a large army, and you will want to empower them with your elemental attacks. The map will show you things only you can do to turn the tide of battle. It actually feels like a massive battle (there is never any slowdown), and knowing it’s coming and increasing your army to decimate the enemy is incredibly fun.
Later, you will unlock dragons to aid you in the war effort. When you kill a boss on the battlefield, you will get a dragon medallion (you can only ever have 3 at one time). You can then summon the dragon as an air strike to attack a boss (for 2 dragon medallions) or a group of archers that your army can’t get to quickly, or at all (for 1 dragon medallion).
There are some video games that make you think just a small tweak here and there would make you not annoyed or angry. Viking seems to have addressed all of those minor problems that current video games still do not on occasion. I noticed these:
1) You start over at the beginning of the settlement when you die. You can do each one in less than 5-15 minutes, so there should be no complaining, as you should be smart enough to sneak around on occasion.
2) All Vases, Treasure Bags, & Chests glow; you can even see them in darkness and far, far away.
3) Every vase you destroy automatically places the money in your inventory; you don’t have to let the gold fall to the ground, then wander to pick it up.
4) Every single piece of treasure (no matter how minor) is auto-saved, so that even when you restart a mission, you don’t have to collect all the treasure in one play session.
5) Every conversation you’ve had is saved so you know what your missions and objectives are.
6) Once you talk to someone; that’s it, you can’t physically talk to them again (except with a few exceptions). This is easier because after a major event, you don’t have to worry about talking to everyone just to make sure something else has opened up.
Story: 10 out of 10
You never speak a single line of dialogue. This brings back the older ways of video games where they make the character not talk so you can put your own feeling into the game. Freya starts off in a loving and nurturing tone, but as the game progresses, she get more and more angry at different sights that have been conquered and destroyed, that she commands you to destroy the undead army sa if their veyr presence is an insult. you slowly realize you are just a tool for her, and nothing more.
Story Cons: The one story flaw is that I predicted the twist (not in the story, but in your heritage) in the first 5 minutes of the game; this is because the first person I talked to (a shaman with visions) stated too much of a hint. Another is Draken’s back story. You get it in the beginning of World 2, then he taunts you in the middle of the game. But, when you finally meet him, you go straight to the fight with no dialogue; and nothing happens after the fight; he vanishes forever. This is missing buildup and tension; this was a missed story opportunity.
Music: 8 out of 10
I don’t really remember the music too much, but the one thing I love, is that I don’t need a single subtitle. Every word is vocally recognizable, and nowhere does the music make it hard to hear what anyone is saying.
Challenge: 10 out of 10
The mix of hardcore battle attacks, logical stealth, and massive wars make a polished game that is also not too hard (I only played Normal mode so far). You have unlimited tries at each settlement. I also seemed to make the challenge on myself harder. If you free the Vikings from their cages, they will fight the undead with you, but any lone undead too far from the battle will simply disappear. I would make it a point to kill every enemy myself before opening the cages.
Fun: 20 out of 20
Nothing prevented me from playing this game, and only this game, until I completed it.
Control: 10 out of 10
The controls are varied, but they start small and build up; plus, you can practice all of them and get a feel for how they work. Nothing ever felt off or unbalanced about the controls.
Graphics: 6 out of 10
Eh, what do I say. The graphics look good outside, but you’ll be looking at a lot of the same characters again and again; even the end boss, though she looks different, has the same attack as most of Giants you encountered.
common enemy because you’ll have memorized by attack patterns.
Extras: 0 out of 10
Sadly, there are no extras to this game, not even any codes. There were some hidden skulls in 3 towns that you are forced to sneak into that are hidden as to make the stealth hard, but they don’t register. In fact, there are no trophies on the PS3 version of the game even though the XBOX game had Achievements.
+ 5 Making Video Game Mechanics / Cliches Actual Story Point
The vases you destroy with gold in them are the villagers that escaped before the undead Vikings attacked, and hoped that one day they would return home to start their life anew. The radar is actually an amulet given to you by Freya to find your way, in addition to pinpointing important people to talk to, treasure, and major locations. The undead Vikings still hoard gold even though they cannot use it because their greed follows them into the afterlife.
+10 Making Stealth Work
The game isn’t entirely stealth based, but the times it is, it feels realistic and it isn’t out of place. You wouldn’t go straight into the enemies front door and fight 100 enemies by yourself would you? You can try.
-2 Forgotten Game Mechanic
At one point you will find yourself stuck and unable to progress (at just the first world, no less). It is not stated anywhere in the game or in the manual, but you can actually climb vines that are covering a wall.
Total Points: 76 out of 90
Nothing else to say. I think this game has been vastly underrated and not given enough chance. I would love to see a sequel, or at least a spiritual sequel.
There are a few small glitches here and there, but they never do anything and are mainly just fun to seek out. Once, I waited for a traveling group of 60 undead to wander into town at the exact moment I freed my captured Viking breather. However, the Vikings went straight into standing and walking mode and did not help me fight; I was immediately killed. On my next life, I found that you only had to free the city for the entire group to just disappear.
Another glitch is rare, but you can make it happen. When an enemy is dying if you wait until he is about to disappear, and attack him with the death kill as some of him is still on screen (right before the Square button vanishes) you will initiate a slow-motion cinematic death attack against absolutely nothing.
Here, watch another trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBPM-iqAzxQ