Viking: Battle for Asgard

There’s a lot about Viking that will seem instantly familiar. You play a mortal, chosen by the Gods to bring down Hel, Goddess of Death and her undead army. The quest sees you journey across three free-roaming islands, liberating enslaved Vikings to swell your armies and re-capture key cities as you make your way to Hel’s fortress and stop the destruction of Asgard, home to the Gods.

The game is, in essence, a hack-and-slash – and a gory one at that, with slow-motion finishing moves showing arms, heads and entire torsos removed from the parts that they should be attached to. Tacked onto the basic gameplay mechanic is the open-world idea, which doesn’t quite work as well in practice as it does on paper. You can go where you want but, because every area on the map is critical to continuing the story, you feel cheated. Especially when you realise that practically every point on the map requires you to butcher all of Hel’s forces and free your warriors from something that looks like a wooden ribcage.

Other parts of the game require you to sneak into enemy held cities to steal something, usually to convince someone you’ve freed that you’re the real deal. These stealth sections are a good contrast to the fighting missions, with one false move bringing you to the attention of the whole enemy force – and a fairly certain death. This is kind of Splinter Cell with all the finesse stripped off – if you’ve drawn your weapons you’ve been spotted, if not you’re fine.

Once you’ve met all the conditions of the island – usually to free all the Vikings and summon a dragon using magic stones – you then get to lead an assault on the main city to claim them back. While this sounds good on paper, it’s just another fighting section. To add some variety, though, if you kill key targets during the assault you are rewarded with dragon runes. Once you have enough runes you can call on your dragons to attack decisive areas of the battlefield – saving you the trouble of having to hack your way through more undead warriors. This additional feature of the battles does work to break up the monotony, and is genuinely fun for the first few times, at least.

The repetitive gameplay is one of the major downsides of the game. Despite being given two attack buttons (A and X), and the option to learn more complex moves at the arena, you can make it through practically the whole game just mashing A. Every now and again you’ll come across a larger enemy which requires Quick Time Event style button presses (once you’ve worn them down a little) and it’s round about then that you realise why the whole game is so familiar.

It wants to be God of War. The QTEs, the need to repeatedly press B to open a chest (or do pretty much anything else), and even the storyline seem to have been heavily influenced by the PS2 classic. If the developers had left it at that we’d be laughing, but the stealth and RPG elements added to the mix makes a slightly inedible game-cake.







4 responses to “Viking: Battle for Asgard”

  1. Tony avatar

    From your description of the button mashing and the God-killing, it sounds like they should have called it “Dynasty of War(riors)”

  2. Jake avatar

    Someone had mentioned it being similar to Dynasty Warriors on a forum I looked at. I never saw the similarity, possibly because I’d spotted the God Of War style stuff early on… other people compared it to Two Worlds – I really couldn’t see where that was coming from!

  3. James avatar

    From the review im thinking ‘Spartan Total Warrior’ actually. Similar to dynasty warriors but a bit more epic and minus some of the lifespan.

    Tis probably a good reason though, this IS the almost spiritual sequel to the game anyway (same makers).

  4. Claire avatar

    Hmmm, the only similarity to God Of War imho is the QTE events and GoW didn’t invent that.

Leave a Reply