STAFF REVIEW of Viking: Battle for Asgard (Xbox 360)

Monday, April 28, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Viking: Battle for Asgard Box art Sega brings us the first Viking genre game on the 360, and they did a fairly nice job with it. You play as Skarin, a Viking given immortality by the Gods in order to fight against Hel and here Legion army. The game has a strategy feel along with the standard hack and slash style gameplay that provides just enough variety not to get overly repetitive at any point. You?ll come across times when button mashing is almost a must in order to stay alive. The biggest feature boasted by Sega is the epic battles. You?ll be able to lead an army of Vikings and dragons into battle at certain points during the game. Other than those times though, the rest of the game is hack and slash mixed with stealth moments.If you love blood and gore, then you will love the finishing moves and assasination moves performed by Skarin.

Camera angles can get a little bit clunky at times while trying to attack or even maneuver through tight spaces, but overall there wasn?t a major glaring issue. At times it seemed that button responses didn?t exactly coincide with what I was trying to do, but again nothing terrible or unplayable. The graphics themselves were good for the most part. At times there seemed to be some choppiness when you would have large amounts of legion warriors surrounding you and attacking, but again nothing unbearable. On the topic of sound, there is really nothing standing out about the game?s sounds. To me the sounds are basically what I would expect to hear, and the voice acting is ok. Not brilliant, but ok.

Without giving away too much, the storyline seemed to go very well throughout the game and seemed to be progressing to an epic finish. Unfortunately for me, I thought the story failed miserably in the end and was greatly disappointed in the outcome of things. At times throughout the game, the storyline did seem a little strange and certain moments seemed out of place as well. So if you are looking for a game with a dramatic and engrossing story, you may want to look elsewhere. This game is mostly about the gameplay.

You?ll travel across 3 islands which are broken up into sections. These sections contain tasks for you to complete. Most of the tasks are centered around clearing an area of the Legion forces. In the beginning of the game you don?t have much at your disposal other than your sword. You can obtain throwing axes from the local merchant, and can carry up to 3 on your person at a time. These axes can come in quite handy as they take out several legion when thrown into a group. You?ll also be able to purchase flame pots from the merchant, which in an essence are grenades that can hurled into legion crowds as well. The merchant also has the normal health packs and what not for sale.

As stated, you will start the game with a limited set of attacks and weaponry. As you progress through the game you will learn new attacks and have the ability to upgrade you weapon with gold found throughout the regions. Be sure to find all the gold you can as you explore since you?ll be needed a lot of it when learning special moves in the battle arena. The battle arena, one located in each of the three regions, allows you to learn new advanced attack maneuvers. You?ll be instructed to perform the task and once performed you?ll be granted the ability to use this move in battle. The moves cost you gold, and start small in price but range to 8000 gold for the final attack. Many of these abilities and maneuvers come in very handy throughout the game, so be sure to learn all you can early.

One of the moves you learn is a stealth attack that allows you to sneak up behind enemies and take them out without alerting their buddies nearby. You basically sneak up on the enemy and hit the ?X? button when prompted. To early or to late on the button and you risk being seen by the enemy. This attack comes in quite handy when infiltrating camps full of legion personnel as it allows you to deplete numbers silently before actually outright attacking the bases. Don?t be afraid to use the maneuver often as there will be times you regret running into a camp Rambo style and then find yourself swamped by every legion warrior in the vicinity.

As you progress through the regions you will find and rescue other Vikings which will be added to your Viking army. Finding these Vikings are crucial to completing each section of the vast world. We?ll discuss more on this shortly. You?ll be given tasks by the leaders of each Viking group rescued in order for them to commit to joining your fight against the Legion. Some of these taks include clearing out caves or camps of Legion and returning a Legion banner or flag as proof. As stated, once you begin to build up your numbers you will be allowed to summon your Viking army to help attack certain points in each map. By simply calling up your map, you can order and attack of a region. Your Viking friends will march into battle with you and help clear out the Legion at hand. This option is not available on every Legion encampment. Only at certain predetermined points of the map are you allowed to do this, and you can see this by calling up your map and looking to see if the option is available to you.

During these epic battles your Viking brethren will fight by your side and attack the legion on their own. Along the top left hand corner of your screen you will see your health bar, and then a red bar underneath. This red bar represents how much charge you have to release a power up on your weapon. You can power up your weapon using the upgrades purchased from the weapon specialist in each Viking base. You?ll be able to choose from 3 power ups: ice, Fire and Lightning. These attacks have multiple levels of upgrade but you can only upgrade them when the game allows you which seems to be linked to once per region with exception of the final region. When you power up your weapon during a Viking attack on the legion, all those Vikings in range of you will also have their weapons powered up for the duration of the power up cycle. Other than this power up, your attacks and the weapon at hand will be your only upgrades. Later in the story you will get another upgrade of your weapon, but it falls within the storyline so its not really anything you need to purchase or obtain.

Your ultimate goal in each of the three islands is to take back the main city under legion control. To do so, you?ll have to gain the ability to summon dragons. In the first city of Darkwater, you must charge a dragon stone and take it to a summoning point located in the lower portion of the map. Once you have charged your stone, and summoned your dragon you will now be able to order and attack of on the legion inhibiting the city of Darkwater. When you attack a city with your Viking army, the dragon will accompany you and will follow your commands to attack certain points on the battlefield. Your primary objective is to destroy the Legion Shamans to end the battle. The dragons attack is only available when you have dragon stones available. As you defeat Legion Champions, Giants and Shaman you will gain Dragon stones to launch more dragon attacks. Each target will tall you how many dragon stones are needed for an attack when viewing your map. While all this is taking place, your Viking brethren will continue to fight and destroy the legion until no Shaman is remaining. Each of the three regions allows you to summon a dragon which in the end gives you 3 dragons at your side for the final battles. Sounds great huh? Well, unfortunately even with more dragons you still only had one command as you did when you only had one dragon. So having more dragons doesn?t really benefit you at all.

Overall, the game was enjoyable to play. Difficult and frustrating at times, especially some of the areas where it was key to use stealth to infiltrate Legion camps and achieve a goal. But after some trial and error, and mapping out your plan of attack or non attack for that matter, you can always get through a map. The maps were vast and the tasks to complete were many in the end. The game itself will probably only take around 6 hours to completely finish which may make it more of a rental than a purchase for some folks. Viking offers to levels of difficulty for you to play, and the higher difficulty does add a bit of a challenge, but its not overly difficult and may actually in fact not be considered difficult by advanced gamers. I think the game could have benefit more from a deeper leveling up, a stronger storyline, and possibly a wider variety of weaponry. Again, good game and I would recommend anyone to play it, but it does seem to be lacking in some areas.

I would have definitely liked to have seen some more upgrading with the weapons, and possible a variation in weapons available other than the typical sword and axe combination. I would have also liked to have seen a leveling up system for your character rather than just the advanced moves that you purchased and extra health. Finally, something just wasnt right with the story, especially in the end. I felt extremely disappointed by the final cut scene and almost robbed if you will of my time. Overall, I had fun with the game but it was lacking in a few things such as those I mentioned.

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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