Viking: Battle for Asgard
You only have to mention the word fantasy and a lot of people will immediately think of elves and orcs. Yet the word fantasy consists of more than just these things and Creative Assembly had the same thought about it. Instead of sissy men and green beasts, we get tough vikings and hellish armies! Can this game hold its ground against the competition or is it better to avoid it?
Viking: Battle For Asgard is the latest game of Creative Assembly and get its inspiration from the Nordic mythology. Main character of the game is Skarim and to give the story a good start you get killed in the first minute by a demon from Hell! Luckily you have the nordic goddess Freya watching over you and before you know it, you’re her new champion. From that moment on your mission is to help the vikings of Midgard and push back the armies from Hell.
The first thing you notice when you enter the game is that there are no forced routes to follow. You will of course have to do certain objectives to advance the story, but nothing stops you from checking the other side of the island first. In the end you will have to complete all the objectives, as otherwise you cannot start the large battles at the end of each island. You will visit three of those and all of them have a couple of towns that you need to free. To launch an attack on one of these towns, you need sufficient troops and resources. The gathering of these is usually the same. You look for an enemy camp, hack your way through the hostiles and break open the prison gate. The vikings will then help you cleanse the area and if you succeed they’ll join you in your attack. There are some exceptions in getting troops and that is by doing an ambush on an enemy battalion, but these objectives can be counted on one hand.
The camps can vary from small outposts to conquered saw mills or mines. The largest part of the objectives is freeing these locations and the vikings within, so halfway the second island you might start to get a bit irritated by it. Then again, in race games all you do is race and in FPS games all you do is shoot, so you’re either a fan of stuff like this or you’re not.
To free the vikings you’ll need to spill a lot of blood and this is one of the highlights of the game. It seems the developers must’ve played a lot of God of War, because the decapitations and amputations remind you immediately of that game. Every time an enemy is almost dead, you will be able to do a finishing move on him. This can be chopping off his limbs or cutting his body in half. With the larger enemies you will have to do a button sequence as we know it from God of War, which is definitely not a bad thing.
Besides these finishing moves, you will be able to learn several combat techniques. These go from sneaking up to an enemy and chopping off his head without getting noticed to a move in which you hack and slash your enemies seven times in a row. All these moves will cost you gold, but this won’t be a problem since the islands are littered with chests and urns full of coins. The game is still fantasy based, so it’s normal that there will be some magic. While it is limited it does serve its purpose. You will be able to enhance your weapon with ice, fire or lightning. The nice thing about this is that you will also be able to enhance your troops with these powers. Nothing is more fun than seeing your army shatter all opposition.
On specific times you will have to infiltrate the occupied cities and while it is nice to have a bit of stealth in the game, it is quite flawed. You only have to be seen once and you got half the garrison of the city after you, and with that i don’t mean a couple of defenders but hundreds of heavily armed guards! Besides that you will also have to do some platform stuff like climbing or jumping. Still these two elements are not a major part of the game and are mostly used to add a bit of variety to the game.
Another key feature are the sieges and these are really entertaining. Probably everyone has played a game in which you are fighting a war, but only get a couple of soldiers… well in this game you don’t get a dozen troops, but hundreds!
The sieges are actually large scale battles in several phases. You always start ouside the gates and you must work your way up to the center of the town to kill the leader. On each side of the battlefield there are shamans and one of the conditions to win is to kill the enemy shamans before your forces are overrun by the defenders. Besides your normal troops, you will also be able to get help from dragons, but don’t expect something extremely overpowered. By killing enemy shamans and other high ranking enemies you can collect runes. With these you can summon the dragons to assist you in the siege. Except that, you can only attack specific targets which means mostly blowing up enemy shamans or putting an entire batalion of archers on fire.
The graphics of the game are with their time. You can visit the entire island and all its cities without one loading screen, which is quite impressive if you see the visuals. The enemies and vikings mostly look the same, but this is not really a surprise if you’re generating battles with hundreds of soldiers. If they had to give each soldier a different look, the graphics would’ve been a lot less impressive. The bloody fights are also impressive and nothing is more fun than ramming your sword multiple times in the head of alieutenant, while the blood keeps gushing out!
The sound is only partially ok. During your roaming around, you will hardly hear any music, but during the sieges it is completely the opposite. Heart pounding music will make you feel like a real hero and you will hear your soldiers calling out to you for help or for giving you advice. The sound effects of the magic and weapons are all very decent and make the right sound when you hit an enemy.
Is this game a classic then? No, sadly it isn’t. While the game is very relaxing to play, it also has some negative points. As mentioned you are fighting with the vikings against the armies of Hell, but you will hardly get to know more than that. Skarim himself never speaks and most of the major characters are killed the second time you encounter them.
Replayability is also a problem, mostly because of the auto-save system. Since you are forced to use it, you can only replay the first and second island if you completely restart it. The chances are high you won’t play the game again soon after having completed it. Another downside is that there is no co-op or multiplayer function. In the past there have been games in which you could fight as a leader of an army against other players, and it’s sad to see nothing like that is included.
Viking: Battle For Asgard is a very refreshing game, but because of its negative points no classic. Still i would recommend the game to everyone who wants to play in a full scale war. Let’s hope there will be sequel and if they can get rid of the negative points, then we can talk about a classic!