Viking: Battle for Asgard

Moby ID: 34447
Xbox 360 Specs
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In Viking: Battle for Asgard, the player takes control of Skarin, a Norse warrior recruited by Freya, Goddess of war. He is the chosen champion to fight the goddess Hel, daughter of Loki, Norse god of mischief. She had been banished from Asgard, the gods' kingdom Asgard after defying the rule of Odin, and plans to release Fenrir, a wolf-god who said to bring about Ragnarok, an apocalypse that will bring down Asgard and the gods. The game takes place in the mortal world of Midgard.

There are over one hundred different combat and melee moves that will lead to dismemberment of opponents in battles which can number into enemies up to the hundreds at a time. Skarin can also call upon dragons to attack his enemies or transform his enemies into werewolves to turn against his opponents.

Skarin can also free captured warriors to help him in quest to destroy Hel and her warriors, including giants, shamans and Hel's own warrior champions. Skarin can slaughter wave after wave of enemies or can target certain individuals to demoralize the enemy armies. There are different island with a large amount of freedom. Different cities and settlements can be raided and the missions on each island finish off with a large-scale battle with huge armies.

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349 People (342 developers, 7 thanks) · View all

Developed by
  • The Creative Assembly
Senior Producer
Lead Programmer
Art Director
Lead Artist
Associate Producer
Lead Engine Programmer
Code
Additional Code
Environment Art Group Lead
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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 69% (based on 88 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 19 ratings with 1 reviews)

Like "Brutal Legend Lite" it is!

The Good
The only reason I heard of this game is because I noticed it among the games in one of my Xbox friend's games list. Frankly, I'm glad I saw it in there and was curious enough to seek it out. It's a pretty good hack-n-slash game.

Viking: Battle For Asgard, as it is, should have been called "Battle for Midgard" as it takes place entirely upon Midgard (which was the Earth in old Norse mythology, Asgard was the home of the gods). At any rate, Midgard is being overrun by demons and monsters led by the Norse deity Hel. You play as a brave viking warrior that another Norse deity, Freya, has seen fit to imbue with strength and powers to lead an army against the Hel's demons to retake the land in her name.

The gameplay is set up, quite surprisingly, like Brutal Legend. Players meander about in the world tackling small missions to prepare for some big ones. There are three large areas with all sorts of places to explore and missions to attend to. Typically, the set-up is that the player goes around killing demons, saving captured vikings, and liberating viking camps, homes, and other things. Each liberated area adds to the player's growing viking army, and lightens the the part of the world that's been freed (otherwise, it's drenched in a rainy or snowy darkness).

In this, there are two parts to the gameplay--solo exploration and liberating missions, where various tasks are completed to build the strength of the viking people is the main part of the game. The other part of the game deals with epic, impressively massive battles where the player leads his army to invade a demon stronghold. In other words, this has the same basic formula as Brutal Legend.

Like any modern hack-n-slash or beat-em-up, there are all sorts of combos and moves that can be learned and used in the game. There aren't as many moves here as in, say, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow or God of War, but at least what is here happens to be useful. Attacks and combos are typically easy to pull off, but be warned, this viking warrior doesn't initially handle with much speed or grace. When combos are unlocked, some faster attacks become available.

The world is awash in Leystones which are used as warp points, so typically, travelling from one place to another is never much of a hassle. Couple this with almost non-existent loading times between warps (or fast-travels, what have you), and this makes for a surprisingly smooth flow to the game.

Graphically, the game is good and generally pretty solid--though nothing really mind-blowing. There are occasional moments in the game with simply gorgeous vistas to see. The vikings tend to all look the same, as do the demons, but this is likely done to keep the game flowing smoothly during the huge battles. There are literally hundreds of characters moving and swarming onscreen at once, and all that sea of movement is impressive, even if everybody looks the same.

Once the quirks of the somewhat slow and cumbersome combat (from early in the game) are overcome, the combat gameplay, as it is, tends to be a lot of fun. Run around, hack, slash, execute--and liberate captured vikings. These segments are pretty enjoyable.

The biggest feature of this game is easily the battle sequences. There are about four of these in the game (hopefully I'm remembering correctly), and you'd be hard-pressed to dismiss the epic scale and awesome presentation of these moments. It felt like watching the battle sequences of the Lord of the Rings films. Huge numbers of vikings swarming in on huge numbers of demons. Dragons swooping in and destroying the crap out of groups of demons. Giant demons standing up and towering over the crowds, arrows flying through the air--these moments are pure gold. Though they may be light on strategic depth, they're still a fantastic sight and a great deal of fun.

The acting is decent, though there isn't a whole lot of it. Though, I have to question why all the vikings have British accents. Just having any accent just doesn't really work. Now, if they have to be speaking English (which makes sense to be released in the States), they could've at least tried to get the accents to be, you know, Scandinavian. That rant aside, the acting isn't bad, and the writing isn't either.

The writers do play around a bit with Norse mythology, but they do well with it and at least it isn't like when we see some Japanese studios run fast and loose with a given mythology that, in the end, is just bizarre. Take a look at Bayonetta, which seems like it's inspired by Christian mythology, but holy crap is it a bizarre interpretation.


The Bad
While new moves and combos can be purchased, there are two missions in the game where the player must venture to a certain location to upgrade the strength of his weapons. Near as I can tell, these missions accomplish nothing aside from giving the player something to do per the story. I noticed no change at all in weapon strength. Enemies took as many hits as ever to be killed. A guy that took five massive whacks to kill before... took five massive whacks to kill after the upgrade.

There also seemed to be some inconsistency between how many hits some enemies took to die. One enemy type may take five hits in one place, and two in another--and it's the same enemy type and I couldn't possibly figure what I did differently that affected how quickly it died.

Viking features some infiltration or stealth missions where the player is tasked with sneaking into an enemy stronghold to release the last necessary vikings, or finish the last little segment before being able to launch the full-scale assault. These are hair-pulling trials in patience. The areas that need to be infiltrated can be massive, and if you screw up and alert the bad guys to your presence, expect to be swarmed and killed often.

Death is just the beginning of the absurdity. Yes, the beginning. These areas are, as said, often massive and it can take forever to sneak through there to get to the objective. Any other mission or segment of the game takes, maybe, 15 minutes--tops. Most of these smaller liberation missions can be knocked off in 5 or 10 minutes. Sneaking into one of these places can linger into 30 minutes or more--without completing the objective--or even finding it.

And when you die? You spawn back at the main village, and when you make your way back to the infiltration mission--every killed enemy has returned. You're back to square one. Infiltrate from the outside, work your way through the interior of the area, desperately fight the same bad guys that you already killed before.

Now, I won't deny that I could've been over-thinking this--but the game also has a habit of being somewhat unclear as to what the next step is might be to progress. About half the information for missions or locations is delivered to the player from NPC's, and half is found by exploring the world. All the map screen really does is tell the player which known locations have missions remaining and which are complete.

This game also pulls no punches where combat is concerned. Far removed from some silly action movie where the hero is surrounded, then attacked one at a time by the group of bad guys. Here, expect to be grossly surrounded, surprisingly out-numbered, and dreadfully often--quite literally stabbed in the back. The enemies, for that matter, move at the same speed as our heroic viking warrior, so forget about running away and living to fight another day. You run, and you can expect to be hit in the back by swift-footed foes.

The infiltration missions also have a secondary element--a collection quest of sorts. Strewn throughout the areas to be infiltrated are a number of skulls that are collectibles for the sake of collectibles. They serve no other purpose aside from earning Achievements. Personally, I think Achievements are great--when used to simply record a gamer's successes and progress through games. They should never be a focus, the game and gameplay should be the focus. These in-game skull-hunting missions appeal only to Achievement hunters and are useless in the game, so here they are: They're pointless.

The camera can be a hassle in smaller locations.

The Bottom Line
Now, I easily compare Viking: Battle for Asgard with Brutal Legend because the basic concept is very similar. Roaming the landscape building an army alone, while accomplishing various important or side-missions (most of them here are necessary), and massive battle sequences, of which, Viking has about four.

The main differences between the two, if you're familiar with Brutal Legend is that Viking doesn't feature a single massive, generally open overworld. Viking takes place on three different maps, and the player cannot travel between them. When you finish one, you're done with it. Thankfully, there really is nothing to miss moving from one to the other--there's no reason to go back. On top of which, the world doesn't have anywhere near as many secrets scattered about as the world of Brutal Legend.

The other difference is that Brutal Legend's epic battle sequences were heavy on real-time strategy elements. Viking's battles feature only a few paltry decisions, mostly in the form of "send the dragons to destroy this," and that's about all. It's pretty simplistic. Eddie Riggs went from pounding on bad guys in the solo mode to giving orders, organizing troops during battles. During the battles in Viking, the player still goes about on the solo-style hack-n-slash affairs, this time totally crowded with demons and vikings.

On the audio front, this is a mixed bag. The general gameplay is average at best, with somewhat standard sound effects and forgettable ambient music (when there is music). For the most part, the sound effects don't have enough punch or "oomph" if you will. They're pretty weak and unimpressive through most of the game. During the battle sequences, however, the music and sound effects are suddenly cranked up to a Spinal Tap 11. The music is epic, the sound effects have that otherwise missing "oomph," and when the dragons swoop in and wipe out a bunch of guys, the audio presentation simply roars. It's like they had two different guys working audio for the two different parts of this game.

Now, I'm a huge Heavy Metal nerd and an even more massive gamer nerd. So, Brutal Legend really appealed to me (and I loved it), and this really is like "Brutal Legend Lite." Even in it's themes--Norse and viking mythologies are huge in Metal, and it's something in which I'm extremely interested (named my son for a Norse deity).

Viking's mythologies are pretty good, and the idea of a viking-themed beat-em-up or hack-n-slash really appeals to me. I like Norse mythology. I like hack-n-slash games. Hey, I'm sold. And Viking is a good game, though imperfect. In the end, it's a good game, but not a great game--and aside from the epic battle sequences, there was never a hint that the game was really intended for greatness, just "good enoughness" if you will.

Viking isn't all that long of a game. I plugged away at it and knocked it out in about 4 or 5 days of playing, maybe 15 hours or so. Frankly, it's the kind of thing that I like--games that get to be too long end up being forgotten in the long run, and become tiring to me. I like something that might be a bit shorter that I know I can finish and get my enjoyment and money's worth out of. And for what it's worth, long play time means nothing to me if I never finish the game.

Basically, if you liked Brutal Legend and wouldn't mind a somewhat simplified version of that particular game (if you missed this in the first place), then this is a good fix. It's a fun hack-n-slash, but the initial learning curve feels a bit sharp due to the initially cumbersome movement controls of the viking character. Overall, like I said, imperfect. But fun.

Xbox 360 · by ResidentHazard (3555) · 2011

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Game added by Big John WV.

Windows added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Starbuck the Third.

Game added June 22, 2008. Last modified January 6, 2024.