2008-12-07 21:54:08

Viking (Xbox360)

I know I say that I'm a sucker for a lot of things, now don't mistake me for being a complete sucker for all things. There are just a lot of game genres that excite me and a lot of concepts that do as well. Sadly there's also many many ways to fuck them up, so be thankful, if there I didn't have such a broad enjoyment of games, and if developers didn't fuck them up. Where would we be? you'd be reading or ebaums world or some shit, and I'd be selling crack out of my basement..

Norse mythology, full of heroes, and villians, much like any other mythology, but certainly one less travelled by. I'm a sucker for Vikings and things with a viking flavor. Sadly the last Viking oriented game I remember was Rune. Rune was a Unreal Engine title where you played a dude with 3 different weapon types who happened to be selected by Odin to smack the shit out of Loki and his band of merry disasters. You had a Mace, a Axe, and a Sword(plus shield) and you could switch between the weapons fairly quickly, and as the game progressed you got bigger and bigger versions of each weapon. It was fun, it was ridiculous(especially when you have like 7 of every weapon and you could cycle through each of them as if they all just magically fit on your back.) and best of all you could drink mead from a stein to replenish health and smash the stein to the ground in a manly pose. It was a very decent viking game, you even got to cross the rainbow bridge into Valhalla at the end.

Enter Viking: The Battle for Asgard. The artwork looked pretty good, the battles immense, but would it work out to be a successor to the viking throne to replace Rune? When I started out I was greeted by Skarin, your character who wears your typical fantasy barbarian garb, that is to say no chest armor(would just get in the way of my oversized man tits... er. pecs.) a couple of wolf skins for boots loosely tied around my brickish feet, and a pair of pants. I'm wielding an Axe, and a Sword, both blood encrusted, and this dangling thingie Freya gave me so I wouldn't get lost on the path to pure ownage. resigned I went about talking to all the green dots on my map. I'm presented with some details about what areas the Legion has taken over on the island, and also a quest to gather as many Mead kegs as possible. I later find out that I cannot partake in the mead I supply, fucking. LAME.

All of the levels are similar, with exception of island 1 being short and sweet, the rest go in a path of: 1. Free Vikings, 2. Free Supplies, 3. Sneak into middle level base for some purpose. 4. Loose army on middle base. 5. Summon Dragon. 6. free more Vikings. 7. Supercharge Weapon. 8. Beat final battle. Now this isn't to say this consistency isn't good, the game is very solidly built in regards to helping nudge you along, there are very few instances where I had to wander around the countryside looking for that last possible clue as to what to fight.

Battle in Viking is done with a variety of moves much like most other adventure style games, you have a fast attack key, and a slow attack key and modifier keys and a jump key, you learn moves by paying money to dead vikings in the arena to practice the skills. by the end of the game I had almost learned 100% of the moves. I probably could have gotten the last skill if I hasn't spent money on consumable weapons(fire pots for bombing and throwing axes). As you beat on your opponents eventually you'll weaken them enough to land a finisher, displayed by a blue X on the screen. hitting that X button at that time will typically chop the head off, or the head and arms, or cut the torso clean in two. All in slow motion, definitely setting this game to be a very macho body splitting blood letting viking game. That's good game design. couple this with monsters that all behave differently and you have very engaging combat. From the shield bearers you have to destroy their shields to attack, to the horn blowers who will summon forth all enemies in hearing range to kill you off, to the berserkers who are weak but fast, assassins who suprise and jump onto your face, there is just no lack of combat strategy needed to win. Never even on normal did I not feel challenged.

But enough praise, it's time to get down to the business that Raging Geek is known for, it's time to gut this pig and review it's disgusting innards. First of all, like any other game in the genre, it's got quick time events, QTE's as most people call them. only this game takes it way way way into the land of the retarded. See while the quick time events used to kill a Hel's Champion, or a Giant make sense and aren't completely retarded. Every other QTE in this game is. Anytime you want to interact with a non-character object in game it's the same sequence of events. let me stress this ANYTIME YOU INTERACT. That means if you want to use the teleportation of the Leystones, or stick a key in a lock and turn it, or turn a wheel to lower a drawbridge, or rip the gates off a prison to free your comrades. It's the same thing, rapidly tap the B button 50 times a minute until the game things you've done it enough. I realize part of this is to force a delay in which undefeated legion might then sucker punch the player, but still they could still do that by having it take time while the enemy sneaks up. I don't need to wear out my B key on my limited edition controller assholes.

Another thing that can get annoying is battles that feature more than 1 incredibly challenging component, and it doesn't quicksave after defeating one of them, but I can overlook this one as it's a design choice that makes the game more difficult, but it was certainly frustrating in the end game when I had to redo the same section for an hour before finally killing all the bad guys in the region.

The only other real major complaint I would have is that weapons in game are very generic. You go through the process of upgrading the weapons you use twice, and you also enscribe runes on them up to 4 times, but none of the times you do this do your weapons change. Your weapons look the same when you first start the game as they will when you beat the game. Typical gamer logic dictates that as you battle your hated enemies your weapons grow in strength, and this strength is given a reassuring nudge via a change in graphics. Almost every single game in history uses this practice. Ninja Gaiden did it, Devil May Cry does it by giving you a variety of weapons, Hell even fighting games do it these days. Give us something to look at other than the same back of the same greased up Viking with the same Axe and Sword with the same blood streaks on them throughout the entire 3 island game.

Over all it's not a terrible viking game, it is a mediocre adventure game however. The battles do a good job of capturing the utter chaos of the battleground(it's easy to get lost in a sea of your men vs their men.) but you end up with these dragons which you can only use by earning dragon runes which you get from defeating key legion characters, which can then be used to attack strategic points. Which while good leaves me wondering why these dragons are so fickle that they need to see me waste a dude heinously before they say okay I'll go nuke the Shaman now kthxbye.

Reason Rank
Start 10
Omg I chopped that dudes arms off +5
Quick Time Events -15
No visible weapon upgrades -5
LotR epic battles




I give this title a 3/10 What it does right it does really well, but what it fucks up is almost game breakingly annoying. I'm real tired of pressing B, so I'm glad this game is going to B in B the B mail B tomorrow B.