Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Sega Viking: Battle for Asgard
- Delivers satisfying hack-and-slash action; interesting premise; solid presentation
- Shallow, repetitive gameplay; minor bugs
Viking's bloody hack-and-slash action undoubtedly holds appeal, yet the shallow, repetitive nature of its gameplay keeps it from being more than an amusing trifle.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
The Vikings were doers, not talkers. Take this treasure, grab this woman, invade this land – no questions asked. That spirit comes across smashingly in Viking: Battle for Asgard, an unapologetic button-mashing action game that delivers a good dose of frenzied violence. Unfortunately, the repetitive combat and shallow gameplay keeps it from attaining combat perfection.
Glad of War
Embellishing upon established Norse mythology, Viking chronicles the bitter war between Freya, the goddess of love, and Hel, queen of the underworld. You step into the furry boots of Skarin, a warrior anointed by Freya to confront the evil army led by her nemesis Hel. Resentment for being cast out of Asgard has spurned a seething hatred in the underworld queen, which has fuelled her dark war on the earthly realm of Midgard; it's up to you to step in and put an end to her devious machinations.
As action game premises go, it's not half bad and it gets Viking off to a fantastic start. The sad part is that much of that initial energy wanes once the monotony of the action sequences set in. Nearly all of your time is spent wandering the wide open levels tracking down warriors – you have to recruit members to your ever-expanding army in order to launch an all-out offensive on Hel's bases – and hacking enemies to bits. The combat quickly degenerates into a button-mashing exercise as smashing the face buttons works just fine against most foes. Advanced moves, which are purchased using gold found on your travels, enable you to more easily dispatch tougher enemies but they're basically unnecessary as liberal use of the A and X buttons will get you through the game with little problem.
No Gallows Dirt
We were more impressed by the gory fatalities that resulted in chopped off arms, severed legs, and rolling heads – if there is one thing Viking does right, it's in the visceral gore department. The game also sports some impressive visuals: the grand set pieces that serve as the battlegrounds are stunning and the sight of seeing hundreds of units thrust into bloody battles is rather satisfying.
The action does deliver its fair share of thrills, but its repetitive and simple nature quickly wears thin. Dismemberments and decapitations lose their cool quickly as well – see if you can get excited after you've beheaded your hundredth enemy. The epic battles that cap each level are exciting but they occur far too infrequently. A climactic battle that lasts five minutes isn't very appealing when you have to spend a couple hours monotonously battling low-level enemies to get to it. Viking's bloody hack-and-slash action undoubtedly holds appeal, yet the shallow, repetitive nature of its gameplay keeps it from being more than an amusing trifle.
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