Forgotten Game Greats: "Viking: Battle for Asgard" (2008)
- by Ninja Ross, 28 January 2016
Vikings! Not the type with thick, luxurious hair and stupid Chris Hemsworth! Real Vikings with axes and scars and stuff. They were cool, right? They raped, pillaged, sacrificed people to their Gods and all that. When are we ever going to see somebody like that in Avengers? Maybe in the edgy reboot! But for now, we have the underappreciated “Viking: Battle for Asgard” to remind us how cool Vikings were.
While there's no raping and pillaging as such, “Viking” followed a character by the name of Skarin as he fights the forces of Hel on behalf of Freya and all the other friendly Gods.
Plagued by visions all his life, Skarin is often shunned by his fellow Vikings as a bit of a nut. Until Freya gets in touch through said visions to enlist his help in stopping Hel, daughter of Loki, from unleashing Ragnarok, ending the Gods.
As Skarin, you have to take down the armies of Hel by building an army of his own, freeing and uniting his fellow Vikings, before leading them into several huge battles with Hel's minions.
It's a very minimal story. Skarin builds his powers, both physical and supernatural, and eventually finds a way to use dragons in battle. That's as deep and interesting as the story gets.
But the gameplay is what's important here; Viking: Battle for Asgard is an open world game full of Viking lore and things to kill. It's your job to chop monsters to bits and claim their camps for your own.
There are camps and settlements scattered over the three islands within the game. You have to infiltrate each one, kill everything involved and claim the place for your own. While you are more than welcome to try going in swords swinging, the game encourages you to take the stealthier approach. And since these places are nearly always full of enemies, it's usually a good idea.
The stealth mechanics are far from revolutionary; most of the time is spent sneaking up behind enemies and ripping them to bits. But this is more fun than you can possibly imagine. The amount of enemies and their patrols means getting spotted is insanely easy. One wrong turn or just a second's hesitation could mean an enemy finding you and calling for back up.
But a lot of focus in this game is on the epic battles, featuring countless vikings and enemies beating the shit out of each other, with Skarin in the middle. You'll have to use every combo and ability you've picked up to get through these.
The game doesn't hold back, you will be surrounded by bad guys firing arrowns and charging at you with swords. While it'll kill your thumbs, it's also incredibly satisfying when you overwhelm the enemies and claim victory. And, obviously, this gets better with dragons. Dragons don't give a fuck, they'll blow all kinds of stuff up for you.
Each island has its own main fortress, full of nastiness. You'll have to weaken their defences by taking down other settlements on that island and performing different tasks, like freeing quarry workers who can help build weapons or finding captured warriors in the open world.
But you'll also come across smaller missions, like ambushing a patrol or hunting down small groups of monsters for money or aid. Plus, learning new combos from the Gods to help you remove limbs in even more stylish ways.
The game is also great to look at. Developer The Creative Assembly created something pretty handsome and it was one of the better looking games in 2008 when it was published by Sega (SEGA of all people). The brutality looks great, with blood and body parts flying all over the place. But the game world also looks fantastic, full of life and colour while still keeping plenty of grey and misery involved to create atmosphere and tone.
But it's not all great, the game suffers from a lack of things to do in such a huge world. A lot of areas seem blank and lifeless and when you do come across something that moves, it's usually just another group of the same enemy type you found a few minutes ago guarding some treasure. However, it's always satisfying to take down a large group of paroling bad guys.
While the lack of human sacrifices may disappoint some gamers, it’s still a very rich Viking experience for anyone sick of the overly clean Marvel version of Vikings we seem to be stuck with right now. Despite its flaws, Viking: Battle for Asgard is a lot of fun and well worth revisiting.
Have you played "Viking: Battle for Asgard"? Do you remember it fondly? Let us know in the comments!