Friday, 20 January 2012

Halls of Valhalla

So I just finished Viking: Battle for Asgard and I decided I'd give my view on it.

To start with I love vikings, anything with Norse mythology or influences and I'm there, Rune: Viking Warlord, Mount & Blade, Nords in Elder Scrolls, Beowulf The Movie The Game for video games and 13th Warrior, Pathfinder, Beowulf, Beowulf and Grendal, Valhalla Rising for movies, in the long and short of it I love Norse things. It was the reason I got Viking: Battle for Asgard and even with all the bad reviews I had read I went into this thinking, 'I'm going to love this!', pity I was wrong.

Ok so to start with, you play Skarin,a viking warrior with a shrouded past, who fell in battle then was brought back from death to be the chosen champion of Freya ( Or Freyja to be more exact. ), Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, magic, gold, death and war. As her champion you are recruited to fight Hel, the goddess of the underworld and Loki's daughter's army of Hell-spawn and stop her bringing about the Ragnarok by her releasing Fenrir the wolf who would start the end of the gods and destroy Asgard the realm of the gods.

The game is a hack and slash in an open world environment, but also has stealth elements which seem to be unneeded in my view because to be honest it just doesn't work that well, by the time you sneak up on an enemy they have normally turned and seen you, by then you're charging in to hack him to pieces, plus you're a viking they weren't exactly known for being sneaky. The controls are good, but then again it's hard to screw that up, though I admit blocking never seems to do much, as you can block everything but end up just being swamped and unable to get out the unending block cycle even with your push from it or dodge, though dodging is good, it works on the big heavy enemies. You get Runes for your weapons which use a 'mana' bar powered by red orbs, this is a good way to deal with your enemies but best used with a full bar or it just runs out on you so quickly, these come in three flavors, Ice which well freezes your enemies on hit or can be released to freeze those around you then let you shatter them more easily the higher the level, second is Fire which well burns your enemy and can be released in a burst of flame around you, obviously the higher the level the rune gets the more it burns and hurts the enemy, finally lightning which shocks your enemy on hit and basically does a little damage over time but just there for smack damage, you can release it's power in a bolt of energy.

Ok, I mentioned red orbs and now you're either thinking 'God of War rip off!' and I will admit yes it pretty much is in a more open area, also it has my "favorite" thing in a game, quick time events! JOY! Well I'll be honest these QTE's are at least some what forgivable as they don't randomly change, like God of War which I will say now, the QTE battle with Zeus at the end of GoW2 just pissed me off to no end.

You get your basic hack and slash combos, the two to four hit then heavy attack and your special 'rage' attack which gives you like a mad hack up combo or a massive one hit shield breaker type move. Beyond that you get items, but they're basically useless, apart from the healing potion, which helps a lot as the green healing orbs are so rare to come from the hell-spawn corpses. The other two items are a throwing axe, which I used once and it did bugger all damage so gave up with that, the other is a grenade item vial of napalm type substance that bathes what it hits in flame and a few others around it but also that doesn't do a lot.

The games relatively short at only three levels long, and all are around the same basic thing, save vikings in cages or tied to stick, get the dragon amulet, summon a dragon, do the big war part after getting the dragon or save an area do a quest for them to mix it up, there are no real bosses before you get to Hel, so I don't have much to say on the story beyond Freya tells you to save vikings, recruit dragons and beat Hel's forces. Though I do feel that Freya gets a bit bloody thirst at the end. The fight with Hel annoyed me, it's in two stages the first is to break some pillars and fight of hordes of enemies who you can knock into the flame walls around the pillar sections, after you have two of the four pillars down enemies will spawn more frequently with harder ones added in, but nothing you can't beat with knock into flames. Once the pillars are down you kill off more small enemies while waiting for Hel to turn into a large grotesque monster who is essentially the giants you fight earlier in the game, with a fire breath. Essentially you just stay at her arse and beat up her legs till a button prompt appears on screen for a longer than normal QTE. Don't you love bosses who you finish with a QTE?


So the ending, well after killing Hel, Skarin goes before Freya and asks to be released from his bound and made mortal once more so he can prove himself worthy of Valhalla. Freya then denies him this, going back on her deal and this annoys me as in all these games that deal with gods, the gods end up being utter bastards and betraying the ones they made promises to. So in his anger Skarin decides to release Fenrir bringing about Ragnarok, so much for stopping Hel! It ends saying that though the gods are dead and humanity now leads a life of free will, the essence of the gods still live in them. Which just hit the 100 on the cheese-o-meter.

So what do I feel on this game? Let down, I hoped for something better and got well something that feels unfinished or rushed out and crammed with things that didn't need to be in it, but I picked this up in a two for thirty pounds at my local game station, pre-owned, so fifteen quid it's a budget title, it'll give you some enjoyment I guess, just don't get it expecting a great game, it's pretty average.

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