Developer: Creative Assembly
Release Date: 3/25/2008
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The Good: Lots of gore, well balanced overall, huge worlds, forgiving difficulty
The Bad: Gets repetitive for some, too few animations, too short, the game is missing a few key elements
I just played Viking anyway because it was getting great user reviews, and I’m glad I listened. Viking may not have much story, it may be repetitive sometimes, and the graphics may not outdo every game out there, but it’s just fun! The story is something about a Viking clan battling the Legion over who gets Asgard. While the story fills you in here and there it’s confusing, and pointless. The game consists of lots of hacking and slashing, and Viking takes this literally. You can lop off heads, slice torsos in half etc all in detailed gore. The levels you explore are HUGE and thanks to the “Leystone” warp system it makes things easier. While you travel around the 3 huge islands you discover these Leystones and they let you warp about.
The game is built around missions that are easily located on your map so you’ll NEVER get lost, yet gives you the challenge to find the right hidden paths. Some missions have you sneaking into places (it works), and you can perform stealth kills (more on the upgrade system soon) to sneak in quietly. What I loved was that you never get lost sneaking into these HUGE bases so trial and error doesn’t exist. The paths are easily laid out for you, but you have to search to find them. This is just another reason of how well balanced this whole game is.
You also have a magic system which lets you charge up your sword with either fire, ice, or lightning and you can lay waste to foes with this. I, personally, never used these much because the regular hits do just fine. You can use throwing axes, fire pots, and I also played through the WHOLE game without using one single healing potion. This doesn’t mean the game is easy it’s just that the game is so forgiving about checkpoints and the Leystone system just works so well. The best part about this game are the large scale battles. When you’ve gathered enough forces to raid each fort you engage battles with thousands of people on screen and you also have dragons helping you. This is where some RTS gameplay comes in. You have to kill Shamans in order to advance to the next part of the fort. You get “Rune stones” by killing enemies in red so your dragons can take out enemies.
Each type of enemy requires a certain number of rune stones. This makes the battles both easier, and more interesting. This game does have many faults. There is slow down in places you wouldn’t expect, and the framerate drops in the single digits. I felt like I was playing on an old computer sometimes. While the combat system is good it’s missing a dodge button. All of the abilities you learn are well balanced, but some can’t be performed right due to enemy cheap shots.
The graphics are nice, but are repeated over and over and aren’t anything unique. The sound is pretty scarce (GS did get that right). There is only good music during massive battles. The game is pretty short closing in on 10 hours. I also can’t help but mention that the game felt like parts of other games. The exploration felt like Oblivion while the combat felt like Lord of the Rings and certain “button sequences” were ripped straight from God of War. These aspects are welcome but aren’t done as well as said games. This game is a great weekend rental, but nothing more.