Thursday, April 24, 2008

Xbox 360 - Viking: Battle for Asgard Review

Viking: Battle for Asgard by Sega

Viking is, simply, a third person shooter (minus the guns, add blades/swords). The idea is that enemy 'Legion' have taken over Asgard by Hel. Freya commands your character to battle to win back Asgard.


For a third person shooter, the gameplay is okay, but not great, until you get to the final battle. Then it sucks royally. Basically, on the lesser levels your character, Skarin, has to free troops that have been captured by the legion and add them to your number to win several smaller 'castle' battles. There are three islands and each island has 'boss castle' levels that you must complete before you can reach Hel. The smaller battles, unfortunately, are nothing like Hel's battle at the end.

With the smaller battles, the rules are to take out the 'shaman' who spawn more soldiers. Once you take out the shaman, the legion can't add more forces. So, they eventually concede once you call your shaman to the pillars. Then, your shaman calls an end to the battle.

The rules are simple. There are 5 swords (or something) stuck into the ground around each shaman. First, eliminate the swords, then that allows you to eliminate the shaman. Of course, there are tons of legion soldiers trying to hammer on you as you do this.

Eliminating the shaman (usually three per castle and then maybe another two or three in a bit farther) isn't the easiest task, but it's easier than Hel's battle. Once you eliminate a shaman, you receive a dragon rune. These runes can be used to call the dragons to hit strategic targets (such as the shaman). The problem is, you only get 3 total runes per level and it uses 2 runes to eliminate a shaman.

Player movement

Skarin is slow. And by slow, I mean S L O W. You can't outrun anything. All of the legion soldiers are faster than you. Worse, there's no way to get speed potions or anything to aid in this aspect.

Skarin also has combos. The combos work great in open spaces. Unfortunately, they don't work well in small confined spaces (especially where there are ledges or fire). If your combo happens to lead you off of a cliff ledge or into fire, the AI isn't smart enough to stop you. It just lets Skarin fall or catch on fire. This is extremely annoying. Worse, Skarin must complete the entire combo move before you have control of him again. There's no way to abort a combo once it has started.

Skarin also has no way to target any specific enemy. If you happen to be pointing in the general direction and it's the only enemy there, you'll hit them. If there are three or four enemies in the path, then it randomly picks a target. This is ok, when the enemy is legion, but it completely sucks when you're trying to eliminate one of the shaman swords because the game ALWAYS locks onto a legion soldier over a sword. This can lead to lots of Skarin death/restarts.

Skarin's Deaths

Once Skarin dies, you are taken back to the beginning of a checkpoint somewhere. The problem is, the system doesn't alert you to where the checkpoints are. So, you have no idea where you'll end up when Skarin dies. Sometimes it's only a few steps from where you were. However, most times, you have to traipse over half the level before you get back to where you where. It's just very random and extremely annoying.

Alternatively, when you quit and then start up again, you start up in your 'home city' rather than at the last thing you were doing.

System Map

While there is a map, this map is almost completely useless. The map doesn't show any topography that makes sense. So, when you look at the map, you can't make heads of tails of what's high and what's low. The only point to the map is when you use Leystones to do quick travel. Effectively, there are also two maps (but the underlying map itself is the same). When you press the back button, you get to a map that lets you find out what tasks need to be done. When you reach a leystone and activate it, you get the same map with more limited information (i.e., only other leystone destinations).

I don't fully understand this concept. If you have a map, use the same map for both of these purposes (i.e., show all destinations on both maps). I find myself getting out of the leystone map just to find out where the closest leystone to my next destination. Then, go back into the leystone map just to travel. This is completely inefficient and time wasting.

Couple this with the huge medallions that cover over crucial parts of the map at inopportune times, and it's easy to get lost.

Hel's Final Battle

The final battle is, to say the least, annoying and almost impossible to beat. Just like the shaman, you have to eliminate the swords in the ground. The difference is, tons of legion troops are appearing constantly and hammering on you. On top of that, Hel has set up firewalls between each of the 5 swords in the ground (sort of like a pie). So, even after you eliminate a sword, you still have to hang around in the firewalled section until one of the walls drops (which can take minutes). So, instead of the walls being linked to the elimination of the sword, it's linked to some kind of random timer. Thus, you stand around fighting and losing health in the firewalled section for minutes waiting for one of the walls to drop. The walls go up and down sporadically without any kind of regularity.

Worse, the enemy legion can walk through the fire. Although, it does damage to them, they can walk through it. If Skarin (your character) gets close to the fire, it does damage and blocks your path (can you say unfair?). If Skarin could walk through the fire and take the damage, it would at least let you get through the level easier. Because the firewalls have no regularity, you can't even time when to go into the next area. Sometimes the walls go down for only a second or two. Other times, they go down for 10-15 seconds.

So, all the while you're patiently waiting for the walls to drop to move to the next area, you're getting hammered on by the legion. And they continually take more and more and more health away without any way to restore health. The sole purpose of them is to hammer down on your health as much as possible. So, while the 'castle boss' levels were hard, they were not impossible. Unfortunately, there is no trick to the final Hel level to conserve your health. They just hammer and hammer and hammer. Their AI also appears to be adaptive. So, if you choose a new tactic (like using the blocking move), they also use a new tactic to hammer you down and they never stop.

There was even a point where I had destroyed all 5 of the swords, but the game didn't progress to the next segment with Hel. So, it's also obviously very buggy. There is NOTHING more frustrating than playing through an entire game and when you do the things you're supposed to do on the final boss level, it doesn't work.


I don't often discuss the camera in 3D games because most times they work well. In the case of the final battle, the camera is all over the place. This makes the ending level far harder than it should be. Sometimes the camera ducks through the walls and you can't see what you're doing. So, you have to spend time moving Skarin around just to see what you're doing (and, at the same time, getting sucked down on health). Other times, the camera is not pointing where it should be. Sega needs to work out a better arrangement for the camera. Like, for example, making objects transparent when the camera goes behind it and blocks the view.


The one thing I have to commend Sega on is the choice in music soundtrack. While it's symphonic, it does work to set the mood properly and the scores are quite well done. It definitely sets the mood properly. It's too bad the game itself wasn't regal enough to live up to the soundtrack.


This game tries to be a mini-RPG, but fails miserably. It ultimately ends up as a mediocre third person shooter. The fighting controls are cumbersome to use overall, the controls are slow to react and often react to the wrong thing or in the wrong direction. Coupling this with the buggy behavior at the end, I can't recommend the purchase of this game. I really wanted to see a better game from Sega than Viking, but unfortunately it isn't to be. Save your money and buy Oblivion or Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas which are all better than Viking. While Oblivion may be buggy in some places, it doesn't seem to bug out at critical moments.


  • Gameplay: 5/10
  • Soundtrack: 9/10
  • Bang for the Buck: 3/10
  • Replay: 1/10 (not worth a replay)
  • Overall: 4.0/10 (skip it unless you're really bored)

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