A nice added touch is that liberated areas will be sunny and cheerful, whereas the areas that are still filled with Hel’s forces will be dark and rainy. These visual cues help you become fully immersed in the game very quickly.
Similarly, when running around, if Skarin goes into a sneak (he does this automatically) you know there are enemies about. If he draws his swords, you know the enemy has spotted you and is coming at you. These elements have worked exceptionally well and the game does not feel restricted because of it.
The combat aspects of the game are very well done, with fluid movements and easy to execute combos. The game is not about making it hard to do these combos, it is about making them look awesome when you do them. This is great for people who aren’t normally hack and slash fans, as the game balances its various elements well.
The sword axe combo that Skarin wields is also perfect for decapitating heads and slicing and dicing your enemies.
This is all gruesomely presented with blood sprays and heads flying. You will occasionally feel though that the islands, although not massive, do get a bit large when traipsing from one end to the other. Very helpful though are the portals that have been scattered around, which, once discovered by Skarin, will transport him to other portals on the map, keeping traipsing to a minimum.
All these good aspects can’t come without the bad. One of the most irritating aspects of Viking: Battle for Asgard is the broken sound. Starting with the lack of atmospheric sounds, and music which is downright annoying at some parts of the game - you can imagine the music or sound that should have been playing, but it's simply not. Occasionally sound effects go missing and are not played at all, and the silence when you run around can be rather depressing. The footsteps and clanging of your armour are simply not loud enough either. It seems as though more effort could have been put into this aspect of the game. After all, with the developers having the theatrical experience of the Total War series under their belts, one would have thought they would be masters at this.
You will also notice this review lacked any mention of multiplayer. That’s because there is none. This is a shame as it would have been nice to jump into the big battles with a friend, either in co-op or over Live. But for whatever reason, this has been left out. Admittedly, the current emphasis on multiplayer in games can seem overrated at times, and judging by how good the single-player in Viking is, it might not be a bad thing that multiplayer was left out.
All in all, Viking: Battle for Asgard is one of the best games so far in 2008 and it should not be passed up. This is a title for action fans as well as hack-and-slash fans. The strategy element of the game is left to a minimum, but there is a hint of it. It is a well-rounded game, and if it weren’t for the sound effects--and occasional lack thereof--it would be a near perfect title.