Vikings haven’t been around since about the 11th Century, but they have been the focal point of many books, films, and games. Bjarni in Cultures and Cultures 2 was a more comical approach to vikings. Viking: Battle for Asgard however takes a page from the movie Beowulf; it is bloody, brutal, packed with mythical creatures, and there are dragons (yep, dragons!).
You, Skarin, have been selected by Freya, the Goddess of War, to battle the forces of Hel, the Norse God of Mischief. Hel intends to bring about Ragnarok - the apocalypse which will destroy Asgard and Midgard.
Midgard is where most of the game takes place, a beautiful hilly set of isles which have been taken over by Hel’s forces. There is a sense of freedom on these islands, as you are free to roam as you please across the islands and engage in battles where you see fit.
As you liberate captured Vikings and free strongholds and resources from the clutches of Hel, you progress toward the islands' final battle. A battle of rather epic proportions where you cease to take on the forces alone, and are joined by all the soldiers you have liberated.
You will then have battle objectives that need to be completed, i.e. taking down the shamans who are continually spawning new enemies. This is also where dragons are thrown into the mix. As you travel through the islands you collect dragon stones which are then used to summon dragons. These dragons will be at your command if you have sufficient dragon runes, which are collected by slaying the shamans. Once you have enough you can command your dragon to attack a specific battle objective. This will involve lots of fire and plenty of carnage, and is a real pleasure to watch as the game skips to a cut scene when this happens.
The story itself is satisfactory, but it doesn’t feel as though the game fleshes out many of the elements of the story enough. There are only a small number of cut scenes and you learn very little about Skarin himself, the character you play. This does leave you somewhat wanting, but let's face it, slaughtering hundreds upon hundreds of evil minions is pretty satisfactory in itself.
Talking of minions, there are a range of adversaries in Viking: Battle for Asgard from your low-level sword-swinging muscle, archers, assassins that drop down onto your head and claw at you until you manage to throw them off, and big brutes with shields. There are also giants which you will battle from time to time. This means the game does remain exciting, with nary a dull moment.
One of the best parts of Viking: Battle for Asgard is really the beautiful scenery. The wonderful grassy hillsides, and the big cliffs you would expect from any Viking setting. Watching the gigantic swells roll in onto the beaches is also awe inspiring and the ocean looks convincing (but don’t fall in, Vikings can’t swim).
The view distance is also massive and you can see far off into the distance, with enemies appearing while you are quite far away. This adds to the feeling of freedom that you have as you traverse the island. The maps are well varied from small villages to massive cities which you will sneak into, as well as fight over. The sneaking aspects will involve heading into a city to destroy a barracks or something similar, which will then reduce the number of reinforcements available to the enemy in the big battle. However these are requirements for the final battle, therefore you have to complete them, which is probably a good thing as the battles can get pretty tough.