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Written by DM on Monday, April 21 2008

Many people do not realize that the Romans were not the first people to have an extensive system of gods and myth that permeated the day to day life of all citizens. The Vikings had an entire system of Norse Mythology in place, thousands of years before. Valhalla, the “heaven” of the time, was the place that all Viking warriors strived to be admitted to by being the best warrior possible. This was only the tip of the iceberg, of course. Why do I tell you this? It is because Viking: Battle for Asgard has been criticized for not having enough story to support it. This may be true, but it is not for lack of material to draw from. Does the game still warrant a purchase though, that is the question. Let’s find out.

There is a perfect way to sum up the action in Viking: “Slowdown has never been this much fun!” The game plops you right down into epic battles with thousands of NPCs fighting each other independently. It would have been quite impressive too, had there not been a tendency for the game to slowdown to 5 or 6 fps every time the enemy count hit 20 or so. More on this later, though.

Viking: Battle for Asgard is your traditional hack and slash title with some RPG elements thrown in. Sega has been trying to find the correct formula for a 3D hack and slash since the Streets of Rage franchise lost its appeal. Viking is the closest they have come to getting it right in a long time. The game puts you in control of Skarijn (pronounced scar-in), a fearsome warrior who uses both and axe and a sword to liberate opponent’s heads and limbs from the bodies. In the beginning you have only basic moves and one or two combos, but as the game goes on and you pay the Valhalla spirits of the Arena real money (why a warrior in Valhalla needs money is beyond me), your combo count goes up – way up.

As you charge around one of three islands, you must find and defeat different caches of the Legions of Hel. Hel is the woman-turned-god who is control of the more nasty realms of the Viking afterlife – think “the devil,” but much, much, hotter. Of course, as in any good mythology, Hel has an equally-as-good-as-Hel-is-evil counterpart who’s name is Freya. Freya approaches Skarijn when the game begins, and basically presses him into service to reclaim the lands of Asgard (the Viking home islands) from Hel’s legions, and of course, defeat Hel as well. To be honest, there is not much more story told in Viking until you hit the halfway point and when you beat the game, where you are “treated” to narrated game script readings while still images flash on the screen. Talk about a cheap way to progress the story. Well, be that as it may, Freya stops the mortally wounded Skarijn from taking his rightful place in Valhalla, and in return for this not-honor, Skarijn pledges his allegiance to Freya, receives the Brisingamen amulet from Freya and the game begins in earnest.

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