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Written by DM on Monday, April 21 2008

As I said, the minions of Hel are not going to just stand around and let you reclaim three separate islands from the clutches of evil. Undead baddies roam the countryside and capture Viking settlements. It is your job to defeat these caches of enemies and replace them with either nothing or the previous Viking inhabitants. This leads to the majority of time in Viking being devoted to exploring and wandering the countryside, looking for settlements to free and Viking points of interest to recapture. You must find the camps, kill the enemies, free any men there, and talk to the new head of said camp. This will, in turn, lead you to the next location where you must find the camp, kill the enemies, free.. hmm this seems familiar. The truth is, you have pretty much played all there is to Viking after about an hour.

One of the more unique things that Viking has going for it is the way that the game’s major milestones are reached and conquered. As I said, there are three islands in the game, and you can only reach one by completely liberating the last. In order to free the islands from Hel’s grasp, you must first recapture the island’s midpoint, and then do the same for the island’s main fortress, which is the last battle you will face. Both of these tasks are presented in epic battles where literally thousands of Vikings viciously battle the hordes of the undead. In order to begin these battles though, you must fill the checklist presented on the map screen for that specific location. For example, one of the island’s midway points might say “liberate 4 Viking clans,” “power up your sword for the coming battle,” and “find the Dragon Gem to summon the dragon.” Once you have done these things, you can begin the huge battle as soon as you are ready; just click the point on the map.

The epic battles do provide a welcome break from the monotony of the rest of the game, although, as I said, the slowdown you will experience almost makes the game unplayable. In fact, there are complaints that the PS3 version of the game is actually unplayable at points due to the extreme slowdown. When you are in the heart of battle, and your task is to find and defeat the enemy shaman, it becomes very hard to do so when you move at 4 frames per second. You would think that Sega and the developers would have realized that 300 NPC warriors using special-effects laden battle techniques all at the same time would maybe put a strain on the CPU? Just a thought. Then again, slowdown also affects the enemy, and it makes from some easy pickens at times. As I said folks, slowdown has never been so much fun!

There is also one other part of the game that is used to break up the repetition of the pure killing. During your travels, now and then NPC heads will give you a task to compete that does not require the killing of hordes of the undead. They instead require you to use the other talent the game gives you – stealth!

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