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Written by DM on Monday, April 21 2008

Yes, it is hard to believe, but the developers actually thought it would be interesting to put a stealth mode of play into a hack and slash game. The way the developers designed the stealth part even comes off much better than you think it ever could, but unfortunately it still falls flat. This is a hack and slash, after all. Each island has at least one stealth mission where you must futz around inside the island’s main enemy camp, which is always huge by the way, in order to check off one of the stipulations needed to attack said main camp. In fact, some of the missions take you so far into enemy territory that you will say to yourself, without doubt, “this cannot possible be the right way to go, I have gone so far off the beaten trail.” All I can tell you is keep going, it is the correct path.

That pretty much sums up Viking, my friends. There are other minor parts of the game, of course. Your standard power-up shop and health drink stand is available on every level, but they only carry one power-up level per island. Sounds RPG-ish right? Actually in reality it is just a way to make you think you are playing an RPG element, when you are just giving yourself the tools needed to complete that part of the game (just like everyone else who plays). You are also able to summon dragons when you collect their dragon gems, but once again, Sega has cut off that ability at the knees. The only time the dragons play any active part in the game is during epic battles, when you can assign them to attack objectives so that you do not have to do it yourself. The problem is, each objective costs 2 or more dragon tokens to attack, and the only way to get dragon tokens is to defeat objectives. Can you spot the circular logic here? Lastly, you have the ability to impart your weapons with elemental powers for a short time. You can do this by using power from your red-gauge, the only other indicator you possess besides your green life bar. The drawback to this feature is that if you get hit once before you are able to hit an enemy once the power is activated, you lose it. Also, the powers are fire, ice, and lightning. Fire does nothing to things from Hel, so that one is out, and lightning is a wash, at best. This means you are left with ice. It works to freeze the enemy very well, actually, but by the time you activate it and kill 2 or 3 baddies, it is all gone again. The only saving grace of the elemental power is that when you activate any of them when surrounded by a group of friendly NPC warriors, they will all receive the power up for their weapons too.

The graphics and sound in Viking are a mixed bag, at best. While the insane amounts of blood and violent killing animations help to keep you interested, the environments are all super bland and desolate, for pretty much as far as the game draws. Grass, ice, or water, the texture patterns tend to repeat and give the game that “carpeted” look. The sound in the game, while fantastic during battles, is virtually non-existent for the remainder of the game. Ambient noises are pretty much absent, besides your own footsteps, that is, and the short “yay” that freed warriors yell makes me think they liked it better under the thumb of the enemy. The music, on the other hand, is fully orchestrated and really does add to the game. It could have been a movie soundtrack if expanded upon. Add to that a pretty decently done voice over set, little of it that there is, and as I said, sound is a mixed bag. One tiny point that did bother me is that we never get to hear Skarijn’s voice, the warrior we have been murdering the undead with for hours on end.

With only one mode, there is not much more to speak of when it comes to Viking. The game, as I said, is the longest hack and slash game I have ever finished. Despite all the drawbacks and flaws that this game has, for some reason, you will likely find yourself driven to complete the damn thing! Whether this is because you just can’t stand to see such easy tasks unfinished, or because the story is so compelling (not bloody likely), only you can decide. I will tell you that you are in for a bit of a chore for your last battle, but I won’t spoil. Could Viking have been an A+ title, yes, does it belong in the garbage though? Not at all. This game screams “rent me.” Or you may even decide to purchase it if you are a big hack and slash fan, as I am. The flaws will get on your nerves for sure, but I am confident that you will see the game through to the end. Hey, there is always the sequel to look forward to!

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