|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Creative Assembly||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The developers do throw a couple of different things into combat to try to mix things up a bit, but they aren't substantial enough to provide true variety. For starters, you will acquire your father's battle horn early on, which allows you to summon your Viking armies to help you attack various strongholds. This doesn't really change the core mechanic of battle, but it does change up the environments from an individual point-of-view to that of a pitched battle. This feature looks cool, but it takes all of the challenge out of busting through fortified areas.
At the end of the first third of the game, you will be able to summon your first dragon. By performing heroic acts during battle you will accrue points that can be spent in the summoning of wyrms. After calling forth the dragon, you can select key choke points on the battlefield that you would like your dragon to attack. The destruction that will be wrought is total, helping your forces to surmount the opposition's fortifications. Accordingly, summoning dragons makes pitched battles even easier than they already are. Needless to say, this game should probably be played on the hard difficulty setting.
The game's presentation is very good except for the unfortunate camera angles that overcomplicate an otherwise pleasant world. The visuals are very nice. There are no framerate issues and the environments are detailed and beautiful to look at. I really enjoyed the way sunshine breaks through the clouds after cleansing the land of the evil taint. This simple detail really does a nice job of setting the mood. Additionally, the combat animations are smooth, and the exposed bones and squirting arteries are almost worth the price of admission. As for sounds, the voiceover is well done. The gruff collection of accents from the British Isles may not be accurate, but for an ugly American like me it gets the job done nicely. Of course the sound of steel ripping through demon flesh is very satisfying. Sadly, there is an atrocious camera that plays havoc with the fun at inopportune moments. For the most part you shouldn't have any trouble seeing what you're doing, but if you get backed up against a wall or a tree, or cornered in a cavern you better pray your opponent is right in front of you.
There is no online or multiplayer component, so if you like to play games with friends you'll have to trade off the controller. Thankfully, the controls are pretty tight and allow any seasoned gamer to break skulls in a matter of minutes. For Xbox 360 owners, one thing you'll notice almost immediately is the ease with which you will accumulate achievements. You'll be able to get almost the entire 1000 point allotment in a single day. I don't think that's what Microsoft had in mind, but nevertheless if you want a fun and easy game to beef up your point total, then Viking will do the trick.
All in all, this is an extremely uncomplicated title that has its fair share of fun due to the hilariously brutal combat animations. Unfortunately, there is little more than a linear quest track and a simple hack-and-slash battle mechanic. Therefore, it is quite possible that some will give up on the game after passing the first zone. However, the speed with which you'll accomplish objectives, gain abilities, and move the story forward is fast enough that most are likely to finish the game. I'd suggest renting the title because it can be easily completed in a weekend, has no lasting value, and yet is fun enough that it's worth the $8 fee or the time in your rental queue.
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director