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Viking: Battle for Asgard

Oct 8, 2007

The echo of shattered bone and slopping coils of intestine resonates around the Leipzig demo room, as The Creative Assembly’s James Carey gleefully demonstrates the inventive ways you can slaughter a foe. Creative Assembly might be renowned for their “historically accurate” Total War series on PC, but it’s apparent that their new next-gen project, Viking: Battle for Asgard, joyously chucks any semblance of beardy realism out of the window in favour of fantastical, gory fun.

Token plot? Hel, boss lady of the Nordic underworld, has invaded Asgard with an army of undead Vikings, and it’s up to strapping hero Skarin - champion of the goddess Freya - to restore balance to the world. The events of Viking unfold over three islands (each a kilometre in real world terms), each of which our hero is able to roam about recruiting troops - before engaging the forces of evil in large-scale battles. Naturally, CA admit it’d be a folly to march right up to the game’s final scraps 10 minutes into your adventure, but this is the sense of scale and freedom of choice the Sussex massive are striving for.

A real genre hybrid, this. There’s a smattering of Dynasty Warriors’ wild scale, but with infinitely more panache and rolling hills instead of pop-up-obscuring fog. The scale of Asgard and sense of autonomy recalls Oblivion; battlefield dynamics appear heavily influenced by the likes of Braveheart while the chunky, personality-packed character models and bleak sense of “humour” might have been ripped straight from Mark of Kri and God of War respectively. Meanwhile, you’d do well to remember that each one of Skarin’s solo excursions is intrinsically linked to the outcome of climactic battles, whether it’s purchasing a stouter sword from a smithy, freeing a posse of comrades to help bear arms or incapacitating an enemy outpost to shrink the ranks of their armies. Attempt to take on Hel’s hordes unprepared and the future looks bleak. Put in some groundwork and the forces of light might prevail.