I was really looking forward to this game, as it looked like breaking many of the seemingly unwritten rules about console combat adventures. For starters, Viking Battle for Asgard promises an open play area, in an amazingly detailed world full of this to kill – or be killed by. It starts well enough and looks glorious, although you’re given little initial guidance, and spend much of your first hours trying to find the right person to talk with to get your quest underway. Or you can ignore that option entirely and just wander around chopping up anyone you come across, in sinew-snapping slow-mo. There seems little advantage in either method, it’s a slog-fest and liberating each geographic area requires you to kill countless opponents, and forge alliances.
So who are you, and why would you do all this? The answer is that this conflict is collateral damage from a disagreement of the Norse gods, which saw Hel evicted from Asgard for defying Odin. It spills into the mortal world where Freya decides to defend the puny humans by giving them a legendary warrior hero, Skarin. He’s conveniently immortal, so the game can continue when the forces of Hel all become a bit too much.
But your biggest challenge isn’t them, or even the gods you eventually meet, but utter boredom. The combat is distilled down into the sad light/heavy attack button rubbish beloved of Onimusha, with very few attack combos or anything remotely interesting to do. You do get to collect red orbs from vanquished foes, and these go towards upgrading your standard attacks with something more magical, but it’s not anything to get thrilled about. Extra combo moves can be bought using gold you find disowned on parts of the map, rather than by any achieved skill as such.
I could go into more detail but those that can find the heavy attack button should ultimately be victorious, and if they can’t it doesn’t matter – because he’s immortal! I’d love to tell you that, like so many Xbox 360 games, all that I’ve told you so far is irrelevant because the online play is amazing! But I can’t because there isn’t any, at all.
So the true highlight of this title is the Gamerscore points, if you can be bothered to do the work needed to achieve them. Myself, I couldn’t be arsed.
In the end this game ends up less a Kirk Douglas with one eye, and more a Noggin the Nog. Not that I wasn’t a Noggin fan, but give the cover artwork I was expecting the full works of Scandinavian hair stylists using sharpened battle axes. What I actually got was a gaming pedicure by someone with blond highlights. The biggest battle in this game is the one to stay awake, which might be beyond the ability of many Xbox gamers.