As a fan of everything Viking related, I can't help but get excited whenever a new game that features those brave Nordic fighters is announced, which sadly doesn't happen often. In fact, now that I think of it, probably the last game I've played about vikings was Rune for the pc (awesome, game by the way)...
Anyway, on to Viking, the new game by Creative Assembly, the same team that brought us the rather excellent Total War series for the pc and the...hum..."interesting" Spartan: Total Warrior for the consoles. Don't get me wrong, that game is a great hack 'n' slash, but after the amazing historical accuracy that those guys revealed with the Total War series, all the mythological elements of Spartan were a huge let-down for me, who was looking for a more realistic, authentic experience.
Because of this I wasn't too excited about Viking. I was curious, sure, but I still prepared for the worst. Well, it turns out that the game indeed features a lot of mythological aspects, with the enemies being beasts from the underworld, weapons that can be powered up with magical runes, giant stones that act as teleporters and all that mystical crap. Still, there's a lot of authenticity when it comes to the weapons themselves, the design of the villages, the overall behaviour of the npc's, all little things that really help bringing a little feeling of authenticity to the game. Everything that involves Nordic mythology is also relatively accurate, so instead of being a real "viking simulator", this game is more of a portrayal of the world the Norsemen themselves pictured with all their gods and beasts.
On to the gameplay. Instead of being a linear and straight-forward action game, this is actually a free-roaming adventure! Think of it like a medieval GTA or an hack 'n' slash Oblivion. You don't have the whole world at your feet though, there is not a single continuous land but 3 big islands. Still, these pieces of land are simply huge (according to CA, the first one is over 1 km square and the 2nd one is more than twice the size of that), and there are no visible loading times when exploring each one, so that is a pretty solid graphics engine they got there.
So far the gameplay is very simple. You have your tipical quick attack, charged attack, you can jump, you can defend and you can also evade your opponents attacks. When you press the attack button your character automatically charges toward the closest foe, so there's no slicing the air when the fuckers are more distant than you fought. Also, your character automatically runs is a lower stance whenever there are enemies nearby, which not only alerts you to their presence, but also prevents you from alerting them to yours.
As I've said before, the graphics are really good. Everything, from the enemies to your allies or even the surroundings, is heavy in detail and it's really impressive how they managed to pull this off without having constant loading times interrupting the action. There's one thing I hate, though. As you all probably know by know, if there's something I hate in most game of today is over-the-top lighting effects. Reflections that leave you blind, multi-coloured light-sources that paint the world around you and make you feel like your tripping or even just that visual effect that looks like there's a silk curtain between you and your tv (hard to explain, hope you get my point).
This game has it all, and the most annoying thing is a medallion that we get right from the beginning that illuminates everything around us like a giant blue lamp. It's no surprise that everything wants to kill us, since prolonged exposure to our character surely must leave anyone blind!
Ok, jokes aside, I've just started this game, so this is not a review yet. There are other things I want to talk about in the future, like the runes or the allied soldiers, but give me time to explore those features. For now all I have to say is that so far this looks like one of the best games of the year, specially if you're into the viking theme, so all action fans out there should keep an eye out for this game.