Asgard, the realm of the Norse gods, is gripped in a fierce struggle after Hel - daughter of Loki, the god of mischief - is banished for defying Odin's rule. Seeking revenge, Hel is on a mission to summon Fenrir, the ancient wolf-god, and bring about Ragnarok - an apocalyptic war that will destroy Asgard and the gods.
The struggle is so great that the heavenly kingdom cannot contain it, and Hel's influence spreads to the mortal world of Midgard. With little time remaining before the gathering evil consumes all, Odin's daughter Freya, goddess of love and wisdom, must find a mortal champion to take the fight to Hel and save both worlds from destruction.
Freya hands the responsibility to Skarin, a powerful young warrior, ignorant to the true reason for his favour with the gods.
Champion of the Vikings
Midgard consists of three islands and taking the role of Skarin, the player must rid each one of Hel's evil before moving onto the next. Scattered across each island are imprisoned soldiers, who must be freed and befriended if you are to gather an army great enough for the final battle.
Gameplay varies between exploring the beautiful Viking landscape, rescuing soldiers and slaughtering enemies. Combat is bloody and violent; Skarin hacks away with his sword and axe before delivering one of his acrobatic finishing moves, which are particularly gruesome. Controls are simple to begin with, but there are many moves to learn, ensuring the lengthy battles are never boring.
It isn't always appropriate to charge headlong into the enemy and some situations require a stealthier approach. Whenever danger is close, Skarin automatically ducks and quietens his footsteps, which is especially useful during missions requiring you to recover items from heavily guarded camps.
The final battles on each island are particularly impressive, with hundreds of allies and enemies appearing on-screen at any given time. It's important to consider how to approach each battle: you can simply hack your way through the crowd or focus on bigger enemies and allow friendly soldiers to deal with the rest. You can even summon dragons to rain fire on enemy positions or come to your aid if you get isolated.
Taking in the scenery
It isn't all about combat and there are plenty of side missions to break up the action. These range from delivering medical supplies to injured troops to tracking down mead for the bartender in Brighthelm village. These side quests are a great way to explore the beautiful environments and earn gold, with which you can buy new moves from the training centre, or weapons and magic spells from the shopkeeper.
With so much to do, you'll find the leystones invaluable. You can teleport between leystones, but they only appear on your map once you have discovered them.
Viking: Battle for Asgard is a dark, gritty interpretation of Norse legend. Its huge battles are extremely entertaining, although not for the faint-hearted, and its beautiful open-ended world and gripping story make for an excellent action adventure title.