by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Put on those horned helmets
War during the Viking era was brutal and definitely not as fun as Hagar the Horrible would lead you to believe. Voyages on Viking longships would be dangerous, but once a foe was met in the field, things got really ugly. Beheadings and dismemberment were common occurrences. Even the smallest of wounds could be fatal if left to fester over time. As such, War of the Vikings is suitably brutal in all its visceral glory.
Prior to getting down to the online multiplayer action, you must go through the initiation process. An old raspy woman instructs you on how to perform the various aspects of Viking combat. It is a basic tutorial that goes through movement, attacking and parrying with your sword, dodging blows, throwing spears, axes and knives and firing arrows with your bow. The controls are fairly intuitive but it does take a while to become accustomed to the swinging motion of the mouse required to swing your weapon of choice. With the right mouse button held, moving the mouse to the left will swing your sword to the left. Moving the mouse to the right will swing the sword to the right and moving the mouse up will result in an overhead attack. The left mouse button does the same, but in a defensive mode, parrying away enemy swings. Other controls are fairly standard for FPS (in this case First Person Slashers) making it relatively simple to get into the game.
Taking on the Saxon heathens
After finishing the basic tutorial, you get thrust into the online action. Beginning the game as a Warrior, complete with longsword, shield and throwing axes, you join your squad of either Vikings or Saxons. Other standard classes (Skirmisher and Champion) donít become available until youíve levelled up, so your first couple of rounds will be as the sword wielding Warrior class. All that you've learned in the tutorial quickly goes out the window, as you square up against multiple opponents. The mechanics are the same as those learned in the tutorial, but more difficult to put into play when enemies come from multiple angles. I often found that because a mouse movement was required to wield your weapon of choice, it often also moved your field of vision. Over time, you do get to work out strategies to combat this, but it is quite a leap from the lesson of the tutorial.
Once you level up past the first few levels, players are then able to customise their own loadouts and perks. Choosing loadouts can depend on how much gold you have collected during the battles, as your performance reflects how much you earn. Weapons cost varying amounts, and as you would expect, the better quality weapons cost more to purchase. There are plenty of authentic Viking weapons to choose from , including longswords, axes (one and two handed versions), various throwing weapons, spears and bows. For those using one handed weapons a shield can also be purchased. The various perks can also affect your game style - or can be chosen to suit your game style. They are sorted into three categories - Melee, Utility and Ranged - but any can be selected if you so choose. Each custom loadout can include a maximum of four perks.
Combat is fun, once youíve learned how to fight in the field
The tutorial doesnít adequately prepare you for online combat