When Vikings Attack released this past week for both the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita systems. It joins the ranks of the now-respectable list of cross-buy and cross-play games, a list that will continue to grow throughout this holiday season. For those of you not in the know, cross-buy means that buying once copy of the game nets you a free copy on the other system. Cross-play means that the multiplayer component functions between the two systems, allowing PS3 owners to play with Vita owners. Sometimes they also include the transfer of save games to continue play on the go. All of this is included in When Vikings Attack, making it a bargain at only $9.99 (note: PS+ subscribers can get it for only $6.99 until the store updates later today). But it is only a great value if it is also a great game, and it is in some ways, others maybe not.
When Vikings Attack is a very quirky game, with a great sense of humor displayed in its cutscenes, character design, and the absurdity of the gameplay. Vikings are back to storm and pillage a modern day Europe, and are doing so by amassing large groups, lifting gigantic objects over their heads, and hurling them into innocent bystanders. But fear not- the citizens are fighting back. You take control of one such citizen, and recruit new citizens to join your group. The bigger the group, the bigger the objects you can lift. And you can lift just about anything, from traffic cones to park benches to grand pianos to buses to Jupiter. Vikings come in waves, and each stage is accompanied by a boss that requires the player to think differently about their approach.
The mechanics are very simple. You view the stage from an isometric third-person perspective. Recruit citizens by simply bumping into them. Lift objects by running over them, rotate them, and then toss them in the direction you are facing with the press of a button. Finally, you can catch mid-air objects, steal objects from other groups, and quickly dodge attacks by dashing. That’s it. The game throws a few twists and turns in by adding various bombs, levels with pipes and tubes, and “special” citizens, but all of these things are introduced gradually and are simple to grasp. It is a very, very simple game to play, to the point where I could say that just about anyone can be a competent and successful player.
When Vikings Attack – E3 2012 Trailer
The bottom line concerning the gameplay is that it is fun in its simplicity. I personally have been pining for a bit of button mashing on my Vita that is packaged in a charming or humorous way, and When Vikings Attack certainly fits the bill. Unfortunately though, the gameplay does err on the side of being too repetitive. I found that I had the most fun when I played it in short bursts- but when it came time to play for extended periods; I grew weary after a while. Those that do play it often or for long periods have incentives in form of collectibles- some difficult to get- and trophies.
The multiplayer is simultaneously my favorite part and my biggest disappointment of the game. The entire single player mode can be played with help from up to four friends, online and locally, which is chaotic and an absolute blast. But it is the competitive multiplayer component that I really did not enjoy as much as I had hoped that I would. There are three different modes, each with a different twist, but they all play basically the same. To me, it was not much fun playing against the same online opponent over and over with very little change in terms of what was going on. Most of my opponents would disconnect after about ten minutes whether they were winning or losing. It was much more fun playing with locally with friends, but even then I preferred digging through the single player campaign as a co-op team.
When Vikings Attack is a simple, humorous, fun game that is great in short bursts. Extended play sessions can be a bit dull, though there are incentives for those that do. Playing the campaign as a local co-op team is definitely the best way to play- if you have to some friends that like to come over and play Smash or Mario Kart, you might find the same kind of fun here. That considered, along with how much of a bargain as the game is, it is hard not to recommend it despite its shortcomings.