We’ve survived the zombie apocalypse, an invasion of pixelated space aliens, and numerous assaults by Germany, so it was only a matter of time before the Vikings show up. Clever Bean’s When Vikings Attack! delivers an amusing take on the brawler genre thanks to its British humor, simplistic gameplay, and solid multiplayer options.
Players take control of a single citizen who can recruit everyday people like doctors, butchers, athletes, and religious figures to defend their precious town from a continuous onslaught of Vikings. Some civilians even have special abilities that can enhance your mob with increased strength, accuracy, or speed. As your mob continues to grow, the heavier the objects you can throw at your foes. Levels are littered with a diverse array of objects – from tractors and disco balls to garbage cans and park benches. Later levels will introduce rockets that can either explode on contact or hypnotize your enemies into joining your group.
Gameplay boils down to a skillful mix of dodging, countering, attacking, and defending. While on the surface it appears to be rather simple combat, there is a fair bit of strategy involved. Objects that are tossed at you can be caught with a well timed press of a button and launched back at your enemies. Your opponents can throw any item at you as well, and if each member of your gang is taken out, its game over.
As you make your way through the levels, you will start to find things a bit more challenging as the amount of characters on screen doubles and the environments become alive. Some levels contain pipes where you can toss an item into one end and have it come out the other side, activate stop lights to control the flow of traffic, or street signs that can be used to ricochet objects to knock out shield carrying Vikings from behind. Frame rate stays consistent as these battles get more intense but the camera begins to work against you. At times the camera panned out so far while playing on the larger maps, leading me to lose track of my character’s location or unable to properly dodge smaller projectiles.
Levels play out in sections and once all are completed, you will then be faced with a boss battle. Each boss has a health meter but oddly any objects tossed at them inflicts the same amount of damage – apparently size doesn’t matter (pun intended). There’s a decent range of well-crafted, cel-shaded locations that provide the backdrops for the action, from farms and city streets to parks and shopping malls. The tone of the game has a distinctly British feel, with red telephone booths and character attire, to the sound-bites and random text phrases like “Good Show!” The music that plays in the background is catchy and you will inadvertently hum the songs as you progress through the game’s 15 levels. There’s also some humorous public announcement videos from the Department of Vikings that are worth checking out prior to some of the levels.
When Vikings Attack! can be played on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and as a bonus, when you purchase one version, you get the other version for free. When you are not playing through the solo campaign, you can hop into an online lobby and play through the levels with up to 3 other people on the Vita or PS3. Online is really where this game shines, as you not only fight the Vikings for control of the levels, but also each other. You can also transfer your save file between your PS3 and Vita to continue your game on the go and vice versa.
Aside from the online campaign, you can also take part in 3 different versus challenges; Last Man Standing, Gold Rush, and Vikings vs. Vigilantes. Last Man Standing is you standard mode while Vikings vs. Vigilantes splits teams into two factions – think Team Deathmatch. Finally, Gold Rush has the teams fighting to win a total of 5 medals. Should you choose to invest a lot of time in When Vikings Attack!, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. There are nearly 70 individual “characters” to unlock as well as a short list of PlayStation Trophies and online leaderboards to compete on.
While Vikings Attack! is an engaging game, it is best played in short burst. It’s addictive gameplay and pick-up-and-play nature is perfect to play on the go or sitting on the couch with a bunch of friends.
Release Date: November 6, 2012 • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment • Developer: Clever Beans • Genre: Action • Multiplayer: 2-4 players • Achievements: Moderate • Cost: $9.99 • Replay Value: Moderate