In the depths of Sony Europe’s E3 meeting room, barely a metre away from the demo machine showing Tokyo Jungle was another offbeat PSN treat – this time featuring gangs of Scandinavian warriors rather than giraffes. But still as wonderfully daft.
When Vikings Attack is essentially an old school scrolling brawler, in the tradition of Streets of Rage – except here you control a whole gang of characters at once, as they attempt to see off a Viking invasion of contemporary Britain. The controls are simple; each battle area is filled with heavy objects which can be chucked at enemy gangs, knocking out members and reducing the size of the group. The more little fellows you have in your control, the largerthe items you can lob. Knock out all the members of a Viking posse and you move on to the next area. Therearea range of environments to battle through including a farm and a Leeds housing estate. In the former, you get to chuck tractors, hen houses and bales of hay, all accopanied by ludicours cartoon sound effects. Meanwhile, in urben areas you have to avoid cars while trying to getyour opponents run over.
It is chaotic and hilarious stuff, the simple two-button game play (throw and dodge) allowing for intuitve and uncomplicated face-offs. What makes it are the little visual touches – the bizarre clothing of your protagonists (one is dressed just in trunks and an inflatable ring, another in his pajamas), and the witty scenic details. There’s also an excellent four-player arena battle mode where you and three chums just stand and chuck things at each other’s gangs in a fight to extinction.
When Vikings Attack will be available on both PS3 and Vita when it launches this summer, and it’s cross-play competible so handheld gamers will be able to compete against theior console-owning brethren. The gamehas been developed by fledgling studio Clever Beans; based up in the North West of England, the team members have experience on titles like WipEout, Call of Duty and Driver.
Picking up things and throwing them has long been one of the subtle and under-explored pleasures of gaming, so When Vikings Attack was a real pleasure to discover at E3. I now firmly believe that until you have experienced the thrill of chucking a limo at an advancing army of medieval warriors, you haven’t really done the beat-’em-up genre.