Rune Viking Warlord
by Take 2 Interactive
Rune, the Viking third person action game, was a bit of a hit on the PC. Using the Unreal engine and providing plenty of gory combat the game looked as good as it played and immediately became the best Viking game on the PC. So with the success of the PC version behind it, it was inevitable that a Playstation 2 version was going to follow.
In Rune Viking Warlord you control Ragnar. At the beginning of the game you have to guide Ragnar through his training and eventually meet up with the weapons master for an initiation battle. Through this training you are introduced to the controls of the game as well as gathering a little background about Ragnar. After the initiation battle you are swept along with the events to combat Conrack. Unaware to you Conrack has joined forces with the god Loki and all but you perish at sea. Odin saves you and tells you that you alone stand in the way of Conrack and total destruction.
The gameplay is in the usual third person action game mould and if this genre appeals to you the Rune Viking Warlord will please you. The one department where the game differs is the control system. Movement is controlled by the analogue sticks. The left stick moves you back and forward and strafes left and right whilst the right stick turns your viewpoint around. This combination will take a fair bit of getting use to but it should be noted that whilst it does take some adjustment from control methods in other games it does give you greater flexibility in combat (circular strafes are a doddle) and prevents your view from ever being totally blocked by a silly camera angle. One thing you could say about the gameplay is that it makes no attempt to offer something unique. A fair amount of key searching and lever pulling is involved and in many ways it is similar to Warriors of Might Magic. There are plenty of weapon choices with many swords, battle-axes, maces and hammers on offer. There is also the ability to throw your weapons at your enemies for a long range attack. Each weapon can also be powered up by collect runes and invoking 'rune power'. This is essential against some of the more difficult enemies in the latter stages of the game.
Graphically speaking Rune Viking Warlord is adequate. Whilst the visuals are acceptable they do nothing to take advantage of the Playstation 2's graphical ability and in places the textures are just bland. The graphics don't hamper gameplay at all but it would have been nicer if they had pushed the graphical capabilities of the console that little bit further.
Text feedback within the game is very good. Subtitles are on by default and all speech is subtitled. Occasionally the background clashes with the white text for a few seconds but this is nothing major and the deaf gamer is given the full picture which is very good indeed. The subtitles are left on the screen for a nice amount of time so there is no need to be a speed reader with this game. The manual is basic but nevertheless good and informative.
In conclusion it is fair to say that Rune Viking Warlord is a good third person action game. The gameplay is solid, the subtitles are very good and the three difficulty levels are well balanced. The only reservation I might have Rune Viking Warlord is that it doesn't really do anything different from what's already available.
Overall Game Rating: 7.3/10 A solid Viking hack 'n' slash.
Quality of text: 8.5/10 Subtitling is very good and on by default.
Graphics: 6.5/10 OK but they do not push the PS2 at all.
Interface: 7/10 Controls take some getting to used.
Gameplay:7/10 The gameplay is solid but does nothing very original.