Medieval: Total War-Viking Invasion

Developer The Creative Assembly
Publisher Activision
Release Date Spring 2003

Cindy Yans

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This article originally appeared in Computer Games Magazine #150

Stardate 790 AD. It’s the northeast coast of Scotland. A crew of howling warriors leaps from its longboats to the ground, swords raised and spears ready. Yes, it’s the Vikings, bent on leaving no monk or nun unturned as they pillage and plunder, and it’s your job to deflect their wrath.
Or not. You could just as well take their side and drag them to victory through the blood and the mire. Viking Invasion pushes the timeline back a few centuries before the original game’s eleventh century start, to a time when England was still a collection of feuding provinces, and Hagar’s kin from Scandinavia were the biggest and baddest boys in the hood. Here you’ll see a somewhat more primitive (read: bloody, pagan, and brutal) environment, with building options like Pagan Shrines instead of great cathedrals, and with gunpowder not even on the horizon. The eight new factions, which include the Mercians, Northumbrians, Irish, Welsh, Scots, Picts, Saxons, and of course the Vikings themselves, are all fighting for a relatively small chunk of Europe; and the primitive naval power of the time is crucial to the Viking effort—it’s a long swim from Norway to Scotland.
The feel is different from the standard Medieval mix, with new, appropriate barbaric units and technologies accompanying the new geography. Mead Halls and Sacrificial Shrines make an appearance, as do all sorts of Dark Age military units like Fyrdmen, Thralls, and Berserkers. Perhaps the most intriguing of them all are the mighty Jomsvikings, fabled warriors from a city where no women were allowed (no wonder they’re so ornery).
If Vikings aren’t your thing, choose instead the Aragonese, the Sicilians, or the Hungarians, along with their new military units. There’s also a new pre-battle screen that makes organizing your forces and reinforcements much easier and gives you a better sense of scouting out the enemy. And the pyromanically inclined should enjoy the flaming arrows and boiling oil. Add in the usual assortment of expansion-pack tweaks and enhancements, and the total package looks pretty compelling for fans of this hybrid turn-based and real-time strategy series. With Total War: Rome going 3D, this is probably the last hurrah for the 2D system that began with Shogun. Gotta love those Vikings—those hats make them look so…horny.

This article originally appeared in Computer Games Magazine #150