Should Vikings attack, the world will immediately be split into two camps: those who have played this game, and those who have not. Which will have a greater chance of survival will come down to whether or not the Vikings choose to attack by chucking things at people, or whether they resort to the more traditional rape and pillage approach.
When Vikings Attack, you see, pitches the idea that Vikings will attack by, well, grouping together, scooping up random objects, and chucking them at the rest of us (non-Vikings). The only way to deal with such indecency is to act in kind, so you must form a party of the attacked and fight back...
This all plays out in what can only really be described as an arcade game. Controlling your main chap with the left stick, you run around various English locales (a screen at a time) and fight waves of Vikings. In a nutshell, you need to wipe out the enemy by biffing various objects at them, while at the same time avoiding objects that are being biffed at you.
Your health is rather cleverly defined by the number of survivors you’ve managed to gather up on your journey, and having more health means your group is larger, and more at risk of being hit by the projectiles being hiffed about the invading Vikings. Fortunately, survivors can offset this (rather balanced) mechanic in your favour by bringing powerups (like greater speed) into your arsenal, and by letting you pick up bulkier objects to hurl at the norse chappies in the horny hats.
In addition to the basic biff & dodge gameplay at the core, there are a few other things you can do to stave off (at least temporarily) the advancing difficulty. You can, for example, dart in the direction you’re facing; good for avoiding attack, it also doubles as the method by which you can actually catch incoming projectiles. As it gets harder, being able to dodge and catch will be the difference between advancing any further and being utterly frustrated.
Another move, with which you can spin an object and thereby prevent it being caught by your opposition, is rather less successful. It works as advertised, however, the need to constantly (and quite quickly) tap the R button, which is rather difficult, limits your ability to leverage it with any real frequency.
The levels are nicely laid out and fairly well paced, although once it gets tough, you'll yearn for more frequent checkpoints. Still, the difficulty increase also forces you to improve the way you play, meaning that you'll actually leverage the various abilities and options on offer, rather than muddling through with just the basics.
Where the game comes into its own is in the multiplayer, a mode that is far more fleshed out than you might expect of a simple arcade game. Not only does it have several competitive modes, and a lobby you can actually muck around in while you wait, but it also sports co-op support for the entire story mode. Playing it in this way adds a whole new level of spice to proceedings, too, with players able to compete, interact, and even grief each other a little bit.
Despite the variety, though, it's all very much within a narrow band. Like many classic arcade games, you feel that you've experienced the bulk of what is on offer very quickly and even new levels, with the variety they bring, still feel familiar - even on your first run through. The best way to play it is in short bursts, spreading the fun out in 5-10 minute jaunts, rather than attempting to consume it all quickly. Played that way, it's a fun distraction to the end, rather than something that starts fun but becomes tiresome.
When Vikings Attack supports Cross Buy (buy it once, own it for both PS3 & Vita), Cross Play (play with and against people on the PS3) and Cross Save (continue your game on either version), making it one of the rare truly up to date games, in terms of interactivity features on the PlayStation.
The presentation is mostly fantastic, with character designs (particularly their voices) an utter delight. It's packed full of English humour, quirky characters, and laugh-out-loud moments, and the love that the developers have lavished on the game is plain for all to see.
Regardless of the questionable depth, and maybe slightly high price, you'd have to have a heart of stone to regret time spent with When Vikings Attack. It might be a bit repetitive, but it continues to be fun to biff cars and bombs about, all while listening to the humorous banter between your lot and everyone else. Recommended.