Thor: God of Thunder Review
Written : Saturday, May 07, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams (GT: jackanape)
After all of the recent blockbuster superhero films, you can’t help but feel we’ve entered the “scraping the bottom of the barrel” stage. Sure, we’ve all heard of Thor but does anyone really know his story that well, outside of hardened comic nuts of course? Spiderman and the X-Men are instantly recognizable, but Thor is just a guy with a hammer. Oh, and he also happens to be the God of Thunder which is a tricky sell in a universe populated by overpowered beings. Still, the movie was actually pretty darn good so there may well be hope yet, as long as someone doesn’t release a tawdry, rushed companion game. Oh wait...
"WHY AM I ALWAYS SHOUTING?!"
Yes, Thor: God of Thunder leaps onto consoles with all the sense and grace of a fish to the face. Straight from the off there is something remarkably familiar and yet tragic about the whole thing. At least the story line doesn’t borrow directly from the movie, so no spoilers, but by the same token it seems that the two stories are rather incompatible. Basically, Thor throws a giant strop, releasing an ancient evil in the process and then has to go and tidy his mess up while learning a valuable life lesson. Obviously the whole thing was set up by has far more intelligent brother Loki – who is generally a bit of a backstabbing swine – but the chance to take your hammer to his face is never offered. Cue Thor stomping around various worlds squishing those who disobey him and well, not much else.
The real problem here is the generic nature of the game itself. The worlds are all from the mystery box of stereotypes with an ice world, a fire world and a jungle world... What next? The medieval zone? Off to the Crystal Dome we go! The enemies are all fairly generic as well and there only seems to be two or three inhabitants on each planet, all of which have the same limited range of animations and predictable attacks. Thankfully, or not, you can progress by hammering the X button furiously and occasionally using Y to zap foes with a few magic spells. Sure, there are combos and the like, but why use subtlety when blunt force and button bashing does the trick? Occasionally larger foes do come along and you’ll have to use a bit of strategy there. And by strategy, we mean bash X again until you can grab them and press another button. Oh, the simulated horror!
"Thor applies his usual blend of subtlety to the situation."
To be honest, the story is hardly helped by the subpar graphics and frankly atrocious voice acting either. Considering they got Thor and Loki to reprise their film roles then, it’s even more shocking to hear them deliver the kind of toneless, clichéd drivel that they do. Most of the blame can be placed with the script writer, but you do rather feel that the actors have dialled this performance in. The character animations are also pretty dire, with some laughable lip-syncing and floors that seem to alter at a whim – at least judging by how often foes got stuck in them anyway. There’s also some more obvious glitches that are apparent too, with foes able to avoid certain attacks entirely when they get stuck on the scenery and one boss hitting me so hard that I got stuck in a weird first person view where I couldn’t move or attack and had to quit entirely to continue.
Thor’s magic powers aren’t exactly what they used to be either and you only gain access to them gradually by earning and spending Valor points in combat. Once they’re fully tooled up, then you can inflict significant damage, but before then they seem to run out in a rapid manner and do little more than vaguely annoy your foes. Considering he’s meant to be the God of Thunder this game seems to do more to nerf Thor’s power than actually promote his awesomeness.
"Climbing on swords to victory, old skool."
Mercifully, the game is pretty darn short with only five levels to go through, two of which are set on Asgard itself. In Thor’s favour, along the way there are a few interesting moments and the puzzles you come across are never repeated so much so that they become dull. Having to guide a river barge while throwing your hammer at attackers was a high point, as was defending Asgard from a multitude of attackers in various set-pieces, but unfortunately, the good ideas seem to be lost in the murky haze of button bashing and enemy repetition. Even the boss fights are just a series of similar moves and button prompts without a really epic feel to them. Once the end credits roll, you won’t really have much inclination to go back and play the game again... which is probably a good thing.
At least the achievement list offers some solace of hope, with a varied mix of level specific challenges, progression tasks, collectables and feat accomplishments. That is until you realize that you have to complete the game once to unlock the highest difficulty and then do it all again. Oh dear thunder lord, when will developers learn that people don’t want to play really bad games more than is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, there also aren’t enough enemies to accomplish certain feats in a single playthrough and some of the pick-ups only turn up on the harder difficulties as well. I know the game is short, but this is the worst kind of artificial enhancement since the Swedish made penis enlarger made its debut.
Thor: God of Thunder shows everything that is wrong with movie tie-in games, with just a few flashes of actual inspiration. The game boils down to mashing X a lot and then using magic when you feel like it, and as such, you never really get to have much fun. With a ropey plot and woeful graphics, Thor could have easily been a last gen title and it’ll feel like a real letdown to any fans of the comics. Perhaps it’s time that game makers went through the same modernization process that comic book films have undergone – as this type of title is becoming a relic.
Considering some of the actual cast are present, the voice work is truly shocking, although that may have more to do with the cliché ridden script. The rest of the soundtrack is just epic noise really which is a bit of a waste.
Truly dire in places, especially the terrible lip syncing and the fact that enemies, and Thor himself, can often get stuck in the floor or scenery. This really should have been much, much better.
Hammer the X button until everything is dead. Done.
While all the major protagonists are present and correct, the lesson ‘learned’ here is the same as the movie – meaning the two stories do not seem compatible at all. With only five fairly short levels there is zero replayability either.
At least a modicum of thought has gone into the list with some tricky level specific challenges, although the fact you have to play through the game twice is a pain – surely we suffered enough the first time through?
Thor: God of Thunder is the typical movie tie-in in every way conceivable: the subpar graphics, sound and gameplay all add up to a bit of a rush job that will not even please ardent fans. This is rental fodder at its finest and even then you may well feel short changed.