reviews\ May 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Thor: God of Thunder Review (360)


It is undeniable. We, as dorks, have an uncontrollable urge and attraction to anything super, from super human to superhero. From an early age, we dream of what it would be like to fly around in a monstrous red cape and knock out all of the criminals that riddle our streets with crime. Unfortunately, the closest we ever come to possessing superhero abilities is dressing up as Superman for a drunken Halloween party or sitting down in our recliner and playing a video game that features one of these dynamic heroes. With the most recent superhero movie, Thor, released in theaters and Halloween still months away, we choose the latter option. Thor: God of Thunder had the potential to be as popular as its movie counterpart, but an array of flaws keep this game from being super.

Thor: God of Thunder was, to put it nicely, an interesting title. You control Thor through multiple worlds in Asgard. From the beginning, Thor seeks revenge for a fallen friend and sets out to destroy everything in his way. In the midst of a war between extremely weak ice-powered drones and Thor’s hometown heroes, Thor makes it very clear that he will protect and find justice for him and the people of Asgard. Thus, your journey begins as you hunt down whoever is responsible for your fallen comrade.

This title is a beat ‘em up game with a little variation mixed in. Not only can you use melee attacks and combinations with your hammer, the Mjölnir, but you can also call upon magical attacks, which are Thor’s thunder, lightning and wind powers.

As you strike down your enemies with all of Thor’s might, you receive health, Odinforce (magic), and valor “orbs.” These orbs cause a few different things to happen. Obviously, the health and Odinforce orbs fill your health and Odinforce bars, but your valor is given to you in points. As players gain more valor points, they can purchase stronger abilities in different categories, such as melee moves, Odinforce powers and more health.

Different attacks and accomplishments lead you to receive these different orbs. Most melee kills will get you health and Odinforce orbs, and you can earn valor by killing enemies and completing feats. Feats are goals that the game sets for the player, much like achievements. For example, one feat is to defeat 75 enemies with grapple moves. Upon finishing a feat, you will be rewarded with massive amounts of valor, which only help you on your path to poetic justice.

Although many of us like to throw down as an over-the-top powerful god of thunder with a super-awesome cape, we’ve also witnessed the undeniable errors and terrible garbage that some developers call gameplay enter our system over and over again. Regrettably, Thor: God of Thunder is no different from previous excursions into superhero blockbuster turned video game flop. It is yet another example of what not to do when making a video game.

As awesome as it sounds to wield Thor’s mighty hammer and have control of all things storm-related, this game fails to capture how awesome the character could have been. Almost everything that players encounter will horrify them to the point of no return. The graphics are PS2-esque with very little creativity in level design. The controls are awful and the gameplay is way too monotonous for anyone to enjoy, including Thor enthusiasts.

From the very beginning you will notice bland, uncreative environments and you'll hope they will improve as the game progresses. They don’t. With each new world you visit, you start to realize that developers weren’t too concerned with updated graphics. It’s always unfortunate to see a modern game that looks like it should have been released a generation ago, but this is how Thor stacks up against the competition.

Not only did the graphics look ridiculous, the voice acting was more of a comedic routine than a serious plight to get people to pay attention to the story. Words didn’t match up with the movement of the characters’ lips, and despite some of the actual actors from the film doing the voices, it was still horrendous.

Other than that, it is almost indescribable how frustrating these controls are. For a beat 'em up game, it is imperative that players have smooth transitions from button-pressing to the action on the screen. A split second can mess up a combo in progress and can result in extreme annihilation from your enemy and possibly death. In Thor, it is way too much of a problem, as it can be an extremely challenging game at times. You will need well-timed combos and quick releases of lightning and wind powers to overcome the army of enemies headed your way. The split-second delay this requires almost always breaks you and leaves you frustrated, a punch away from beating that one colossal boss.

The gameplay didn’t hold up any better. Playing through this game will feel more like studying for hours for a final exam rather than sitting on the beach afterward, enjoying an ice cold drink on summer vacation. Almost all the levels play exactly the same. The enemies change up a little bit, but for most of the game, the only thing that evolves is their color.

Sure, it is difficult to create a popular and successful beat ‘em up title, but it has been done before. Take God of War, or look at Devil May Cry. Thor took it to an all-time low. The lack of challenge, frustrating controls and “back in the day” graphics will leave you with a question mark hovering over your head.

It was a struggle to find nice things to say about this title, but in all honesty, it did offer a few tiny rays of goodness. The bosses were a challenge--monotonous but still a challenge. Developing a strategy on how to bring down a monster three times bigger than you is sometimes fun. Also, the story wasn’t completely nonexistent. It definitely could have been better, but it keeps your attention for the most part. Who doesn't love watching an epic war with Thor as the star warrior?

All in all, Thor: God of Thunder isn’t a game you’ll want to pick up unless you see it in the bargain bin. Sure, it's cool to have awesome powers and a crazy big hammer, but various problems make Thor a mistake-prone, dollar store hammer kind of guy. Fortunately for us, at least the movie was fantastic.


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