Game Review: ‘Thor: God of Thunder’ for XBox 360

While Thor has hammered the competition in theaters, it looks as though this will not be the case for the console release of the tie-in game Thor: God of Thunder. Archaic visuals alongside punishing and repetitive gameplay place Thor: God of Thunder amongst the list of failed movie to game tie ins, though the story doesn’t directly coincide with that of the Thor motion picture.

Gameplay:

Thor: God of Thunder attempts to model itself around other successful action games such as God of War or Dante’s Inferno. Players make their way through specific pathways in levels where they hack and smash through redundant hordes of faceless drones.

Thor uses standard melee attacks alongside his powers of wind, thunder and lightning and hammer throws to defeat these enemies. The downside to these god powers is they aren’t exactly very powerful and Thor’s Odinforce (think of it like Mana or Action Points) quickly depletes, leaving him with only a few sparks to shoot off over the course of combat. The rest of the time, players can simply button mash the standard attack button until grapple options become available.

As mentioned previously, Thor combats larger enemies by actually climbing up them and attacking specific spots on their body to inflict more damage. This, much like the rest of combat, becomes quickly repetitive in finding a way to dodge enemies until they are stunning to where Thor must repeatedly beat their armor off of them to uncover their weak spot. Though different enemies have different spots that must be destroyed, the principal doesn’t change.

The game’s difficulty is also a strong point of contention. Battles range from horribly simplistic where enemies give next to no resistance to frustratingly complicated and boring boss battles or nearly impossible timed missions. To further add to the frustration, the game chooses odd places for checkpoints which often make players traverse long stretches of level or repeatedly complete battles over and over again. The game’s camera unwittingly adds to this difficulty as it repeatedly gets lost behind gigantic enemies, not allowing players to see themselves of foes in front of them who are attacking.

The most frustrating part of Thor: God of Thunder comes from the game’s unresponsive controls. Early on, the game tries to instruct players in the proper timing of certain offensive and defensive maneuvers as well as tactics for traversing through the levels. Players will quickly notice that Thor doesn’t always respond like he should and will fall to his death instead of jumping over small chasms or let enemy projectiles slam into him instead of deflecting them as originally intended.

Story and Presentation:

The story of Thor: God of Thunder may be its only redeeming value. As many players aren’t going to be as familiar with the Thor story as they would be with a character like Spider-Man or Batman, Matt Fraction is able to weave a believable thread revolving around a young, headstrong version of the character. In this tale, Thor has not yet learned of his brother Loki’s treacherous nature and follows his advice to take the fight to the frost giants that Thor believes have killed his friend and compatriot Siff. Thor goes to attack Ymir, the king of the frost giants and in doing so falls into his brothers plan which he must undo to save the nine worlds.

The opening of the game could have used a little more exposition and explanation however. Though Thor tells us how much Siff means to him and we see his reaction, there is no character building before the initial battle to explore this relationship and allow players to see why Thor reacts the way he does.

Even though the delivery feels stilted and ineffective, the actual written dialogue of Thor: God of Thunder feels true to the comic that influences it. As seen though both on the big screen and in gaming, Thor-speak is sometimes better read than actually heard.

Graphics and Sound:

If you saw a screenshot of Thor: God of Thunder for XBox 360, you would most likely assume it was actually for the Wii because of the low res textures seen within it. Once in motion, framerate becomes a nuisance when too much is happening on the screen at once. Visually, Thor: God of Thunder is a disaster. Even if the gameplay were better, the low production value of Thor’s visuals would tear the game down. Now, coupled with it, Thor: God of Thunder manages to suffer even further.

As mentioned earlier, the dialogue of Thor doesn’t do the title character justice. Though a better sounding choice than Thor’s voice from other games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 since this time it comes from Chris Hemsworth, the actual delivery feels phoned in. Some actors like Mark Hamill can work wonders in a closed booth while others like the much younger, and obviously less experienced Hemsworth sound like they are just reading off a paper. The various other voices have the same effect sadly as well.

Overall:

Thor: God of Thunder fails to create an immersive and compelling experience as players are repeatedly forced to accomplish menial tasks while dealing with psuedo-responsive controls. The game’s visuals on the XBox 360 look dated and continue to decease the value of the title. It is unfortunately obvious through the use of character designs, actors and voices from the films that Thor: God of Thunder is simply a poorly disguised movie tie-in title that brings little, if anything, to the table.

Thor: God of Thunder is the perfect example of why studios should not attempt to make games just to tie in to the release of a feature film. The visuals lack the polish of a full development cycle as the game’s producers were forced to use the images of actors from the movie in a much shorter time span than what would normally be given to creating a game. That, on top of a gameplay experience that is a poor clone of more popular titles, leaves Thor: God of Thunder as a title that most gamers and comic book fans will, and should, pass over.

XBox 360 (Also available on PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS)

Developer: Liquid Entertainment

Publisher: SEGA

Score: 4.0

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