STAFF REVIEW of Thor: God of Thunder (Xbox 360)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011.
by Adam Dileva

Thor: God of Thunder Box art Another one of Stan Lees characters has come to life in the movie medium and because of that we also get the tie-in video game to go along with it. The Thor character from the comics has been around for almost half a century and Thors been in many a battle on Earth and in the Nine Worlds. I just saw the movie this weekend and thought it was decent considering I was never into his lore or comics growing up with Chris Hemsworth doing an amazing job portraying the God of Thunder.

Well, thats about the entire amount of good things I have to say about Thor youre going to read in this review. Here we have once again a rushed game movie tie-in that is the exact reason that movie to game adaptations have a horrible reputation (other than the very few titles that seemed to work out; Spiderman Im looking at you).

The front of the box denotes that the game features the likeness of Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) as if thats going to be the deciding factor in your purchase. Yes they look like them from the movie and are apparently voice by them also, but the quality of voice acting in the whole game makes me question if it was rushed or even planned ahead of time.

Youll be battling to save Asgard from destruction with a new storyline created specifically for the game (but also set in the same universe as the movie), but dont let that fool you; you wont really care what happens to Thors home world after a few hours of trying to control him. Youll quickly see how rushed and unpolished the game is once your simply a few fights into the game.

You need to know first off that this isnt just a retelling of the movies plot, so I guess one upside is that there is no spoilers (though why youd buy this and not see the movie first is beyond me). The story is somewhat of a prequel to the movie though many events in the game make absolutely no sense if they were to carry over into the movie storyline. Because of this, developer Liquid Entertainment was able to have more locals and worlds that arent seen in the movie. Dont let this fool you though, many worlds are simply a pallet swap and the ice world is essentially the same thing as fire and so on with enemies that do the same things but look different.

Asgard is invaded by frost giants at the very beginning and Thor needs to repel the invaders after Sif is killed in the pandemonium. This should have been a major plot spin later in the game but because of the horrible voice acting all around, I simply didnt even care what happened. Youll travel from world to world trying to find the leaders that will pay. If youre a fan of the comics then youll at least enjoy that Surtur, Ymir and more of Thors enemies will be shown in the game; the downfall is that youll actually have to play the game to see and battle them. Because every action in the game essentially ignores and negates what happens in the movie, it almost feels as if there is no point. Having a strong story leading up to the start of the movie would have been a fantastic ploy for Thor fans to pick up the game, even if it wasnt a triple A title.

Now if the gameplay was amazing or unique, I could give the horrible story and voice acting a pass; unfortunately though I think you know the answer. Thor is essentially a hack and slash thats simply trying too hard to mimic a God of War style gameplay. Youre Thor with the mighty hammer Mjolnir but itll feel as if youre swinging around a stick with no sense of power whatsoever. Even your strongest attacks will almost always miss or feel like they do no damage at all.

Thors legendary hammer is supposed to be something of almost limitless power, yet the smallest enemies will take multiple hits to simply defeat. You will have control of the Lightning, Thunder and Wind elements to help Thor but these special powers that use their own meter that needs refilling also feels very weak also. As for regular combat, the biggest problem lies in the hit detection boxes. Many attacks will have you completely guessing if they are hitting or not, in-air moves are almost completely useless (except for larger bosses, but that is even debatable) and while you have a vast selection of moves and combos at your disposal, once you find a single one or two you like (and that actually work) youll essentially be spamming that sequence the whole game. Moves will look cool but lacks a large amount of polish (and fixing obviously).

Poor camera and glitches will also frustrate you in combat. Trying to do a specific combo such as X, X, X, X, Y for example will almost never work as it seems theres a lag on the input of button presses. Couple this with having to deal with a block that rarely works and a dodge that isnt actually fast enough to dodge and you can see why frustration levels will rise. While smaller enemies will react when hit it seems bosses will barely even flinch at anything that hits them so youll always be guessing if youre actually doing it properly or not.

Speaking of boss fights, youll be facing many large enemies in specific sections of the game that are as cheap as they come. First you need to hit them enough to break their armor off (which is guesswork at best) and once they are vulnerable you are able to grab them to start a somewhat quicktime event sequence. You are able to normally attack to get some health back or you can decide to do a massive damaging attack on the boss; this is of course if you are quick enough for the incredibly small window youre given to input a command. Youll also be able to on some bosses climb them to their shoulders to damage or destroy some of their armor. This again has a very small window open in which you need to press the specific button or youll get knocked off. Youll have to spam the grapple button on a vulnerable boss due to the small icon to show that the boss is ready to be climbed being so small that it almost blends in (providing you are able to tame the camera).

As Thor defeats enemies youll earn Valor points which can be spent to acquire new powers, weapon upgrades, health boosts and more. Yes, its exactly like every other progression system out there for this genre. When you do eventually level up and gain new abilities, things dont necessarily become easier as enemies will still interrupt you mid combo and when you need to interact with an object. While you can build Thor to suit your play style, I found very quickly that if you dont have a few key specific skills in the latter portion of the game, youre in for even more frustration.

Sometimes Thor will need to scale a wall but it needs to be done in a specific spot that has a glowing ledge. The issue is that the glowing spot is almost always impossible to see unless youre specifically looking for it, which is usually once you get stuck and cant figure out where to go. Camera issues will also make Thor plummet many times off cliffs and ledges (though you simply get back onto the ledge automatically and dont die). Whats that you say? Thor can fly? Well yes, in very specific spots in the game youll have to input a button press to make him fly to the next area or platform, but you dont actually do any flying yourself. Sometimes he flys long distances and others hes hopping a small gap. Why Thor cant fly whenever he want makes no sense, but hey, its a movie game, I shouldnt be expecting something as the lore to be correct right?

A few other nuances standout such as opening doors will require you to hold a button for 5 seconds or so which feels very unnecessary (especially when theres a door right behind the one you just opened). The boat sequences about half way through the game is terrible and completely out of nowhere. It really doesnt feel Thor worthy when he should be able to simply fly wherever he wants to go.

Sega may have gotten ahold of some of the character models and designs but the rest of the games graphics are so amateur that it brings the whole experience down (not including texture load-in issues and frame drops). The worlds could have been very unique looking and have a distinct feel to them but they all feel the same and bland level design will make you want to finish it soon as you can rather than explore the lush worlds.

To be honest, I cant tell you how the music was in the game at all, everything else and Thors hammer drowns out everything else that I dont remember any music at all. As a whole package, even to diehard Thor fans, I cant recommend God of Thunder to anyone.

You control a character that looks like Thor but you wont feel like him in any way. Youll fight generic enemies in bland levels in a game that feels like it came off a generic brawler production line without any quality inspections along the way. There is a 3D option for those earlier TV adopters out there but that wont even be a saving grace as the camera issues constantly have you struggling to figure out where you are in relation to the other enemies the whole time.

Surprisingly Thor is a lengthy twelve to fifteen hour game but its so unnecessarily stretched out that it really could have been a 4 hour game without all the useless filler. This is of course counting all the restarts from cheap bosses, falling into pits or water (yea, a God cant swim)and aimless wandering trying to figure out where you are supposed to go because you dont see that ledge with the miniscule glowing edge on it.

This really makes me wonder if Sega is going to screw up the Captain America game as well. Ill do you a favor; save the $60 from not buying the game and go see the Thor movie 5 times instead; youll get much more enjoyment out of it.

Sega, please stop putting this garbage out.

Overall: 2.0 / 10
Gameplay: 2.0 / 10
Visuals: 3.0 / 10
Sound: 2.0 / 10


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