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 Lee?s 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 Thor?s 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, that?s about the entire amount of good things I have to say about Thor you?re 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 I?m 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 that?s 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.

You?ll 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 don?t let that fool you; you won?t really care what happens to Thor?s home world after a few hours of trying to control him. You?ll 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 isn?t just a retelling of the movie?s plot, so I guess one upside is that there is no spoilers (though why you?d 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 aren?t seen in the movie. Don?t 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 didn?t even care what happened. You?ll travel from world to world trying to find the leaders that will pay. If you?re a fan of the comics then you?ll at least enjoy that Surtur, Ymir and more of Thor?s enemies will be shown in the game; the downfall is that you?ll 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 wasn?t 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 that?s simply trying too hard to mimic a God of War style gameplay. You?re Thor with the mighty hammer Mjolnir but it?ll feel as if you?re 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.

Thor?s 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) you?ll 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 there?s a lag on the input of button presses. Couple this with having to deal with a block that rarely works and a dodge that isn?t 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 you?ll always be guessing if you?re actually doing it properly or not.

Speaking of boss fights, you?ll 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 you?re given to input a command. You?ll 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 you?ll get knocked off. You?ll 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 you?ll earn Valor points which can be spent to acquire new powers, weapon upgrades, health boosts and more. Yes, it?s exactly like every other progression system out there for this genre. When you do eventually level up and gain new abilities, things don?t 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 don?t have a few key specific skills in the latter portion of the game, you?re 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 you?re specifically looking for it, which is usually once you get stuck and can?t 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 don?t ?die?). What?s that you say? Thor can fly? Well yes, in very specific spots in the game you?ll have to input a button press to make him ?fly? to the next area or platform, but you don?t actually do any flying yourself. Sometimes he fly?s long distances and others he?s hopping a small gap. Why Thor can?t fly whenever he want makes no sense, but hey, it?s a movie game, I shouldn?t 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 there?s 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 doesn?t 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 can?t tell you how the music was in the game at all, everything else and Thor?s hammer drowns out everything else that I don?t remember any music at all. As a whole package, even to diehard Thor fans, I can?t recommend God of Thunder to anyone.

You control a character that looks like Thor but you won?t feel like him in any way. You?ll 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 won?t 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 it?s 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 can?t swim)and aimless wandering trying to figure out where you are supposed to go because you don?t 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. I?ll do you a favor; save the $60 from not buying the game and go see the Thor movie 5 times instead; you?ll 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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