Release Date: Out Now in the UK. May 3rd for North America
Developer: Liquid Entertainment
The mighty god of thunder, Thor, is a prime candidate for an action-adventure game really. He’s got a short temper, super strength and the powerful hammer known as Mjolnir. He can call down lighting storms and battle giants. He’s also got a film coming up to help boost those sales. What could possibly go wrong?
Did you hear that sound? That sort of cracking sound mixed with screeching? That was the sound of things going wrong.
God of Thunder is only loosely tied to the film coming out, instead we’ve got a tale of revenge as Thor, accompanied by his brother, the Trickster, Loki, goes on a rampage and accidently unleashes a terrible beast upon Asgard. It’s a lightweight tale with little in the way of complication or intrigue, but some substance is added by the fact they’ve got Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, who play Thor and Loki respectively in the movie, onboard to voice their characters in-game. While they may not deliver the same quality of work as they do in the film it still helps add a little touch of quality to the game.
Sadly that’s one of very few quality touches in Thor. The combat system, which is key to any game that demands you beat up bad guys for ten hours straight, is sorely lacking finesse or depth. At first it seems decent enough’ you’ve got a handful of basic combo’s to throw around, a grapple move, elemental powers, a rage meter and an upgrade tree. However, it’s not long until you discover that you won’t get many moves added to your list, and the rage meter is only active at specific locations in the game. you’ve got a dash move to get around with, but as it leaves you vulnerable after use it feels almost pointless, and the block button can’t be used during quite a few moves leading to some frustrating deaths. A bit of depth is added via the elemental abilities which can be charged up for some pretty cool effects like lighting storms and earthquakes, and while the graphic and sound never do them justice it’s hard not to smile while controlling a raging torrent of electricity across the field. Many enemies have armor which needs to be chipped off so you can grapple them or do proper damage. it’s a solid enough system, and the grapple finishers are worth the time as you get to choose between three different ones and they all look pretty damn cool. The real nail in the coffin comes in the form of button mashing; enemies never require thought to beat, instead you can repeat the same two or three combo’s over and over to beat them.
Still, the system just feels dated, and with the likes of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta on the market, it feels stiff.
The shortcomings of combat could have been lessened by switching up the pace with platforming, or puzzles, or anything really, but instead the ten-hour campaign is just continuous battle after battle, and some of them can last for an age as you plow through legions of enemies to charge up your rage meter. Battles become less about frantic combat than not giving into fatigue and hoping to god that some random move tat you can’t block doesnt deplete your health bar so you don’t have to go through this entire battle again.
At other times the pacing becomes just a bit odd with around five battles in a row demanding you use the Rage meter, which sees you pummeling endless enemies until you can charge it up, and then after that you won’t get to use it for a few hours again.
However, things are broken up a little by the big boss battles, and while the timing for these is predictable, as is the actual fights themselves, they’re definitely the highlight of Thor. This big bastards always taking a pounding to take down, and suddenly the combat goes from simply button mashing to a game of timing when to attack. Beating them up is rewarded with some pretty epic grapple moves, usually in Quick-Time- Event form, which sees Thor going to town with Mjolnir. These grapple events are ruined somewhat by the fact the game often demands you stand in a very specific spot to use them, and doing the heat of battle that can be a bit tricky.
This really isn’t a looker of a game either. Thor himself is decently detailed, but throw him into combat and he moves like a wooden puppet being hit with a baseball bat. watching him use his hammer to leap great distances is great, but watching him jerk to a stop at the end of the jmp isn’t. His cape appears to be made of something solid and unbending as well. For the most part environments look bland and dull, even though you do get to journey across a few different worlds. The exception being the Inferni world which does have a few nice vistas to admire.
Thor: God of Thunder feels like wasted opportunity to bring the mighty Thor into the gaming age. It’s another movie tie-in that falls foul of the curse, even though this is only very loosely connected to the film itself. But most of all, it feels like the games creators failed to understand what makes the hack ‘n’ slash games good.
+ Thor is just cool.
+ Smacking giants around.
– Clunky combat.
– Bad pacing.
– Looks poor
Bland, dull environments and stiff animations.
Thor and Loki are voiced by the films actors lending some much-needed quality, but otherwise hammer blows sound weak and the music is just generic.
Thor mucks up, Asgard pays for it. The rest is taken up by mindless combat and the occasional in-game cutscene.
The combat lacks the finesse, depth and grace of the true greats.It’s just ten hours of button mashing with little else.
A ten hour campaign, but nothing else.
A poor attempt to capitalise on the film, but doubtless this will sell as do most film tie-in games. As an action game, it just fails to capture the flowing combat that makes the genre so great.