Game Rant's Robert Keyes reviews Thor: God of Thunder (Xbox 360/PS3)
After several failed attempts by SEGA to deliver a quality video game experience based on Marvel Studios' The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man films, has their partnership with Liquid Entertainment helped turn the tide with Thor: God of Thunder? Read our review to find out.
The live-action Thor film released in North American theaters to relatively good reviews and great box office results. The video game adaptation takes the likeness and voices of the film's stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Jaimie Alexander to bring their versions of Thor, Loki and Sif, respectively, to the game. Unfortunately for fans who made the mistake of paying for Thor: God of Thunder, not even they can salvage this title.
Thor: God of Thunder sadly is unable to live up to its already-lowered expectations set from its trailers, screenshots and our pre-release hands-on experience with the game. In short, Thor: God of Thunder has poor graphics, poor controls, repetitive gameplay and no compelling story or characters.
The story of the game, like Captain America: Super Soldier, does not follow that of the movie. Instead, players embark on a journey with the troubled (and borderline idiotic) protagonist, Thor, as he's consistently and repeatedly tricked by his mischievous brother Loki into battling his way through a variety of realms based on the Marvel Comics and Norse mythology. There's no Earth to be found here and after the first section of the game where Thor battles the Jotuns (Frost Giants), it takes a path far different than that of the feature film.
In terms of gameplay, Thor's abilities and powers are broken into six categories that can be leveled up and acquired through experience (Valor Points). From a physical standpoint, Thor can learn and improve his melee, hammer throw and health abilities, while mastering his wind, thunder and lightning elemental powers. During the actual gameplay, players can switch between the three sets of powers on the fly but most of the combat will be performed through melee combos intermixed with grapples which are the most effective way at finishing foes and earning back some Valor Points, health or Odinforce.
This added layer of depth to using the Thor's mighty hammer MjÃ¶lnir does little to help the game which forces repetitive gameplay. Graphics that are years out of date are not what hurts this game. It is the excruciating and sometimes broken gameplay that makes it an unsatisfying and frustrating experience, made worse by the checkpoint system which punishes players by forcing the complete re-playing of sequences or areas from the very beginning. If the player knows exactly what combo(s) they wish to unleash on the opponent, it's an overly difficult task to accomplish this and the combat has no flow whatsoever, especially when it comes to floating stationary in the air, swinging at the air with seemingly random hit detection.
In between the awkward cinematics, most of the time spent playing Thor: God of Thunder will involve melee skirmishes against run of the mill villains, with the occasional obligatory boss fight thrown in between. While the selling point for the game may arguably have been the epically scaled boss battles, in reality they are the worst part of the game.
The bosses have a health meter which the player must grind away at until quick time event opportunities become available. Players must then climb the titans and break off or damage their critical points. It's rather standard and familiar in theory, but executing these events properly is an exercise in mind-numbing patience as it takes and ungodly amount of time (see what I did there?) to finish a boss battle by doing the same actions over and over (and over) again. The only way to gain back health and energy (Odinforce) is to melee the giants when climbing them instead of power-attacking to take a sizable chunk of their health away and when you die - which you will do a lot of - you have to start from the very beginning.
Worse, is that in these boss battle arenas, the camera angles are out of the player's control, forcing a loss of mobility. These problems are only compounded by the invisible walls and rigid and unresponsive controls. Players will occasionally find themselves trapped and unable to move to dodge incoming projectiles.
On normal difficulty, players will find themselves surprisingly overly challenged against even the first large boss and that's largely a result of the controls and game mechanics. I find myself not wanting to play the game during the first two boss battles after dying more than once in each instance. They are not fun and they certainly are not pretty, so having to re-live those moments was an awful experience. If anything, Thor: God of Thunder should make gamers appreciate the God of War franchise for its polish and gameplay mechanics.
Thor: God of Thunder would have been a more enjoyale experience if it were cut down into a 1-2 hour game and priced as a $10 downloadable or if you could play co-operatively with friends. It's not something you'll have fun with on your own which makes Thor another Marvel superhero victim of SEGA that would be better off not existing.
Thor: God of Thunder is available now on all platforms except PSP and PC.
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