I wanted one thing from this game: for it to be better than last year's Iron Man 2 game that I gave a 5/10 bollocking. Thor needn't worry though as this is a much better tie-in.
Rather than follow the earth-bothering, flannel-shirted nature of the movie, this game simply takes place in the fantasy realms of the Thor universe in a separate story-line, which turns out to be a good move.
Famed comic book writer (and unfortunately the scribe of the afore-mentioned Iron Man game), Matt Fraction, has penned a very basic plot, but it is at least unobtrusive. We'll presume he saves the compelling material for the comics.
The likenesses and voices for Thor and Loki are taken from the film, although Loki seems to be doing most of the snake-tongued speaking. Thor doesn't seem to have a personality at all and has got less lines than a pull-string cowboy toy. The facial animations are a little stiff, so you kind of want to look away during most cutscenes anyway.
Unsurprisingly the game is a beat em' up adventure game, with linear levels, a few collectibles and a smattering of boss fights. What is surprising though is the unexpected areas of decent quality. The combat gets around the problem of Thor only using a hammer, by throwing in elemental attacks to the triangle button instead of the usual strong attack to go with the regular melee beatings. A tap of R2 will make Thor throw his Mjolnir hammer to reach enemies at a distance.
Windy blasts, earth-ripping quake smashes and lightning storms can be used to finish off combos as long as you have some Odinforce juice left. The three elements are built into different button combinations meaning you don't have to manually swap between them. Different enemies react to different elements and it's worth experimenting to see what destroys enemy armour the best.
If you want to kick off an epic storm effect though, draining a large amount of Odinforce in the process, you'll need to select your element with the d-pad and hold down the triangle button to unleash a larger prolonged area effect attack such as a lightning storm, tornado or earthquake.
Grab attacks can be used to finish off weakened foes in three different ways which can reward you with top-ups for health, Odinforce or Valor (upgrade currency). It's a nice way of getting what you need when you need it the most.
Buying upgrades for health, melee, hammer throws or your elemental attacks paces out the action well enough to keep the combat feeling fresh. There's not a lot of extra combos as the upgrades usually only require a button hold instead of a press at the end of them. Easy to remember at least.
The only serious complaint I have about the combat is that there's not a lot of visual feedback for Thor taking damage, as he rarely gets knocked down. You'll have to keep an eye on the health metre because you won't know you're close to death until it's too late.
Boss fights are usually against giant foes that are either devil-like or giant Star Wars Rancour-style beasts. Rather than just hammer away at them until they die you must break away their armour by getting up close and climbing up on them once the prompt appears. After climbing on their chest you must choose where to climb next before they rip you off and then get a few strikes in before finishing with an elemental attack on their shoulders, back and eventually their face.
The animations for some of these finishers are superb, especially the ones where you leap above them in slow motion, seeing them gape at you from below while you swoop down driving Mjolnir into their face while rain suddenly pours down from the storm your thundery momentum has caused.
That's one of the other shockers about this game. At times it's seriously good looking. Admittedly the first two stages, the Asgard level and the following ice cave world didn't particularly impress, but the following jungle swamps of Vanaheim were rich with detail. A fine balance of sunlight for the environments and shadow effects on enemy textures (especially the giant Skraeling pulling the barge) put the game well-above other movie tie-ins like the Spiderman, Hulk or Iron Man games. A shame then that the rest of the game never reaches the same delights visually, after it moved onto the fire realm of Muspelheim. This lava world had some nice views of the planets above and a space-high viewpoint above the surface, but unfortunately the action mainly scurries back underground. Too many tunnels overall, but at least some effort was made in some areas for a change and it shows some potential for future efforts.
Mission structure is your usual fare for the genre. There's nothing you could really call puzzles, press four nearby buttons or smash some towers before smashing the middle one, that sort of thing. There is one part where you pilot a barge down a river by electrocuting a huge beast to make it drag it quicker, while you throw your hammer at any other ships or Skraeling scamps on the shore. It's essentially a nice change of pace from the button mashing combat and you can enjoy the graphics in the game's best looking planet.
The platforming sections aren't particularly strong, but you're always returned to a very close-by location to where you fell, with very little health taken away. This makes the platforming's stiffness much more forgiveable.
Thor: God of Thunder was doing so well until the last level, where a harsh time limit was introduced over several long tasks. It was so out of line with the rest of the game, and utterly momentum destroying, that it ultimately cost the game a point off the final score. It's still worth a look for fans of the Norse hero if they can pick it up cheap or maybe as a rental though.
- Enjoyable combat
- Occasionally very good to look at
- Can play again, keeping your unpgrades from the first time
- Forgettable story-line
- Miserable last level
- Too many caves and tunnels
The Short Version: Better than most tie-in guff that we've become accustomed too. It'll only last a couple of afternoons, but the simple, yet effective combat makes the overall experience an enjoyable one, even if Thor can't compete with Kratos or Bayonetta in the action stakes.