Thor: God of Thunder Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Thor: God of Thunder Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

By Odin’s Beard, This Could Have Been Better

Let’s face it, movie tie-in games never stand much of a chance of actually being good. Nonetheless, when I was told that the new Thor movie was getting not one, but three separate games by three separate developers across three separate consoles, I had some hope that one of them might be at least a semi-decent game.

Unfortunately, Thor: God of Thunder for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 is not that semi-decent game. It’s pretty much what I expected from any other movie tie-in: a generic action game with a shiny coat of franchise paint. Unfortunately, Thor’s coat of paint isn’t even that shiny.

Thor: God of Thunder Screenshot

The story kicks off with a frost giant attack on Asgard. This makes Thor mad, so obviously he does what he does best: SMASH! Wait, no, that’s the Hulk. Well, Thor beats the crap out of them anyway, and in the process gets tricked by Loki into releasing Mangog. For those of you who aren’t Thor fans, Mangog is the sum total of the hatred of a million billion beings that were once killed by Odin, so the fact that he is released from his prison under Asgard is pretty much a bad thing.

I’m not a fan of the Thor comics, so I’m not all that interested in Thor’s plot in the first place. But Thor: God of Thunder somehow manages to make it even more boring than it already is. Thor screws up, and then he has to try to fix it, and that’s about it. Nothing else happens. There are a bunch of characters like Ulik, Ymir, and Surtur from the Thor comic that make appearances, but they are just roadblocks that Thor has to smash with his hammer, and their plot relevance is pretty much non-existent. I think the developers assumed anyone who was playing this game was going to be like “Oh awesome, remember that character from issue #64?” Somewhere in the middle they forgot they had to make the story accessible for the rest of us.

Thor: God of Thunder Screenshot

The gameplay system in Thor is a good idea gone wrong. Thor has access to a lot of moves. He can string hits together to create combos with powerful finishes, throw his hammer at foes at range, smash the ground to cause a quake, and call on the power of the lighting, thunder, and wind. He has a tech tree that you can spend “valor” on to learn new skills and abilities, and HP and MP bars for fueling his skills. He can counter enemy skills by dodging or reflecting them, and can dash, block, and jump really high in the air. There’s even a rage meter that fills throughout the course of certain battles that, when full, can trigger an immense attack that alters the very terrain around you.

He also has a cool grapple system that lets him grab enemies and finish them off cinematically. However, unlike games like God of War that simply have you press the grapple button and finish an enemy off, Thor lets you choose what to do after you grapple. This allows you to string together brutal hammer strikes and thunderbolts. The bosses in the game are titan-sized beasts that Thor can climb upon, and they have multiple grapple points to work with. When grappling a boss, you can deal damage or leap to another grapple point at whim, making the boss fights incredibly dynamic. Even quick time events have their own choices that allow you to dismantle foes exactly the way you choose. Sounds fun right?

Thor: God of Thunder Screenshot

Well, there’s one particular problem with this formula. None of that stuff I just mentioned matters one bit. You only need one thing to beat this game: the X button on an Xbox, and the square button on a PS3. Mash that button and you’ll be just fine. You don’t need to use other combos, or counters, or his god abilities, or ranged attacks, or any of that stuff. Every enemy, including most bosses, simply goes down as long as you keep mashing out attacks. Do you want to dash? Think again. Dashing leaves you wide open to enemy attacks. How about blocking? Nope. Blocking is slow and clunky, and it doesn’t always respond. You might as well be using that time to smack your enemy some more. There is no depth to this system whatsoever. Even if you never upgrade Thor, you can still get through the game by mashing out attacks as quickly as possible.

All of this could be made up for with some interesting stage design. Unfortunately, the stages in this game are boring as hell. They’re all just straight paths, followed by locked room battles, followed by more of the same. There’s barely any exploration, and there are very few secrets to be found. It’s basically just ten straight hours of wailing on enemies with a hammer. Even worse, many of these battles last forever, and if you screw up, you’ll need to start all over again. Your greatest enemy is your own fatigue; eventually, you’ll just get too bored to go on.

Thor: God of Thunder Screenshot

As I said before, the Thor coat of paint on this game isn’t very shiny. Thor is rendered in the likeness of Chris Hemsworth, but his face looks flat and unexpressive. In fact, it somehow manages to be even more flat and unexpressive than Chris Hemsworth’s face actually is. His body moves stiffly and awkwardly, as opposed to his enemies that move smoothly but don’t show a whole lot of variety in their animations. Even Thor’s cape seems like an origami figure folded around his shoulders.

The developers went on and on about how this game has its own story and how it’s not based on the movie. Don’t be fooled. This game, even though it’s a prequel of sorts, is based on the movie 100%. They even got Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, the actors who portray Thor and Lokin in the movie, to do some voice acting, and even they didn’t give that great a performance. Let’s not even talk about the rest of the cast’s voice jobs (which are even worse, by the way.) When Thor kills Surtur he screams in rage… except that scream sounds held back and kind of corny. Sutur similarly screams in agony as Thor strikes the finishing blow … except that scream sounds more like a grunt of minor annoyance.

Thor: God of Thunder could have been so much better, and I think that’s what’s most offensive about it. The designers hyped the game until we couldn’t stand hearing about it anymore, and I kind of fell for it. I really thought this game was going to be different. It had so many good ideas, but they were all implemented so poorly. Linear gameplay, a shallow combat system, and a bad story just make this game a waste of time. If you are really into the movie, you might want to check it out. But trust me; you aren’t missing anything if you skip it altogether.

It’s kind of like a Thor puppet is getting knocked around by World of Warcraft mobs. Also, everything looks like it has a lens flare filter on it. 3.0 Control
If button mashing sounds fun, then the system isn’t that bad. Otherwise, it is painfully repetitive. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The movie actors are the best part of the voice work, and even they kind of phone it in. 2.0 Play Value
Does ten hours of pressing X repeatedly sound like a good time to you? 2.7 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • First 2011 Summer Blockbuster: Following Marvel’s $620M hit Iron Man 2, the Thor film will be backed by a bigger marketing campaign, generating huge franchise awareness.
  • Become the God of Thunder: Step into the role of Thor and wield the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, in Thor’s first standalone game.
  • Superhuman Elemental Powers: Unleash Mjölnir’s primal storm powers of lightning, thunder and wind. Electrocute throngs of trolls or split the ground in two with an earthshaking thunder attack that knocks frost giants to the ground.
  • Epic Combat: Use brawn and brains as you bash opponents with hammer attacks and throw combos. Scale titanic frost giants and trolls using multiple grappling points to find and attack weak spots.
  • Level Up: Choose new abilities, powers and weapon upgrades as Thor earns Valor runes through battle victories.
  • Original Storyline: Narrative was overseen by Eisner Award-winning writer and lead Thor comic book author Matt Fraction.
  • Star power: Features voice and likeness of Thor film actors Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

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