Set before the film itself, Thor: God of Thunder starts with the siege of the almighty Asgard by the Frost Giants and it is down to the omnipotent, yet arrogant Thor, Son of Odin, to save his home. After the death of his long-term friend, Sif, he is overcome with rage and under the misleading influence of his adopted brother he decides to avenge her death. Thor then sets about causing damage and unleashing his wrath on enemies with Mjolnir (his hammer). The first thoughts that clouded my mind were questions such as “Is this going to be a more substandard, Marvel version of God of War?” and “Will this overcome the stigma that games based on films have?”
The storyline is quite in-depth; after the first level his brother’s scheming deepens. It’s one of those situations where you are helpless as the character; but as the player know what is going on. Yet you are forced to continue with the missions because the character is completely oblivious to the plotting that is going on in the background. For Christ’s sake, this is supposed to be a god and they’re making him out to be completely incapable of thinking! With Thor being a hack-and-slash title it needs a strong narrative to ease the ‘hacking and slashing’ aspect of the game, and it does keep the player entertained.
That being said, there were times that did seem monotonous. As a player I went through various stages of how I felt about the game. At first I thought it was reasonable, and then it was really apparent that you were just attacking enemies over and over again. Once that stage was over I did begin to enjoy it, though it did become relatively infuriating at times; especially when I had to re-play bits because I kept dying. Sometimes I got to a point where I did really well in the first part, but there was no save in between and died in the second part so I had to do that several times over. This got increasingly annoying since this happened quite a lot.
The game goes straight into the action; you’re right in and attacking the enemies whilst it is going through the different moves. This can be a bit overwhelming as you have to get some things right first try otherwise you’d be left vulnerable and under attack. Sometimes when it is telling you how to do a specific move the games pauses and a box comes up; this allows you to read through it and take it in. Other times it comes up at the bottom of the screen and fades away faster than you can really read it; this proved quite frustrating I found myself having to constantly refer back to the controls menu to see what moves to do.
On a positive note, on the controls menu, not only does it show the buttons of how to do the move, but on the right there is a short clip showing what the move is. I found this really handy when I couldn’t remember what the move was but I remembered what it looked like and I wanted to find out how to do the move. I think this is a minor, but pleasant feature that should be featured in games more often.
The combinations of moves themselves aren’t that hard to grasp but sometimes I did forget how to do a move. Once you get them into your head, they’re pretty easy to memorise. One slight snag is that some move combinations are similar, so at one point I wanted to do an attack move on an enemy, but because the sequence of buttons was very similar to a different move, it did that move instead of the one I wanted.
I did find that when I went through and played Thor again on the easy difficulty rather than normal, it was much less hard – to the point that on a boss, for example, I died more than five times trying to kill him. When I came round to killing the same boss on easy, I did it first time without loosing a life. This established to me that the difference between easy and normal is pretty dramatic and can drastically change the performance of the game. Additionally, sometimes it is unclear of where to go or what to do next.
As well as using the hammer as a melee weapon, it also supplies special powers: these include wind, thunder and lightening. By using the special powers you use up the ‘Odinforce’ which is basically like your manor. The special powers are obviously more pungent than the melee attack so the more powerful the power, the more Odinforce they use up. This obviously stops spamming of these special powers. Furthermore, some creatures are damaged more by certain powers. For instance the Frost Giants are best attacked with the thunder power.
There are also chances to ‘grapple’ enemies; this technique is best used on bigger enemies and bosses. When you grapple an enemy, you can either melee attack them or special attack them – by melee attacking an enemy whilst grappling them you gain more health points, and by using a special attack on an enemy whilst grappling them you gain more Odinforce points.
By completing missions, grappling enemies, or accessing special runestones you gain ‘Valor’ points which are basically the Asgardian’s currency. With the Valor points you can buy upgrades to your powers, and other general things. The different categories you can upgrade are: General (like the Odinforce or Health), Melee, Hammer Throw, Lightening Power, Wind Power and Thunder Power. There are different tiers as to what you upgrade; naturally the better the upgrade the more Valor points they cost. This gives the character a chance to develop whilst the enemies around him gradually get more difficult to kill.
You can customise your character to however you like. You can change the outfit which Thor wears – you collect more throughout the levels by picking up collectibles. In addition to Costume Tokens and Lightning Bolt (once you collect two of these, it unlocks a new colour Thor’s lightening can be changed to), the other collectibles available to pick up are: Mjolnir (once five are collected it increases Thor’s health permanently), Valknut (once five are collected it increases Thor’s Odinforce permanently), Call of Valhalla (refills the Odinforce meter and supplies an unlimited source of Odinforce for a short time), and Valkyrie’s Gift (when collected, once Thor’s health has dropped to zero, about half of his health is replenished).
The graphics are mediocre – whilst playing the game the graphics are ok, during the cut scenes, the characters are jerky and the textures are too sharp in places. Moreover whilst playing the game, some parts were fuzzy and weren’t rendered which was a shame. The music is dramatic and doesn’t get boring or bothersome too quickly.
Generally speaking, this isn’t the worst game that is based from a film ever made; all things considered, it’s actually a pretty decent game and I don’t know how it does it, but it just works! Obviously there are bits and bobs here and there which let the game down a bit, but the bits that are there, just, work and are genuinely done well. In the sense of film-based games this is a huge stepping stone; but on the other hand, in today’s gaming market it’s pretty feeble. Compared to other games like it, there has been better (much better) but it doesn’t stop the game from being a reasonable gaming experience nonetheless.
- Interesting narrative.
- Combinations easy to pick up.
- Repetitive at times.
- Graphics, in some parts of the game, are not rendered and look unfinished.
- Combinations are quite similar and sometimes do the wrong move.