The combat on the part of Thor is surprisingly fun. Thor has melee and grapples as well as the ability to block and throw his hammer at enemies. In addition to these basic combat moves are Thor’s powers. There are three different kinds of powers thor can draw from; lightening, thunder and wind. Each power has their own unique set of moves that can be executed by different button combinations.
Thor can upgrade these different powers as well as unlock new uses for each one through a basic RPG system. As enemies are slain and objectives are completed, valor points are awarded. These valor points can then be put into several different skill trees to improve Thor’s offensive and defensive capabilities. While this levelling system is very basic compared to other action games that use RPG elements, it was unexpected and adds some appreciated depth to the game. For those looking for even more depth there is feats that Thor can obtain throughout the entire game. Feats consist of side objectives for each level or kill x amount of enemies in a particular way.
These feats can provide additional incentive to play the game but completionists beware, 100% completion can only be achieved on the hardest difficulty. This difficulty is locked until the game has been beaten at least once.
The grapple moves mentioned earlier provide some great animated violence. Seeing Thor jam his hammer into an enemy’s mouth and then use it as a lightening conductor was quite the spectacle. Each new enemy type that Thor encounters has unique grapples that can be performed upon them.
Unfortunately this is where the unique experiences end in Thor as the rest of the gameplay mechanics are based around the same repetitive formulas. There are several worlds that Thor visits, each populated with a small, large and giant enemy types. Across the entire game each of these enemies and the strategy to defeat them remain the same with slight variations. Each of the three sizes of enemies use the same base character model but are reskinned with added detail to suit their home world.
The enemies themselves wouldn’t be more than an annoyance if it wasn’t for the fact that the game often throws Thor into a room where he has to defeat waves upon waves of enemies until he builds up enough of his power meter to unleash his power surge, which opens the next area. Between these wave defence sequences are some basic platforming areas that made me wish that Thor could double jump. Instead Thor can perform a single jump and glide for a few feat. I realize that the gliding ability is more in line with the Thor character but the ability to double jump would have helped at certain points in the game.
There is one portion of the game where the developers tried something different from their established gameplay pattern. It consisted of Thor piloting a raft down a jungle river that was being pulled by a giant creature. Thor would have to throw his hammer at enemies on the shoreline or incoming rafts. Thor could also use lighting to shock the creature that was pulling the raft to cause it to go faster. I applaud the developers for taking a risk and going against the grain but this area is not fun and goes on for far too long. The fact that Thor should be able to fly and is instead traveling twenty miles per hour by raft is something that cannot be overlooked.
The developers should have given Thor the ability to fly or at the very least a longer glide time. If the length of time that Thor could glide for was similar to the Thor character in Marvel Ultimate Alliance it would have done the character more justice.
Visually Thor: God of Thunder looks like it was pulled from the original Xbox library. This is particularly true of the cutscenes where each character looks rigid, especially when they are speaking. During gameplay there are moments where explosions happen on screen that appear very pixelated and at the same time the framerate will drop. This didn’t happen often but it did detract from those particular sequences drastically.
Thor: God of Thunder serves as a prelude story to the motion picture releasing later this week. While Thor does combat well it does stumble in several other areas. It isn’t the worst movie tie in game released in the last year but it isn’t the best. It does however whet the appetite for the upcoming movie.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Thor: God of Thunder.