Hmm, now where have I seen this before…
There is a flaw that must be mentioned upfront, a grievous error on the part of the Thor franchise that should make any intelligent human cry in pain and disgust. It is a flaw that should, by all rights, make Thor: God of Thunder a complete failure.
[image1]Thor traverses long stretches of the environment by twirling his hammer about, gathering up kinetic energy and throwing it. He then holds onto the hammer and is carried along with it. What the fuck. This… this is just wrong, a travesty against all that is good in this world; almost, almost, as bad as double-jumping off the air itself. I can stand random lightning, and even the concept that every major character is a deity… but this? This is just horrifying.
That said, given that Nick will likely fire me for grading a game on canonical retarded-ness alone, you get a 'B' game. Thor is rather fun – a pleasant surprise – when one is dealing with any sort of movie-tie-in videogame.
The player controls Thor, the god of thunder, who is thicker than a sack of shit. There is a sort of sick pleasure – almost like watching a car crash unfold before your eyes – in watching Loki (the personification of chaos) backstab Thor in increasingly overt ways. And each time, Thor's reaction tends to be somewhere along the lines of "What just happened?! Loki, you just happened to be in the incredibly coincidental position of this recent attack on me. Please help me because you are certainly trustworthy." It's similar to presenting certain children with a toy, hiding it behind your back, and watching them look everywhere… but behind your back.
The gameplay is incredibly similar to God of War; Thor must kill thousands of tiny enemies with increasingly flamboyant maneuvers, occasionally punctuating this slaughter with a larger enemy who Thor will physically climb atop to induce pain and death. Surprisingly, combat is wonderfully rhythmic and easy to control; the ease at which players can switch targets – even in mid combo – results in wonderfully acrobatic homicide, with both the magic system and physical combat seamlessly combined.
[image2]It's this latter point which is especially delightful. While there is a separate skill tree for both physical and magical attacks, one does not need to stop mid-combat to switch styles; with a few well-timed button presses, Thor will smash some baddies with his hammer, send a shockwave of lightning about his person, and then proceed to throw his hammer at some poor sucka's face, with no discernible break in flow. Along these lines, the skill system allows for a small variety of playstyles. Upgrading a particular ability will not only increase its power, but add additional effects accompanied by extra flares of magic and extra painful hammer-smacks.
As briefly implied, however, there is not a great deal of variety. Of the branches available to players, several seem completely useless (although one skill allows Thor to blow harder and faster…. with wind, of course), as though they'd been added only to make the tree itself look more fleshed out than it really is. Granted, this is a minor complaint; there may not be incredible variety, but the combat is still engaging and satisfying.
Where the game starts to fall through is in its aesthetic presentation, particularly the graphics and sounds which are boring. Moreover, some of the related collectibles are just silly. Of the three or four "sekrit bonuses" you can find, one of them changes the color of Thor's lightning and the other changes how Thor looks. Not inherently a bad thing, mind; it's just anti-climactic to fight your way up a hidden and incredibly maddening platform sequence only to gain the ability to shoot green lightning instead of blue or yellow.
If another, far more polished game didn't exist, Thor would have been incredibly fun. But, well, let's phrase it this way: You go to a party and find a guy named Mr. Greece, who's got ripped abs, an awesome accent, and a deliciously angsty backstory. But for some reason, you get cockblocked, so you wander over towards Mr. Norway, who also has a sexy foreign accent and he would be perfect, if you hadn't met Mr. Greece just minutes before. The problem is, you've settled for Mr. Norway. And so, as much fun as he is, when you go home to turn on and pop in Norway, you'll be thinking about Greece the whole time. (And you're a woman or gay or someone who's totally confused.)