Thor: The review

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of… THOR”

But does the movie tie-in game of Thor by Liquid Entertainment possess such worth? I could drag it out but to be quick and simple, no. No it doesn’t.

I picked up this game because I’m a big fan of comic books and particularly of those concerning super heroes. Having followed Thor for years and having recently seen the movie (more on that later – Ed) I was interested in the game even if others give an immediate thumbs-down to movie tie-ins. Sadly, at times, I’m an optimist, and that misdirected hope can drag me through some of the worst videogames ever produced. This is no exception; in fact it’s the epitome of bad games.

The game’s story takes place seemingly within the Thor film, somewhere within the first 20-30 minutes. Thor breaks off from his fellow Asgardians and goes on a quest in which he traverses various realms, releases a creature of immense power, and puts both Asgard and Midgard (Earth) in grave danger. Perhaps somewhere within the nine realms of Yggdrasill the time runs slower than in other places; either that or a large chunk of the Thor movie was cut out to save time.

Chris Hemsworth a la next-gen.

Chris apparently needs to be Hemmed-Worth.

In the film Loki betrays the house of Odin and conspires with the frost giants of Niffleheim, which leads Thor to strike back at Niffleheim without understanding the full picture. Ymir, the oldest of the frost giants, tries to explain to Thor that the house of Odin contains a traitor, but Thor arrogantly pushes forward to obtain revenge for Asgard.

This journey in Niffleheim leads the player through waves of basic enemies which, like most enemies throughout the game, are remodeled and reskinned continuously – so be prepared for repetition and bugs on a level worthy of trickery by Loki himself. Each world you visit has bosses and sub-bosses, although they’re all the same and just perform visually different attacks; a set of close melee attacks and long distance attacks. They’re all beaten in same way, too: deal enough damage to allow them to be grappled followed by a barrage of attacks which actually take chunks off of their lifebar.

Overall the game felt like it had lacked the proper tools or funding to produce a quality Thor title, because some aspects such as the traveling between realms I actually did enjoy. Unfortunately this wasn’t very drawn out since the gameplay is very linear and shallow so you never get a good feel for these realms.

Odinson

Kneel before the almighty Thor, please?

Like most games of this type (God of War, Dante’s Inferno, etc) there is a upgrade system for all of Thor’s moves which can be levelled up via destroying foes and attaining points to spend on his lightning, thunder or wind attacks. Unfortunately this system is redundant, and I got through most of the game without upgrading much.

Now this is where I get to my main grievance: getting through most of the game. That’s right, I didn’t beat the game. I managed to traverse the realms, strike down all foes in my path and make it back to Asgard only to become so frustrated with the gameplay mechanics. Between battling annoying enemies and simultaneously trying to keep Asgard’s lifebar up – a sort of celestial realm-sized escort quest – I could not stand playing anymore even though I was at the last chapter. The lifebar for Asgard reminded me very much of Superman Returns which used a similar trick for the city Metropolis while you as Superman fight to save it. Why, I ask, did the developers decide that imitating this aspect of a terrible game was a good idea? I’ll never really know.

Despite such irritations Thor does have an interesting “break time” system which, after an extended period of play, shuts down the game to allow the player time to relax. Okay, it actually just crashes very often.

Problems aside the story is decent and involves a lot of the elements from the comics that the movie didn’t touch on, like bringing in other realms and characters from the Thor mythos all backed by the writing power of Marvel’s very own Matt Fraction. That said Matt Fraction also wrote the story to the Iron Man 2 video game and with Thor using almost the same team it’s little surprise that it has fallen from the good graces of Asgard (I’m guessing this means that you shouldn’t buy this game at all costs – Ed).


Before I get in to my review for the movie I’d like to note that in celebration for the film, on the day of release I downloaded the Thor Mjolnir app for my iPod and got a quick laugh since it crashed shortly after launch every time I tried to use it. It looks like the mobile app really is trying to imitate the full console experience…

The grass truly is greener on the other side, with the Thor film outshining the Thor video game in every way. The basic story is the same with a traitor within the house of Odin causing war with the frost giants, which opens the realm of Asgard to danger. For exposing the Asgardians to the horrors of war the All-Father Odin casts Thor down to Midgard.

The Almighty Thor

Chris Hemsworth - Australian, 6'3", enjoys surfing, worthy of wielding Mjolnir.

Warning: SPOILERS

Putting up with the mortals surrounding him as well as being constantly knocked out – no longer possessing the power of an Asgardian since his father took his hammer – Thor goes on a journey to reclaim his fallen hammer only to be found unworthy of wielding it. Having given up on his search to regain his power he learns valuable lessons from the mortals and begins to come to terms with his exile.

With sinister forces working in the background the war machine of Asgard known as the Destroyer travels to Earth to destroy Thor. Through the Warriors Three and Sif, with the assistance of Heimdall, Thor learns a final lesson which restores him to his Asgardian self.

/SPOILERS.

The film is good, full of laughs, action and love with the claws of unnecessary 3D gimmickry gripping tightly to it. If you’re a comic fan then you’ll enjoy it a lot more; with cameo appearances from some industry big shots and nods to other franchises it’s sure to put a smile on the face of any fan. If you’re looking for something deep then aside from its beautiful Asgard sets the film is relatively shallow, just a summer blockbuster. Be sure to stick around after the credits so as to not miss another link in Marvel’s chain between the films coming down their pipeline.


Flash of Lightning

A Thor game which didn't put me to Odinsleep.

With the negative taste of the Thor videogame slowly washing away, Marvel gave fans a treat with Big Pixel Studios’ Flash game Thor: Bring the Thunder. A Megaman clone at heart, it’s a four world romp through the realms beating down comic villains from Thor and boasts a Campaign Mode and Survival Mode, both with their own difficulty selections. The retro-styled graphics mixed with legitimately enjoyable gameplay made me forget its next-gen movie tie-in counterpart.

Of the currently available Thor games I’d recommend that you play Thor on the Nintendo DS – about which I’ve heard many good things – or try out the Flash game for free over at Marvel’s website.

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