The Bottom Line: In spite of some serious frame rate issues, Thor: God of Thunder for the Wii is a blast. The fast-paced battle system keeps you on your toes.
The plot of the Wii release of Thor: God of Thunder is much the same as the DS. Thor is duped by Loki into attacking other lands. The Odinson unintentionally releases Mangog and must right things. Lady Sif almost dies early on in the game. (As a chick, I could’ve done without that two games in a row.) What I liked about this game versus the DS release, is that Loki was more obviously sinister and Thor a little more suspicious of his brother. They were characters and not props to get you to the next battle. The story, dialogue were co-written by Phil Campbell and edited by Matt Fraction.
The visual aspects of this game are a mixed bag. There are some parts that are as strong as the Wii will allow, and others that seem like things that should have been taken into consideration while testing the game. Let’s get the weaknesses out of the way first. The frame of the in-game cut scenes is horrible. The animation clearly jumps more than it should. At it’s worst point, a bad guy jumped two inches across the screen, twice, during what was supposed to be a smooth sequence of the demon flying in the air as the camera focuses on the destruction of a city.
I liked the character designs and the motion comic cut scenes used between levels. The main characters are based off of the designs in the films, obviously. There’s some extra fun to be had with Thor. During the course of the game you can unlock extra costumes, including the “Kirby” costume and Beta Ray Bill. (Yes, Kirby costume. I choose you.)
The motion comic cut scenes were very nicely done. The illustrations were tight. The shots were well-framed. When coupled with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston’s voice work, it brought something cool to life. Speaking of voices, you’ll be happy to see fan favorites, such as Phil LaMarr and Steve Blum appear in the voice credits of the game.
It looks like the designers got to have some fun with their interpretations of the bosses, as well as the Trolls, Jotun and Vanir. What I loved about the minor enemies in this game is that they all look and move differently from one another. There aren’t any cookie cutter body types used across all levels. The Jotun look very much like ice people and attack in a very straightforward manner. Trolls are big and bulky. They move slow and attack hard. The creatures of Muspelheim are always crouched and move more aggressively. The warriors and sorceresses of Vanir have swanky armor and move gracefully.
During the game, Thor will fight in Asgard, Niflheim, Vanaheim, Midgard, Muspelheim and then a ruined Asgard. They’re not as textured as I would’ve have liked, probably due to the technical restraints of the system the game was built for. However, the designers did make sure there was activity going on in the background of some of the environments. The holograms in Vanaheim, the backdrop of Muspelheim, and Mangog in the background of the ruined Asgard were particularly impressive.
The game play involves standard beat-em-up mechanics. Quick Attack and Jump are Thor’s basic moves. The controls then expand into Power Attacks, combos (which are a combination of your quick and power attacks) and Storm Powers. Thor can create an air shield that will put out enemies that are on fire allowing them to be attacked. Thor can call down smaller amounts of thunder and wind to temporarily incapacitate his enemies. He can throw Mjolnir at enemies and objects. He has the ability to parry and dash. I didn’t use every single combo attack, but I am happy to say that I did use every single other move described here multiple times during the game. It’s nice to see a game that has a large list of moves and requires you to use most of them.
To keep the game from becoming monotonous the studio included some different environmental difficulties and other game play mechanics. For instance, one part of the game in Niflheim has a large slab of ice break off and plummet down a steep hill. Thor, is of course, on it and must fight the Jotuns on its way down. That’s not interesting in and of itself. But the slab sometimes runs into larger ice chunks, and that did catch my interest. The blocks can hurt Thor and cause the slab on which he is fighting to become smaller, larger or change shape. The ice chunks might rip away part of the platform in the blink of an eye and I found that to be exciting.
There are also a couple of flying levels that are made interesting because of the amount of hand-eye coordination they require. In these levels, you move Thor using the nunchuk. You can bat objects away using the Z button and you can cause Thor to shoot enemies with lightning using the remote. One flying area of the game is one heck of a rush. It takes place during Thor’s battle with Ymir in Niflheim. The God of Thunder flies through a tunnel, while ice spikes shoot out of the sides to block his path. If he doesn’t move out of their way quickly, he’ll get hit quite a lot.
The final element used to give you a break from standard game play is called “Grappling”. It involves the camera moving into close-up while you receive on screen instructions on what button should be pressed or in what direction you should swing your remote. These usually take place when fighting bosses.
Even the beat-em-up levels feel fresh because of the variety of enemies and pace at which they attack you. You’re always moving. Enemies will hit your from behind. They’ll block. Some will dash across the screen. They’ll shoot at you. Sometimes they’ll take shots at you from the sky. They can freeze you in place. You have to be on your guard and change your technique to adjust to the enemy that you’re fighting and you’re usually fighting multiple types of enemies at once.
As Thor beats enemies he’ll collect orbs that replenish your health or Odinforce (magic). He’ll periodically earn tokens that allow you to upgrade his abilities. As he runs around, he’ll sometimes uncover Runes. They can be applied to Mjolnir’s abilities. You can eventually open enough of Thor’s abilities to increase the Rune slots on Mjolnir from one to four.
Some tokens you’ll collect throughout the game will allow you access to concept art as an extra. Other extras include being able to re-watch the motion comic cut scenes. An entire episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is available. Survival mode and the aforementioned costumes are included as well.
I think you can tell that I had fun playing this game. The only thing preventing me from giving it an absolutely glowing review would be those noticeable frame rate issues. If you can push past that, you’ll find yourself having a fun time wailing on bad guys as the son of Odin. Thor: God of Thunder
is available now for the Nintendo Wii.
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