Bottom Line: After having played the DS and Wii releases of Thor: God of Thunder, I wanted the PS3/Xbox release to bring my journey through the Thor games to an awesome conclusion. Unfortunately, the game falls well short of it’s potential. Camera tracking issues and unresponsive controls make this game a “Collectors Only” purchase.
The plot of Thor: God of Thunder follows the same basic story as the other two games. The Jotuns sneak into Asgard and attack the city. During the battle, Lady Sif is injured and so far as Thor knows, dead. Odin forbids his son from taking his anger out on Niflheim. Heimdall turns a blind eye to Thor’s trip to the land of the Jotuns. Thor’s rage blinds him to the mistake he is about to make, releasing Mangog. Phil Campbell (Dialogue and Cinematics Co-Writer) and Matt Fraction (Story, Dialogue, Cinematics Editor) return again for the PS3 version. As such, the dialogue rings true to the characters.
I do hope that next time Thor game is created, they don’t “kill” off the one female in every single release. I’m not really all that much of a feminist, but three times was enough to make me glare at the television. There has to be something else that could upset Thor so much that he’ll single-handedly attack another world and to be honest, he doesn’t seem all that difficult to pull one over on.
Most, if not all of the voice cast from the Wii game appear in the PlayStation 3 release. They did a stellar job. The only thing I thought odd was their choice of direction for Mangog’s voice. That’s a problem, because he’s the biggest big bad guy of the game. In both the Wii and PS3 version they combined five voices to achieve his sound. In the Wii release, they gave him a very deep voice which sounds appropriate to a creature that’s capable of destroying Asgard. In the PS3 game, they went with a higher, nasally sound and I had trouble taking the character seriously.
The animation of the individual characters and creatures is good. They move smoothly and gravity affects them as it should. The character designs are pretty cool. Especially once you get past the main characters, who resemble their counterparts from the film. They did a good job with doing their versions of all of the minor and major enemies.
The main character models looked a little rough around the edges in close up. It’s been awhile since I last saw the demo for Captain America on the PS3, but I could swear that the models looked smoother and more fully rendered there. Because the developers chose to go in a more realistic direction, the main character models also fell into uncanny valley territory. I saw Thor’s armor poking through part of his cape once when the camera went to a 3/4 top, back view.
The camera in the game is terrible. It’s constantly moving somewhere that’s behind something that blocks your view of Thor. It happens often and even more frequently in boss battles. That’s unfortunate, because the bosses hit harder and take more life when they pound your head in. I constantly had to manually move the camera out of the way, while trying to dash out of harms way until I could reorient myself. I also saw the camera glitch briefly at least once, causing the camera’s view of Thor to jump in across the screen in a weird way.
The world designs, while a little rough, looked neat. The cold levels look cold and the levels that should look organic do. It was a treat to see how they envisioned Asgard and Vanaheim. I did run into an issue where I couldn’t play some of the intentionally poorly lit areas of the game during the day. There’s a Gamma setting in the menu. Once I set it to the max it allowed me to see just enough to know that I probably wasn’t going to fall off a cliff. Probably.
The idea behind the controls of the game is the solid beat-em-up formula. Quick Attack, Combos, Special Moves. The execution is terrible. Buttons were often unresponsive, particularly when I needed to block. I died about 20 times fighting the Mire Giant, because once I finally kind of found the timing for the uppercut I still couldn’t get Thor to consistently block the giant’s other attacks. That’s not fun. That’s just frustrating. Also, Thor’s dash is pretty useless. You would think that if you’re going to make bosses move quickly enough to catch up with your hero, you would at least give him that tiny, tiny window to get away unscathed. Nope. Instead, he kept hitting Thor’s leg as I I tried to dash out of harm’s way.
The battles, big and small are fun at first, but a become an exercise in tedium upon extended exposure. It’s a lot of the same two minor enemy models within a level. Once Thor finishes off an enemy, he doesn’t automatically redirect or dash to the next one, he continues to hit in the direction of nothing. It’s very frustrating when you jump and start hitting nothing but air. While you’re waiting for Thor to land back on the ground you can be shot, or an enemy can circle in on you.
I don’t understand how the game decides when you should or should not take a hit. But, I think I can say that if the hit was near you but missed, you should probably not have any health taken from you. There should also be no delayed hit-taking. If it’s been a full second since you’ve been fired or swung at, you would assume that you had been missed and you’d be wrong. Thor will take mystery hits.
I went in really wanting to like this game and came out disappointed because of the numerous glitches that should have been sorted out prior to letting this bad boy out on the streets. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. Thor: God of Thunder for the PS3 and Xbox 360 is out in stores now.