by Justin Snyder
reviewed on WII
Another movie, another licensed video game
SEGA seem to have the superhero licensed game market cornered. After putting out a couple of Iron Man games to go along with the movie releases, SEGA’s kept the Marvel movie game train going with Thor: God of Thunder. Unfortunately to Sega and Thor, their train is still very much on the same tracks as it was when they published the Iron Man games
It will only hurt for a little while
Let me just get something out of the way here: Thor is short. Painfully short. I finished the game after just four hours and twelve minutes of playtime. No full retail title should be that short. Despite seeing gameplay in five different areas of the Thor universe (Asgard, Niffelheim, Vanaheim, Midgard, and Muspelheim), the levels were short and lacked variation beyond the environments themselves. They generally consisted of running down a hallway, getting blocked by some mystical barrier in a room, defeating a few waves of enemies, and repeating the whole process. Admittedly, there were a few times along the way when I thought I was going to end up back on Asgard fighting the final battle, so I guess it was still longer than it could have been.
Of course, a game that is lacking in length can sometimes be forgiven if there is enough quality to be found in gameplay, or if there is a lot of replay value. I gave Limbo a 10 this past summer for such reasons despite its three-hour playtime. Thor, however, is no such game.
Combo after combo after combo
The game’s combat system really boils down to rapidly pressing A and occasionally flicking the Wii remote. Pressing down on the D-pad and flicking left, right, or down activates one of Thor’s three god powers, either Charged Hammer, Lightning Storm, or Cyclone, while just flicking the Wii remote up launches enemies into the air. The combo system consists of flicking the Wii remote down after a certain number of attacks to generate different combo finishers. But while this makes the enemies die in droves, it’s just not fun but extremely monotonous.
Defeating enemies produces blue, red, and yellow orbs. Blue and red orbs refill health and Odinforce (magic) meters, respectively, while accumulating yellow orbs earns tokens that can be used for upgrades and unlocking new combos/abilities.
The game has a combo counter, and, after accumulating combos over a certain number, some abilities get more powerful. For instance, Thor’s Lighting Storm power becomes the much more powerful Chain Lightning when cast with a combo at or above 50. But, it’s ridiculously easy to keep combos going, as it takes a full three to four seconds for the counter to reset. So, most battles consisted of repeatedly hitting enemies with basic attacks, flicking the Wii remote for a finisher every now and again, and maybe using a power or two. Larger battles usually meant working toward a combo of 50, and then casting Chain Lightning to finish off any enemies who were still around.
Dull, repetitive enemies and controller issues
Of course, the lack of depth in the combo system can also be attributed to a lacking variation of enemy types. Of the four different groups of enemies you’ll face in the game, there’s a generic small enemy, who all have about the same health and attack style. Above that, every enemy group has a generic large enemy, all of which have similar health and attack styles. The fire and ice related enemies each have a large, ogre/troll type mini-boss. There’s a medium-sized, fast-moving enemy within the fire group, but it’s not different enough to necessitate any strategy changes. The Vanir are the final enemy group that you’ll face in the game, but the only enemy they add is a medium-sized floating enemy that can paralyze Thor. And, not to be left out, there’s a unique boss for each of these enemy groups, too. The frost giants of Niffelheim have Ymir, the fire demons of Muspelheim have Surtur, the Trolls have Ulik, and the Vanir have Mangog.
Creative application of comic book-style art to overcome Wii’s hardware limitations
Incredibly short, uninspired level design, graphical glitches, boring combat system