Thor: God of Thunder (3DS) Review

by October 3, 2011

What an unusual position I’ve found this game to be in. THOR: God of Thunder is a licensed game that was released almost two months ago for almost every single platform conceivable. Unfortunately, for some reason, the 3DS version was delayed and this lead me to believe there could be some more polish going into the game before it was released, or at least that it was going to be a slightly different product. Unfortunately, THOR: God of Thunder for the Nintendo 3DS is exactly the same as it’s Wii counterpart – which leads me to ask why any of the parties involved would even bother releasing it at all, especially since the other DS iteration, developed by WayForward, was actually quite decent. Still, THOR for the 3DS isn’t all that bad, although there is certainly room for improvement.

As previously mentioned, THOR: God of Thunder doesn’t follow the storyline from the recently released movie but instead is adapted from the world of the comic books to tell an alternate tale. The game opens with Thor’s world being attacked by the Ymir, an army of ice based titans who want nothing more than to see Thor’s world perish. During the battle, Thor loses one of his best soldiers and becomes furious, blinded by revenge. Odin, Thor’s father, however, forbids that Thor goes to war with the Ymir, but Thor’s brother, Loki, allows him. In doing so, Thor unleashes a ridiculously powerful weapon that was thought to be locked away and never seen again, which threatens to destroy the nine worlds. Thankfully, Thor sees the error of his ways and decides to help clean up his own mess before it’s too late.

THOR: God Of Thunder is not the worst looking game on the Nintendo 3DS but it’s definitely not the best either. The character models themselves are fairly good, with some nice (albeit out of sync) facial animations. However, during some more intense scenes there’s quite a bit of framerate drop, especially when the 3D function is enabled. The environments themselves are graphically lacking any proper detail or lighting, which gives the game a very unfinished or at least very uninteresting feel. Having some rather nice character models running around in a barren environment is always disconcerting and THOR: God of Thunder makes this misalignment painfully obvious. The 3D effect is rather subtle too, Thor’s hammer will sometimes seem to exit the screen but very rarely does this effect actually happen. It’s all rather half assed.

Just like the Wii version, THOR borrows its main gameplay mechanics from God of War. Completely in third person, the game is a very intense brawler, providing the god with many attacks and powers to destroy enemies with. The developers really have done a good job at giving the hammer Mjolner itself weight and power without the need for a rumble device, which is a good touch. To their credit, minus the framerate issues, THOR: God of Thunder really helps the player get into the “god” role, as so many different moves are quite destructive – but nothing ever feels too epic, probably due to the scaled back visuals and lack of proper effects.

In terms of the controls, they’re actually pretty in line with what you’d expect – but the lack of depth in the combat system means that many players will just be mashing one or two buttons repetitively, because it’s easy to plough through any enemy. In addition there is an experience system which provides varying moves in exchange for points, obtained by defeating enemies – but once again nothing too in-depth and nothing too essential to the main gameplay.

The game itself doesn’t really fare all that well nor for that long, taking no longer than four to five hours to complete. While there are extra difficulty levels to unlock and a new game plus mode too, there’s not really enough juice here to warrant another full length journey after completing once. There are some flight levels thrown in for a bit of variation, much like, you guessed it, God of War. You can unlock costumes and artwork by collecting various items throughout the game – the costumes themselves are great homages to other costumes Thor has worn throughout his comic book career, but generally speaking they’re not something that would inspire you to play through the game again.

As with the other versions of the game, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddlestone voice their respective characters in this adaptation, which is a nice touch. However, something doesn’t really feel all that right with their performances – though this is something we unfortunately come to expect from paid, proper actors when working with in a medium outside of their own. The music in particular is pretty average too, unfortunately, with many pieces not really doing a decent job at making things feel “epic” enough. Not to mention that sometimes the 3DS speakers don’t really sound all that great with these poorly optimised tunes.

THOR: God of Thunder is a competent action game that manages to translate what essentially was a console experience to a handheld, but on this particular handheld it doesn’t really fare all that well with what’s also on offer. With a little more polish, this game could’ve been a little bit more fluid and much more visually appealing. In it’s current state, it’s hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t absolutely in love with this particular Marvel franchise – but if you’re looking for a passable God of War clone for your Nintendo 3DS, I suppose this is as close as you’re going to get.

Graphics 5.5

The graphics themselves are a bit of a mixed bag. Great character models and okay facial animations, but the environments are very sparse in detail, while the slowdown really cramps the action.

Gameplay 6.0

There are heaps of moves that are absolutely useless, as well as a few that many players will only need once or twice. The game definitely works better with buttons rather than the motion controls of the Wii version. Too much repetition stops Thor from being truly great.

Sound 4.0

The soundtrack has very little impact but the voice work is at least semi competent, although its a bit of a shame to see the actors licensed not really get into their performances.

Tilt 4.5

A lack of real unlockables really bring THOR: God of Thunder down. A new difficulty mode, costumes and artwork are good but not really all that substantial.

Value 6.5

While I did enjoy the Wii version of THOR, the 3DS version ultimately performs much better because it doesnt have motion controls shoehorned in. The game actually has too many issues with pacing and a lack of substantial content to appeal to absolutely everyone though.

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THOR: God of Thunder for the Nintendo 3DS is a good attempt at bringing over a console game to a portable, although the lack of proper optimisation for the platform ultimately brings it down. It doesn't help that the original Wii version its based on wasn't that great either. Still, for a game based on a franchise I don't care for, it did pull me in quite a bit but only just enough to pass the finish line.

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About The Author
James Mitchell
Avid gamer since I was as young as three years old when I received my first NES. Currently studying full time and consider myself a balanced gamer. Enjoy games on all systems, from all genres, on all platforms. Sometimes feels like he's too optimistic for this industry.

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