They say good things come to those who wait. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but it would appear that in the case of Thor 3DS ‘they’ are not always entirely right. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; Thor is not a bad game, it’s just not any better than the other thunder god games released earlier in the year, at least in terms of gameplay. Based on arguably the best version, the Wii Version, developers Red Fly Studios have fixed the frame rate issues which plagued the Wii and have of course implemented 3D. The argument could therefore be made that this is the definitive version of Thor.
In case you missed it the first time round, what we essentially have here is a God Of War clone. All the usual ground attacks, juggling and magical effects you would expect are present, all tied together by a levelling up system which gradually increases the skills available to the God of Thunder. That said, it can be a fairly competent combat system if you are willing to experiment. It’s not as polished or brutal as God Of War, but it does the job and uses the powers relevant to Thor well enough to make you feel like a true thunder god. I must admit to having a grin on my face more that once as I smashed through swathes of enemies with power and panache that Thor possesses. The combat isn’t perfect, sometimes it’s easy to miss you opponents and a few of the powers are underwhelming, but overall it is a satisfactory system.
If you are expecting an epic story, think again. Just like the film, the plot is a bit thin on the ground but essentially it entails Loki, the brother of Thor, who tricks him into doing bad things and then when bad turns to worse, it’s down to our electrically powered hero to save the day. Story is powered along by comic book stylised cutscenes that vary in quality but overall do their job. The best thing about them however is the voice acting, particularly Thor and Loki who are voiced by film actors Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Along with the default skin, these are the only aspects of the game which tie it up to the movie, and it probably is a good thing too as it doesn’t fall into the trap of unrealistically extending scenes of the movie or creating levels that clearly were made just for the purpose of the game.
Whilst Thor is better than most movie adaptations, it’s not without its problems. My biggest gripe lies with the level design, or to be more precise, the lack of it. Essentially the entirety of the game involves moving down a corridor, getting into an arena and destroying the evil denizens until you are able to move onto the next corridor: rinse and repeat. There is the occasional flying section, although they are short, easy and fairly dull. The combat system does start to grate after a while but luckily about halfway through the game the enemies start to require actual strategy to defeat. For example enemies will be engulfed in flame, during which time they are invincible. The only way therefore to defeat them is to use Thor’s wind based attacks to extinguish their fire before the wailing away can commence. It’s not exactly rocket science, but at later stages of the game, the higher volume of enemies make it a tad more interesting than at the beginning.
Another criticism is the pacing of the campaign, with the first half being quite dull and tedious, with easy foes and uninspiring bosses. The last couple, however, are at least more interesting and one boss in particular is actually fairly epic. Another positive note is the rather generous checkpoint system, which whilst possibly might be a bit too regular to add a challenge, in the context of a handheld game it keeps it perfect for short bursts of play. The option to increase the difficulty is present of course, and can be amended on the fly during a play through; and a fourth difficulty is added upon completion. Once the story has been finished, there are a couple of fighting arenas available which allow you to choose the enemies you wish to face and practice your skills. Chances are however that by the time you have finished the fairly short campaign, you won’t have any real desire to fight in the arenas when no reason or reward is given. The 3D is fairly decent, although it doesn’t add anything to the gameplay, so if you have been holding out for this version solely for the 3D you may be disappointed.
All in all then, Thor 3DS is better than most film tie-ins and has its moments, but lacks just a bit of originality and polish which would make it a pretty decent game. That said, given the lack of new software available on the console, you could do a lot worse and it might kill some time whilst waiting for the bigger titles on the way this Christmas. For Thor 3DS then, it’s better late then never.