Thor Month

Thor: God of Thunder - Thunder Struck

We hone in on the Odinson's combat expertise in this 'God of Thunder' video game spotlight!

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[This is the eighth in a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes Marvel.com will be running to lead into the release of SEGA's "Thor: God of Thunder"; think of it as a Director's Cut DVD commentary BEFORE the game even hits stores. Keep checking in every couple of days for a new teaser with more tidbits from the developers and designers, and remember they're best enjoyed with mutton and mead.]

By Jesse Thompson (Additional reporting by Ryan Penagos)

Judging by the flexibility and abundance of attack techniques he’s shows off in his new game, Thor has been putting his old karate self-defense tapes to good use. Or at the very least, that Marky Mark workout video he borrowed from Fandral.

Thor: God of Thunder xbox 360 screenshot

“[In ‘Thor: God of Thunder’], Thor basically fights three types of enemies,” says Liquid Entertainment Lead Designer Rico Sablan. “We determine class by their size, so there are some enemies that are sort of fodder units and are about Thor’s height; those don’t really pose a threat to him unless there’s a large number of them. Then there are enemies like the Frost Giants, enemies that you’ll actually be able to see in the movie, as well. The Frost Giants are about twice Thor’s size, and these start to be a challenge, but still, one-on-one; Thor should never lose to a Frost Giant. And then there are the giant-sized enemies, and these are really where Thor has to [bring his A-game].”

In other words, Thor will have to do more than just punch things and throw a hammer. (Rest assured, there will be plenty of opportunities for those simple pleasures of Asgardian life.) For the “God of Thunder” gameplay, you’ll have several methods of bruise-begatting at your disposal.

“Thor has several sorts of ‘pillars’ to his combat,” Sablan hints. “Thor’s skillful, so he has combos with Mjolnir--over 50 combat moves in the game. And then, as the God of Thunder, he has control over the elements: lightning, thunder and wind, so his very godlike powers will certainly be put to use. And then, the most fun, is a grapple system. Against the smaller enemies at this level, he can grapple and perform a variety of different attacks, and choosing those different attacks has consequences, so certain attacks will give him resources back when he does them.”

Thor: God of Thunder xbox 360 screenshot

The key for players will be to determine when the opportunity’s right for a squared-circle level throwdown. If you choose poorly, you’ll be in for more than just an embarrassing pinfall...and you better believe there are no holds barred.

“[The method of attack] is all under player’s control,” Sablan says, “so if they initiate a grapple, then they have choices. They can do power attacks, melee attacks, a throw attack, whatever they want. A power attack, which is going to do a lot of damage to the enemy but will potentially cost a resource, versus a throw attack, which if you’re smart enough, can be an easy out. If there’s a pit, you can throw ’em right in there, and one-hit kill them. Or you can just throw them aside and give them a little stun.”

It should come as no surprise that the grapple feature will come in especially handy when going up against Ulik, the type of classic Thor nemesis who really likes to get his hands dirty.

“Ulik is about twice Thor’s size or height, and many times more massive,” Sablan says. “And this is one of the few bosses we have in the game that is that small; most of our bosses are much larger. But we saw this is as an opportunity, and so we basically made this fight into something of a wrestling match; as some of the moments come, you’ll see that there’s a lot of throwing each other around, really showing off that these two guys are among the strongest creatures in the universe.

Thor: God of Thunder xbox 360 screenshot

“You’re in an area called Frost Grinder, and it’s similar to the Bifrost Bridge in Heimdall’s Observatory in Asgard,” Sablan continues. “It’s a means of getting to another world, and so basically these two are fighting for who gets to use it because it basically only has one charge left, boiling down to who gets off this planet and who’s stuck here.”

Many of the uglies who fall in the lower weight classes won’t share Ulik’s sense of “I’ll beat Thor into mush with my bare hands” and will be heavily armored, but as Thor unleashes combo after combo, he’ll wear down their defenses and break apart their protective padding piece by piece.

“It’s sort of a visual health bar, if you will,” Sablan chuckles. “We have different types of armor, and of Thor’s three offensive elements--lightning, thunder and wind--thunder is sort of our armor-breaking element. Sometimes you’ll get really heavily armored guys, and they’re almost impervious to damage until we start to get that armor off. You’ll need your thunder moves, and that set of moves and powers is really helpful. Lightning is more of our damage-dealer, that’s high damage, and then the wind element is sort of status-effecting, knocking enemies back, getting them caught in the cyclone, that sort of thing.”

Thor: God of Thunder xbox 360 screenshot

Of course, leave it to the Frost Giants and their inferiority complex to muck everything up by taking their armor a step further, making Thor’s quest that much more difficult.

“So [there’s a Frost Giant in the game] who takes large pieces of jade and basically encases himself in ice, essentially transforming into an ice ‘mech,’" Sablan reveals; he’s the pilot within the cockpit of that mech. So this is a way for a Frost Giant to get on equal terms with Thor, power-wise.

“So when we’re fighting our giants, it’s a bit different than some other giant-fighting games out there,” Sablan continues. “We have the grapple system, and this allows Thor to be on a giant and to vault to various places. You can do different types of attacks, you can vault to other spots. He may try to dislodge you from a spot, which will cause sort of a reversal, and you have to quickly counter that. Each giant-sized enemy like this has weaknesses and vulnerabilities, so you’re going to see this guy who has jade elements on his shoulders. When Thor destroys those, he’s going to weaken the attacks that were based off that arm. So there’s a strategy here that you can learn. With this particular enemy, the quickest way to destroy him is to just rip that Frost Giant out.”

The combat won’t always be quite that visceral, however; the up-close-and-personal approach takes a back seat midway through the game when Thor reaches the Vanaheim level...and gets his “Duck Hunt” on.

Thor: God of Thunder xbox 360 screenshot

“Thor’s on this barge moving down the river, and it’s being pulled by a giant creature,” Sablan begins. Now, throughout the game we’ve shown the hammer-throw. It’s a mechanic that the players learn, and here we’re using it in a different way, where we basically turn Thor into a turret. And so there’s a stretch of gameplay here where it’s a change; basically it’s now a shooting gallery. And so we’re going down the river, there are enemies on the banks, forts and so forth, and basically you’re now playing a shooter game and blowin’ stuff up.”

While we can’t quite shake the image of Thor with a figurative machine gun (hey, both the Hulk and Ares have used ‘em literally in the past), his feats of strength and precise aim will be rewarded with--get this--more feats!

“There’s a number of what we call ‘feats’ in the game, and they’re a form of in-game trophies or achievements,” says Sablan. “They’re optional combat challenges, optional secret events per level. There’s a UI screen where you can see all the various feats that are available on a given level. For example, there are certain feats of destroying a lot of things, or certain types of categories of destructibles and so forth, so it’s another way to challenge yourself within a given level. Each feat gives you valor upon completion, and valor is the currency in the game for the progression system. We have 30 upgrades in the game across different categories—thunder, lightning, wind, melee, hammer throws and general. Each require a certain amount of valor to unlock, so as you progress through the game, you’re going to get valor for defeating enemies, completing main narrative points, etc. But a way to supplement that is by doing these feats, so if you really wanna upgrade your character, you go feat-hunting. Completing those feats maximizes your valor upgrades.”

In other words, think of them as your frequent-fighter miles. Trust us, you’re gonna need all you can get as the game progresses...

"Thor: God of Thunder" has been rated "T for Teen" on consoles and "E 10+ for Everyone 10 and older" on Nintendo DS by the ESRB. Get your copy of the game on Xbox 360PlayStation3Wii and Nintendo DS right now!

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