Published on July 1st, 2013 | by David Guild2
Review: Thunder Wolves
Every so often a game comes around to remind us of a better time, when games didn’t need to look amazing or be to serious, and this time it’s a wee XBLA title called Thunder Wolves, or as I kept saying … Blue Thunder. bitComposer Entertainment wants gamers to sit back and experience some old-school helicopter action what everyone back in the 90s loved. Back then EA had a little collection of games called the ‘Strike’ series, which included Desert Strike, Jungle Strike and Urban Strike, plus they were other games like Slikworm, Choplifter and my personal favourite Apocalypse. Most of those games were instant classics and spawned a few sequels but then they went quiet. Some of the ‘Strike’ series made its way to Sony’s PSP and Choplifter got a remake which was released last year, but nothing else really has happened. Until now …
Most Wanted Entertainment and bitComposer Entertainment brings you an action packed arcade title with heavy music, awful voice acting and cheesy one liners it makes you feel that you have fallen in to an unknown Arnie or Sly action movie from the 80s (or maybe the 90s). Anyone who has been playing Call of Duty or Battlefield for most of their gaming lives may be better to close this page and get back to what they do cause this game, graphically isn’t appealing and is your standard arcade shooter.
The story for this game is pretty weak but it fits right in with the style of game the developer and publisher wanted. You’re an elite helicopter pilot working for a secret organisation who fight against global terrorism, no matter the job they will get it done and they call themselves ‘Wolves’. When they are sent in you can also count that no structure will be left standing. I like to think they are a “shoot everything and ask questions later’ kinda folk. The game promises fully destructible environments, masses of enemies to kill and spectacular boss fights, do they deliver? Well maybe you should read on.
Like most games, Thunder Wolves sets you up with a tutorial which for once I’m thankful for, as flying the helicopter can be tricky at first, I remember playing the demo and thinking the controls were awful but after playing through the tutorial and getting to grips with the entire movement of the helicopter I quickly changed my mind and thought they actually did it quite well. After an hour of gaming and bashing through the levels I kept shouting “GET TO THE CHOPPA!” dodging missiles and firing every missile I have with the same accuracy as a targeting computer, in other words … I was a pro … Well I thought I was. The game plays like a third person shooter, with your movement being the left stick and aiming being the right while triggers being aiming and shooting. Plus clicking on the analog sticks will either ascend or descend the helicopter which for me was the most difficult part. This was because I’m quite heavy handed and when trouble started I would naturally grip the controller tighter and my thumbs would press down on the sticks making my flight at times a little more like a rollercoaster instead of a smooth flight. But I really think that was my own issue with the controls.
While playing through the levels you unlock new choppers and some would be nimble but lack armour and heavy weapons while the gunship is an unstoppable force. The ammo is infinite but does have a cool down period and depending on the missile will depend on the cool down duration. The unguided missiles don’t deal out massive damage but can fire quickly and charges quickly while the homing and more powerful missles will take more time. Every so often the game changes pace and you find yourself playing an on rail shooter and just controlling the guns. It’s not what I really enjoy but it doesn’t happen enough to cause much of a problem. Though what I didn’t like was the winch. Throughout the gameplay you may be asked to pick up cargo or some people from a moving vehicle. Something stationary is one thing but a moving target with such sensitive controls is another but again these parts aren’t so common to cause a headache, though this maybe become difficult if you change the ranking to ‘expert’. Plus let’s not forget, it’s not just helicopters you pilot, as the story progresses you find yourself in a tank which I thought was kinda fun. It brought about a change of pace.
The missions are your usual ‘destroy everything’, escort or protect. Usually in some games I find the escort missions to be most tedious but in Thunder Wolves I quite enjoyed it as there was always had something to kill and felt it to be quite a challenge. At the end of each mission you get ranked out of 3 stars, which take in the time to complete the level, how many sub objectives did you complete and the amount of destruction you left in your path. With all that being said I think that gives it great replay value, as you will want to get 3 stars on each level and you will want to beat your friend scores. I’m playing this game on casual which is the easiest rank in the game and I’m getting 1 to 2 stars I’ve managed to get 1 level with 3 stars, so for any perfectionist or achievement seekers you will need to play the missions quite a few times to get the score you want but why not, there is action in each level.
I personally loved the cheesy voice acting with the awful one liners, “soccer is for p*****s” was probably one of my favourites is right at the start and then maybe “Girl, I’m so frosty I make the snow shiver” which even made my girlfriend burst out laughing. But I just can’t help myself turn up the volume and listen to the awful storyline that is taking place and laughing.
Another thing I can praise this game for is the local co-op feature, which is starting to lack in quite a few games. As most folk will know I don’t really jump on multiplayer all that often but like to have a few games with friends when they come up to visit and we always struggle to pick which game. Plus the co-op in this game is quite a challenge as one player is the pilot and the other player is the gunner. Think of playing Halo with your mate while you drive and the friend does the shooting, now instead of thinking you are driving a Warthog you’re in a helicopter with tons of enemies heading your way … pretty scary eh? Well like Halo, sooner or later the driver will become bored and might just drive off a cliff. But it does bring in some longevity to the game.
The graphics aren’t really nothing to praise, but that doesn’t take anything away from the game, the destructible environment was pretty limited to buildings and towers but that didn’t spoil any of the fun I had with the game. The game ran quite smoothly apart from an issue which I’ll keep for below this paragraph. There isn’t much of a soundtrack to the game, it can become quite heavy at times, but it will become hardly noticeable and the music will tend to repeat itself over and over.
Throughout my gameplay I did experience a few problems, the major one is the screen freezing for a second when the action got quite busy or when I released every missile of my arsenal at the enemies, the screen locked up for a second while the music kept going. This can become common on most major missions but I’m hoping they fix this in a patch. The game is also quite short and the average gamer could probably bash through the 12 levels within 6 to 8 hours. But in all honestly I cannot think of any other problems with the game.
Achievement wise the game scores a 4/10 on X360a and will need 3 play-throughs which will take about 12 hours. The game does require you to play it on expert but from what I’ve been hearing the game can be quite easy even on expert. Quite a few grinding achievements, either killing so many helicopters or destroying 1000 buildings but some missions you will need to listen to the objectives (or find an online achievement guide to help yourself out). Probably the longest and hardest achievement will be ‘Star Wolf’ which requires you to get all the stars on every mission.
All in all this is a game I was suppose to hate, it’s such a cheesy game that in the end I loved it and fully enjoyed my time playing the game and will keep on playing for achievements and to get those 3 stars! While it does have some frame rate issues and freezing hopefully this can be fixed with a patch. Thunder Wolves is 800msp on the marketplace and maybe it’s a little too expensive for most folk being the game it is. If you see this game for 600msp, buy it as it will bring a little joy to your heart and show you games aren’t suppose to be too serious, so sit down and enjoy the action.
As Arnie once famously said…
Summary: Bringing back helicopter action packed fun! With cheesy one liners, awful story and just full on choas. Short gameplay with co-op added on but has issues with frame rate and maybe some freezing.