Developer: Most Wanted Entertainment
Publisher: bitComposer Games
Release Date: May 15th, 2013 (PC), June 12th, 2013 (360), August 13th, 2013 (Ps3)
Available On: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewer’s note: I played the PC version of this game. There may be differences between versions.
Usually when there’s a helicopter segment in a video game it’s on-rails. Thunder Wolves seeks to change that with a goofy arcadey 80s action movie inspired shooter. Does it manage to succeed in this task?
Thunder Wolves is a far cry from a realistic helicopter game. You move the helicopter around freely and aim with the right stick. Each helicopter is equipped with three different kinds of missiles that cause various levels of destruction. Usually you’ll get one unguided, one guided, and one super. You also always have unlimited ammo, instead relying on cool down timers. This means the game is rather fast paced and you’re constantly causing destruction in your path. It’s fun too, as you’ll get to watch buildings crumble and enemies explode as you continue to rain hellfire down on them. There’s a slight bit of awkwardness in the controls though, I didn’t really understand why pressing down on the joysticks raised/lowered the helicopter. Otherwise, everything is nice and smooth as you play.
As the game leads you through the 13 missions, each about 10 – 15 minutes in length, you’ll be finding yourself repeating a few tasks. You’ll often have to destroy specific targets, which really makes up the bulk of the game play so that isn’t much of a bad thing. Sometimes you’ll have to defend allies, some of which have the ability to fight back. Thankfully none of them are exceptionally stupid and you won’t have to baby them like in some other games. Usually they’ll just follow a set path as you assist them. As you unlock more points you’ll get more helicopters and the game allows you to pick any one you want in case you like specific loadouts. The game can also be played with local co-op which is a nice bonus that helps the game’s fun factor dramatically.
The game often breaks things up, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Every now and again you may find yourself in an on-rails section, with the helicopter flying dramatically through various set pieces as you need to gun down specific targets. Another situation had you popping into a bomber and dropping bombs on targets, or getting to ride in an AC-120 and bring out the big guns. On the other hand, a level that has you controlling a UAV mini-copter through a cave feels awkward and having to deal with underpowered weapons and twitchy camera isn’t much fun. The worst segment has you driving around as an APC and dealing with some absolutely horrendous physics and controls. It’s easily the worst segment in the game and makes me never want to repeat that level.
All of this is wrapped around a ridiculously goofy 80’s action movie story. It’s 1991 and Max and Blister are two helicopter pilots that work for a mercenary group called the Thunder Wolves. Max’s past begins to catch up with him though as a warlord known as The Serpent begins to try and hunt him down in revenge for when he destroyed The Serpent’s drug cartel. It’s little more than an excuse to blow things up, but it’s all very tongue-in-cheek and makes the game a lot of fun. It’s silly and over the top and that’s just what it wants to be. It succeeds in that part with flying colors.
Thunder Wolves is a lot of fun. Its gameplay is hectic and great stress relief, and it manages to change itself up enough to never get too stale. If an arcadey helicopter shooter is what you’re looking for then I’m glad to say that Thunder Wolves easily scratches that itch. Hopefully next time around it will stick to the helicopter shooting.