Suit up and strap in because Thunder Wolves is here to take you for an adrenaline-filled ride. Thunder Wolves comes at a perfect time, filling a serious void of arcade-style flight combat games. Bitcomposer and Most Wanted Entertainment have crafted a chopper action game with a forgettable story that is compensated for by the sheer number of explosions. Summon your inner pilot from the 80’s and get ready for some good old fashioned napalm.
Thunder Wolves refers to the team of renegade mercenaries you control called Team-Wolf One. You play as a rookie pilot who has recently joined the squad who is immediately thrown into the action. Each character resembles an action movie stereotype, all fully voice acted surprisingly well. When they are not barking orders or cursing, Team-Wolf One tosses in some humor to ease the tension that comes with an all out war. The dialogue is cheesy and many will find it to be juvenile, but it fits the game very well. You don’t go looking to a game of this nature for the deep storytelling, you’re here to blow s#!% up. The story occurs between two time periods,1986 and 1991, centralized around a terrorist who has acquired nuclear arms. It’s a simple take on an action game, but the result is pure, unadulterated fun.
There is never a lack of things to shoot at.
There are thirteen missions in Thunder Wolves, each having their own various objectives. The simplest being ‘unleash hellfire upon this compound,’ which never gets old. There are quite a few escort and protect missions and for whatever reason, stealth sequences where you are sniping from your chopper (sounds easy, right?). The pacing is perfect for this style of game, with each mission clocking in at an average of ten minutes. If you have a co-op partner as your gunman, I’m sure this would shave off even more time. A three star system is used to grade each mission, and secret collectibles are littered throughout the levels for those of you who want to take the scenic route. The missions never got old and there is a ton of replay value here, I just wish there was a leaderboard to show me how I stack up against my friends’ scores.
Games like Desert Strike, Airwolf, and Choplifter all come to mind when I hear “chopper-action”, each carving their own distinct spot in the aerial combat genre. Thunder Wolves does an amazing job of taking these games and putting its own aggressive spin on them, resulting in something resembling Renegade Ops in the air. I played most of the game with a controller, but swapped to keyboard and mouse when I was playing co-op. The tight controls make it easy to soar through the air and pick off tanks, AA guns, infantry, boats, and other helicopters, all of which are making your life difficult by spraying bullets your way. Nine choppers become available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the special weapons loadouts are different for each chopper so you have to decide what is ideal for laying waste to your enemies. There are no pickups in Thunder Wolves as secondary weapons recharge over time, so keep this in mind as you throw everything you have at a single enemy.
Mini games like the AC-10 gunship are scattered throughout the campaign
There are several on-rails sequences which change the perspective from third person to first person. Unfortunately the gunner in the co-op duo has to do all the heavy lifting here as the controls are taken over for the pilot. The same goes for bombing runs when you take control of a large AC-10 gunship and have to do a little carpet bombing across the horizon. These mini games are brief, and they cut up the action nicely to give some variety to each mission. Enemies with a healthbar masquerade as a ‘bossfight’ but there was little to them other than fly in circles and shoot everything you have at it until it dies.
The game looks great and the wide range of environments are a nice touch. However, I couldn’t help but feel boxed in during my time in Thunder Wolves. You can’t ascend to a high altitude, and if you stray too far from the path you’re told to get back to the mission area. I’m not expecting an open world game here, but it would have been nice to open up the levels a bit to try and approach things from a different angle. The repeating track of heavy guitars gets a little bland after the second mission so I strongly recommend making your own playlist starting with Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries”. Seriously, you could just put it on repeat for five hours and you would be doing yourself a service.
Thunder Wolves never sleep until the enemies are all blow'd up
Co-Op play is limited to two player local, with one person acting as the pilot and the other as the gunner. The entire campaign can be played with a co-op partner so find a friend who can handle the adrenaline. Arguments of where to go and what to shoot are inevitable, but it makes for a true couch co-op experience. Thunder Wolves captures the essence of those old school action games you rented for the weekend and played though with a buddy. Ideally a future addition to the co-op would be online capability, making it easier to find a partner or having each player control their own chopper for twice the mayhem. Of course nothing is quite like being in the same vehicle and trying to survive a barrage of RPGs.
Thunder Wolves is a type of game we have not seen enough of in this generation. It is a blast to play, and sometimes you just need to have the action take precedence over a coherent story. The arcade style of gameplay makes for an entertaining ride you and a friend will want to plow through and come back for more. If you want to let loose for a couple hours and just watch the world burn, Thunder Wolves is your one way ticket to an explosive nostalgic paradise.
This review was based on the PC version of the game, provided by the publisher.