bitComposer and Most Wanted Entertainment’s Thunder Wolves conjures the nostalgia of playing an arcade action chopper title from the ’90s. If you’ve been craving for intense, mindless action, then the game’s nearly three hour campaign will satisfy your needs.
Thunder Wolves’s plot is definitely not its strong point, as it solely exist to provide you with a reason to unleash mayhem and destruction. Taking place across four different regions, primarily around the late 80s and early 90s, the plot follows a team of mercenaries called Team-Wolf One. You play as a rookie named Blister and his veteran partner Max as they attempt to thwart the nuclear plans of a terrorist group led by a villain named Serpent. With its cheesy dialogue and juvenile humor, Thunder Wolves’s is essentially a stereotypical summer blockbuster movie, but its simplicity allows for some refined fun. The action in Thunder Wolves gets intense rather quickly, and aside from focusing on eliminating bright red enemy markers, gameplay dissolves to wildly firing all over the environment until you’ve taken down your objective.
Equipped with an inexhaustible amount of chaingun ammo and missiles, you will participate in 13 missions ranging from vehicle escorts to the basic search and destroy objectives. The variety of missions keep the gameplay from turning stale, especially with the inclusion of mini-games where you take control of a tank or navigate a drone through an enemy stronghold within a cave. Without the need to replenish your arsenal, you’ll leave your finger on the trigger as you mow through opposing forces consisting of helicopters, battleships, armored tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and ground soldiers. Occasionally you’ll encounter boss battles, but they pose no real threat thanks to your copter’s quick health regeneration. I strongly suggest you play on the Hard difficulty for more of a challenge.
On occasion, the game will take over control of your chopper for some first-person segments where you need to snipe enemies or fly between structures for some “precision” firing, but the cursor movement is so loose that these sections that were meant to be intense, end up becoming pointless distractions. When you are in full control, maneuvering your chopper is simple and responsive, but alternating between altitude heights is a bit cumbersome when using the default analog sticks. Thankfully you can choose a different controller layout that assigns the high and low altitude to the face buttons.
As you progress through the story’s missions, you will unlock different helicopters and multiple skins. Though they lack any noticeable difference in performance, each has their own strength and weakness when it comes to weapons payload. Some have access to remote-controlled or clusters of homing missiles, as well as powerful airstrikes from an AC-130. Each chopper also has access to speed boost and the ability to discharge flares to divert the attention of oncoming missiles. Completed missions are based on a three star system which rates you on completion time and enemies killed, but without online leaderboards, you’ll mainly replay missions to locate collectables.
As far as presentation goes, Thunder Wolves looks and sounds decent. From the dense jungles of South America to the urban warzones of the Middle East, each location possesses fully destructible structures. Bridges collapse after being bombarded with missiles and oil tanks are engulfed in flames as you rain down bullets from above. Sure you’ll notice some low res textures and occasional clipping, but this game is all about explosions, and it pulls them off well.
Each of the missions from the campaign can be played cooperatively with a friend, but its only available locally. One player will pilot the helicopter, while the other player handles the weapons arsenal. The pilot also has a machine gun, but it is fixed aim. This allows both players to contribute in their own way, but it also forces you to work together. Though it was fun to take down enemy forces with a friend, playing online with a friend would’ve been a nice addition.
Regardless, the arcade gameplay of Thunder Wolves makes for a brief, yet entertaining ride. It’s packed with enough action, weapons and explosions to keep you and a friend briefly distracted on a hot, summer day.
Editor’s Note: Thunder Wolves was reviewed using a Xbox 360 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any differences between the 360 edition and the PS3 edition of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.