I feel the need…the need for speed. Okay, so they’re helicopters rather than jets, but that won’t stop me from frantically quoting Top Gun until you just can’t stand Thunder Wolves. Thunder Wolves is the latest XBLA title from the guys at BitComposer and Most Wanted Entertainment. I find it hard to label the game with a genre, so I’m just gonna call it a chopper game for now. Now a fly-aroundy, shooty, shout manly thingy game like this isn’t my usual cup of tea. However, I had an adequate amount of fun while playing this shoot ‘em up (that’s the genre!). So the game’s fun, which first and foremost is the most important thing in any game, but can it stand the test of time? Read on and find out.
In Thunder Wolves, you play a rookie chopper pilot in the midst of training for modern warfare. When all of a sudden, some stuff goes down. Just like in real life, you will immediately ignore your first training session and fly away to confront the real danger. It turns out that an evil mastermind known only as ‘The Serpent’ is up to no good. So you must mosey on down to the Middle East (no clarification, just Middle East) and help rid the oppressed land of the black-hearted Serpent. Okay, so the story is absolute cheese of a Schwarzenegger standard, but that is half the charm of it. Much like FarCry 3: Blood Dragon, Thunder Wolves appears to be a parody of the all-too devoid of talent genre that is 80’s/90’s action. The story is lacking any kind of…well, story. But none of that matters, be a man and blow stuff up. I’d growl if I was that way inclined. Thunder Wolves is just one of those games with a real crappy story that you don’t care about, but play anyway because it’s fun. Again, like FarCry 3: Blood Dragon, and its brother from another dude-bro mother, Bulletstorm. So give it a chance. You won’t particularly like the story, but you won’t hate it either.
The game consists of several different types of meta-games. You must escort, protect, extract, and blow everything up. Michael Bay enthusiasts will certainly enjoy the game as it has no shortage of firepower or explosions. The escort missions are really the only ones that I came to enjoy. They are also however the most irritating. Ammunition recharges itself though, so you have no worries there. You’ll certainly get your fill of destruction whilst playing Thunder Wolves. There are also some stealth missions in the game. This is a very surprising take on an action packed game. These may be the missions that will entice many players. But there’s just not enough depth to fully enjoy it.
Controls are a bit sketchy in the game. It’s not as hard as you’d expect. But it’s definitely something you need to get used to. I’ve been flying choppers in Battlefield 3 for a long time now, and I still can’t land the damn thing. So I was completely wrong when I first picked up the game and thought that surely a game that is solely based on choppers would go for realism. I was very, very wrong. They handle like a car would in a GTA game, with sharp turns that are just unfathomable. You click the left and right sticks to ascend and descend respectively. The D-Pad changes your rocket type and RB fires said rocket. Hit LB to dash (don’t ask), or just tap it to quickly evade. When an enemy fires a rocket at you, it’s best to set off your flares with X and hit ‘em up with the old dash manoeuvre.
Now the game doesn’t look like anything special. The cartoony/comic book style simply does the job. Environments aren’t bland, but they’re definitely not anything special. Putting it simply, there’s not much to be said for the graphics. However, I’m also in a quandary of not being able to say anything negative about it. Ah, there is one thing. At certain points, you’ll have to land to pick up patrolling soldiers. There are definitely some clipping issues with them trying to GET TO THE CHOPPER (I had to). As they step in, they’re right legs became one with the chopper. We see this in almost every game nowadays, but I had to throw that in since there really is not much to be said for the game’s aesthetic looks.
Overall, Thunder Wolves is nothing more than adequate. Unless you’re able to get a partner to play the local two-player co-op, I wouldn’t spend your money on it. The story and the dialogue can give you a chuckle at times, but it’s nothing worth mentioning. The controls are annoying at first, but handle pretty easily once you’ve acquainted yourself with clicking the left and right sticks. Graphically, it’s not very eye-popping. Some textures are bland and the game seems little more than filler for this week’s XBLA entry. I can’t see the game holding anyone over for a particularly long period of time. The lack of any sort of online co-op definitely hurts the overall score for the game. However, get a friend over in real life, and you just might have some fun. It’s a valiant attempt from BitComposer and Most Wanted Entertainment, but it falls just short of the mark. Every aspect of this game can be described in one sentence. It’s not bad at all, it’s just not very good…meh.
Thunder Wolves is currently available on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points.