Thunder Wolves is a relic of a bygone age, the days when Arnie and Sly rampaged across the cinema screen and video games were as subtle as a rocket launcher to the face. Annoying Yankee Doodle Dandy voice-overs and a plot you would not waste the back of a cigarette packet to write it on make this the biggest tribute to 80’s arcade gaming since Renegade Ops.
Your chain gun never runs out ammo or overheats, your missiles resupply after a few moments, and crashing your chopper into the side of a mountain does little more than extract a sweary joke from your mercenary co-star, Max. Of course, you may not hear what he has to say due to the cacophony of explosions and the never-ending heavy metal soundtrack.
There is a plot but it’s nothing more than a screen of text before each mission voiced by a snarky American lady – a prelude to making everything explode. After making everything explode you can turbo boost over to your next objective of blowing the crap out of something else while Max and chums swear gleefully across the radio.
Shortly after everything has been blown to pieces you may get a mission which finds you taking the gunner seat on the chopper or an on-rails section during which you can blow further stuff to the heavens and yet another mission finds you piloting a mini drone helicopter through a bunker and blowing the crap out of enemies.
As you may expect, the controls are simple, with a press of L3 or R3 changing the altitude of your helicopter, square releasing chaff to deflect homing missiles and R1 and R2 are for blowing stuff up and blasting things to bits respectively. There are around ten helicopters to fly and as you progress you can unlock new skins and new choppers, each with their own weapons and abilities, all of which help blow things up in spectacular fashion.
Thunder Wolves sports patchy graphics and a frame rate that’s downright dodgy, with the audio comprising of a mess of explosions, swearing and shred metal; if this game was released a couple years ago it would be perfectly acceptable but with next generation around the corner the game can, at times, look decidedly below par.
Despite its shortcomings Thunder Wolves does one thing superbly which, in case you had not guessed, is flying an angel of death and destroying everything on screen.
A couple of the levels stand out, one of which is a night time attack on a oil rig that turns in to a battle against a super tanker decked out with AA batteries. This followed by a sniper section and a final boss battle with Crazy Khalid in his helicopter. Of course, at the end of the level Khalid decides to blow everything up, just for good measure.
With thirteen levels Thunder Wolves is rather short and takes around four hours to complete, but the inclusion of a local co-operative mode means it’s the perfect game for some post-pub action. Player one controls the chopper and launches flares whilst player two is the gunner, it’s stupid amounts of fun which will have you shouting “Yeehaa!” and fist-bumping your mates.
- A well-balanced arcade shooter.
- Occasional sniper and bombing missions break up the action.
- Co-operative campaign adds value.
- You can blow everything up. Including trees.
- Frame rate judders when things get hectic.
- Constant sweary radio chatter can get annoying.
- Graphics are lush in some parts but awful in others.
We are used to console games being sprawling epics with plots that Shakespeare would be proud of these days, but sometimes you may want to switch off your brain and blow the crap out of some pixels. Thunder Wolves is the type of game that has been rarely seen this generation, even less so on the PSN which has very few all-out shooters compared to the Xbox Live Marketplace.
It’s trashy, loud, single minded and not without a number of annoyances and flaws. However the utter stupidity and carnage of the game is infectious and there is nothing really like this on the PSN so for those reasons, I am going to award it an explosive and controversial: