Thunder Wolves Preview (PC)

Having only played an hour-or-so of a preview build of Thunder Wolves, making solid judgements isn’t really fair. It’s probably not fair to say that it is an incredibly ugly looking game, with a bland, militaristic art-style doing its fuzzy textures and sharp-angled shapes absolutely no favours.

Likewise, it’s probably not fair to say the writing is subpar, with jokes missing far more times than they hit, and that the action movie parody it aims to be is a poor imitation, rather than a hilarious lampoon. Finally, it’s probably not fair to say that no matter how much you play Thunder Wolves’ repetitive brand of helicopter combat - in which you never feel fully in control and never feel very much in danger - it’s never going to get much more exciting. All these things, though, are things I very much feel like saying.

Blow as many things up as you can, and score points by doing so.

In Thunder Wolves, you pilot an army helicopter, and when you’re attacked by people (of a certain race) during a training exercise, you must go to the middle east and rain hellfire down upon these people.

For the most part you fly and use the gun - though there are sections whereby you move purely to gunner, at which point the already frustrating to aim cursor steps it up a notch - switching between various kinds of missiles in order to destroy the tanks/ground troops/helicopters that are trying to protect their base. The biggest threat against you are missiles, but unlimited-use flares mean it’s fairly easy to defend against them whenever you see the missile-warning icon flash-up.

While flying around the various bases, frustrations continually crop up. You’ll be told you're leaving the mission zone and to turn around immediately, despite the fact you’re within touching distance of it and are simply following an enemy helicopter away from it. You’ll also find that you can’t actually elevate to too high a degree, meaning you’ll get stuck while trying to maneuver over a mountain range, unable to rise above that peek, despite the fact that the enemy helicopters are, again, leading you that way. These, though, are things that could be fixed/altered come final release, and perhaps aren’t what you should judge a preview build on.


You can’t dismiss every criticism with that excuse, though, and even when you get through the seemingly slapdash construction of Thunder Wolves, the actual helicopter combat just isn’t very fun. It’s clunky and awkward to fly - although, granted, it may be that more time with the game allows you to better your flying, though at the time it didn’t feel like it was something you would learn to master, but rather something you would learn to put up with - and you’re just constantly firing a blanket of bullets and rockets down on the enemies below. There wasn’t much diversity, there didn’t seem to be much skill involved, and endlessly shooting just wasn’t fun. I never felt in danger, and it was just a case of looping round constantly until I’d fired enough missiles to destroy the objective.

The ultimate thing that might redeem Thunder Wolves is if you do embrace the story and dialogue - no matter how poor it is - as nostalgic signposts, and subsequently fully embrace every explosion that litters your screen, as the buildings in front of you crumble beneath your firepower. Many may think of it as big dumb fun, but it’s just unfortunate that that - in my experience, at least - it was missing the last part.

Again, I only played for an hour. Maybe it gets better after that, but right now, I really wouldn’t want to stick around to find out. It’s a game about piloting a helicopter and shooting whatever falls under your cursor; there’s not a lot of places that can visit, and with the focus firmly on the flying and shooting, it’s hard to see how it’ll ever grow into something enjoyable when its core parts are so fundamentally dull. I poised in my flashline if Thunder Wolves would be more exciting than the name; the answer, it seems, is no.

Most Anticipated Feature: The, um, helicopters?

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