Thunderhawk AH-73M a 3D action/simulation helicopter game. You are a pilot of MERLIN, an elite command, which is commanded by the United Nations. Their task is it to defuse and prevent crisis situations approximately around the globe in time that these expand to genuine conflicts. With MERLIN you fly the new Thunderhawk AH-73M combat helicopter against conflicts in the whole world.
For all those of you that want helicopter action, without all the nasty peanuts to keep in mind, demanded in simulation games like gunship 2000, here comes a well succeeded mixture between action and simulation.
In Thunderhawk it is your job to accomplish a wide variety of chopper attack and defend missions around the world. If you start the game first you have to answer the security question from the manual. The codes are included in the zip-file. Then you have to choose your name filling out the pilot record. This leads you to your office. It is the place where you stay between you missions. There you can save or load your game or take some lessons in the flight simulator.
One door leads you from the office to the mission area selection. Here you can choose one of several crisis areas in the world. Every area is set up with a specific difficulty from easy to difficult. To gain some experience you should start with South America. Clicking the area map you get a briefing about the crisis area. After that you find yourself back in the office. Now it is time to go through the second door. Behind it you get the mission briefing about your upcoming mission.
Both briefings are lovely made. You don't just get some pages of text to read. Sitting in a dissertation room you can watch some reconnaissance photos and films about the target area or special targets on a silver screen remembering cinema in older days or the briefing in some military films. Between this your commander tells you important informations about expected enemies in the area and special informations about your target. Action lasting music comes along with the briefing and underlines the threateningly informations.
Accomplishing the briefing you go to the hangar where you arm your helicopter. You have the choice between 13 weapons ranging from unguided missiles to interception missiles. There are six mounting points on the wings of the chopper to place the weapons. The chain gun is always equipped in the nose. If you can't decide which weapon to choose it's also possible to click auto armament and you get a good mixture of weapons, fit to accomplish the mission.
Now you are ready for takeoff and you find yourself already sitting in the helicopter on your base. What you first see is typical for the year of publication of this game, inside a well done cockpit design, outside very simple vector graphics. The terrain is mostly flat. Only some lonely trees are scattered around. All the other objects standing in the area a one of both, friendly units or targets! But you don't have to take to much care, most of them are targets. Your main objective is marked as an arrow in the compass, so you can't lose the way. Also the way back to base is marked (as a small line). Reaching the target area enemy defence fire awaits you and you should not stop. The key in most of the missions is to take your way fearless directly through the enemy lines, flying fast, wild turning left and right and firing on anything you see. You will find ground units standing around and also slow (helicopters) and fast (fighters) air units.
Beside this you don`t have to care for much more things (except for your altitude, health status and ammunition) So, although the graphics are simple and the sound is not exhilarating, you get a lot of action and after a few minutes the game takes you into his world. With some training most mission take only some minutes, so the game is also qualified if you don't have much time for playing.
Recapitulating I think the game is still a good choice for all of you that like helicopter action but are tired by simulations. Simulation fans may be unchallenged because of the missing reality of the game. I give the game 4 points because of the action and fun it is, although the graphics are very obsolete and, also for the time of publication, simple.
ThunderHawk is Core Design's good Amiga helicopter simulation converted to the IBM-PC. I played this game to death back then on the Amiga. The PC conversion is very well done, as it should be with a flight sim. The graphics are very smooth and I like the easy-to-use mouse controls. In general it's not a very in-depth sim, but rather has the appeal of an arcade helicopter game. The intro was one of the best back then on the Amiga. I'm missing the cool speech part a bit in this conversion *sniff*. As usual, the Amiga version is far superior, but for once the PC conversion is very well done. Highly recommended for fans of modern helicopter sims who want something simpler than classic Gunship 2000.
For the most part I don't like flight simulations. For me the idea of having to learn 200+ keys is not fun. I think perhaps it's an indication of extreme low inteligence on my part but hugely complicated simulations just don't float my boat.
ThunderHawk has many keys to learn but it does not feel at all complex or daunting, which is probably why I have always liked it so much. Once you get the hang of the (very simple) mouse controls and learn how to switch weapons and targets you are pretty much set. The graphics are functional (they were great for the time) and the missions are varied and well thought out (I particlarly like the briefing sequences before each mission, very cool!). My only beef is that the intro is missing the cool speech that was present in the Atari ST version. A fun, light um... simulation. Easy to get in to and higly addictive.
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