Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2


Core Design

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Contrary to all expectation, I was very surprised by Core Design's latest product for the PC platform. Although at first sight, you may consider "Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2" as an unrealistic chopper simulation, you will quickly change your mind when you discover this fast-pace action game that literally brings the first-person perspective genre into the air!

The AH-73M Thunderhawk Attack Helicopter that you control in "Thunderhawk 2" is an element of a helicopter task force code named 'Firestorm'. Created by NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, to response to the many urgent situations where immediate actions are needed to be deployed, this elite force will be called upon for dangerous missions throughout the globe with you as 'Firestorm One', the lead pilot.

Several campaigns await you, with enemies as different as pirates in the South China Sea, Serbian forces blocking a humanitarian convoy, Iraqi troops invading Jordan and even Columbian drugs cartels! Each of the eight campaigns available contain various missions that you must complete one after another. You can start with the campaign of your choice, but once you have selected one, you will continue with it until you go through all the missions.

As usual, a briefing will instruct you of the objectives with a map that indicates the location of the enemy forces by red spots. The missions will not always consist of locating, intercepting and destroying enemy targets. Among the missions, you will find some in which you must defend a base or free a passenger ship kept prisoner by pirates for example.

The armament at your disposal ranges from a 30mm Chain Gun to missiles and bombs. There are two types of missiles (the AGM-214 Firestorm Homing and the MK-3 Penguin Anti-Shipping), three bombs (RCS-233 Runway Cratering System, 'Big Boy' MK4-84 and the Mac-874a Cluster bomb) and FFAR Rockets. By default, you will be allocated a weapons selection, more or less suited for the mission's needs. If you think they are not adequate, you can change them and select the weapons you want to bring with you. As only the Chain Gun has unlimited ammunition, you must carefully choose the weapons so that your fire power will last for more than a few seconds!

When you finally start the mission, you will see a 3D view of your helicopter turning around and zooming in at the same time, until you get the cockpit view. Two other views are available through the TAB key which are the cockpit view without the panel for a greater visibility, and the external view from behind and above the AH-73M Thunderhawk. The controls are as easy as with any first person perspective game and you can play with the keyboard, mouse or joystick (Gravis gamepad or Thrustmaster). You can fly forward and backwards, slide left and right with the arrow keys, and rotate left or right using the ALT keys in combination with the left and right arrows. Two lateral views will allow you to look at your side, while the radar will warn you of any enemy presence in your immediate vicinity.

The landscape that you fly over is made of fully-textured 3D graphics with 2D graphics for the background. The results are simply impressive. You can change the level of detail and also reduce the size of the window if once more, your configuration is not fast enough. But don't worry, the game runs fine and fast enough on a 486 even with the full screen. The buildings, metallic structures, enemy forces including tanks, aircrafts, helicopters, cannons, trucks, etc... are also represented in 3D which makes the environment quite realistic even though the game only uses the standard VGA resolution.

As in the more traditional flight combat simulators, you can lock your weapons on targets and fire at will. When you destroy a target, it will blow away with debris and multiple explosions, leaving blast-scorched areas on the ground and blackened wreckage. You will even see the soldiers running away when the tanks explode! Although you won't be able to use the target lock on them, it is still possible to kill them if you lower your altitude and shoot in their direction. Try it, it is 100% guaranteed fun.


"A Doom in the air" is the closest description that I have in my mind for "Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2", which not only speaks for its quality but also for its originality.

System Requirements:

486 DX-33Mhz or better,
Min 8Mb Memory,
MS-DOS 5.0 or later,
Hard Drive,
Double Speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
VGA 256 colour graphic card and monitor,
Microsoft mouse or 100% compatible,

Most popular sound cards supported.

Gravis gamepad and Thrustmaster supported.

Developers & Publisher

Core Design Ltd.,
55 Ashbourne Road,
Derby, DE22 3FS.


In Europe:

In UK:

See developers.

In France:

CentreGold France,
6, boulevard du General Leclerc,
92115 Clichy.

Technical Support: +33-1-4106-9670



Click here for screen shots.


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