Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… Not the most encouraging way to start a review, I know, but I simply didn’t want to sound overtly optimistic really. Wouldn’t want anyone to get instantly excited about Thunder Fleets and recklessly stampede over to the game’s site now, would we? Of course not, for as you might have guessed Thunder Fleets isn’t a particularly good game and all this stampeding around might result to some sort of broken web-things.
Still, the game does initially sound vaguely interesting, or at least it did before I actually loaded it. It is after all supposed to be some sort of naval warfare RTS taking place in the WWII-torn Pacific Ocean, where gamers have to wrestle the interface and act both strategically and tactically in order to either subdue the Japanese Imperial Fleet or the American one.Well, in theory at least, as I just can’t see how anyone could stick with Thunder Fleets for more than a couple of hours; the time needed to fully realize that this is as sub-par an offering as they go.
Mind you, I really do hate writing nasty stuff about aspiring indie developers and the fruits of their work, and I’ve already fought and won a titanic battle against sarcasm. Frankly, that would have been cheap and uncalled for. Let’s just say that Thunder Fleets starts off with a lacking yet boring tutorial that fails on far too many grammatical levels and manages to exclude key information, goes on to provide with some incredibly dull and visually poor battles, only to end up in what can only be described as an explosion of frustration. Now, I’ll have to admit there’s a chance I didn’t give the game the attention it deserved, but two hours of wrestling with the scrolling mechanics and enduring impressively uninspired grey ship-like things firing at other grey things was too much, even though I did sense that some interesting ideas and mechanics were struggling to make themselves felt…
I could go on and try to ridicule the thing, but I wont. Sadly knowing that the developers are reading this, I’ll humbly suggest a few things to vastly improve the game and give it a fighting chance in the rich world of commercial indie games, where it will apparently have to compete with such acclaimed games as AI War, VVVVVV, Eufloria, The Dream Machine and Revenge of the Titans. I also promise that should Thunder Fleets get an update in the correct direction, I’ll be more than willing to re-review it.
Here goes then: 1) Make sure the screen scrolls properly when the mouse hits its side; 2) add some music and proper sound effects; 3) make the thing playable in windowed mode; 4) fix all spelling and grammatical errors; 5) redo the tutorial from scratch; 6) redesign the interface and, above all, make sure the buttons that select tactics indicate whether they have been pressed or not; 7) add more tactical options and let players -at least- control the facing of their ships; 8) make sure the graphics are passable; 9) polish the thing; 10) add some historical bits of info; 11) add a simple intro and 12) drop the price, as an asking price of 11 euros for a game like this does feel rather outrageous.
Verdict: Almost passable for a freebie I’m afraid.