The warring factions of Earth and Proxima are caught in a deadlock, with neither side having the ability to gain the upper hand. However, after many years of intense research, both races simultaneously discover a weapon of terrifying potential... the Chronoclasm Bomb.
The warring factions agree never to use the device, and a fragile peace ensures until the year 2555, when out of the blue a 'C' bomb is exploded by an unknown force. The resulting explosion rips a hole in the space-time continuum, leaving a swathe of destruction covering five centuries either side of the detonation point.
War machines from each of the affected eras engage in a massive battle, and as a pilot of one of Earth's Thunderbolt bi-fighters, it's your task to destroy these anachronistic airborne interlopers.
Flying low over the landscape, you avoid ground features such as buildings, rocks and defence barriers. Contact reduces the plane's fuel reserve, represented as a diminishing bar. A complete loss of fuel results in the Thunderbolt nose-diving into the ground below, and thus the end of the mission.
The shift in the time barrier is dangerous unstable, making landing necessary when the chronologically disrupted landscape begins to fluctuate. Successfully landing the craft on the nearest airstrip warps your ship to the next area of conflict ready to continue the onslaught.
Unfortunately, there's no commandment that says "thou shalt not steal someone else's ideas" - if there were, Gavin Raeburn, author of this latest Codemasters offering, would be in trouble.
His previous efforts were the highly derivative budget games Terminator and The Equalizer - and Thunderbolt only continues this trend. Take Uridium, give it different backdrops, chane the sprites, knock the playability down a couple of marks and you've got Thunderbolt.
It's not necessarily bad, but we've seen it all before.
The objective of Thunderbolt is to take control of a craft, fly over a two-way horizontally scrolling landscape and shoot down strange alien craft until prompted to land.
If you're thinking "that sounds a bit like Uridium", you'd be right - because Thunderbolt is a shameless clone of the Braybrook classic. The graphics and sound are different, but the basic gameplay is identical in every respect!
Moreover, not content with swiping the plot and basic gameplay, the programmer has also copied some of the attack patterns from Sanxion and sprites from Delta!
As a game in its own right, Thunderbolt is slick, polished and playable - but it's only worth considering if you haven't already got Uridium.
Thunderbolt is remarkably similar to Uridium. The graphics are reasonable and the sound is good, but the familiarity of the gameplay and concept make the whole thing rather tedious.
Shop around if you're after a really good shoot-'em-up - you may not find one that looks better than this, but most will have more content.
No options and only a basic high-score table and title screen.
Varying from awfully pretty to pretty awful.
Neat effects and an average title tune.
The action is straightforward (if a little uninspiring) but the speed takes a lot of getting used to.
The levels only vary visually, and consequently the action loses its appeal quite quickly.
A reasonably playable but unoriginal shoot-'em-up in the Uridium mould.