Difference between revisions of "Wing Commander"
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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."— Admiral Tolwyn, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom
Wing Commander is a series of space combat flight simulations developed and published by Origin Systems. The series consists of ten games, including spin-offs and remakes. The first game released on September 26, 1990, and two expansions called The Secret Missions released later. A remake called Super Wing Commander released on Macintosh and the 3DO on March 23, 1994. The second game, called Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi released on September 1991 and was also followed by two expansions called Special Operations. Three spin-offs called Wing Commander Academy, Wing Commander Privateer, and Wing Commander Armada released on August and September of 1993 and September 1994 respectively before the release of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, which came out on December 1994. On February 12, 1996, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom was released. The last two games in the series that released by Origin, Privateer 2: The Darkening and Wing Commander Prophecy released on an unknown date in 1996 and December 11, 1997 respectively before Origin Systems was shut down by its parent company, EA. Prophecy would later get an expansion called Wing Commander Secret Ops. The last game to be released was Wing Commander Arena for the Xbox 360 on July 25, 2007. All of the PC releases were eventually re-released on GOG.com. This article will focus on the Origin Systems era, the games that released before the company was shut down and EA's management of the series.
In the year 2654, mankind is in the middle of a deadly war between the Kilrathi Empire, a warrior race of feline like creatures. You play as a new pilot fighting for the Terran Confederation on the carrier TCS Tiger's Claw. Based on performance of the player, you will either take a winning path or losing path. The winning path will end with the player destroying Kilrathi High Command, while the losing path ends with the Tiger's Claw being forced to retreat from Vega.
The Secret Missions
After the destruction of the Kilrathi base in the Venice system, intelligence reported that the Kilrathi have created a new biological weapon. Shortly afterward, radio contact with the Goddard Colony is lost. The Tiger's Claw is sent to investigate, only to find the Goddard Colony being completely wiped out. Shortly after the destruction of Goddard, the crew of the Tiger’s Claw follow the Kilrathi strike force into their territory, where they discover the Sivar dreadnought, where the bio-weapons are held.
The Secret Missions II: Crusade
The Tiger's Claw is stationed at the Firekka System, where the natives of the planet, the bird-like Firekkans, are negotiating with joining the Confederation. However, during these negotiations, there is a large Kilrathi presence in the area that eventually turns into a full-scale battle group, with the Confederation having to retreat from the system.
Soon, the presence is explained, as Firekka is the site of this year's Rite of Sivar, a Kilrathi festival honoring Sivar, the Kilrathi war god. As a chance to deal a blow to the Kilrathi morale, the Confederation assigns its Firekka-sector resources the task of disrupting the ceremony. This, with the help of the Firekkans, the Sivar ceremony is stopped and the Kilrathi forced to retreat back into their own space.
Super Wing Commander
Within the Super Wing Commander release is an additional campaign. This campaign details the Tiger’s Claw traveling to the Jakarta System, as part of a battle group charged with finding and destroying the shipyards that produced the Sivar weapon. Using captured enemy fighters to sneak behind enemy lines, the pilots cripple the Kilrathi bases.
Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi
In the year 2656, after the events that happened in the Firekka system, the Tiger's Claw is on campaign in the Enigma sector, where the crew is about to attempt to destroy Kilrathi headquarters in the sector, known as the K'tithrak Mang starbase. However, before the assault can begin, the Tiger's Claw is destroyed by a group of Kilrathi stealth fighters. Only Blair knew what ships they where, but can't prove it due to his flight recorder being damaged. He is court-martialed for treason and is sentenced to spend the rest of his career on Caernavon Station in the Gwynedd system.
Ten years later, in the year 2666, while Blair is on patrol, he is startled to find Kilrathi in the system. He is eventually called back to active duty on the Concordia, where he meets some of his old friends who survived the destruction of the Tiger's Claw, including his old flame Angel and Ralgha nar Hhallas, a Kilrathi defector. Aboard the Concordia, he encounters the stealth fighters again on a lone patrol, but his flight recorder is once again damaged. In addition, many strange events happen aboard the carrier, including a murder, that suggest a traitor is aboard the Concordia. Blairs old friend, Spirit, even dies in campaign during a raid on a Kilrathi starbase. However, despite the tragedy, the tide of the war begins to turn, as the Concordia approach the K'tithrak Mang starbase.
During the time in the K'tithrak Mang system, Blair is finally able to prove the existence of the stealth fighters. Before the assault, it is revealed a fellow pilot, callsign Jazz, turns out to be the traitor aboard the ship. Luckily, he is stopped by Blair. Finally, Blair takes matters into his own hands during the strike upon the starbase, as he single handedly destroys the starbase, encountering Prince Thrakhath in the process, and finishes the mission the Tiger's Claw was never able to finish ten years ago. Admiral Tolwyn, promotes Blair to Colonel, and stays on the Concordia.
After the destruction of the starbase, Blair is transferred to the "Special Intelligence" division of the TCSN, under Colonel Taggeat, one of the pilots from the Tiger's Claw. However, his transfer is delayed, due to increasing presence of the Kilrathi in the Pembroke System. In addition, a Terran supply depot is being attacked by TCSN ships. Blair is sent to investigate this threat. It turns out the hostile fighters are from the TCS Gettysburg, whose captain had ordered his pilots to fire on innocent Kilrathi civilians. The pilots who fired on them would go their separate ways, with Ransom becoming a pirate and Poelma and Bondarevsky returning to the Confederation. Ransom's group is the one attacking the Terran supply depot, and Poelma and Bondarevsky have received pardons from the Confederation. Blair is assigned to bring them back to the Concordia and destroy the supply depot, and concludes with the Gettysburg crew acquitted, and Bondarevsky promoted and decorated for his integrity.
Taggart arrives aboard the Bonnie Heather and retrieves Blair and Hobbes, as well as Major Edmond, the Concordia's communications officer, for their Special Operations duties, which will take place on Olympus Station in the Ghorah Khar system. Like N'Tanya, Ghorah Khar is in rebellion, and Taggart's Special Operations involve helping them rebels succeed in freeing themselves, in the form of contributions of leadership, Terran pilots and vital materials. Blair also helps intercept a Loyalist dead drop, replacing the invasion plans contained within with Confed-developed plans that will lead the Kilrathi fleet into an ambush. The Kilrathi arrive in far more force than anticipated, and Blair and Hobbes fly several strikes against these attack groups.
Unfortunately, Taggart is ambushed at a jump point and the Heather crippled. Soon, another flight of Kilrathi ships jumps in, but they start shooting the first flight. Blair and Hobbes arrive, drive them off, and rescue an ejected Kilrathi pilot to see if they can get some answers. The ejected pilot turns out to be other than Crown Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka. The second flight, he explains, was an assassination attempt led by Khasra, a cousin of Thrakhath, in a bid for the throne of Kilrah. Though Thrakhath is imprisoned in the brig, a power failure allows him to escape and escapes in Hobbes' fighter. Blair attempts to retrieve him, but is forced to pull out, and the war's two best pilots together make short work of the Kilrathi rebels, while Thrakhath escapes. The remaining Kilrathi fleet attempts to destroy Olympus Station once and for all. Olympus's flight group is low on fighters and their communications have been jammed. Blair, leading the defense, knows he has a slim chance of survival. Fortunately, a group of pilots from the Gettysburg, sent along by a concerned Admiral Tolwyn. With Ghorah Khar securely in Confederation hands, the N'Tanya, K'arakh and Shariha colonies manage to successfully rebel against the Empire. Thrakhath, with tons of military intelligence in his head, takes advantage of the fact that the Enigma Sector fleets are distracted with Ghorah Khar and captures Deneb Sector Command.
Special Operations II
After the events of the "Special Operations" expansion, Blair learns Jazz, the traitor, has been sentenced to death for his treachery. Blair is sent to escort the prison ship Jazz is held. However, a society of human traitors known as the Mandarins attacks the prison ship and free Jazz. Upon his return to Concordia, Blair finds out Todd "Maniac" Marshal is leading a new squadron of experimental ships known as the Morningstars. However, they have many problems, notably their jump drive, and Blair is forced to rescue a pilot because of this. Finally, Blair encounters a Kilrathi transports that surrenders itself to the TCSN. A Mandarin agent on board reveals his freighter is headed to the Mandarin home base. It is then hinted that the Kilrathi are helping the Mandarin cause. The Mandarins then begin to transmit propaganda movies around Terran space, which are led by led by Zach Colson. Soon, the crews of Terran freighters are eventually traded for several Mandarin prisoners. Even worse, Thrakhath's ambitions are realized when a Mandarin traitor sets off a bomb on the Concordia's flight deck and steals a Morningstar. The traitor, Maria Grimaldi, heads for Ayer's Rock; and deployment of Kilrathi patrols prevent Maverick and Maniac from following her.
Paladin takes over the Gamal Gan freighter, deciding that it's time for some cover agents of their own. He renames it the Grimalkin and transfers Maverick and Maniac back to Special Ops. Hiding two Morningstars aboard the freighter, the three infiltrate the Ayer system. The Morningstar's torpedoes are also now supplemented by a new weapon: the "Mace" tactical nuclear missile. Minx makes it to an escape pod, but escape pods are not enough to prevent radiation poisoning. Jazz stole her Morningstar, giving Maverick the opportunity to shoot him down before returning to the Concordia. However, just like before, Thrakhath once again turns defeat into victory, by savaging the 6th Battle Fleet, leading the Confederation to retreat from the Enigma sector.
Wing Commander Privateer
In the borders of Confederation space, lives a lawless land of pirates, merchants, and privateers. In this world, the game begins with a mysterious drone attacking shipping in the system. One privateer, named Burrows, lands on the planet New Detroit, where a man hires him and gives him a mysterious artifact. On his return to the planet, Burrows finds the man dead. Shortyly after, Burrows seeks information about the artifact, eventually meeting Dr. Monkhouse, a xenoarchaeologist on the planet Palan. Monkhouse tells Burrows the artifact was made by an ancient technologically advanced race, known as the Steltek. The artifact is half of a map; Monkhouse has the rest. After they bring both together, Burrows is asked to explore the area in the map, which he agrees to do.
While exploring the area, Burrows locates a powerful weapon on an ancient ship and mounts it on to his own. When he leaves, a mysterious drone follows him, destroying everything it encounters. During the chase, Burrows is contacted by the Confederation, who ask him to lure the drone into an ambush they set up, so it can be destroyed. On the way, Burrows encounters a Steltek scout, which is looking for the last traces of their technology so they can be removed. The scout energizes the ancient weapon in exchange for the location of the ship where Burrows found it. It then remains for Burrows to destroy the dangerous drone.
Privateer: Righteous Fire
After the events of Privateer, the Steltek weapon is stolen from his ship while Burrows is docked. He travels to Oxford, where he meets someone who helps him in return for flying missions against the Retros, a homicidal band of religious extremists led by a man named Mordecai Jones. The informant adds that Governor Menesch, who sells weapons and ships to the Retros and pirates, was likely behind the theft of Burrows’ weapon.
Later, a Retro defector tells Burrows the location of the Retros’ headquarters and warns they have made copies of the Steltek gun. Burrows realizes he must defeat the Retro leader Jones and destroy all copies of the powerful weapon, which he does.
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger
Thrakhath nar Kiranka, prince of the Kilrathi Empire, presides over the execution of a group of Terran Confederation prisoners of war. One, however, is left alive: Blair's lover Colonel Jeannette "Angel" Devereaux, due to her status among the Kilrathi as a respected warrior. On the planet Vespus, Blair and Brigadier General James "Paladin" Taggart inspect the downed wreckage of the TCS Concordia, which the Kilrathi destroyed in a battle.
By orders of Admiral Tolwyn, is transferred as Wing Commander to the TCS Victory, a Ranger-class carrier twice as old as Blair. The ship's captain, William Eisen, has been with her for many years, and is proud of his ship. There Blair is reunited with fellow pilots from the Tiger's Claw and Concordia, including Ralgha nar "Hobbes" Hhallas, and Todd "Maniac" Marshall, but all the other pilots and staff are people are new to Blair. Among those on board, Blair meets Lieutenant Robin "Flint" Peters and Chief Fighter Technician Rachel Coriolis.
Shortly after Blair's arrival, test pilot Major Jace "Flash" Dillon arrives on board the Victory with his prototype warcraft, the Excalibur heavy fighter. When Flash fails to respond to an attack on the Victory, willfully napping through the crisis, Blair commandeers the Excalibur in defense of the Victory and, in an ensuing argument with Flash, accuses him of being a coward and repeatedly insinuates that he has no flying skills. This angers Flash who challenges Blair to a simulator duel. Immediately afterward, the Victory is rerouted to the Locanda System, where the Kilrathi are deploying a potent pair of new weapons: the "Skipper" cruise missile, equipped with a cloaking device, and a genetically-engineered bioweapon for use against the Locanda colonies, the home of Flint. Blair and his wing are scrambled to defend Locanda against several of these missiles. Even if Blair destroys the missiles, Flint breaks formation and attacks the Kilrathi forces in an act of revenge. The player is given the option to follow her, though she returns safely in either case.
Thrakhath appears with a squadron of Pakthan bombers and taunts Victory over subspace radio, calling Blair "The Heart of the Tiger"; the Confederation pilots gather the Kilrathi have bestowed this name on him as a sign of respect. Afterword, Admiral Tolwyn rendezvouses with the Victory. Tolwyn is responsible for the escort and defense of the TCS Behemoth, an extremely large vessel able to destroy a planet. Following a successful field test of the Behemoth in the Loki system, the Victory jumps to Kilrah and Tolwyn prepares to use the Behemoth on the Kilrathi home world. Thrakhath's forces attack the Behemoth. A traitor aboard the Victory has transmitted targeting data to the Kilrathi revealing the Behemoth's weakpoints, resulting in the destruction of the mighty ship. Thrakhath then challenges Blair in single combat. He taunts Blair with a recording showing how he personally disemboweled Angel after her colleagues were disintegrated. Blair's instinct is to accept, but the Victory's radio man warns him that the Victory is leaving the system. Blair refuses the challenge and returns to the Victory.
After a retreat to the Alcor System, Paladin arrives. He reveals that before Angel was captured, she transmitted data indicating that the Kilrathi home world is seismically unstable. Paladin suggests a weapon called the Temblor Bomb which, if dropped in the right place, will cause the planet to shake itself to pieces. Before they can complete the bomb, Hobbes kills one of the Victory's pilots, Lt. Laurel "Cobra" Buckley, steals her fighter and makes for Kilrathi space with news of the planned T-Bomb attack. Blair has the choice of chasing him or letting him go. If he gives chase, he kills Hobbes, the carrier is attacked, and Lt. Mitchell "Vaquero" Lopez is killed in the fight. Either way, afterwards Blair finds Hobbes left a message locker, explaining that he was brainwashed long before he met Blair, and this brainwashing led him to defect to the Confederation. His original personality was reactivated by the code phrase "Heart of the Tiger", the Kilrathi name for Blair.
Blair launches against Kilrah, with up to three wingmen of the player's choice. This attack comes just as the Kilrathi prepare for a massive and devastating strike against Earth, intending to finally force humanity into submission with the loss of their home planet. After a long and hard battle, losing wingmen in the process, Blair descends to the surface and delivers the bomb. The explosion destroys Kilrah and wipes out nearly the entire Kilrathi armada assembled in orbit, but damages Blair's fighter as well; a surviving Kilrathi capital ship tractors him in. Morally devastated by the destruction of their home planet, the Kilrathi, commanded now by Thrakhath's retainer Melek nar Kiranka, surrender to Tolwyn. The surviving Kilrathi begin to colonize a new homeworld and now want to live in peace and harmony with humans and the long war against the Kilrathi finally comes to a close.
Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom
After the Kilrathi war, Confed is attempting to stabilize its economy and social structure. The Kilrathi survivors, now led by Melek nar Kiranka, retainer to the late Prince Thrakhath, are having greater problems than they had during the war, since their racial and societal makeup revolves around hunting and killing. Tension between the Confederation and the Union of Border Worlds has deepened, most recently with an attack on an unarmed medical transport. This transport is destroyed by a wing of mysterious fighters equipped with a new anti-ship weapon that incinerates the target's contents, leaving only a burning shell behind. After the attack, 'Paladin', who is now the senior governor of the Terran Assembly, declares that the Assembly must cast a vote on whether or not to declare war on the Border Worlds, with Admiral Tolwyn assigned to a fact-finding mission which will essentially decide the issue. Christopher Blair , now retired, is trying to make out a living on a desert world as a farmer, when he is recalled to active military service by Tolwyn, with the help of 'Mainiac'. Within five minutes of Blair taking the cockpit, the station he's heading to is attacked by an Avenger-class fighter claiming Border Worlds allegiance. Border World claims that similar strikes that have occurred on their ships are ignored. Tolwyn assigns Blair to the TCS Lexington with the task of unraveling these tensions and getting to the bottom of the story. Blair is reunited with Lexington's new captain, William Eisen, 'Maniac', and Winston 'Vagabond' Chang. Blair also meets Lieutenant Troy 'Catscratch' Carter, a Kilrath-o-phobe who joined the military a couple of years too late.
Blair can find no concrete evidence, and no one can positively identify the harassing ships. Tolwyn transfers a new officer to the Lexington, named Captain Hugh Paulsen, who replaces Eisen in command. Soon after, Paulsen calls Blair and Chang in for a surprise mission briefing: Eisen has defected to the Border Worlds and is fleeing in a shuttle, with Maniac piloting. Once in space, Vagabond announces that he is going to follow Eisen over. After Blair defects with Vagabond, he arrives with Eisen, Maniac, Vagabond and Catscratch at the BWS Intrepid, an old Durango-class carrier that has recently suffered damage from a Confed attack. Much of the senior staff has been killed, including Eisen's contact and old friend Captain Dominguez. The two officers currently sharing the command, Colonels Jacob 'Hawk' Manley and Tamara 'Panther' Farnsworth , assign Blair as wing commander for the flight group, and Eisen becomes her captain. Other Intrepid natives include Chief Technician Robert "Pliers" Sykes, Colonel John 'Gash' Dekker, head of the ship's contingent of Marines; and communications technician Lieutenant Velina Sosa, whom Catscratch quickly takes affection to. Eisen confides that he's been in touch with connections back on Earth, and it seems that the nascent Confed-Border Worlds war is being instigated by elements within Confed. He defected so that he could hunt for proof of this. Blair and Maniac succeed in downing the Lexington, though Paulsen escapes in a shuttle with Seether. Seether kills Paulsen for his failure. Pliers soon creates a jerry-rigged cloaking device and a "Manned Insertion Pod", a torpedo that can be used to land ground troops. Blair takes them in against a communications station in the Orestes System, where Sosa and Vagabond collect valuable data on the conspiracy. Vagabond is killed in the gunfight.
Blair picks up a distress signal from the Kilrathi and rescues the convoy. The leader of the convoy is Thrakhath's old retainer Melek, who brings flight recorder data of the sleek black ships using their incineration weapon against a Kilrathi transport. One of the ships pulls a move that Blair saw in the attack on the space port, using the ship's afterburners to supercharge and detonate an explosive mine which pushes the ship away at a faster rate. Hawk tells them that when he signed on with Confed, there was a rookie pilot on his ship, call sign 'Seether', who could pull off the maneuver. He also informs them that there was some talk of a 'G.E.' program, but that he never found out what it was, and Seether was transferred from the flight roster to Confed Intelligence Operations. Eisen leaves the Intrepid, intent on returning to Earth and delivering the information to friends in high places; he leaves Blair as acting captain reporting to Border Worlds Rear Admiral Wilford. Finally, the Intrepid catches wind of a secret Confed freighter sneaking through the area. Blair subdues it so that Dekker and his boys can capture it. Pliers, clambering aboard in the aftermath, discovers a squadron of sleek black fighters and a single example of their incendiary weapon, called "Dragons" and "Flash-Paks" respectively.
The Telamon system is under biological attack. The vast majority of the colony, particularly Planet FT957, has died. Few survive the attacks, hale and untouched, evidently due to an innate immunity. The survivors at the colony recount that visiting Dragons dropped canisters containing a biological weapon. Blair traces the attacking Dragons to the Axius System, which he infiltrates. There he discovers a secret starbase, guarded by the TCS Vesuvius, and manned by thousands of black-clad soldiers, including Seether, collectively known as the Black Lance. Blair learns that their leader is Admiral Tolwyn, who is instigating a war between the Border Worlds and Confed, with the goal being constant war-driven evolution of tactics and technology, to prepare the Confederation to meet the next hostile alien race. The Gen-Select Bio-Weapon, recently tested at Telamon, is the next obvious step in the plan: a virus that kills off all but the most genetically superior. Blair is spied by Seether and forced to fight his way out.
The Intrepid, pursued by the Vesuvius and Tolwyn's Black Lance pilots, makes a run toward Earth, intending to stop Tolwyn from addressing Congress. Though helped by the intervention of the TCS St. Helens, sister ship to the Vesuvius, and its new captain, Eisen, the Intrepid is unsuccessful in stopping Tolwyn. Blair lands on Earth and enters the Congressional Building.
Tolwyn delivers his report on the Border Worlds and Blair slips in. If Blair makes a silent entrance, Tolwyn alerts the chamber guards to arrest Blair and he is not given a chance to speak, instead being executed. If Blair instead chooses to make a dramatic entrance, Paladin gives him the chance to speak before the Assembly. Blair baits Tolwyn into revealing his true agenda and admitting his crimes.
Privateer 2: The Darkening
In the borders of Confederation space, the cargo ship Canera is attacked during landing and crashes into Mendra City on planet Crius in the year 2790 of the Tri-System calendar. One of the few survivors, named As Lev Arris, has no memory of who he is and no record of his existence prior to two weeks before the crash. He awakens from his cryo-sleep and must take on the life of a privateer in the Tri-System, while also learning about who is his while doing so.
Wing Commander Prophecy
Twelve years after the destruction of the Kilrathi homeworld, the Terran Confederation is building several Midway-class megacarriers, brainchild of Navy Commodore Christopher 'Maverick' Blair. The first one, the Midway herself, is undergoing her shakedown cruise, with Blair along for the ride. Two new recruits join the Midway for this venture, one of which is the player themselves, 2nd Lieutenant Lance Casey, son of Major Michael "Iceman" Casey from Wing Commander I.
The Midway receives a distress call from a Kilrathi cruiser in the H'rekkah system, and Marshall, Manley, Casey, Talvert and Garrett are sent to investigate. Casey is placed in command of his flight; Stiletto intends to test the rookie pilot's reputation. They find the cruiser has been destroyed, and attackers come out of the nearby asteroids. In order to alert Confed HQ of the invaders, who have been given the codename of "Nephilim", Casey, Blair and Dekker fly out to an abandoned Confed relay station. The Nephilium have been lying in wait, and Blair is captured. After the capture, Casey has to defend the station from attackers himself until reinforcements arrive.
The Midway is soon tasked with defending Kilrathi colonists in the T'lan Meth system, who are being attacked by the Nephilim as well. Casey finds himself on Hawk's wing several times, and learns more about his father. Once, when still a rookie aboard the TCS Tiger's Claw, Manley lost a wingman, and was a complete wreck for some time. Only one pilot volunteered to fly on his wing, and had to fight off nearly an entire squadron of Kilrathi until Hawk could get his act together. That pilot, Major Michael "Iceman" Casey, eventually ejected from his damaged fighter and was scooped up by the Kilrathi; the family was told instead that he was killed during a Kilrathi ambush. While Casey and Manley are assisting a wing of Kilrathi fighters, Hawk advises that they turn on them in revenge, with the choice being up to the player. Afterword, the Marines retake a captured Kilrathi starbase, on which the Nephilim held a number of human prisoners, though only one remains: Commodore Blair.
Reports filter in of a Nephilim superweapon: a plasma cannon that can destroy an entire fleet with one blast. Casey leads a raid to steal the weapon, which is subsequently grafted onto the Midway. The Midway moves on to the Kilrah system afterword, where the Nephilim's wormhole gate is still pumping out ships. Casey leads an attack on the gate, where he and Talvert escort Dekker's Marines in and then combat waves of Nephilim fighters, while the Marines land and deactivate the shields on the gate's seven towers so that Casey can destroy them one by one. Blair, flying in on his own shuttle, lands at the last remaining tower and deactivates its shields. The Nephilim Warlord who kidnapped Blair is within the tower; Blair, distracted by this higher priority, doesn't escape before the destruction of the gate. Casey returns to the Midway and the Confederation as a hero, and Blair is declared missing in action.
Why They Rock
- The games revolutionized the flight simulation genre and its success influenced the release of future titles such as Star Wars: X-Wing and FreeSpace.
- The A.I. is great, with each ship having their own set of patterns, such as Salthi always turning left to face the player. The ace pilots also help shake things up a bit with their own unique takes on flying their ships, such as Baruk Starkiller using his skills to try to lure you away from what you're defending or Fireclaw cowardly running away after taking minor damage.
- The wingman system is a really deep mechanic, where you can command your wingman to do actions such as attacking your target, protecting a friendly vessel, or even sending them back to base if you can handle the situation yourself. You can even taunt enemies to make them come to you, which is really useful tactic when escorting defenseless ships.
- There is a lot of mission variety between the missions of the games, consisting of simple patrols, escort runs, and large scale strike missions. The later games would even add a few missions that were connected to each other, similar to the FreeSpace games.
- Many different ship types in all the games, each with their own gameplay style. For example, the Hornet fighter in the original is built around maneuverability, while the Thunderbolt in the third game is a ship of raw power.
- Each wingman has their own flying style, such as Maniac never following orders and always going straight in or Spirit always doing what you ask.
- Based on whether you complete or fail a mission series, the type of missions you will encounter next will vary. If you constantly win battles, you will be given harder missions but will be on the path that will give you the best ending. If you fail, you will be taken to the losing path, but will easier missions.
- The soundtrack of all the games sound amazing, even the console ports of the original sound good in their own unique way. The music also changes based on what is happening in the mission, which also helps add to the cinematic tone of the series.
- Presentation wise, all of the games are really cinematic, with each cutscene feeling like something out of a movie. This is further helped by strong voice acting from the main cast, well written scripts, and constant changing of camera angles. The later games would even use FMV cutscenes to make you feel like you where playing a movie.
Wing Commander + Secret Missions
- The game includes a training simulator that players can use to improve their skills against enemy fighters. In the beginning of the simulation, you would chose which enemy type you want to practice against, and must survive wave after wave of that enemy until you get a "Game Over".
- Not only does how well you fly affect how the story changes, going beyond the objectives and getting high kill counts results in ranking up and medals, encouraging the player to try different things in the missions.
Wing Commander II + Special Operations
- This game improves almost everything that the original had. There are technical advancements, such as better graphics and faster gameplay, but other changes also improve the tone of the game and would later be used for later games, such as including voice acting and putting a bigger emphasis on the story.
- This release would introduce a new class of ship that would be used for all future mainline titles: the bomber. This type of ship was less maneuverable than a fighter, but has lots of power and is used to destroy larger enemy vessels.
Wing Commander Academy
- Rather than being a standard game or spin-off in the series, this game acts as a level creator. You are able to create basic missions using the game's tools, such as creating patrols or strike missions, using the assets of Wing Commander 2. The game even adds two new ships created for the game to play around with. You can even share the missions you created with your friends and play ones they created.
- The game isn't just a level creator either. The game also includes a Gauntlet mode where you select your ship and wingman, and play through wave after wave of enemies to get the highest score.
- These spin-offs is a fun deviation from the main series. Rather than giving the players a main set of missions to follow, the Privateer games give the players complete freedom in how they want to play. You may want to become a pirate and destroy all who come your way, a mercenary who will destroy specific foes for money, or a smuggler who sneaks illegal cargo for profit.
- A different game world that is completely different from previous games in the series. Rather than focusing the efforts of the Terran Confederation, these games focus on the more lawless part of the series world. The second Privateer game doesn't even have mention of the events of the mainline entries, focusing on its own universe.
- The games are very open ended and is more of a sandbox than other Wing Commander games. You can chose to follow the main story, play endlessly, or do whatever you like in the world.
- The gameplay is more similar to Elite or Freelancer. In this entry, the goal is to gain funds by doing tasks, such a delivering cargo or bounty hunting, to buy better equipment for you ships, and repeat. It's a repetitive, but addicting loop that makes these two games more infinitely replayable than other games in the series.
Wing Commander Armada
- It was the first game in the series to render the graphics as 3D polygons, which would be the future basis for the later games.
- It once again a spin-off that tries something new with the series. Rather than being just a space combat simulation, it is also a turn-based strategy game. In it, players command a carrier as you make bases on planets to mine resources and create ships, fight enemy squadrons, and jump from system to system, with the goal of destroying the carrier of the enemy. It's not just strategy either, as some piloting skill is involved. When you encounter an enemy squadron on the map with your own fighters, you'll be able to directly control the battle as one of your allied forces, similar to X-COM Interceptor.
- It is the first game in the series to include multiplayer, in the form of head to head combat against the other player, with players being able to fly any ship from the Confederation or Kilrathi.
- Four different gameplay modes. You have a the Gauntlet mode returning from Wing Commander Academy, where you shoot down enemy ships for the highest score, the aforementioned multiplayer Battle mode , an Armada mode, which is the standard strategy game, and the Campaign, which is basically Armada, but with 10 different missions.
Wing Commander III & IV
- The biggest draw to these entries of the series is the inclusion of the FMV cutscenes. While most FMV games are famous for having cheap effects and poor acting, Wing Commander III was the one of the first of these games to have a professional budget. The game was actually filmed in Hollywood and used famous actors like Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell. This made the game feel more movie-like than the previous games in the series and would become the template for story telling in the next games in the series. The forth game took this even more seriously, with a budget of $12 million. In fact, there are so many cutscenes, the third game had four discs that where swapped out constantly to play the game. The forth game had almost double that amount, using seven disks.
- As mentioned above, most FMV games have poor acting, but this actors in this game put effort into their roles, making the characters have believable personalities.
- The story of the games are the best of the series. Wing Commander III acts as the epic conclusion to the Kilrathi War, with a story filled with plot twists and new characters and development. Meanwhile, Wing Commander IV would continue on the game with a new enemy, betrayal, and even moving the Kilrathi, the main enemies of the series, to a minor role.
- The training sim from the first game returns in three, although in a different way. Rather than just being an arcade-style distraction, you have a full set of training missions for almost every mission type, so you always have some way to improve your skills.
- Introduces new mission types to the series, such as planetary strike missions, where you attack structures and fighters over land, making flying a little more difficult, and a few linked missions, meaning levels that take you from one mission immediately to the next.
- Introduces wealth of gameplay options available to the player, making it so that almost anyone can play. These changes include five different difficulty levels and being able to divert power between weapons, damage control, and engines. Some of the FMV cutscenes also have two different options that affect the outcome of the conversation, affects the morale of the pilots and ship and even choosing what mission you get in some cases.
Wing Commander Prophecy
- This game in the series introduces many new changes in the world and gameplay. The original cast of Wing Commander III & IV now have been replaced with new characters (With the exceptions of Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson, and Ginger Lynn Allen), many new ships and world designs, such as the Wasp and Stiletto fighters, a new enemy, and even a new game engine. However, these changes don't mess with the quality of the game, as it's still fun to play as past entries.
- Many new and returning ship and weapon types. New weapons include the Charging Mass, a gun that you hold down for more power, as well as many returning guns like the Stormfire cannon. In addition, no ships from previous games return, but you won't miss them, as the new fighters and bombers are unique in their own way, such as the Devastator heavy bomber, a slow but powerful craft with cannons all over the ship.
- This entry also spawned a Game Boy Advance port, the first Nintendo port of a Wing Commander game since the Secret Missions expansion. What makes the port so surprising and notable is how on par it is with the PC version. I creators were able to compress the entire campaign in a small 32-megabit game cartridge for a handheld console, with all missions, ships, and plotline intact. The game even uses detailed 3D models. Some sacrifices were made, such as the removal of the FMV cutscenes, but the port is overall very impressive and faithful to the standard release and must be seen to be believed. The port even includes multiplayer by use of the link cable and limited use of digitized voices.
- The gameplay of the entire series doesn't change a whole lot. The main formula pretty much stays the same (The player flies a mission, encounters and shoots down enemies along the way, rinse and repeat.)
- Some mission types are overused, such as the patrol and strike missions.
Wing Commander I & II
- You can lose your cannons in a fight if you get hit in the right place, which can be frustrating, especially if you lose all of them and can't do anything.
- The Secret Missions and Special Operations expansions don't have branching mission paths, unlike the base games. Instead, if you fail one mission in a series, you are automatically set in a losing path.
- The original versions don't have voice acting. However, this was added into some of the ports of the first game and the "Speech Pack" for the second.
- The SNES ports of the original are the worst versions of the first game and the first expansion, with slower gameplay and some combat maneuvers being removed, as well as falling victim to Nintendo's censorship policies, such as removing Hunter's cigar and the minor swearing.
Wing Commander Academy
- Other than being a level creator, there isn't a lot of content in the game besides the Gauntlet mode and sharing levels. The lack of a story mode also adds to the lack of replay value.
- Pretty much all the assets of the game are taken from Wing Commander 2, with barely any original ships and pilots other than the wingman 'Lightspeed'.
- Despite the gameplay hook being fun, the game can get pretty repetitive.
Wing Commander Armada
- Unfortunately, despite the interesting take on the formula of the series, the strategy segments can be a little boring, not helped by the fact that there is barely anything going on graphically in these segments.
Wing Commander III, IV, & Prophecy
- The graphics of Wing Commander III are somewhat of a downgrade compared to Armada, but this may be blamed on the large amount of FMV cutscenes.
- The 3DO port of Wing Commander III had many differences from the PC and PlayStation versions that make it inferior to those versions. These include, but are not limited to:
- The game only has one difficulty level instead of having five different ones. This difficulty is roughly the same as the "Veteran" level in the PC version.
- The removal of missions that take place on planetary surfaces. They were instead replaced with FMV cutscenes. This also means only two the the three endings are accessible.
- The ejection animation was cut out of the game. The option to replay a mission after ejecting is also cut out.
- The player can only communicate with the ship they are targeting.
- You don't have to much room for error in Wing Commander IV, as most of the time, failing a mission will be an automatic game over. It doesn't help that the game is harder than others in the series, even on the lowest difficulty.
- While technically impressive, the Game Boy Advance port of Prophecy is technically inferior to the PC version, such as music that is less pleasant to listen to, not being able to communicate with pilots, and the game being harder to control. The missions where also really watered down, with no free level exploration.
Upon release, the original Wing Commander was a critical and commercial success. Dragon magazine gave the game 6 stars out of 5, while Computer Gaming World gave it 4 1/2 stars out of 5. The expansions were also well received, with Dragon giving The Secret Missions 5 out of 5 stars. By 1995, the game sold over 290,000 copies. In 2012, Time magazine put the game on their All-Time 100 Video Games list. The second game received similar acclaim, scoring a 5/5 from Dragon. The Wing Commander 1+2 re-release has a score of 4.7/5 on GOG.com
As for the spin-off games, they to where well received, although they didn't get as much acclaim as the mainline entries and are more mixed. Computer Gaming World gave Wing Commander Academy 3 stars on a 5 star scale. The same magazine also gave Wing Commander Privateer 3 1/2 stars out of 5, praising its less-structured storyline. Privateer was that magazine's runner-up for their Game of the Year award, but lost to Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame. Next Generation magazine gave Wing Commander Armada three stars out of five. Privateer 2 was reviewed by Next Generation and was given four stars out of five. The games listed above have a user score of 3/5, 3.7/5, and 4.7/5 on GOG.com respectively.
The last three mainline entries are the most well received of the original series. The third game in the series is often considered one of the best flight simulators ever made. Computer Gaming World and Next Generation both gave the third game 5 stars out of five. Critics praised the story as deep and intricate and the high quality of the FMV. In 2011, PC Gamer put the third game 72nd place on their 100 best PC games list. The forth game was also well received by critics and audiences, with them praising the high quality graphics and FMV sequences. However, the PlayStation version's reception was a lot more mixed, with the game having to be really changed to accommodate the hardware. Finally, Prophecy received positive reception from critics and players, once again praising the graphics as well as new twists on the formula. These games in the series have user scores of 4.8/5, 4.8/5 and 4.4/5 on GOG.com respectively.
Unfortunately, the series is now a shell of its former self, as the series has declined from being one of the most well-known games of the 90s to not being very well known today. This is partly due to EA's management of the series, giving it little attention and releasing a poorly made spin-off that killed off any chance of a new Wing Commander game. Luckily, the series has been kept alive with a small but devoted cult following.
- Most importantly, your wingman will not attack unless you tell them to. They will just sit there and do nothing if you don't tell them to attack.
- It is a good idea to keep the communication box open every once in a while in case you need to message something quickly.
- This is the longest page on the "Games" wikis.
- Chris Roberts, the creator of Star Citizen, is the creator of the Wing Commander series. He also directed the game's film adaptation.
- The original game's production value was five times more than the amount of other games released and after its success, more companies began to match its production values.
- The games would go on to spawn its own animated series called Wing Commander Academy, which is loosely based on the events of the first game. Despite being pretty obscure, the whole series is available on the Peacock streaming service.
- Wing Commander IV had a budget of over $12 million.
- According to the "Wing Commander Bible", a Privateer TV series was planned for development. However, that show would never come to be.
Wing Commander II
Wing Commander Academy
Wing Commander Privateer
Wing Commander Armada
Wing Commander III
Wing Commander IV
Privateer 2: The Darkening
Wing Commander Prophecy