Filler to stave off fans who were enraged over the ending of Special Ops 2
There are times I just want to play some classic Wing Commander missions without mucking about with the storyline or trying to screw around with the debugging codes to find the one mission I want. I probably still play this about once every 6 months for that reason. The gameplay, AI, and graphics are all identical to WC2 - in fact, even the files are pretty much cross-compatable. (it's possible to fix the incorrect Maniac speech if you know what you're doing and have Spec Ops 2) The Gauntlet (which became a staple of future Origin flight sims) is fun, but it gets so challenging towards the end that only a couple ships stand a chance of getting through. Light or Medium fighters are gonna be toast by level 8, no matter how good you are.
There's limited gameplay value. As another reviewer pointed out, the missions that can be designed are quite limited. Basically, it's your choice of dogfights. While you can come up with some ludicrously difficult missions, just to test yourself out (and let's face it, if you still have this, you're a WC freak) but that's about it. I agree the lack of flexibility may be to prevent people from designing their own games based around it. Otherwise, it's just WC2 without the plotline.
The Bottom Line
Why bother? It's difficult to find these days, whereas you can still come across WC2 with a little looking. Unless you find it for really cheap, it's not worth the effort.