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Wing Commander (DOS)

93
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Boston Low (93)
Written on  :  Jun 17, 2004
Platform  :  DOS

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Summary

A game that won't appear ever again!

The Good

Back in the glorious year 1991 I saw an impressive review in a games magazine presenting the game... impressed because it gave out a glimpse of this game's richness, plus many impressive screenshots... but only recently, over 10 years later, I managed to get halfway through the game and experience what that magazine was trying to tell me...

The reason: I started playing simulators since Inca and then Xwing, which in fact, are Wing Commander clones! Then I tried to play some WC games but never managed to get a grip of its gameplay and controls, but my last attempt brought success!!

The game is impressive, unique, brilliant, even nowadays, and I am telling you, after having playing other, more recent simulators! It makes me wonder how much impressive that would have been back in those years...

It is maybe one of the first games that makes use of hand drawn comic-like 256 coloured graphics... the game menu appears in the form of your mothership's (Tiger's Claw) interior you explore... you can visit the Bar to collect gossips of the Kilrathi war (helps building a realistic sensation of the background while you play) and hints from other pilots, the barracks to save your game (each game appears as a sleeping pilot on the bed), and your locker to see your score and performance..

The astonishing fact, which is absent even from later WC's clones, is that the pilots you meet, interact wit in the bar, which later become your wingmen, are characters on their own and have separate personalities and behaviour in combat!! When they die while being your wingmen, you will see a sequence with their funeral and never appear again..

The game is non-linear... when you fail some missions, you won't replay them, but will maybe 'punishing' you by opening plot forks and have additional missions before returning to the original story... I imagine addicted WC fans experimenting by losing missions and try to live ALL the forks and missions availiable.

I loved the way the cutscenes are presented... combined with the appearance of the pilots you can interact, it creates a realistic 'being there' sensation.. the briefings for example, don't show only the officer saying 'your mission is blah blah', but the briefing of each mission is different: the pilots ask questions and the officer makes his comments... it will make you feel like watching a movie, although years before the Interactive Movie games!

Cutscenes also appear when you are transferred, in funerals or in promotions... some cutscenes also show 'meanwhiles' advancing the storyline background.

The manual is also exceptional, published in the manner of a magazine that supposedly circulates in the Tiger's Claw (the mothership) for the pilots... it gives you in a realistic fashion the background of the story, presentation of the pilots you are gonna meet in the game (in the manner of interviews!), ships presentations, the officer ranks and hints (in the manner of magazine articles!)

It's a game that introduces a whole new space saga from nowhere: i'ts not taking place in a Star Wars/Trek universe, nor is it based on them... it's totally a unique new mae universe with its own fictional timeline and philosophy and waits for you to explore.

The Bad

What I didn't like was the difficulty of some missions, and the cockpit design, which hides from you some part of the action... thus you are forced to maneuver all the time to bring the enemy on your visual field...

I didn't like the fact that you are always a wingleader, and all the pilots are always wingmen... I didn't find this realistic since this makes you commander even of pilots that are superior in rank... the good stuff would be if you started the story as a wingman, and then advance, but anyway...

The Bottom Line

Too bad that all those revolutionary elements haven't been copied by the various WC clones!