Charlton Heston was initially approached by Origin to portray the role of admiral Tolwyn, however several monetary drawbacks (such as spending nearly $15,000 on the purchase & processing of 16 mm film only to discover later that videotape served their digitizing needs better) made Heston's fee of $100,000 less than attractive.
At the time, it was the most expensive video game ever made, at approximately $3 million. It was dethroned by its sequel, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom
This game has an interesting example of how bugs can critically hinder gameflow. As most people know, once you've defeated Hobbes and Thrakhath the game is pretty much over, since the trench run is a piece of cake. This wasn't intended to be so, since the cloaking device is supposed to function only once. However a bug exists that resets the cloak once you enter Kilrah. In reality you should have been going through the trench while avoiding endless swarms of fighters, which is a really difficult thing to do.
Of a somewhat less importance but equally exemplary is the pretty undramatic finale for both Hobbes and Thrakhath. In reality both of them send you a final message when you blow them up, however you can't hear them while playing normally. You've got to pause the game just as they blow up, and for some weird reason they'll play just after the explosion sfx dies out.
While the manual and test program clearly state you need a double-speed drive to play the game, over 90% of the video sequences play just fine with a single-speed drive.
Cut scenes (Spoiler)
Several FMV scenes were cut from the final release of the game, including several newscasts from anchorwoman Barbara Miles (the one that appears in the opening sequence), three rendered action sequences, and most importantly of all the so called "Hobbes explanation" a scene in which Hobbes leaves Blair a holographic message explaining his betrayal.
This scene appears on the 3DO version of the game but was left out of the PC release because of lack of space (no one has ever explained why they removed such a critical scene and left others which were of absolutely no importance), however all these scenes appeared later on other sources (the behind the scenes interactive cd, etc...) and are all available for download on several sites around the 'net.
Also removed from the game was a scene which supposedly played in the final stretch of the game (when you reached the first secret asteroid base) and only if some key wingmen were with you at this point. In the scene Blair addressed his wingmen and prepared them for the final fight. It is unknown if this scene was filmed or not, but it does appear on the master script included on the Behind the scenes CD.
There's a novelization of the game published by Baen Books.
- The phrase "Atomic Batteries to Power, Turbines to Speed'" listed at the bottom of the pre-flight checklist displayed before each flight is a reference to the old, campy Batman TV show from the 60's. Everytime the Dynamic Duo would get in the Batmobile in the Batcave, Robin would say this line (after buckling up like a good passenger, of course).
- Besides the standard manual, the game came with a booklet called Victory Streak - Your personalized guide to the TCS Victory, which gives new recruits all kinds of background info. In the back of the Victory Streak there's a section with HoloVid reviews, one review is for the HoloVid "Hail SHODAN":
Hail SHODAN radiates with cyberpunk action and the good looks of Clint Mason. After streetwise hacker James Finn (Mason) accepts the challenge to punch deck into Citadel research station, he unknowingly removes the logic systems behind the station's artificial intelligence. Finn finds himself trapped in a steel jungle with nothing but his good looks and a few electro-magnetic grenades. The furious pace of this game-based HoloVid will send you reeling through the aisles... the ending will astonish you. (2.24 hours) ***
Shodan is of course the A.I. from the game System Shock.
The Special Edition
was a special release only available trough a select few retail outlets (like Sam's club). It includes all the original documentation plus the T-shirt, the film canister packaging, and a "behind the scenes cd" which is not the one included on the premiere edition, it's actually the VHS tape documentary encoded as an avi file.
Story branches and endings
Unlike most games, there's actually an entire branch in the story that leads to a so-called failure ending aka The (Last) Battle of Earth. Failure on some plot-critical missions will lead the storyline into the Proxima system, where confederation forces fight a losing battle; retreating to Sol in an unwinnable scenario. Obviously since the activation of the dialog/videos for this branch require LOSING, it's probably a minority of players (or people who download from fansites) who have seen all this, flown the missions and most would probably just restore from a saved game. There are also three separate "good" endings, depending on your choice of who to befriend.
Information also contributed by
- Computer Gaming World
- May 1995 (Issue #130) – Action Game of the Year
- May 1995 (Issue #130) – Best Male On-Screen Performance (for Tim Wilson's performance as Maniac)
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #54 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #9 Most Innovative Computer Game
- May 1997 (Issue #154) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
- PC Gamer
- April 2000 - #30 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll
- April 2005 - #48 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list