Strike Commander

Moby ID: 1365
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

Following the collapse of Soviet Union, USA began to dominate the politics of the Commonwealth of Independent Nations. Islamic countries started a global jihad against the Western world, and as a result, petroleum has become an even more rare and valuable resource. In a chain of events, Alaska declared independence, and major powers of the world began fighting over its oil-rich territory. Japan turned into the world's most powerful nation, while United States and the Catholic Church were weakened; by the year 2011, humanity's dreams of unification have become completely shattered, and the fate of the world was decided by mercenary organizations.

Similar to Wing Commander in gameplay style and visual presentation, Strike Commander is a flight simulator with action-oriented combat. You lead a rag-tag mercenary fighter squadron known as the Wildcats, trying to make a living in a dangerous, chaotic world. Somewhat simplified dogfights in your blackmarket-purchased F-16s are supplemented by interactive cutscenes where you converse with your teammates, or go into town to buy new contracts.

Spellings

  • ストライクコマンダー - Japanese spelling
  • 陆空战将 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 90% (based on 10 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 49 ratings with 3 reviews)

The greatest ever modern dogfighting game

The Good
The dogfights were great, I was fortunate to have a great PC to play this on. Having to keep finances in the black and buy ordinance made this game extremely immersive. Some of the fights were very tough, requiring dozens of tries. I have not found another modern dogfighting game as fun as this one; the rest may be more "realistic" but are boring because you fly for a long time and take out targets from 10+ miles away.

The Bad
Although engaging, the storyline was soap-operish at times.

The Bottom Line
Immersive, fun, and intense modern dogfighting game.

DOS · by Bill W (2) · 2007

Brave new world.

The Good
I remember buying the CD-ROM edition of the game back in the 90s, being one of the first CD-ROM games I ever bought. And boy, it blew me away. I had always had a thing for flying simulators, but I always wished for one of them that allowed me to skip right until the action started. With this one, I got that and much more.

Like wonderful graphics (now they look a bit too low-res, and the drawing distance too near, but they still do the trick), a compelling, if not too original, cinematic plot and plenty of stuff to shoot down and blow up.

Also, despite its reputation of being too simplified to be considered a real sim, there are many options you can adjust to solve it. Sun glares an G blackouts can be switched on and off, together with infinite ammo (for your gun only), easy landings, enemy AI and many other things. Being the wimpy pilot type, I always played on rookie, but I'm pretty sure there are enough options out there to satisfy anyone.

As for the combat itself, I still have to find a sim which has dogfights as intense as this one. They are a regular occurrence too, you'll be flying towards your target only to be sighted by enemy patrols. And then the fun begins, coordinating with your wingman you'll start playing cat and mouse with your foe until one of you can get a clear shot.

The bombing runs are terrific fun too, they ended up being my favourite part of the game. They're challenging on their own right (ever tried to aim bombs while being shot at from many different places at the same time?), and the variety of targets is very wide, from rag tag guerrilla bases to bridges, tank columns or enemy vessels.

But the biggest thing about the game is its universe. Chris Roberts et al. created a brave new world where countries you know no longer exist and others are in turmoil, and populated it with an assortment of mercs, low-lifes, lawyers and corrupt military. Everything is new, exciting and, more often than not, brutal.

The Bad
The weakest point of the game is often mentioned in reviews: for its time and age, SC was a extremely demanding game. Despite surpassing the minimum requirements, my old 486/66 often showed slowdowns during intense dogfights. Only when I upgraded to a Pentium I could play flawlessly.

But there are other issues. SC would sometimes crash during missions for no apparent reason (my guess is the DOS4GW memory manager was quite buggy), and other times showed glaring continuity errors. Unlike in "Wing Commander", you can shoot down your allies, going as far as shooting down their parachutes as well. And yet they will re-appear unscathed in the next cutscene, showing no distress at all in helping their murderer.

Oh, and I can't believe such an ambitious game wasn't translated. Ever. Many missions depend on delicate instructions delivered during the briefing, such as "bomb the T-80 tanks, but don't attack the M1, they're allies". I kept failing missions not knowing why until I activated the subtitles. But not everybody out there understands written English.

The Bottom Line
Not only "Strike Commander" is a masterpiece and one of the finest and most accessible flying simulators ever produced. It's also one of the most absorbing and fun games I've ever played on a PC. As I mentioned above, it is not without flaws, but if you can ignore them and concentrate on its positive aspects, you are in for a treat.

DOS · by Neville (3554) · 2009

Great game, just not the perfect homerun Origin had us used to.

The Good
Ridding hot at the top of the wave, Origin decided to do what most groundbreaking and innovative developing houses do at their peak of popularity: Repeat the key to their success ad-infinitum (see Westwood, Id, etc.)... Ah yes... the almighty buck can accomplish anything, and this time it managed to bring the action and adventure of games like Wing Commander to a more down-to-earth level. The result is Strike Commander, a simplistic action-sim that is heavy on the action and light on the "sim", perfect recipe for hours of entertainment.

The game puts you as the leader of a mercenary fighter squadron based on Istambul, from where you take on contracts to fly and complete a series of mini-campaigns of 3-4 missions all over the world. However, as opposed to standard flight sims, the reward for success on SC comes in the form of cash instead of promotions or personal glory, you see, the game also incorporates a light touch of the gameplay premise behind Privateer, so you really are a mercenary squadron that depends on money to maintain it's operations and buy ordnance, replace fighters, etc. And on top of that you have a Chris RobertsTM space-opera (or air opera?) main plot to hold everything together that involves romance, betrayal and revenge in a very Hollywood-like way.

Rip off?? Sure, but it sure is a damn cool one! You'll contact fixers and have conversations with your wingmen just like on Privateer and Wing Commander, while taking to the skies on a sleek F-16 and rain hell over military bases, cities, warships, and anything that gets in your way! As mentioned above, the sim side of things is pretty forgiving, so the game puts all its chips on action, and believe me, it delivers its share of dogfighting fun!

Also to be noted is the excellent level of presentation this game has. Remember, this was a game from the original Origin, you know, the one that did more things than just updates to Ultima Online. So you have a great soundtrack, a streamlined interface, great documentation, and to top it all off, the hallmark of every Origin game from the early 90s: A groundbreaking graphics engine. As pretty much every Origin sim, Strike Commander made a quantum leap in what regards graphics, and uses an engine that's capable of handling textured polygons, gourad shading and plenty of other cool gimmicks while keeping everything going fast and furious.

Believe you me, this baby was breed from the beginning to be a winner.

The Bad
Unfortunately not everything in the game is afterburner-hot. This game had the misfortune of being so ahead of its time that it literally couldn't be played on any computer. Had this game been Wing Commander 27, then everyone would have shelled out the bucks to be able to run it. But being a "brand new" Origin product, whose premise had so little in common with the developing house's track record is another thing.

However the really bad thing this game has is the lack of variety and balance. This is what knocks SC down from the "neglected classic" category. You see, this game suffers from the dreaded Chris Robert's mission design syndrome. Each mission plays just like the other twenty ones you played before, only with more enemies to shoot down. Go shoot down enemies, bomb base, return, rinse and repeat... The cool movie-like plot of the game keeps the tempo up every now and then, but when it comes to flying it is the same thing oooover and ooover again.... And the thing that could have saved a repetitive game design was removed completely. A design that focused more on the Privateer free-form design would have been much more effective for a game of this type, and would have made things much more bearable. But you are only allowed to buy the ordnance, and can fly nothing but the F-16 (or the F-22, but that's at the end of the game), plus the game is completely linear, you only have the choice of deciding which campaign you take first, but you'll have to take them all to move along.

As for the ordnance, the game gives you a completely unbalanced arsenal. With weapons that are too specific and serve only one purpose in the game (ie. the Durandals only work for runways, the AMRAAMs only for Hercs or AWACS, etc.) The only versatile weapons are the LAUs, the MK80s and the sidewinders, which makes the whole thing much more boring than you initially thought when they advertised that you could "buy your own equipment!"

The Bottom Line
This is an overall cool game. A flight sim designed for those of us that want to be one of those flight jocks and fly one of those F-something planes with the added touch of a much more romantic mercenary touch as opposed to the typical "fight to save democracy" crap. Tough it is marred by a severe case of un-originality, it is still a title worthy of checking out. Long live Stern's Wildcats!!

DOS · by Zovni (10504) · 2007

Discussion

Subject By Date
I don't like to be yelled at! Somebody bring me Sisko! (8) May 4, 2010

Trivia

Development

Included inside the "Sudden Death" manual is a 2-page article from Chris Roberts describing how difficult it was to create the game and likening his experiences to the film Heart of Darkness, a documentary on the creation of the film, Apocalypse Now

Posters

Origin had released posters touting the original release date of Strike Commander. Such posters are real collector's item now, as the game was two years late and still runs like a dog on most systems then.

Sudden Death

A mock magazine named "Sudden Death" (meant for Mercs working out of Turkey) was contained in each copy of Strike Commander (it was released in Acrobat PDF format in the subsequent CD versions) that detailed the economic, historical, and political background behind the game's "post-depression" setting. Within it were several articles portraying some of the many characters in the game, as well as a collection of humorous advertisements.

One article is the interview with a retired "enforcer" (a mercenary specializing in punishing those who renege blood contracts from "fixers" and wealthy contractors) whose trademark slogan is "Gule, gule" (Go cheerfully). The meaning of this trademark becomes apparent as well as his other slogan, "The gun for the brave, the knife for the coward."

Technology

Strike Commander was so ambitious that it began development in 1991 with features that then-current 386 processors couldn't handle adequately, (such as real-time true 3D texture mapping with Gouraud shading, fractal terrain, and atmospheric hazing of distant objects). Numerous optimizations were made in an attempt to get the game running smoothly, but Strike Commander was one of the first games to attempt such a complex engine, and optimized 3D texturing techniques weren't prevalent in the industry. By the time the average gaming machine was a 486/33, the game shipped, nearly two years later.

The game's notoriety for being unplayably slow on average gaming machine's reached far and wide, even into PC Magazine cartoons (one particular joke was about how trying to run Strike Commander on OS/2 with a defrag running at the same time used up so much power that lights dimmed throughout the house). By the time a greatly-optimized version (almost 3 times as fast) version was released, it was too little too late.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #15 Top Vaporware Title in Computer Game History
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #95 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 11/2005 - #9 Game Which Absolutely Needs A Sequel

Information also contributed by Chockydnutman, Kasey Chang and WildKard

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by A.D. Lee.

FM Towns, PC-98 added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Ray Soderlund, Sciere, CaesarZX, Patrick Bregger, Infernos.

Game added February 19, 2020. Last modified March 4, 2024.