Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi

aka: WC2
(prices updated 9/30 12:35 AM )

Description official descriptions

Your carrier, the Tiger's Claw, is destroyed by Kilrathi stealth fighters. You are blamed for the loss of the ship. After being demoted you are transferred to a space station far off the front lines where you are supposed to spend the rest of your career.

However, ten years later, you are able to save the Confederation flagship, the Concordia, from a Kilrathi attack. On the ship, you meet many old friends. Back in the cockpit, it's up to you to stop the Kilrathi and prove your innocence in the destruction of the Tiger's Claw.

The basic gameplay of Wing Commander II is very similar to that of its predecessor. There are all-new ships for both the Kilrathi and the Confederation, however - only the Rapier returns from the previous game, in an upgraded version.

While many of the weapons (including both missiles and energy guns) are also reused, new technology (used by both sides) requires new tactics: Since capital ships now employ "phase shielding", making them immune to normal weapons fire, only special torpedoes can damage them. Only heavy fighters and bombers are able to make torpedo runs. Before a torpedo can be fired, the shields of the target must be analyzed to find a way to get through, which results in a long locking phase during which the bomber must not move. The bombers are equipped with one or more gun turrets to protect them from enemy fighters during the lock-on. Another new technology are chaff pods, which can be deployed to lure enemy missiles off the target.

The Wing Commander series' trademark cinematic storytelling is greatly expanded in Wing Commander II, with many animated cutscenes continuing the story between missions.

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Credits (DOS version)

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Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 55 ratings with 6 reviews)

The worst space simulation-shooter ever made!

The Good
Before I begin my review I wish to tell that I played with the Kilrathi’s Saga version, but during it, I tried the original DOS version too. Well, the good thing its genre and atmosphere. It is a science-fiction game filled with action. It has a long story with so many characters from the first part and from its extends. And I think that is all the good about the game one can tell.

The Bad
Ah yes. Let's begin on the whole world of the game, I mean its engine.

I don't know who was that genius, who invented that, such a game must be in a 2D world. For there are other games like: Elite I-II, the Mercenary trilogy, or the Epic were already 3D games in those times. They were using polygons instead of sprites in the early '90s. And due to the 2D sometimes one cannot feel, see when he or she is going to avoid (or collide) for example (with) a carrier.

Let us continue with the Controls. Now in the Original DOS version you could fly easily with keyboard or joystick. In the Saga version these controls are almost useless. The keyboard is too slow, because its speed in the beginning is zero, and it’s need time to accelerate to a good speed, but if you stop holding any of the direction keys it's starts over again from 0. And the game detects any joysticks as digital. So if you push it any of the directions the ship begin to move instantly in that way's maximum point; and finally the mouse. So one need to get used to it, but if you already know the way, there is not much trouble with it.

Now let's see the dashboard! It's very detailed and good-looking, but you can't see out of it. For the whole dashboard covers your vision. And that's true for all four directions. In the Kilrathi's Saga version one can turn it off with the function keys, but in the original you need to fly blindly. And that can be really infuriating, when you can't see the enemy shooting at you, because the panel conceals him. Oh, there are the communication videos! They can sabotage your mission because while they are active you have to press the ‘c’ key several times, and always in the moment when it is crucial to give an order to your wingman. I know it can be turned off, but without them I think the game loses some of its value.

And here are the flight controls! I know I've already mentioned those, but here I mean to those keys, which can only be used on the keyboard. Like the throttle controls. Sometimes you need to hit these several times. And I'm meaning the word 'hit' in its literal sense. For example you took off from the carrier, and there are enemies right in the zone. You wish to be fast and agile, and not to be a sitting duck. So you need to hit the maximum speed button. Once I counted how many times I needed to hit that key. The result was FIVE TIMES!! And the game sometimes playing this with you with the enter key, which releases the missiles and torpedoes. And if I remember well, somewhere the manual mentions the same bug, and counseling that to hit the keys several times, or push them like a deaf the doorbell.

If I mentioned torpedoes, let us talk about them. If you targeted the enemy outpost, base or spacecraft with it, you need to lock on to it. After that a crosshair begins to move toward to its brackets. It approximately takes 20 second according to the game manual, but sometimes it took more than that. And it can be very disappointing such a situation like when you kill all the fighters then move out of your target’s range, and stop in the space to wait this ritual. Then charge at your target, because the torpedoes can be shot down. That means the enemy can shoot it down always if you’re not close enough to your target.

The weapon system is very good thing. Because it’s always running out of energy when you in need of it the most. Sometimes it happens that you can’t destroy your enemy, even if you flying against each other in head to head. But of course, he can destroy you, and fire whenever he wants. The other thing with the system is the auto aim. Sometimes it just turns on and you need to correct is aiming because you shooting AT the target and not before it, so you obviously can’t hit it.

The enemy and ally intelligence are equally wrong. The enemy breaks in front of you, when you are at full speed. Ergo he kills you and himself. Or sometimes he rams you, or simply flies in to you, destroying your shields, armour and himself. Your allies are so desperate that, if you coincidentally attack the same target as your wingman, and you get crossed his shot, he won’t stop shooting at you, until you kill your target or leave that Kilrathi.

The fighters that you are using during the game are really annoying ones. For example the Épée. It’s so fast that you can’t control it. You collide with someone or you need to slow down, but it’s still very sensitive. Now the ‘best’ fighter called Sabre (the designers surely adored the different cold steels, because all the fighters have such name except the ferret.) is really fast and agile but in opposition with the opinion of the fellow wingmen and officers its armour and shield are very weak. Oh, and by the way there is another infuriating thing in the game: the tractor beam. Only two ships have such beam. And can be only used and accessed it from the turrets. Yes, those two fighters have turrets; I think to remind you to a flying fortress or something like that. Now the funny thing if you wish to tractor the object in the space it is necessary to perform a complete stop. And here comes the situation that brings the raging beast out from you: if you stop and switch to the turret to use the beam, sometimes, no, mostly the ship begins to move, usually on half speed. So you are trying to acquire something, but you are constantly leaving it. So you need to go back to the pilot position manoeuver to the object and begin the whole process from the start. But you need to be fast or the ship begins to move again.

And there are the scripted missions. When you can’t destroy a ship with all your torpedoes for the creators of the game thought the mission’s solution in another way. Or a certain type of enemy fighters begins to move, fight and shoot accurately like aces. Albeit before they couldn’t even hit you, for your ship was too fast for them.

Next to the last thing are the asteroids. These objects are usually seemed sometimes like grey brains. These rocks look like they have consciousness, because there are some which can’t be avoided. And there is a moment in the story where your carrier needs to hide in an asteroid field. The first time you take off in the field it begins so that a rock is flying toward you at high speed, and if you’re not ready or swift enough it destroys your shield and the front armour of the ship. The best thing was that when I flew the last mission, and an asteroid destroyed just that device on my ship that is needed for the torpedoes.

The Bottom Line
Finally I think the whole game is a great crap with its bugs, and advantages too. The mission disks are not worthy enough to play with it either, unless you wish to end up in a sanitarium. I can only recommend that if you want to start the wing commander series then start with the third part or the Armada. At least they’re already 3D, and not a maddening piece of sh…

DOS · by MurlocQ (17) · 2009

Lightning strikes twice: Another PC gaming classic

The Good
WC2's graphics and sound, like the previous version, were way ahead of the competition. At the time of its release, this was THE graphics extravaganza for gamers.

The play balance and mission design are simply outstanding; only "TIE Fighter" has such well-balanced, interesting, and exciting missions. The fighters are varied and awesome. The backstory is terrific.

As atrocious as the "Wing Commander" movie was, you can see, playing the games, why they made a movie about it; playing WC2 felt exactly like being the main chaacter in a science fiction epic. No dogfighting game has ever had the immersive, you're-in-a-movie feel like WC and WC2, and the game itself is perfectly suited for it.

The Bad
Like WC, this can be a hard game to get the right memory requirements for. Other than that, this is a perfect game in every respect, and a big step over the first Wing Commander game.

The Bottom Line
One of the true granddaddies in PC gaming history, a magnificent achievement and a joy to play.

DOS · by Rick Jones (96) · 2001

Equally influential follow-up to one of the most influential games of all time.

The Good
It used an upgraded version of the same engine that powered the first game, so the nearly-perfect gameplay is still there. The addition of the Speech Pack, adding full speech to all the radio transmissions during flight, gave it an element of realism no game up to that point had. (it was not at all uncommon to start talking to your computer in the heat of battle, when one of your wingmates calls to you) Plus, its use of cinematics and storyline were ground-breaking at the time - no other game had an immersive plot like this, although you had little control over it, outside of the branching mission structure. The first time many of us saw this, with full speech over the opening story sequences, was something of a religious experience.

The Bad
They altered the ship characteristics slightly so that everything took less damage to blow up. This meant more, faster-paced dogfights. I appear to be one of the few people in this world who prefered the slower-paced, more realistic battles of the first game. (less bad guys, but you could spend 10 minutes jousting with a Gothri trying to kill it) Also, the game was a bit on the buggy side, ESPECIALLY with the Special Ops 2 add-in, which appeared to have gone through approximately half an hour of rigorous testing before release. Finally, if you're one of those who viewed Sound Blaster as the evil dictator of the computer sound industry in the 90s, here's the game to blame - it's almost universally agreed that no one program inspired more people to go buy SBs than this one.

The Bottom Line
A definate classic. Not quite as good as the original, but darned close, and gameplay wise, probably still superior to everything that came after.

DOS · by WizardX (116) · 2000

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

Trivia

Cancelled SNES version

A SNES port of this game was created in 1994, to follow the previously released Wing Commander and Wing Commander: The Secret Missions SNES games. All indications are that the game was completed and shipped to the factory to begin manufacturing. However at the very last minute the game seems to have been cancelled. The only indications that it ever existed are the April 1995 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly and the May 1995 issue of GamePro, both of which published reviews of the game. More information can be found here.

References

One of the mission series in Wing Commander II takes place in the Niven system. This is a tip of the hat to science fiction writer Larry Niven, whose felinoid aliens, the Kzinti, inspired Wing Commander's antagonists, the Kilrathi.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1994 (Issue #124) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame

Information also contributed by Terok Nor.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, Shoddyan, Ricky Derocher, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger.

Game added February 4th, 2000. Last modified August 16th, 2023.