Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger
Description official descriptions
The war against the Kilrathi is going badly for the Confederation. Its flagship, the Concordia, has been destroyed, battles are lost on all fronts. War hero Colonel Christopher Blair is transferred to the old carrier Victory. Take the role of Blair and ensure the success of the Confederation's last-ditch attempt for victory: the destruction of the Kilrathi homeworld.
Wing Commander III has the usual mix of space battles and cinematic storytelling. Changes from the first two games include SVGA graphics, the use of texture-mapped polygons instead of bitmaps for spaceflight sequences, and real Hollywood actors appearing in the cinematic scenes.
- 银河飞将3：虎之心 - Simplified Chinese spelling
Credits (DOS version)
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Average score: 88% (based on 37 ratings)
Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 108 ratings with 8 reviews)
Ah.... the famed Wing Commander 3, surely one of the most eagerly anticipated games ever, and for good reason too! The series may have waded into the void by now, but at it's time, before the proliferation of the fps genre and multiplayer gaming, Wing Commander was THE action game for pcs, nothing even came closer to it's stellar combination of sci-fi dogfighting, it's engaging space-opera plots and it's killer production values... However times radically changed since the last incarnation of the series, and with the advent of cd-rom drives, fmv technology, and newer, more powerful pcs, the new Wing Commander was gonna have a hard time trying to keep up with it's time-honored tradition of being the benchmark for technology upgrades (playing the latest Origin game, and especially the Wing Commanders, was the prime reason to upgrade your pc in the early 90's) and killer gameplay, in short, WC3 needed to be a MAJOR quantum leap, and boy, oh boy, that's exactly what it was.
The first and most recognizable aspect in which WC3 towered over it's predecessors was by it's use of fmv in order to tell it's plot instead of resorting to barely animated bitmaps or small animated sequences. The combination of live actors, pre-rendered imagery and even special effects such as the animatronic Kilrathis worked especially well, even if the video standards for those days where pretty muddy and choppy. Furthermore, Chris Roberts went the Interactive-movie route with this game so he didn't just slap some fmv around the game, he made the videos an integral part of the game, complete with the often imitated "decision time" moments that branch the plot in different ways.
The storyline itself has plenty of interesting moments and manages to become an engaging war-drama that won't win any screenwriting award, but is sure to be an entertaining joyride for sci-fi fans. The video itself suffers from the already mentioned technology problems, and the use of blue screen photography seriously cramps up the action, but the high-end production values and the fantastic performances make up for anything that the already solid storyline doesn't cover up. Mark Hamill does a decent job of portraying the main character and proves once and for all that he is the true king of trench runs. Malcom McDowell as well as John Rhys-Davies give some outstanding performances even if they don't get as much screentime as in WC4, and the late Jason Bernard is perfect as your main CO in the game. Even minor roles are carefuly casted and realistically portrayed, with some surprise performances by people like ex-pornstar (uh... or so I'm told... ermm... riiiight...) Ginger Lynn Allen as one of your possible romantic interests!
The one who completely steals the show however, is Back to The Future's own Tom Wilson, who portrays your long time buddy/rival Maniac, a hot-headed pilot that is a rude, annoying, extroverted lout and that'll bring the most joys when watching the cinematics. Really, Wilson plays his role with such gusto that he sets a new standard for videogame acting and provides one of the most memorable characters in all of videogaming history.
Moving back to the game itself, the new technologies also make their appearances here, with a brand new fully polygonal engine that essentially proves to be the same quantum leap that Quake was to Doom. There's no turning back anymore to bitmaps boys and girls, and once you fired up this baby you realized why: The textured ships had an amazing level of detail, and didn't explode into a sea of pixels whenever you would get close to them, laser fire, wingman communication, shield hits, and all other sorts of graphical gimmicks became completely overhauled and these things did have an effect on gameplay as opposed to being just eye-candy. The action was much faster and nerve-wrecking, and no longer would you be able to do things like scoring hits by hitting around a sprite's square collision detection area, now you either hitted your target dead on or you didn't (laser blasts would, for instance, be lost between a fighter's wings instead of hitting some invisible thing), but hands down the most impressive improvement was the treatment given to the capital ships. These monsters now had a believable sense of mass and you could for the first time get lost flying around them, or even inside them!! To the point that one could fly into a carrier's hangar and shoot the behemoth from inside-out!!
Few things really, but considerable ones. The mission design is seriously lackluster in this game, being the prime example of the Chris Roberts "filler" mission design school. And the gameplay progression seems pretty archaic when you consider that this was the third game in the series (work your way up in rank, going from crappy ships, to better ones until you get to the WC-patented Ultimate Fighter (tm), and face the WC-patented Ultimate Challenge (tm))
Furthermore, the ground missions are very lackluster, and am I the only one who didn't like the BLUE space??? What the hell's up with that?
...Oh, and there's the "Hobbes issue" concerning the interactive movie part... A major, and I do mean MAJOR plot point is completely absent from the game!!! (see trivia section for more details).
The Bottom Line
The first really good interactive movie and still one of the landmarks in the genre, one that proves that fmv does not mean CRAP when you remember to merge it with a good game (or at least a slightly dated and repetitive, but still very entertaining and well produced one). This is really a game from a time long lost, when pc games where a true event and not just another marketing ploy, a time when games (and particularly those that were made by Origin) had to be the absolute best in everything. And you know what? Wing Commander 3 may not technically be the best in eeeeeeverything but dammit, it still wins by majority!!
DOS · by Zovni (10504) · 2003
The graphics are good enough that you can tell what stuff is. The controls are pretty good. The story is terrific and all the movie cut-scenes are pretty good quality. The mission design is good.
The graphics are pretty old. You have to study the manual to learn about the weapons etc. If you can't complete the mission, the mission doesn't quit. No analog controller support.
The Bottom Line
If you find this game, pick it up. It's a solid space-sim. With 4 discs, how can you go wrong??
PlayStation · by James Kirk (150) · 2003
Origin is to be commended; they knew what worked in WC's 1 and 2, and didn't change much.
Wing Commander 3 has everything those games had and more: Space battles extraordinaire. Great ships, fast, exhilarating missions, and a terrific, engrossing backstory supplemented by mid-mission cinematics. Like all other WC games, the missions are expertly designed, perfectly balanced, and bug-free, but in THIS game many of them are on a much grander scale than in the first two games. The fighters and capital ships look great and fight great. There's just no aspect of a space combat sim that isn't awesome about this game.
One nice (and, surprisingly, not-often-copied) aspect of the game is that the cinematics actually look like movies. Some reasonably famous actors (highlighted by Tom Wilson's boffo performance as Maniac) deliver some decent acting on decent sets; it's a shame this isn't tried more often. It adds to the super-immersive experience.
I guess the CD-swapping can get irritating.
The character of Hobbes (a Kilrathi deserter) is sort of silly.
The Bottom Line
The third straight home run in the Wing Commander series, and this one's a grand slam.
DOS · by Rick Jones (96) · 2001
|Free on Origin||chirinea (47013)||Sep 5th, 2014|
|A question about EA Classics release.||Virgil (8569)||Jan 3rd, 2008|
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.
- 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
- Mega Fun
- 1996 - PlayStation Game of the Year
- 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
- Power Play
- Issue 02/1995 – Biggest Hype in 1994
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Terok Nor.
Game added February 5th, 2000. Last modified September 24th, 2023.