ShatteredParticipantPodcasterSeptember 16, 2020 at 1:40 am #3756
What do you all think so far? I love revisiting these classics and discussing how you feel about them, whether you’ve been a long time fan or someone trying it out for the first time. I’d have to imagine most everyone at least heard of the game before this month even if you’ve never played it. I’m in that boat so I’m glad to finally have a chance to give it a shot.
I beat the first Wing Commander fairly quickly. There’s a simplicity to it that I found fairly satisfying. Press ‘g’ until all weapons fire simultaneously, get behind your target, and land a few solid shots and watch them explode!
There are definitely technical issues with the game speeding up and slowing down. Instead of getting frustrated, I found it better to work with the slowdowns. 1 frame per second gives you plenty of time to line up those shots perfectly 🙂 I was mostly frustrated with collision physics, especially with the Tiger Claw. The collision borders seemed much larger than the sprites, especially when viewing them at certain angles. I liked the artwork between missions, but in the cockpit it just seemed like I was shooting at pixelated drab blobs.
Story wise I thought it was fairly bland. I don’t honestly remember much of the story even a week later. “Hey Shattered, here’s some excuse to go blow up more ships!” “Aye, aye sir!” I didn’t really feel any desire to try the other branches of the story I missed since it all seemed pretty generic to me.
I’ve started the second Wing Commander and have to say I’m enjoying it even more so than the first! The technical issues are solved, to the point where I found it difficult to adjust to the increased speed. There are memorable cut-scenes between each mission that involve intrigue, mystery, and old friends. Can’t wait to see where it goes and kicking myself for not picking up the entire series when it went on sale 🙂
I’d say if you’re bouncing off Wing Commander 1 for whatever reason, give 2 a shot.
PixParticipantPodcasterSeptember 16, 2020 at 8:30 am #3757
I know these games too well to give an unclouded opinion at this point. I’ve even played through most of the ports but it’s been years since I went back to the original versions like this. I’d agree that the story doesn’t add up to much in WC1. It feels tacked on but it was fairly unprecedented to have it there at all at the time. Chatting to the other pilots added a ton of atmosphere above just flying the missions – the game would have been far less memorable without it. You haven’t mentioned the Secret Missions add on packs. It felt to me like the story was far better told in both of those – with an actual overall arc instead of just bolting a few disparate plots together. The difficulty presented way, way more challenge also, especially in SM1. It seems to me like the real meat is in both of those rather than the main game.
The collision physics are a consequence of the sprite engine I think. You are looking at 2D objects while moving around in a 3D space. When a sprite gets near to snapping to the next image, what you are looking at can be way out of what the engine is tracking. It’s especially noticeable if you are near to a capship where you can crash into it while seemingly flying through empty space. It’s a limitation of the technology really, not sure Origin could have done much about it other than making all the ships cube shaped. The graphics are clearly dated but looked amazing at the time (especially in screenshots). I think they work well on the whole considering this ran on a 286.
I’m a few missions into Special Ops 1 having finished WC2 at the weekend. The sequel is very similar but a clear improvement on the original in just about every aspect really. The extra cutscenes give the story much more life but the gameplay is raised a notch as well. There is far more difference between the ships here – a Broadsword is so slow and lumbering compared to a Ferret. It’s a whole different experience flying those missions. I really like the addition of turrets and the need to use them when fighting the lighter ships. The capship missions are much more epic also with the new requirement to use torpedoes.
I’d recommend the whole series for people who have the time. I’m intending to carry on going this month and see how many I can get through. There is no shortage of Wing Commander to be getting on with. There is even a whole series of novels, a collectable card game, a Saturday morning cartoon series, not to mention the fairly terrible movie.
PsyParticipantSeptember 20, 2020 at 11:32 pm #3761
Hi! Just finished playing WC1 and WC2 with my son and I must say the experience was solid.
I’m quite impressed by WC1 as a product, technically was pushing boundaries, but also the design has a clear vision for an immersive experience. The way the game starts with the user “losing” in the simulator, the save screen with the sleeping pilots; but also the different wingman’s personalities during flight and the damage reflected on the ship after landing, I think helps a lot to tie-up the space combat with the Tiger’s Claw sequences, enforcing the feeling that “you are there”.
The story is kind of weak, but since wingmans can die at any point, I think it becomes a necessity not to go any deep.
IMHO the most interesting bit about the space combat is the damage system. Not only systems and parts of the ships can be damaged (and there is a direct repercussion on the game), but also weapons can be destroyed: missiles and cannons alike; you can end up with no weapons at all on your ship, and I could not confirm this but I suspect you can do that also to your enemies.
The Space engine is solid but sometimes the game pushes it too far, and I’m pretty sure on some heavy combats, like the ones in an asteroid field, it reached the max amount of objects it can track, and I couldn’t fire my weapons until some missiles and lasers cleared up. I also suspect the game area is dynamic and extends as far as it is needs, just because on one mission a bug happened and a KIlrathi cruiser started to travel pretty fast off-map; at some point the map not only started to zoom out, but also the game become slower and slower until I managed to destroy it and return to the “normal” space.
The AI feels like a mixbag. There are odd bits, like ships colliding and how almost any one vs one combat becomes a ballet of ship crossing each other; but on the other hand, the AI is well aware of the damage and ships break combat to run home when they are near destruction, and I think I caught enemies breaking combat to go out of range and charge shields.
This is indeed a very interesting title to analyze, can’t wait to listen to this episode 🙂
TijnKeymasterPodcasterSeptember 22, 2020 at 7:24 pm #3764
I started later in the month than I had wanted, but I must say I’m really into it now! I love how simple it really is, I was a bit scared the game might be too involved to be enjoyable. But it’s great! And even though the story might not have that much to it, I’m massively enjoying the in-between time on the station.
The only thing that’s unclear to me is what to aim for exactly when trying to dock with the station. Sometimes when I’m near and request to land, it simply does it. But sometimes it waits for me to be near… some point? I’m not sure where exactly the game wants me to fly.
PixParticipantPodcasterSeptember 22, 2020 at 9:14 pm #3765
Once you request clearance to land, you have to fly within about 2000 of the Tigers Claw from the right angle. You need to approach it from the front. Basically as long as the sprite is showing the runway pointing straight at you, you are good.
I’ve been making good use of the semi lockdown here and just finished up Wing 3 tonight myself. Having a blast replaying all of these again. The Wing 4 DVD is installed and ready to go next.
TijnKeymasterPodcasterSeptember 22, 2020 at 10:42 pm #3766
Ah yeah, after experimenting some more, I figured it must be the front part that you have to approach. Thanks!
Can’t wait to hear your experiences on the podcast, Rich!
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