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|Genre(s)||Space flight simulator|
|First release|| Wing Commander |
|Latest release|| Wing Commander Arena |
July 25, 2007
Wing Commander is a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games from Origin Systems, Inc., an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures. The franchise originated in 1990 with the release of video game Wing Commander.
Set in the 27th century, the games tell the story of humanity's war against the Kilrathi, an alien species of large feline bipeds. The Kilrathi are native to the planet Kilrah with their society depicted as an empire. Physically they are bipeds who strongly resemble big cats: they have leonine manes, but also have markings which distinguish their clan of origin. The species is featured in every game, with later games revealing more complex characters than just a faceless enemy. Later games would move on from the Kilrathi war setting, with Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom being about a conspiracy within the ranks and Wing Commander: Prophecy and Secret Ops telling the battles against a new enemy known as the Nephilim.
The player represents the Terran Confederation, the primary human government in the Wing Commander series. The Terran Confederation is an alliance of systems and regional governments which provide unified protection and economic growth. Launching from carrier ships, the player fulfills various missions in space fighter aircraft. The games were all notable for their storytelling through extensive cutscenes. Starting with Wing Commander III, every game (excluding Secret Ops) contained cutscenes that incorporated live action filming, starring several major Hollywood actors, including John Rhys-Davies, Mark Hamill, Thomas F. Wilson and Malcolm McDowell, as well as Christopher Walken, John Hurt, and Clive Owen in Privateer 2: The Darkening .
|1991||Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi|
|1993||Wing Commander Academy|
|Wing Commander: Privateer|
|1994||Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger|
|Wing Commander: Armada|
|Super Wing Commander|
|1996||Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom|
|Privateer 2: The Darkening|
|1997||Wing Commander: Prophecy|
|2007||Wing Commander Arena|
The Wing Commander game series began in 1990 with Wing Commander. The newest addition to the series, Wing Commander Arena , was released for the Xbox Live Arcade service on July 25, 2007.
The player begins his tour of duty as a young space fighter pilot on the carrier the TCS Tiger's Claw. The player can set this character's name and callsign in the first games in the franchise. As of Wing Commander 3, the protagonist is given the canonical name Christopher "Maverick" Blair. Through the player's heroic efforts, the Confederation is able to destroy the Kilrathi's sector headquarters and drive them from the Vega sector. Through the course of the Vega campaign, the player can gain numerous promotions and medals and fly in various squadrons, each featuring a different fighter. The game was notable for its innovative and seldom-repeated "campaign tree" structure, whereby the "path" the player took on the way to the end would be determined by the player's performance on preceding missions. In-game cinematics in "newsreel" format reflected the success or failure of the player and the Claw.
Originally announced as Squadron, the name was changed to Wingleader shortly into development; however, trademark issues forced a name change to Wing Commander at the last moment. The development team's nickname for the otherwise-unnamed protagonist was "Bluehair", due to his unusual shade of hair. Perhaps in a nod to this in-joke, when the character was given an actual name in later installments, Origin chose "Blair", a shortened version of the old nickname. Wing Commander was ported to the Amiga, FM Towns, SNES, Mega-CD, Amiga CD32, 3DO, Mac OS, and PlayStation Portable systems, the most ports of any Wing Commander game. In the Sega CD port which added voice acting, the player character was given the callsign of "HotShot" to allow him to be addressed by voice.
In 1991, Wing Commander won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1990.
A new Kilrathi secret weapon destroys the Terran colony of Goddard. In retribution, the Confederation plans a daring raid, Operation Thor's Hammer. Tiger's Claw must follow the Kilrathi deep into their own territory and destroy their new super weapon, the dreadnaught Sivar.
The Secret Missions was ported to the FM Towns, SNES, Sony PSP (as part of the EA Replay bundle), and was included with Wing Commander on the 3DO and Macintosh as part of Super Wing Commander.
When the Confederation is just celebrating a new alliance with the bird-like native species of the planet Firekka, they learn that entire fleets of Kilrathi ships are leaving from other sectors and heading towards the Firekka system. Concerned, but massively outnumbered, the Confederation ships must retreat, but they soon learn from a Kilrathi defector that Firekka has been chosen as the place for a holy Kilrathi ceremony. The Confederation soon develops a plan to disrupt that ceremony in an act of terrorism meant to deliver a blow to enemy morale, and it is up to the pilots of Tiger's Claw to ensure the success of the mission.
The Secret Missions 2: Crusade was ported to the FM Towns.
In 1994, a revamped version of the original Wing Commander, entitled Super Wing Commander (SWC), was released for the 3DO. It featured new graphics, full speech and included a Secret Missions 1.5 campaign (between the original campaigns 1 and 2) with a follow up to Thor's Hammer in which the Claw destroys the Kilrathi shipyards that constructed the Sivar.
Super Wing Commander was ported to the Macintosh in 1995.
Shortly after the Firekka campaign, the Tiger's Claw attempts to attack the Kilrathi headquarters in the Enigma sector, but is ambushed by new Kilrathi "Strakha" stealth fighters and is lost. No one but Blair sees these fighters, so they are dismissed as an excuse to cover his cowardice. He is scapegoated for the loss of the Claw, is demoted to captain and transferred to a backwater space station. Ten years later, he is called back into action when he is able to save the Confederation's flagship, the TCS Concordia. Meeting many old friends there, he continues the fight against the Kilrathi, finally culminating in the destruction of their sector HQ, thus clearing his name and uncovering a traitor on the Concordia's flight decks, who was the mastermind behind the ambush and destruction of the Tiger's Claw.
Wing Commander II was ported to the FM Towns. In 1992, it won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1991.
Blair is transferred to the undercover Special Operations division, supporting Kilrathi colonies that are defecting from the Empire. But first he must solve the problem of a mutiny on a Confed cruiser.
Jazz, the traitor from Wing Commander II, has fled imprisonment and the Mandarin (the society of traitors) are also able to steal some of the Confederation's newest top-secret fighters. Blair must hunt them down and face Jazz in one final showdown.
The war is going very badly for the Confederation, far worse than what the public (or the player) generally knows. Battles are lost on all fronts, casualties are mounting, and the Concordia is destroyed. Colonel Christopher Blair (the player from the first games, now with a set name), is transferred to the TCS Victory, an old ship from the first days of the war. In a last-ditch attempt to win the war, Confed has designed the TCS Behemoth, a doomsday weapon able to destroy an entire planet. It is Blair's mission to help end this war for good, by destroying the Kilrathi homeworld of Kilrah. Unfortunately the Behemoth is destroyed by Kilrathi forces. The enemy fighters seemed to know exactly about the weakpoints of the weapon. Later on Blair finds out that his old friend Hobbes, a Kilrathi defector, is a sleeper agent and the traitor responsible for the Confed's losses. The last hope of winning the war for the Confederation is a secret weapon, the "Temblor Bomb", using the tectonic instability of Kilrah to destroy the planet. Blair is finally able to attack Kilrah, firing the bomb and destroying the Kilrathi homeworld. With the royal family of Kilrah killed and their homeworld lost, Melek, once attaché to the Kilrathi prince, surrenders before Blair.
Wing Commander III was the first game in the series to use full motion video as opposed to animated cutscenes, and texture-mapped 3D instead of sprite-based graphics. The game features well-known actors such as Mark Hamill as Christopher Blair, John Rhys-Davies as James "Paladin" Taggart, Thomas F. Wilson as Todd "Maniac" Marshall, Malcolm McDowell as Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn, Josh Lucas as "Flash", and Ginger Lynn as Chief Technician Rachel Coriolis.
Wing Commander III was ported to the PlayStation, Macintosh and the 3DO.
The war with the Kilrathi is over, but not all is well within the Confederation. Skirmishes in the Border Worlds destroy ships regularly. Both Confed and the Union of Border Worlds assign blame to each other and the skirmishes threaten to lead to all-out war. Blair is soon recalled to active duty and sent to the Border Worlds to confirm Confed's determination. But he finds out that a conspiracy of war-mongers with members in the highest Confed circles are responsible for the attacks. Defecting to the Border Worlds, Blair must expose the conspiracy to help restore the peace in a galaxy still torn over the events of the Kilrathi-Terran War.
The Price of Freedom retained the storytelling-style of its predecessor, using live-action cutscenes with an ensemble cast of actors. Many of the actors from Wing Commander III returned to reprise their roles. The story's final sequence was innovative in that dialogue choices made by the player affected the outcome of the hearing. However, only three endings were possible, and two of the outcomes depended on the earlier choices made by the player.
Wing Commander IV was ported to the PlayStation and Mac OS. To owners of the original MS-DOS version, Origin made available a Windows 95 DirectX port, free of charge.
Peace has finally come to the Confederation, or so it seems. Still remaining vigilant, they commission the new megacarrier TCS Midway, which is soon needed when Kilrathi worlds are attacked by an enemy whose coming was foretold in ancient Kilrathi prophecies. The insectoid enemy, codenamed the Nephilim, soon begin attacking Confed space and the Midway is called in to stop their advance. As young hotshot pilot Lance Casey, the player must fight their organic ships to help destroy the wormhole they used to enter Kilrathi space, thereby halting the invasion, at least for a while.
As did Wing Commander IV, Prophecy incorporated live-action cutscenes with actors.Prophecy was ported to the Game Boy Advance.
The Nephilim return, this time much closer to Earth. Transferred to the cruiser TCS Cerberus, Casey and his wingmates must repel the invasion once again.
Secret Ops was an experiment in game distribution. It was at first only available as a free download. In regular intervals, new episodes were released, each featuring several new missions with the storyline told through in-game cutscenes. The game was later available in a collection together with Prophecy, and sold as Prophecy Gold.
A game where the player could build their own missions using ships from Wing Commander II.
Set in the border regions of Confederation space, the player takes control of a privateer (in Wing Commander, a "privateer" is a mercenary spacer) who may profit by trading, performing various missions, or pirating. Meanwhile, an ancient alien spaceship has been awakened and is on the loose, attacking ships at random, and the player-controlled privateer may be the Confederation's only hope in defeating it.
This game featured completely open-ended gameplay, with the player able to completely ignore the main storyline if they so desired.
When the player's priceless Steltek Gun is stolen, he embarks on a quest that will bring him into conflict with the Luddite-like Church of Man and their shady leader, Mordecai Jones.
Armada featured both an action and a strategy game mode and several multiplayer options. The game was ported to the NEC PC9821 and FM Towns.
This add-on for Armada added numerous new features such as a new "arcade"-mode with powerups, radar-obscuring asteroids, and several new multiplayer options, including IPX.
Kilrathi Saga was a limited-edition reissue of the first three Wing Commander games (Wing Commander, Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, and Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger).Origin repaired some of the game's known bugs and adjusted the speed to run on the early Pentium processors of the time. At the time of its release only 20,000 copies were published.
Kilrathi Saga also featured complete digital re-orchestrations of the original two soundtracks by George Oldziey, but the Saga did not include the Secret Missions and Special Operations packs of the first two games. The packs were instead made available for download on the Origin website. Due to the add-on packs not being on the CDs there is a bug that causes some music to not be played during animated sequences in the add-ons.
Privateer 2 was launched in late 1996 by Erin Roberts.
The game features live-action video scenes, directed by Steve Hilliker. The cast included Clive Owen, Mathilda May, Jürgen Prochnow, John Hurt, Christopher Walken, Brian Blessed and Amanda Pays. Dani Behr voiced the onboard computer, also named Dani. The game also featured David Warner, and Jürgen Prochnow, who later played Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn and Commander Paul Gerald, respectively, in the Wing Commander feature film. The filming was done at Pinewood Studios in England.
Set in a remote region of the Wing Commander universe in the Tri-System Confederation (a three system government that has almost three thousand-year history of its own parallel to the Terran Confederation history), a cargo ship Canera is attacked during landing and crashes into Mendra City on planet Crius in the year 2790 of the Tri-System calendar (the calendar appears to be longer than a Terran year with months that are about 40 days each). One survivor, As Lev Arris, a man with no memory of who he is and no record of his existence prior to two weeks before the crash, awakens from his cryo-sleep and must take on the life of a privateer in the Tri-System, re-discovering his past along the way.
Publisher Electronic Arts and developer Gaia Industries revived the Wing Commander franchise with a downloadable release on Xbox Live Arcade called Wing Commander Arena. Dogfights take place in one of nine environments, and pilots are able to choose from 18 ships. There can be up to 16 players in a single match. The title was released on July 25, 2007. It is set chronologically after Wing Commander Prophecy Gold, and background information is included in the digital Star*Soldier manual.
Origin aborted several attempts to continue the Privateer franchise between 1995 and 2003, by either developing a sequel (Privateer 3) or an online game (Privateer or Wing Commander Online). Only one of these was formally announced.The March 1998 issue of Computer Games Strategy Plus featured a cover story on Privateer 3. Origin confirmed that development of the game had been canceled shortly after the magazine was published.
Wing Commander: Strike Team was a planned sequel to Wing Commander: Secret Ops which focused on multiplayer gameplay. The title was officially announced in an EAUK promotional publication but was canceled early in development.
Several novels based on the games have been released by Baen Books. They include novelisations of WCIII and WCIV as well as offering further depth into known Wing Commander events such as the defection of Ralgha nar Hhallas.
Wing Commander Academy is a 13-episode animated series that originally aired on the USA Network between September 21 and December 21, 1996. The series is set before and during the events of the first game and features many familiar ships and characters. The cast featured Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson, and Malcolm McDowell reprising their Wing Commander game roles.
In 1999, Wing Commander hit the big screen with the film of the same name. It was directed by Chris Roberts, the creator of the game series, and stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Saffron Burrows, Matthew Lillard, Tchéky Karyo, Jürgen Prochnow, and David Warner. The film diverged significantly from the established Wing Commander universe, and was a critical and commercial failure.
|Designers||Jeff Grubb and Don Perrin|
|Publishers||Mag Force 7|
|Playing time||approx 10 min.|
|Skills required|| Card playing |
The Wing Commander: Collectible card game was an effort to combine the franchise's rising fortunes with the rising interest in card games, as Magic: The Gathering was revolutionizing gaming centers the world over. The collectible card game (CCG) was based exclusively on the WC3 intellectual license and contains no characters found elsewhere.
The game supports two players, one as the Kilrathi Empire and one as the Terran Confederation (rules modifications may be made to allow teams of players instead). In the pre-game phase, players set out five "Nav Point" cards in an X pattern, with a Terran and Kilrathi carrier at either end (to form a hexagon). During gameplay, players may deploy fighters, and then deploy pilots and equipment upon those fighters. Every card has its own "Power Point" cost; players start with 30 Power Points and gain two each turn. The designers recommend pencil and paper for the keeping-track of Power Points. Finally, certain cards feature "Medals", which also feature as a resource, as some elite cards require the "tapping" of Medal-bearing cards to deploy.
Fighters, with pilots and secondary armaments potentially attached, move among the nav points, fighting with each other and attacking the enemy carrier. During combat, either player may play "Maneuver" cards to fortify their fighters (assuming the targeted craft has a high enough Maneuver statistic) or "Battle Damage" cards to cripple their enemies; both have Power Point costs. Attacks are then resolved by comparison of the aggressor's Attack value with the defender's Defense value (with Support values from allied ships augmenting as appropriate). Each card lost results in the loss of one Power Point as well. There are two ways to win: to destroy the enemy carrier (with the successful use of Torpedo cards) or to reduce the opponent's Power Point pool to zero.
Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War, known as Conflict: FreeSpace – The Great War in Europe, is a 1998 space combat simulation IBM PC compatible computer game developed by Volition, when it was split off from Parallax Software, and published by Interplay Productions. In 2001, it was ported to the Amiga platform as FreeSpace: The Great War by Hyperion Entertainment. The game places players in the role of a human pilot, who operates in several classes of starfighter and combats against opposing forces, either human or alien, in various space-faring environments, such as in orbit above a planet or within an asteroid belt. The story of the game's single player campaign focuses on a war in the 24th century between two factions, one human and the other alien, that is interrupted in its fourteenth year by the arrival of an enigmatic and militant alien race, whose genocidal advance forces the two sides into a ceasefire in order to work together to halt the threat.
Christopher "Maverick" Blair is a fictional character in the science fiction franchise Wing Commander, first appearing in the video game Wing Commander in 1990, although he was only given a canonical name years later. He is a protagonist player character throughout much of the Wing Commander game series and also appears in several Wing Commander novels, notably the novelizations of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger and Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, and in the film Wing Commander.
Wing Commander Academy is a 1996 American animated television series created and produced by Universal Cartoon Studios, along with a team led by Larry Latham. The show was based on the Wing Commander franchise and loosely served as a prequel to Wing Commander. The show's aired from September 21 to December 21, 1996 on the USA Network's "USA Action Extreme Team" block.
Wing Commander is a 1999 science fiction film loosely based on the video game series of the same name. It was directed by Chris Roberts, the creator of the game series, and stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Saffron Burrows, Tchéky Karyo, Jürgen Prochnow, David Suchet, and David Warner.
Crusader: No Remorse is an action game developed by Origin Systems and published by Electronic Arts. It was first released in 1995 for MS-DOS, with the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn ports following in 1997. Set in a dystopian future 22nd century, the game centers on The Captain, a special ops officer and supersoldier, who defects from the tyrannical world government, the World Economic Consortium (WEC), and joins the Resistance rebels.
Strike Commander is a combat flight simulation video game designed by Chris Roberts and released by Origin Systems for the PC DOS in 1993. Its 3D graphics-engine used both gouraud shading and texture-mapping on both aircraft-models and terrain, an impressive feat at the time. Significant plot elements were presented through in-game cut-scene animations, a hallmark storytelling vehicle from Chris Robert's previous Wing Commander games. Strike Commander has been called "Privateer on Earth," due to the mercenary role-playing in the game.
Vega Strike is a first-person space trading and combat simulator, developed for Microsoft Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and OS X systems. Many of the core game mechanics of Vega Strike are indirectly inspired by Elite. Other games, such as Wing Commander: Privateer, influenced the original developer.
FreeSpace 2 is a 1999 space combat simulation computer game developed by Volition as the sequel to Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War. It was completed ahead of schedule in less than a year, and released to very positive reviews, but the game became a commercial failure, and was described by certain critics as one of 1999's most unfairly overlooked titles.
Wing Commander is the first game in Chris Roberts' space flight simulation Wing Commander franchise by Origin Systems. The game was first released for MS-DOS on September 26, 1990 and was later ported to the Amiga, CD32 (256-color), Sega CD and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and re-released for the PC as Wing Commander I in 1994. An enhanced remake Super Wing Commander was made for the 3DO in 1994, and later ported to the Macintosh.
Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi is the first sequel in Chris Roberts' Wing Commander science fiction space combat simulator franchise of computer games, produced by Origin Systems.
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger is the third main game in Chris Roberts' Wing Commander science fiction space combat simulation video game series, developed and released by Origin Systems in December 1994. It was a departure from previous games in the series in that it uses extensive live action full motion video to add an interactive movie-style presentation to the space combat gameplay, emphasized by its advertising slogan, "Don't watch the game, play the movie!". The game's more than two hours of video featured a number of prominent movie stars including Mark Hamill as Colonel Christopher "Maverick" Blair, Malcolm McDowell as Admiral Tolwyn, John Rhys-Davies as James "Paladin" Taggart and Thrakhath nar Kiranka, and Tom Wilson as Todd "Maniac" Marshall.
Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom is the fourth main game in the Wing Commander science fiction space combat simulator video game series, produced by Origin Systems and released by Electronic Arts for the PC in 1996 and the Sony PlayStation in 1997.
Wing Commander: Prophecy is the fifth installment in the Wing Commander science fiction space combat simulator franchise of computer games. The game was released in 1997, produced by Origin Systems and Italy-based Raylight Studios for the GBA, and distributed by Electronic Arts.
Wing Commander: Armada is a computer game set in the universe of Chris Roberts' Wing Commander franchise. Created by Origin Systems and distributed by Electronic Arts in 1994, Armada was the first official game of the Wing Commander series to feature multiplayer mode. This game was released shortly before Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger and features a new graphics engine, capable of rendering fully three dimensional ship models, which is more powerful than the sprite-based engine used in Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi.
Wing Commander: Privateer is an adventure space trading and combat simulator computer game released by Origin Systems in September 1993. Privateer and its storyline is part of the Wing Commander series. The player takes the role of Grayson Burrows, a "privateer" who travels through the Gemini Sector, one of many sectors in the Wing Commander universe. Unlike Wing Commander, the player is no longer a navy pilot, but a freelancer who can choose to be a pirate, a merchant, a mercenary or any of the above in some combination. The player may follow the built-in plot but is free to adventure on his own, even after the plot has been completed.
Privateer 2: The Darkening is a space flight simulation game that was released in 1996 for MS-DOS and published by Electronic Arts under the Origin Systems brand. It is a sequel to Wing Commander: Privateer.
StarWraith is a series of space combat simulators by StarWraith 3D Games.
Several novels based on the Wing Commander games have been released by Baen Books.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter is a 1994 Star Wars space flight simulator and space combat video game, a sequel in the Star Wars: X-Wing series. It places the player in the role of an Imperial starfighter pilot during events that occur between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars: X-Wing is a series of space flight simulator video games based in the Star Wars media franchise that attempts to simulate the fictional experience of starfighter combat, while remaining faithful to the movies. The player took the role of a pilot of the Rebel Alliance, and, in later games, the Galactic Empire. To complete the games, players must complete missions such as simple dogfights with opposition starfighters, reconnaissance and inspection tasks, escort duty for freighters or capital ships, or attacks on larger opposition ships. In addition to dogfighting designed to resemble the free-wheeling duels of World War I, the games also offered the challenge of managing power resources and wingmen, and using weapons effectively.
we have an exciting new Privateer 3 document available! [...] Historically speaking, this is the first Privateer 3 proposal, put together by the Loose Cannon team during the development of Wing Commander Prophecy in 1997. This version of the game is very different from the Privateer 3: Retribution story and concept you may be familiar with.
This glossy pitch for Privateer 3 was crafted in 2000 for the eyes of Electronic Arts executives. Printed in full color, this massive document was signed by the entire team. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to convince EA that the team with ten years of space combat experience was a better match for building an online space game than the team responsible for Command and Conquer.