(This is part of my journey playing through Wing Commander. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
This will be my final Wing Commander post for a few reasons. I wasn’t planning on stopping here, as it’s certainly not a bad game, but I’m at the point where I don’t think I can squeeze much more out of it in terms of interesting posts. The structure of how the game works is pretty apparent and keeps repeating over and over again — fights, slightly different challenges, other pilots hinting at foes you’ll face or tactics you should use, eventual promotions for kills, and the whole win-lose mission branching.
But what Wing Commander really doesn’t have is much of a story, and that’s hurting my enjoyment of it especially as I remember WC2′s tale with greater fondness. The space flight portion is solid and occasionally engaging (there’s a particular thrill when I get a good shot lined up and blast through an enemy ship), and for the era, it’s pretty amazing how much mission variety the designers got out of the game.
I wanted to make a special mention of the game’s music because Origin did something pretty cool here as well. First of all, even for MIDI music, this was pretty amazing stuff in 1990 and a good excuse to invest in a SoundBlaster (as I did for my 386). Second, the music during missions and briefings reacts depending on the mood and events, making it far more interactive than static soundtracks. Finally, I just loved the launch music that blasted every time I took off:
I don’t think there’s much more to say here. Wing Commander deserves a lot of the praise and recognition for what it did, especially when viewed in light of its contemporaries in 1990. It strived to create a “full package” experience that reacted to the player’s achievements, created an immersive environment of space war, and boasted a (still) pretty challenging experience. I’m sure I’ll get back to this series one day, but for now it’s time to trade my space boots in for something a little more… fantastic.