Thursday, July 26, 2007

Starflight - Finished the game

Well, this game is certainly short if you know what you are doing. I tried to play that way. I wouldn't go to a planet or area unless someone else told me about it. However, it is very early on that you can get information about the three items you need to win the game. I even played to get every possible (useful) artifact and it still didn't extend the game that long. The sense of exploration and discovery is much less when you play the game already knowing all there is out there. There really ends up only being so much to do. You can mine planets to get money to improve your ship, talk to aliens to learn the locations of artifacts on planets, and then go collect those artifacts. This is one area where Starflight 2 really improves on the original. Its expanded trade mechanism and... more interesting alien races and wider variety (even there are about as many spacefaring species) makes the game feel more epic.

One annoying thing that I forgot about this game was in regards to the Thrynn/Elowan conflict. I remembered that you couldn't have a member of the other species on your crew or they would be hostile to you. I also knew that if you became too friendly with one species the other would be hostile to you. I just didn't remember that "too friendly" meant talking to one before the other. I had about three conversations with the Elowan before talking to the Thrynn and basically lost all chance to get their conversations. So I had to start a new game and just get out to the Thrynn area so I could talk to them and get all the info they had to give before going back to my original game. It is really fascinating how game design like that was common back then.

I also encountered an apparent bug where, even upon returning their sacred artifact to them, the Veloxi weren't friendly enough with me to tell me where Sphexi was. That was the last location I had to go to before I destroyed the crystal planet, so it was pretty frustrating. I eventually looked it up and apparently they are supposed to tell you its location when you become friendly with them, but that never happened to me.

Another flaw of the game, not necessarily related to the Genesis port, is the complete absence of conflict. You never have to fight anything and are usually better off just running. A large part of the game is upgrading your ships' weapons and shields so this is a big let-down. Especially with the improved combat engine on the Genesis. Basically, the Uhlek are always too powerful for you to take on single-handedly, the Gazurtoid's immunity to missiles means you must fight up close with lasers so you will take a ton of damage, and with the Whining Orb (at least in the Genesis version), the Spemin will naturally be obsequious to you. Except for being attacked by whichever of the Thrynn/Elowan you don't befriend or the Veloxi after taking the Crystal Rod, you really never get into a fight that you shouldn't just run away from.

I'm being down on this game because it doesn't hold up as well, but its revolutionary nature still comes through. I still remember the great sense of exploration and discovery the game held when it first came out even if the universe feels small now. It set the tone for what a space exploration adventure should be, and though it wasn't perfect in its first incarnation, that is forgivable because of what it spawned. It is still a good game and I'm sure I would have had more fun if I had never played it before and knew none of the secrets. Still, it is dated, and the changes for the Genesis only helped a little bit (and hurt just as much).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Starflight - Exploring the axe constellation

All the nostalgia brought up by playing Wing Commander inspired some nostalgia for additional older games I played. Through clicking around on some websites, I came upon a game that was near and dear to me in 8th grade: Starflight.

Technically I have the most nostalgia for Starflight 2. The second Starflight was the first one I played. I think I had just been flipping through a catalog of games for the Mac the paragraph on Starflight 2 really inrigued me. I remember I was debating between that and another game set in space and fortunately I chose this one. My Aunt and Uncle got that game for me for Channukah and I was immediately hooked. After finishing up Starflight 2, I pored through catalogs to find that the original game also got a Mac port and I think that was acquired for my birthday.

Starflight basically started a whole new genre of games. It more or less began the space exploration adventure genre that was pretty much realized to perfection in Star Control II (which I will say, without hyperbole, is one of the best games ever made.) The concept of Starflight was basically putting together a crew, outfitting your ship, exploring the galaxy, discovering new star systems and planets, collecting minerals, life forms, and artifacts, and interacting with new alien species. Starflight, its sequel, and then Star Control II just did such a great job of creating a great mood and atmosphere.

In Starflight, the four intelligent species on the planet Arth have recently discovered that they were seeded there by a colony ship from an old empire that was in danger of being destroyed by hostile alien races. This discovery also led to the rediscovery of faster than light travel and the construction of the first new faster than light ships. Interstel, a commercial organization, has agreed to provide you with a space ship and some intial capital so that you can explore the galaxy and bring back minerals and new life forms to further commercial and scientific interests on Arth. Shortly after your first voyage, scientists detect anomalies in Arth's sun and determine that in ten months, it will undergo a nova-like flare destroying all life in the system. Your mission now becomes determining the cause of this flare and finding a way to stop it. While doing this, you will encounter the alien species from the old empire and those that attacked it. You will discover the secret of the ancients, a species only known by its ruins, and their connection to endurium, the fuel used for faster than light travel.

Starflight succeeds largely because the exploration mechanic works so well. Each planet feels different, either in size, atmosphere, or biological or mineral content. In the course of exploration you meet aliens and must find the best way to (generally) befriend them and get information out of them. From these aliens, you get clues as to planets to search and locations as to where you can find new and wonderful artifacts to help your ship or your quest. The galaxy feels well-populated with planets and aliens and yet there is a key component of loneliness to the affair. You never encounter another ship from Arth (I think the instruction manual indicates that only about ten or so were sent out) so it really feels like it is you against the galaxy. Its vastness can be overwhelming, but by careful exploration and ingenious piecing together of clues, you can find all sorts of neat stuff.

This game was published by Electronic Arts back when they were interested in publishing unique and innovative games and when they became the Sega Genesis' largest third-party publisher, this game got a port. I was peripherally aware of the Genesis port because my friend Max told me about it and I knew that mining and combat were enhanced from the computer version. Upon acquiring a Genesis four years ago, it went on my list for games that I had to have. I was ecstatic when I managed to find a copy with box and instruction manual (although I didn't realize at the time, unfortunately without the map).

The Genesis version, so far, remains fairly true to the computer game original, although I was surprised to see that time hadn't treated the game as well as I had remembered. I was surprised since Star Control II is very similar and hold up fine to this day. I think the pacing, at least of the first Starflight, just isn't as great as I remembered it. A lot of time is spent going from system to system and planet to planet looking for minerals and there isn't a lot of reward for this. Star Control II starts out pretty much the same way, but there always seems to be something to buy with your mineral wealth or some more genuine improvements to make while in Starflight the improvements are fewer and less noticable. Also, the universe just seems to be emptier and a bit less interesting.

One thing the Genesis version definitely does improve upon from the original is the interface. After playing a bit of the Genesis version of Starflight and not finding it as fun as I had remembered, I thought maybe I would prefer Starflight 2 since I knew its story and aliens were better. Well, after playing with the DOS version for a little bit, I found I was fighting with the interface. You have to use the keyboard to select between different menus and are constantly hopping between menus for common things like maneuver, combat, land, and hail. I never realized how much superior the Mac ports of Starflight were with their mouse interface. Being able to click on the menus is so much easier. And it did away with the "maneuver" command, assuming that would be the default and you would always want to be maneuvering. The Genesis version does a similar thing in that you can always control your ship using the directional pad with no need to select maneuver in the menus. Also, the biggest improvement is that the game pauses when you bring up the menu. Getting attacked by aliens while trying to find raise shields or combat was always frustrating. The Genesis interface still isn't perfect as much of the commands can be streamlined away. This is evidence by Star Control II automatically communicating with a ship when encountered and then going straight into combat if that ship becomes hostile to you.

As I said earlier, the main enchancements in the genesis version (besides improved graphics) are in mining and combat. Planet landings in general are more interesting because you need to control the descent of your ship and you can move your main ship around the planet a bit without doing a full take-off and landing. You also now have a mineral scanner which can find underground deposits of minerals that your terrain vehicle can dig for. While the prettier planets and more maneuverability on them are nice, the extra mineral searching really doesn't add anything. I haven't experienced much combat, but the new variety of weapons and controls similar to Star Control II seem to make it much better.

One change that really bugs me in the Genesis version is that pretty much all the back story has been cut so someone going into the game will have little clue what is going on. There was never any elaborate back story immediately presented to you when you started the game, but the instruction booklet of Starflight laid everything out. It was presented as a briefing and gave you the history of the old empire as gleaned from the recent discoveries. You knew about why there were different species on Arth, how they got there, and a bit of what to expect outside. The Genesis Starflight booklet, while about as thick as its PC counterpart had all that backstory replaced by a short in-universe story by some science fiction writer. I mean, it's a good story, but it does nothing to motivate your exploration of the universe. Old-fogie rant: Why can't instruction booklets today have the same care and love as ones from even ten years ago?

There also appears to be some bug in the game as I have made the Mechans hostile to me and I have no clue how. I had a game saved just before an encounter with them. In the encounter, they were friendly and considered me to be the Noah 9 expedition. Every subsequent encounter with them has them attacking me with no chance to communicate.

So, this game isn't quite as good as I remember it, but the exploration and especially speaking with alien races is pretty damn fun. The game isn't that long if you know what you are doing. I'm playing as if I don't, but I've already discovered the three items I need to win the game. Now I just need to discover their locations or at least how to get to them.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07

The golf portion of Wii Sports showed promise, but didn't really deliver. All swinging the remote measured was your power. Still, it presented a game that could be fun. And it got me interested in the Wii PGA Tour game. But games are expensive and despite positive reviews, I didn't see myself picking up a golf game any time soon. Fortunately, my friend Dan loves my Wii and loves a laid-back golf gaming experience so he picked it up for his "eventual Wii" and I get to hold it until he gets one.

It gets the golf experience very close to being accurate. It measures not only how hard you move the remote forward, but whether you angle it off to the left or right for a hook or a slice. This makes it feel like you have a lot more control over your shot. You also have the standard golf game aspects of changing clubs, shot types, and positioning shots. Putting is similar to actual shots, except it is more about lining up your shot while the actual shot mechanic is about being patient with your putt backswing.

To be honest, it is the gimmick of swinging your golf club with the Wii controller that makes the game. Especially multiplayer, because watching people line up and hit their shot is great. Golf, in general, is a sport that I think works a lot better as a video game. Mario Golf: Advance Tour was one of my favorite games for the Game Boy Advance. I think that this game is another solid addition to a multiplayer Wii library. It is a laidback game that all your friends can sit around and play. I also think that next year's edition could serve to really get the formula right. Still, I can see my friends and I playing many games of this.

Excite Truck - S Rank in all courses in Excite Mode

There's something about this game that can totally suck me in. The mechanism to gain points are simple, yet there's a great give and take between gaining points in different ways and being able to control your vehicle and not crash. So, it may seem like you can gain easy points from tree runs, but you run the risk of crashing. Or easy points from drifting means you won't go as fast and won't get into first place. Or easy points from air means you want be getting any points from drift or tree runs.

And this game totally has the "just one more time" mentality. When you play a race and only get a B rank, you think that if you could just play it again you could do better... and you usually do. There's a sort of state you get into while racing where you are peripherally aware of the course and swerving this way and that and just trying to do what you could to stay in it and get the most points possible.

The multiplayer works very well too, especially once all people understand the mechanisms to get points. When I first started playing with my friends, it was always the case that the person that won the race was the one who won the match. Now, we are having races where the person who comes in second ends up winning because they have more points. This is just totally awesome because it means people can do well with different racing styles. Personally, I'm generally more concerned with coming in first rather than doing stunts to get points. But coming in first generally only gives me 15-20 points so it can be a risk if my opponent is very good at tricks to get points. Also, it helps that my friend Paul totally took to this game because it gives me some very stiff competition.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wing Commander II: Special Operations 2 - Finished the game

Whew. I have now gone through all of the original Wing Commander games in all their glory. From here on, I played the actual games. Ah, freshman year of college.

Once again, Special Operations 2 continues the story left off by the previous game - Special Operations 1 in this case. At the end of Special Operations, even if you successfully completed the last mission on the winning path, you find out that all you've done was just play into the Kilrathi distraction for they have now gotten a foothold into Deneb sector. Special Operations 2 sees the Concordia (your carrier) heading into Deneb sector to help with its defense. In the first mission, you get to escort the prison ship carrying Jazz to its rendezvous with another prison ship that will take him to earth to be executed. Jazz was the traitor that framed you for the destruction of the Tiger's Claw and got you stuck on a backwater space station for ten years before you finally managed to get another chance to prove yourself and clear your name. So Jazz escapes, of course. The other plot point is that your former shipmate Maniac comes aboard the Concordia with his squadron of test pilots flying the new prototype fighter the Morningstar. Eventually, the society of Mandarin (the group of human - excuse me Terran - traitors working with the Kilrathi) steals a morningstar and you have to track them down to get it back before it gets into the hands of the Kilrathi.

Special Operations 2 really starts to feel like more of the same. The story is a bit better than the first Special Operations and its always nice to see Maniac. His appearance here means he has appeared in every Wing Commander game. The missions aren't particularly special - mostly the same sort of stuff and none of them feel very epic. It is nice when you get to fly the new Morningstar and pretty fun when you use its nuke. Still, there isn't a ton of challenge and I almost felt like I was going through the motions.

The most interesting part of Special Operations 2 is that it ends like the first Special Operations. That is, even when you've gone down the winning path, prevented the Kilrathi from getting a Morningstar, destroyed the rebel base, and killed Jazz, the final scene in the game is the Emporer and his grandson talking about how not getting the Morningstar and the destruction of the rebel base were minor setbacks. They were able to distract the Concordia long enough so that it could not help in the defense of the Deneb sector. The Kilrathi were able to destroy the sixth fleet and the Concordia is forced to retreat. This all makes some sense because through the whole of Wing Commander III the humans - excuse me, Terrans - are losing the war.

So, what now? Playing through Wing Commander III and IV again might be fun, but that would require switching CDs, which last I checked doesn't work in Classic mode of OS X. Wing Commander Prophecy is now the only major series game I haven't played. It was never released on the Mac, but I do have the Game Boy Advance version and that version is mostly true to the original, even if changed to fit the small screen, slower processor, and less storage space. I could also play other games in the Wing Commander universe that I have never played - most prominently Privateer. Or I could play the series that was the biggest competitor for Wing Commander in the space flight sim genre: X-Wing/TIE Fighter. Or I could just move on to something else. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wing Commander II: Special Operations - Finished the game

When I was young, I always thought that Special Operations was a much lamer name than Secret Missions. It was so much cooler to be undertaking secret missions than special operations. When I got older, I learned that Special Operations was the name of a unit. Now this unit certainly conducted special operations, but as a unit it became much cooler because obviously the missions the special operations unit undertakes are secret. Anyway...

Special Operations is kind of all over the place in its story. It takes place immediately after Wing Commander II ends, picking up right where that story left off. This is in contrast to Secret Missions 1 and 2 which are written so as to possibly take place in the middle of the Wing Commander campaign. Because you could install and play them no matter where you were in the main campaign, they were more or less written as side missions (though Secret Mission 2 was sort of meant to take place when the Tiger's Claw wasn't undertaking anything else.) Regardless of where it starts, there really isn't a coherent theme to the Special Operations story. You are to join Paladin's Special Operations unit. Before you can, you must deal with some renegade pilots. Once you finally get there, you start helping out some Kilrathi rebels, but there is an interlude where you encounter the Kilrathi prince Thrakkath and learn of the Kilrathi political machinations. Finally, you do end up saving the rebels. Wing Commander II's story wasn't great, but it was satisfactory for the game. Special Operations is all over the place and ultimately unsatisfying. It also ends by revealing that your victory was for naught as the Kilrathi attack you thwarted was just a diversion for the real Kilrathi attack on another sector. That attack succeeded. This is presumably where Special Operations 2 will start, so it is totally setting up for and urging you to get the next expansion pack.

All of my comments on the improved difficulty levels of Wing Commander II go out the window in the final mission of Special Operations. Not only must you defeat a wing of four of the toughest Kilrathi fighters, but you must also take down two capital ships: two Fralthra that have antimatter guns and know how to aim them. You are in a Saber so being hit by one bolt of antimatter does serious damage while a second will kill you. So, if you don't get torn to shreds by the fighters and (given the AI's unfortunate tendency to try to shoot through you) your wingmen, you will likely get killed by the capital ships. I can't recall the number of times I must have tried this mission. I finally went to the internet for help. FAQs and Guides didn't help any. Going to message boards, I find this is considered possibly the hardest mission in all of the Wing Commander series (the mission where you need to protect the Ralari in Wing Commander 1 being its only competitor.) I also found a sort of cheat - a glitch that will allow you to lock onto the capital ship much further than usual and with this I was finally able to complete the mission. Even knowing that exploit, it still took me a half dozen tries.

Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi - Finished the Game

So Wing Commander II differs from the first game by having a cohesive story throughout, rather than just being a series of missions linked by a common theme. It isn't a great story. The hero is branded a traitor, or at least a coward by being framed for the destruction of the Tiger's Claw, his original carrier. The story is then that of his redemption by finally getting to fly pertinent missions again, reestablishing his reputation, clearing his name, and finding the real traitor. It all comes out as a tad cliche, but the plot would work for an action movie and this game is basically all about action. The Wing Commander III story wasn't that memorable either and, of the Wing Commander games I've played, only Wing Commander IV has one that stuck with me at all.

I last complained about how Spirit's voice actor in Super Wing Commander was just absolutely awful and killed the character. Well, Wing Commander II had a speech pack add-on and the version I am playing includes it. You fly with Spirit as your wingman and I am happy to report that her voice actor here is much better. She still has a Japanese accent, but it is believable here and her delivery seems much more natural. There isn't a lot of voice work in Wing Commander II, but it is all competent which is a far cry from that in Super Wing Commander.

Wing Commander II's difficulty is much more forgiving than its predecessor's. It isn't a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination, but each mission feels beatable. The biggest difficulty seems to be in getting through a mission without your wingmate ejecting. Maybe I'm just not protecting them as well as I should.

Anyway, Wing Commander II got the Wing Commander formula right, and the subsequent games just improved on the implementation of this formula with Wing Commander IV being the apex (granted I have not played Wing Commander Prophecy, but I have heard things). I really enjoyed playing through it and am glad I did. At least now I finally know why Jazz was such a bastard.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi - Destroyed supply depot in Novaya Kiev

Wing Commander II is an obvious step in the evolution of the series. It didn't yet feature the full 3D spaceship models or FMV of Wing Commander III, but it did get it a good chunk of the way there. The combat engine is improved from the first one allowing for more interesting manuevers and intelligent behavior. In general, the artificial intelligence of both your wingmen and the enemy is improved. Capital ships now can't be taken down by small fighters, but require dedicated torpedo ships. The gameplay just feels smoothers. And the story...

The story now takes center stage as it will in all subsequent Wing Commander games. Instead of sort of learning what is going on by talking to the bartender and wingmates at the bar, there is a guaranteed story scene in between each mission where you learn something that genuinely moves the plot along or fleshes out a character. Even the typical talk, mission briefing, mission, debriefing sequence is improved. The mission briefings are more detailed than go here, do this, and have genuine dramatic moments to them. Story elements can actually occur during the missions - with you receiving transmissions or new things happening to affect the plot and change the mission requirements. And the debriefings have more personality than just whether you succeeded or not and how many ships you and your wingman shot down. Really, with this game they refined to game down to what they wanted it to be - a fun arcadey flight sim with an interesting story as your reward for completing the mission. And you can still see different areas and have different missions based on you success or failure in the missions.

I'm kind of bothered that they used the "partner who is retiring in a month gets killed" cliche, but I guess I can't expect too much from my video games. Fortunately, the Simpsons brilliantly parodied this cliche. (Remember when The Simpsons was good?)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wing Commander The Secret Missions 2: Crusade - Finished the missions

This post mosty contains two things that I meant to write in the previous post (or before that), but forgot to, but I guess it applies to all posts related to the original Wing Commander.

Secret Mission 2 is the first new Wing Commander content I have played. Super Wing Commander contained the same story and missions from Wing Commander and the first Secret Missions but then added a new story of tracking down and destroying the shipyards that created the Sivar instead of including Secret Missions 2 content. I really can't say why they did this and the internet provides no insight. Maybe they didn't want to do hi-res drawing/models of the bird-like Firekka. Whatever the reason, I think I prefer Secret Missions 2 to the extra missions in Super Wing Commander. They provide more of a change of pace (more escort, defense, and reconnaissance rather than all out attack) and set up the story for Wing Commander II better. More of a deal is made of the defecting Kilrathi named Ralgha nar Hhallas. Doomsday and Jazz are introduced better and the character portrait for Jazz makes him look decidedly evil which sets up better for his betrayal in Wing Commander II (When Max told me he was the traitor, I found it hard to believe as Jazz in Super Wing Commander seemed so inoffensive.

One reason why I didn't enjoy the original Wing Commander and Secret Missions as much as I could, besides their sometimes extreme difficulty, was that the awful voice acting in Super Wing Commander completely spoiled some of the characters and story for me. My friend Max redubbed the ship the TCS Morphine after hearing some of characters talk. Shotglass, Iceman, and Colonel Halcyon especially sound like they're on some super-downers and talk... so.... damn.... slow. Spirit is probably the worst of all because she sounds like they asked some American to affect a Japanese accent for her and it sounds so damn wrong and even borderline racist (Research revealed a woman named Christina Sauer did the voice.) Every time I read the dialogue that was given to the voice actors in Super Wing Commander, I can't help but hearing it in the awful voices and awful delivery and just die a bit inside. By not having actually heard any of the dialogue in Secret Mission 2, I can actually sort of appreciate it. It's refreshing.

Secret Missions 2 is also a lot less difficult than the first Secret Missions. There are still missions that I needed to try multiple times, but I always feel like I can get past it with skill, rather than luck. In fact, in Secret Missions, there are some missions where I feel I need good luck in order to get through it while in Secret Missions 2, it is more the case that when I fail I feel that it was bad luck. I actually would have thought that having to fly more patrol/escort missions would make the game harder since defending ships, especially transports, can be a pain, but the missions were all quite doable. One of the big innovations in Secret Missions 2 was that you get to fly a Kilrathi ship. The big let-down for me is that it was a Dralthi. Even upon first playing the game at Max's house, I thought they were the worse ships. Their shields and armor may be better than Salthi ships, but they are much less maneuverable and their pancake-like shape makes them a much bigger target. When Max told me you got to fly one in Secret Missions 2 I answered, "Why a Dralthi?" Anyway, despite still not liking them as a ship, it is a fun gimmick. The missions you fly in them can be difficult, but they are all doable. Definitely taking on two Rapiers (and three Dralthi) in a Dralthi was probably the hardest one, though it still didn't feel as hard as the mission from the first Secret Missions where you take on five of them in a Raptor.

One thing I have yet to mission is that, in my replaying of the Wing Commander series, I am finally playing them right. Well, I guess the most right way to play them would be with some sort of joystick, especially a flightstick-type one. But it seems you definitely want a more analog peripheral and my friend Max used the mouse so that is what I am finally using. When I first got Super Wing Commander, it ran very slowly on my Macintosh LC III and using the mouse just caused a lot of jumpiness. Plus, I probably still only had a one-button mouse at the time. So I used the keyboard so I could at least ensure that each keypress was a fine-grained movement. When I finally upgraded to a PowerPC, Super Wing Commander played fine but I was used to the keyboard so I kept at it. And I did the same thing for Wing Commander III and Wing Commander IV. Plus probably that whole one-button mouse thing. So now I finally am using the mouse to move my ship around the screen and while it isn't necessarily easier than the keyboard, it definitely feels more organic. Plus, it's a lot easier to plug a mouse into my laptop and play than a keyboard.

Now I have finally finished all the content in the first game of the series and it is time to move on to the true missing link that never came out in any form for the the Mac: Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wing Commander The Secret Missions - Destroyed the Sivar

Did I complain about the difficulty yet? Yes, I did but it's worth doing again. These Secret Missions are even more difficult than some of the later levels of the regular Wing Commmander missions. Just when I think I'm doing alright, my wingman will die, or I'll catch sudden fire from enemy ships and die, or an enemy ship will turn how I don't expect so we will collide and I will die. And if that doesn't happen, then the game will freeze up and this always happens when landing on the carrier, so it is always after I have survived a long ordeal in the mission and think I've succeeded. Oh DosBox, when will you finally get to version 1.0?

I have to admit that the insane difficulty and length of time it took to complete The Secret Missions has made my enthusiasm wane a bit. Since I have basically already done these missions in Super Wing Commander, it hardly felt woth the effort. The cut scenes that show in these games are better than those in Super Wing Commander and I now have bragging rights that I've beaten the harder versions. Still, I am very much looking forward to Secret Missions 2 where I will be experiencing missions I have never seen before.

Oh well, the dreadnought super-weapon that destroyed Goddard colony is gone. Long live the Confederation!

Update: I wrote this stuff about game control in the post on Secret Misssions 2 that I really meant to put here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wing Commader - Finished the game

You know what really makes this series? Besides the cinematics that show how you are doing, of course. The dogfighting. Getting a bead on an enemy ship, taking the right angle, shooting ahead of him so your shot gets there, firing the afterburners, and turning at just the right time to avoid a collision. One on one can be difficult enough, especially against a big gunship like a Gratha or Jalthi. But when there are two or three or even four other ships besides you and you can really only focus on one at a time, it's becomes a tense, teeth-clenched, white-knuckled moment. And I love it.

I don't necessarily love how much more difficult the original game is to the Super Wing Commander update that I played. Oh sure, that game made it too easy. I could complete nearly all of the missions solo. So I do appreciate that this game gives me a challenge, and I really don't mind redoing several missions over and over again. And if I were more willing to let my wingmate die or fail a mission, I would only redo the hardest missions once or twice. If you really want the best outcome - destroying the frigate or defending the ship with your wingman alive, it takes luck and skill. Well, except for the mission where you need to defend the Ralari. That mission is just impossible without cheating.

So, I managed to blow up the starbase that is the heart of the command for the Vega sector. I managed to do it without even any serious damage to my ship (even some armor damage). On the way, I destroyed a Fralthi and her escort of Krants. I destroyed the squadrons of Gratha, Salthi, and Jalthi before taking out the starbase. Okay, it helped that Hunter stuck around until the Jalthi squadron. Then I get back to the Tiger's Claw and Colonel Halcyon claims there is a ceremony for me above deck. And yet I don't even get the Terran Confederation Medal of Honor. Oh well, I'll have to be content with my three bronze stars, one silver star, and two gold stars.

On to the secret missions...