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.

No comments: