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?)

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