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The Kilrathi are coming to get me!

WingCommander is a series of (allegedly very) good computer games - space combat FlightSim to be exact - and a truly terrible movie.

Actually, I have a real problem with the wing command series.  Which is that I was spoiled, and played TieFighter first.

I just can't cope with the (in comparison) sloppy control mechanism and unresponsive weaponry long enough to find the (supposedly wonderful) plot.

It did set a trend by being the one of the first games to have cut scenes - initially cartoons, but later live action fmv.

Which led to the seemingly inevitably awful movie.

Which isn't all bad. Well, it has Saffron Burrows in it.

It also has the great bit where they switch the spaceship to silent running and all are very quiet so that the aliens passing close by won't hear them. Someoen took 'it should be gritty like The Hunt For Red October ' too literally there.




I just discovered the Co_Op are donig a games bundle, inlcluding wingcommander 3 (The one with the movies) (I had so far only played 1 and 2) for 2.99  It's a big box, and contains allll of the manuals (which is unusual for rebox jobs, usually you just gety some pdf's on a cd)
One install guide, two troubleshooting guides (that's ominous) a playguide, a lapcard, an aircraft identification guide, and 'your personalised guide to the TCS Victory'
I'll tell you how it goes :)  --Vitenka
Just to add - despite the ominous cd cards and being a DOS era game, it installed and ran on win98 with zero problems.  though if you're not used to DOS games asking you the settings for your SoundCard, you may come unstuck.

Well, its reputation as the worlds first four CD flightsim is well deserved.  That's a LOT of intro movie.  I'm still flying in the simulator, mouse control is a little bit over sensitive, the power shunt is unintuitive, the max throttle key doens't appear to be where the lapcard says it is and I can't find a button to turn the damn lead indicator on - but apart from that it seems fine.  --Vitenka
Is it 'I' (for ITTS) to turn on the lead indicator?  I can't remember.--Mjb67
Looking through the manual, the ITTS ought to auto-activate when you lock on to a target (L). --StuartFraser
Thanks.  Will try both (but am remembering how to visually lead a target anyhow)  --Vitenka
I found WC3 for a similar price a while back, played it lots and completed it. Don't know about throttle keys/mouse control, since I played with a joystick with a throttle on it. "Unintuitive" means in this case that you can't cycle extra power to weapons with F9, or shields with F10. I tried it, too...I won't say anything about the storyline, but it's quite good. I'm told WC4 is lots better, though.  -StuartFraser
Yup-yup - hit p for power console, then select which meter to change, then toggle n 5% increments... or, just don't bother.  I've got normal throttle control on mouse fine - I'm just missing a 'go to max right now I mean it get me out of here' button.  --Vitenka
That needed two buttons in the X-Wing series, anyway...backspace and F11 (to turn off shields and weapons and get moving, fast, now (aaah, A-Wings on recon settings. Always amusing, until someone got a missile lock on you...). In WingCommander, 'go to max right now I mean it get me out of here' is afterburners, not max speed - use TAB, and watch your fuel (it is possible to run out; and if you don't come close on some of the later missions, you probably won't survive). Yes, I find the concept of an Ion Drive with afterburners amusing, as well... --StuartFraser
The key I'm missing is the backspace equivalent.  But since I've discovered how to work throttle on mouse, it's not so bad.  Three missions under my belt, corresponds to fourteen kitties a transport and a corvette - and a few problems are showing through.  It is very nice that you talk to your wingmen and try and keep them all working together nicely - but I am left wondering whether my selection of who to fly with is actually going to have any impact on the game.  Still, the chief engineer (who is flirting with you) does respond nicely when you bring back her craft all banged up instead of without a scratch on it.  Which leads me to the wingman AI being a touch erratic.  Sometimes they fight well, other times, they hang back and spam your radio with "just say the word sir" or similar - maybe they think I'm desperate to get good rankings on the kill sheet?  More reports later, doubtless.  --Vitenka
The wingmen have different characters, as well as different stats.  "reckless bloke" breaks and shoots at stuff unless you frequently order him not to.  "anal bloke" does exactly what you tell him and joins on your wing after almost every target he destroys (that's the "just say the word sir" behaviour - give him some more orders).  "kilrathi bloke" is quite good at doing what you tell him.--Mjb67
Ah, didn't realise that.  I've been trying to use a different wingman on each misison so far.  Cobra, most amusingly, decided to EJECT whilst in the hangar.  Not quite figured out why she did that.  --Vitenka
"Reckless bloke" would be Maniac, presumably; he's also a very good pilot and probably your best choice for wingman on this mission. Also applies to Flash when he shows up (the only good thing about Flash is that you get the Excalibur). "Anal bloke" is presumably Vaquero, although Cobra is equally annoying. Vagabond and Hobbes ("kilrathi bloke") are normally the best wingmen you can have, although it's best to mix them around. Flint is a) good at strike runs and b)...well, you'll see.
Oh - found one other very OTT thing.  If you get shot up badly enough that your windscreen is cracked - you get a distortion of your view through that part of the screen.  Almost unnoticeable whilst in space, it shows up lovely while you dock.  Total overkill, that is.  --Vitenka
Ok, subtle connection to realism lost.  Mision brief "Escort this transport.  But its route has been leaked, you WILL come under attack"  Fair enough - so they send TWO light fighters.  (Well, you could choose to be heavy, but the default weapons loadout is good unless there are capital ships - like TieFighter it loads light on the dumbfire) Seriously.  You have ten pilots aboard.  Why not end, I dunno, four of them?  Or is my 'use overkill when possible so that you sustain zero losses' logistics theory hopelessly out of date?  --Vitenka
Ok, make that: Two light fighters have to guard an almost unarmed lmost unarmoured, transport against three wings of enemy fighters, and three corvettes with enemy fighter guards.  There is no magic shield equalisation, and turrets can actually shoot straight.  My afterburner key is as kaput as my max thrust key (manual says tab, tab does nothing)  How is this even slightly possible?
It's not even an 'escape with your life and report back the huge increase in enemy activity' mission either - you can't escape the battle zone until you have dealt with the corvettes.  --Vitenka
You are doomed unless you can get that afterburner working - it should indeed be TAB.  You take out corvettes by destroying their turrets with your weapons and shooting them with torpedoes.  Is this WC3 or WC4?  I think that torpedoes actually home slightly in both games, unlike WC2 where they are pure dumbfire.  The turrets will miss you when you 'skid' the fighter by afterburning and turning at the same time.  On the other hand I remember missions like that from both WC3 and WC4 and they are indeed a complete arse.  Oh yeah, taunt the enemy fighter-bombers to try to make them attack you and not the transport.--Mjb67
You don't need torps for a corvette, dumbfires will do. Are in in an Arrow? I recall that they actually make this mission even harder by giving you the Hellcat, but I'm not sure (and I've semi-broken my joystick, so can't very well check). Shelton slides (velocity lock; randomly touch the burners) will make everything miss you, not just turrets. You really need those afterburners working. Watch your speed indicator when you hit TAB, and then every other button on the keyboard (around the TCS Victory before you hit autopilot, probably - you're probably locked in to US keyboard mapping or something). StuartFraser recalls that this was one of the missions on which he almost used up his fuel.
It's WC3, I understand the 'shoot turrets' theory, the problem is that they shoot back whilst I am closing.  I have found afterburners on the mouse - doubleclick and hold right - but you can't turn whilst using that.  I don't have torps, I have a light fighter with either IR or IMREC missiles - not even dumbfires are available.  --Vitenka
Aargh, it's this mission. There are maybe three or four harder ones in the game. Ok; taunt the bombers (Vaktoth heavy fighters, AIR), kill the bombers. Ignore the Drakets/Dralthi unless they're going to kill you. You can actually taunt the corvettes, too; and it almost works. Use half your missiles (IMRECs) on the bombers. You now have two options: take out the corvette engines (if the vettes aren't in range of the transport) and then kill them at leisure; or take out the turrets. Either way, you need to afterburner and slide. Lots. Find out why your keyboard isn't working.
Which ones are the bombers?  I had no problems taking out all the non capital ships with guns, though using missiles made it slightly faster.  Didn't try taunting the capital ship.  The fighters WILL kill me if I ignore them, they outnumber me.  Suggestions on finding out why my keyboard isn't working?  It workks fine for everything else.  The problem with the double corvette is that they seem to start practically in range of the transport.  --Vitenka
Oh, and I can only carry six rockets - I can reasonably eaisly take out the fighter wings, the escorts and TWO of the corvettes - but by the time I can take out the second the transport has gone down, and I'm totally out of missiles and have no remaining front armour.  Velocity lock ALSO doesn't work.  --Vitenka

Just to complete my misery - the fighter bombers aren't a problem - they prefer to go for me instead of the transport.  But I can't even distract the corvettes - If I tell my wingman to concentrate on one corvette I can concentrate on the other - but it has enough turrets that some are spare to fire on the transport.  What kind of evil evil people make the fourth mission in the game one of the hardest?  And I *know* there are lots more missions to come, because I've got three CDs it hasn't asked for yet.  Does 'attack my target' mean the one I am targetting now, or does it (like tie fighter) mean that they change whenever you change targets?  Humm.  Don't suppose leech missiles work on corvettes?  That might be a solution...
'attack my target' means the one I'm targetting when giving the command, IIRC.  Do you really have to succeed on this mission?  The story ought to progress even if you just make it back alive.  The really hard missions are there to challenge experienced players, while first-time players can fight to survive - it just affects what mission you get next. --Mjb67
Confused. The fourth mission only has one corvette in it. And that bloody cloaking missile. I thought you were on about the tenth mission; which has the bastard Sorthak superfighter/corvettes in. Which fighter are you flying? --StuartFraser, who always gets edit conflicts as he and Mjb67 edit this page simultaneously.
Edit conflict again.  For me this time.  I get a light fighter (arrow is it?) and yes, I've been alerted to the existence of those missiles, but nothing got a lock on me yet, so I haven't seen them.  There are definitely multiple corvettes - first rescue the transport from a pair of attacking scouts, warp, then a fighter wing and a corvette, warp, then a PAIR of corvettes a fighter wing and the corvettes have fighter escort. 
Je'Repete - I can't leave the area while the "Hostiles present" indicator is going off.  Which it keeps doing until the corvettes go down.  I guess I could try moving to a fel million klicks range and hoping the corvettes get bored and warp out - but I doubt they will.  It does *seem* set up as an 'escape with your life' mission - especially with the "Millions of lives depend upon you" / "I'll do my best" dialogue in the breifing...  but if it won't let me warp out, what can I do?  (Hmmm... maybe one of my wingmen is better at taking out corvettes than I am.  That seems worth a shot.)  --Vitenka
Oh, I thought you said that you could get the corvettes but you lost the transport, sorry.  --Mjb67
Thoroughly confused. In fact, so confused that I searched out my WC3 CDs, gently nursed my wounded joystick into co-operation and played through the first eight or so missions. Mission 4, protect civillian transport. I played it with Maniac on my wing; no problems whatsoever. Attacking scouts, blat. Fighter wing/vette; afterburner towards the corvette, take down the skipper targeted on the transport, kill the fighters, strafe the corvette. Next nav didn't have any corvettes, just fighters. Blatted them. Transport jumps out, back to the Victory.
This is very strange, I'm certainly not imagining these corvettes.  Is there a difficulty setting somewhere?  I didn't see one.  --Vitenka
Hmmm. *Googles for mission spoiler list* [This site] suggests that two other corvettes show up on the way back to the TCS Victory if you failed to protect the transport. But you still have the transport with you?
Hmmm, didn't realise the missions were so dynamic.  Seems sorta cruel to throw more stuff at you when you're already losing.  I'm pretty sure I still had the transport when they arrived, and I certainly tried going for the first corvette first.  Maybe they arrive if the transport is suficiently damaged or something?  Ok, thanks for the help, I'll try again (now I sorta have afterburners - but I still can't slide) --Vitenka
Thing is, the transport ought to have jumped by then. What should happen, after you've defeated the corvette and fighters at Nav2, is that you autopilot to the jump buoy, blow up a few fighters, hang around until the transport hyperjumps, and then head back to the Victory. --RA?
Just a possibility, but might you be going to the wrong NAV point (like Vict->Nav1->Nav2->Nav1 instead of Vict->Nav1->Nav2->Nav3)?  I can't remember if that's possible to do in WC3.  --Mjb67
No idea.  Hope not, it'd be embarrasing. --Vitenka
Possible, like being on a higher difficulty level is possible. But not without knowing about it. You can use the N key to bring up the nav map and have a look (escape to get back to the game). --RA?
Difficulty is possible?  Where would I check that?  (I didn't see any difficulty options anywhere) --Vitenka
Or similarly, maybe you are jumping without linking autopilots first?  Fix for the first idea is confirm your warp destination with Alt-N, fix for the second is fly within 1000m of the transport and wait for autopilots to link.  Sorry if you know all this already.  --Mjb67
I'll try Alt-N.  I'm pretty sure the autopilots linked though.  Odd that the manual and the game never think to tell you to do this - but it wouldn't let me jump (in the first mission with a transport) until I'd got the transport to tag along.

End note.  This is WingCommander 3, and it might be mission 5, but I think it's 4.  Oh, do you think anyone other than me would play a 'wing manager' game?  In the style of one of those footie managers (or heck, PrincessMaker) where you groom the pilots in your wing, keep them happy, then send them off to die?  --Vitenka
Heh, that sounds like good fun.  Star Wars: Rebellion/Supremacy? has a bit of that (and is one of my all-time favourite games) --Mjb67
X-Com: Interceptor. But I'm glad to see I've found the other Supremacy fan in the world... -StuartFraser
I really want to make a new game like Star Wars: Supremacy that is based on the HonorHarrington novels by David Weber.  They would make an awesome space flight strategy game--Mjb67
Mmm.. yes - the space flight would make an excellent tactical level game - though a godawful action game--Vitenka



ChrisHowlett and his brother had one of the WC's (possibly 1 or 2) for the Amiga, but became disillusioned when the second (or possibly third) mission proved actually impossible. The combination of three asteroid fields to navigate, and then a nasty set of Kilrathi fighters took us down every single time.



There is a very nice [Privateer Remake] now (on the VegaStrike? engine) - it plays lovely and I am friendly with the kitties.  Which is nice.  --Vitenka



Out of interest, how does this compare with the Freespace (I think that's what they're called... Requiem?) games?
Freespace has, from my rather limited experience with it, a better flight engine but no plot to speak of. It greatly depends what you want from your computer game --SF
Pretty sure FreeSpace has its own page.  FreeSpace is a lot newer, but otherwise remarkably similar - in that both series have interesting physics and weapons mixes and good long term lplots.  FreeSpaceTwo? has beam weaponsBabylonFive style ones.  Thus, it wins.  --Vitenka
Post EditConflict: The plot in FreeSpace is a bit more linear, with side tracks.  There aren't multiple endings where you instead decide to betray your species :)  --Vitenka

FreeSpace (one and two) have much more of the flight sim aspect and less of the interactive movie aspect. The plot is present in a fairly cliched way, but it's all about the actual gameplay (which I believe to be superior). FreeSpaceTwo? has beam weapons a la BabylonFive, which makes fighting capital ships almost impossibly hard on higher difficulty levels (beam weapons are the perfect capital ship weapon, and you can't take them out fast enough to avoid dying when they can do, oh, 60 to 80% damage to your ship in one salvo). However, FreeSpaceTwo? is still the superior game due to new technology. The plot of FreeSpaceOne? is better, though. --Requiem


SF recently bought Wing Commander IV and played it to completion, thoughts went [here]. Remarkably difficult for a space combat game. Remarkable plot for a computer game - making the awfulness of the movie even more disappointing. Remarkably good fun for something that's 12 years old. Six CDs, MuHaHaHa
I also just got wing4, bundled with 'eye of the tiger' (expansion of 3?)  Will think after playing.  --Vitenka
As far as I know 3 doesn't have any expansions. I think you may find IV very hard, especially if you're going to try it without a flight stick. I suppose you could always decrease the difficulty. I regard myself as good at these games and didn't. Missiles and wingmen are your friends. Decoys also. --SF


There is a /CCG, which never got tremendously far in terms of sales and thus had no expansions, but doesn't appear to be automatically unplayable (there's a bit of "too many different numbers, argh" which seems to be the biggest flaw from a casual look). SF is investigating. It is very nearly symmetric but not quite (a bit like TotalAnnihilation)- Terran and Kilrathi cards are usually similar, sometimes identical.


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