Title Wing Commander (CD32) (Second Review) Game Type 3D Combat Sim Company Origin Players 1 Compatability AGA (With Patch) Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review This review applies to the CD32 version of Wing Commander used in conjunction with the Wing Commander patch on Aminet (game/patch/WCPatch.lha) which allows you to run the game on a 1200 or 4000, taking advantage of fast ram, faster processors, and an improved Chunky to Planar (C2P) routine. All this while playing the 256 colour version of the game, previously only available to CD32 owners. On top of this the patch allows various options to be chosen, like slowing things down if your processor runs the game too quickly, being indestructible, destroying targetted enemy ships at a keystroke, and even the ability to use the original C2P routine to see how much slower things were. In Wing Commander you play the role of a fighter pilot who must, with the rest of Earth`s military forces, remove the feline Kilrathi invaders from the Vega sector of space. The battle is fought through a series of missions within various star systems. After completing one set of missions, you move on to another system, but which one it is will depend on how well you have performed. This makes the game something more than a purely linear experience, and provides greater replay value with the possibility that events will differ dramatically. When you first load the game you are placed automatically on your squadron's flight simulator machine and you can enjoy taking down a few virtual Kilrathi in their virtual ships. From here you have access to the bar, where from a static screen you can choose who you wish to listen to, (conversation is pretty one-sided) about general gossip and the occasional useful combat tactic. Leaving the bar takes you to another static screen, this time the sleeping quarters where you can save or load games, exit to AmigaDOS, or go to the next mission briefing. The mission briefings are quite well done, with close-ups of various pilots, your commander, and a sequence of map screens. It obviously pays to read through the information carefully here, and have a clear idea of your mission objective. The missions themselves vary quite nicely, with reconnaissance, escort duty, seek and destroy missions and variations on these themes. Usually though they follow a fairly routine pattern, you leave your carrier, the Tiger's Claw, you travel to the various waypoints with the autopilot, engage any hostile ships that you are supposed to, and return to the Claw. Sometimes you will encounter mines or asteroids, which can become very frustrating, particuarly as they can just do your ship enough damage to make winning the following engagement at the next waypoint, extremely hard. The combat itself does not look amazingly impressive. 3D graphics have come quite a way since 1993 and it would be great if someone could increase the resolution of the various craft that you encounter. Wing Commander is fairly unique in appearance for this sort of game because it uses a series of sprites rather than polygons to portray the various ships. I suppose either technique has it's pros and cons, suffice to say that things work quite well, but the graphics are unlikely to impress people very much these days. Once you get into a dogfight though, you are likely to forget all about these limitations and concentrate on blowing your opposition straight to hell. The Kilrathi ships, like yours, vary dramatically, and their flight characteristics, armament and vulnerability are quite distinctive. You will decide fairly early on, for example, that it is highly inadvisable to attack certain fighters in a head on run. Their firepower makes this virtually suicidal. other ships are less deadly and can be dispatched with relative ease. There are also capital ships which require huge amounts of punishment before they explode in a mass of fiery sprites, though once you've destroyed their fighters, they shouldn't prove too much of a problem. Your ship comes with various missiles and energy weapons, and can scan a targetted vessel giving a useful status display. A range of different views are available, and there is also a comms system where certain messages can be transmitted to nearby ships. The missions themselves are very do-able, and most will not present too much of a problem. Occasionally though, you'll come across a slightly different situation where you have to think things out carefully and be prepared to just keep trying. One mission in particular involving the protection of a captured Kilrathi cruiser is particuarly tricky, and I wasn't able to complete this without first asking advice from the comp.sys.amiga.games community. I didn't want to cheat and use the trainer options on the patch to get past this mission, but neither did I want to fail, as this causes you to go to a different system, filled with the dreaded asteroids. Sound effects are fairly good and the music is particuarly ambitious. Various pieces accompany your efforts, but in combat the music actually reflects events, so if you suddenly notice the music changing from an exciting pace to something altogether more sorrowful, you'll know that the Support vessel you were supposed to be guarding has just been destroyed. It's a very good effort, but when you're continually getting killed on certain missions, the music and the reloading sequence can become tiresome. I actually found it quicker to reset and reload the game rather than clicking through the funeral sequence, waiting to get back into the action. On completion of a mission your commander will debrief you, and if you've done well, you may be promoted, awarded a medal, or transferred to a more prestigous squadron. I played my way through the game over a few weeks, and looking back I've had a pretty good time. It's a very different approach to Frontier or Elite, there is no real feeling of an alternate reality with seemingly endless ways of playing, instead Wing Commander concentrates on being a fast paced action sim with some variety in the storyline, while going through the motions of being partly an Adventure game (not very convincingly) and finally has a definite objective which you must strive to achieve. It's enjoyable, playable stuff, some of the dogfights are genuinely exciting and reminiscent of scenes from the film "Top Gun" except the setting here is in space. If that sounds like something you might enjoy, then get hold of this game. It shouldn't be too difficult because at one point this game, along with Dangerous Streets, was included in the CD32 pack so presumably there are a lot of copies out there somewhere. One final point, if you allow the intro just to run, the authors of the patch have added quite a lot of amusing text, which is definitely worth sitting through once.