The Digital Antiquarian has posted a lengthy review/history of Wing Commander 2. The author has done quite a bit of research and shares a lot of important background information that sets the stage for how the game was made. There's lots to sink your teeth into here, although the middle portion discussing the game's narrative seems to be overthinking it a bit. Vengeance of the Kilrathi's cinematic half may not be some sort of high art form, but it certainly was one of the most engaging storylines ever made at the time. Ultimately what it comes down to the constant drive to strike a good balance between gameplay and story while factoring in the constraints at the time. Check out the full article here.
Most of all, though, Origin poured their energy into the story layer of the game — into all the stuff that happened when you weren’t actually sitting in the cockpit blowing up the evil Kilrathi. Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi took an approach to game design that could best be summed up as “give the people what they want.” With barely six months to bring the project to completion, Origin combed through all of the feedback they had received on the first game, looking to punch up the stuff that people had liked and to minimize or excise entirely the stuff they seemingly didn’t care so much about.
One element we do have to call out is the suggestion that WC2's speech pack was some sort of "cash grab." At the time, the price of floppy disk production was overwhelming the company and was a contributor to the acquisition by EA. Every kilobyte mattered, and many things had to be cut to fit on an economical number of disks. It would have been impossible to include the speech pack as a freebie at first. On the flip side, most people actually did end up getting speech for free when WC2 Deluxe Edition was widely released on CD and made the speech files practical to bundle in.