Ten Years of Wing Commander IV

It was exactly one decade ago today that the interactive movie reached its high water mark: on February 12th, 1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom was released.

Wing Commander IV will go down in history for its famous film shoot. With an estimated budget of $12 million, Wing Commander IV was at the time the most expensive video game ever made. Like its predecessor, Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander 4 featured a cast of professional actors -- including Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Wilson and John Rhys Davies. For the first time, though, the movies were shot on actual sets in Los Angeles using 35mm film. Series creator and director Chris Roberts' had finally brought to life the project he had dreamt of for years: a blockbuster Hollywood movie where you were the star.

The Austin-based Maverick Team deserves equal praise for Wing Commander IV's success. In terms of gameplay it was Heart of the Tiger writ large. Wing Commander III's visually stunning but technologically cumbersome flight engine was streamlined beyond all expectations: for the first time in the series' history a new Wing Commander didn't necessitate a major hardware upgrade. At the same time, the team introduced a host of new features that have now become standard in such games: dual wings, projectile and charging guns, in-flight interactive choices, a FMV map, infiltration and capture missions and more.

Equally important were the moments of quiet brilliance. Wing Commander 4's artists visited the USS Lexington museum and applied what they learned about the look and feel of real life naval aviation to the game. For the first time individual capital ships had their own specific artwork - the TCS Lexington was distinct from the Princeton, the BWS Intrepid from the Tango. The game introduced a working background to the Wing Commander universe, featuring missions set against a complex panorama of communications arrays, weapons factories, shipyards, spacelabs starbases, turret mines and the like. Ground missions featured a detailed surface, eschewing the lumpy yellow blobs of the previous game. These little touches made gameplay more immersive than ever before - and have continued to reward a fandom interested in Wing Commander continuity to this day.

Those who waited for Wing Commander IV will forever remember January, 1996 as the longest month of their lives. The game was originally scheduled for release December 8th, 1995... fans awoke that day to find the disappointing news at Origin's early website: Wing Commander IV was delayed until February. Then, it hit. Wing Commander IV inaugurated one of the greatest years of Wing Commander fandom. Bookended by the release of two major titles, WC4 and Privateer 2, 1996 was an amazing year that helped create the community we know today. The WC:CCG was in full swing, the Academy series was on television, Baen kept novels in print and in development. In the news reports of a theatrical movie began to trickle in -- at the message board fans debated Tolwyn's ideology while lusting over the new Bearcat and Lance fighters. It was truly the best of times.

Ten years later Wing Commander fans continue to fervently hope and honestly believe that there will be another 1996 and another Wing Commander IV.

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Update published on . View all news from that day.

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Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans.

SM1.5 Campaign Ported to PC with New Modding Techniques
2015-03-25 -- Fans have long been intrigued by the differences posed by Super Wing Commander. Ostensibly a remake of the original Wing Commander with newer graphics, the games' smattering of familiar fighters has much confusing crossover with ship models used in very different roles throughout Privateer and Armada. And while WC1 and The Secret Missions were pretty faithfully recreated in the new engine, SM2 was replaced by a brand new intermediate campaign where the Tiger's Claw seeks out and destroys the shipyards that spawned the Sivar Dreadnought.

French Dub of WC4 DVD Playthrough Defects to the Border Worlds
2015-03-24 -- DocteurJ tipped us off about the second chapter in OldiesGamesTV's high quality playthrough of WC4. Just like chapter one, this episode is spoken in French thanks to a special remixing of the audio from the CD version on top of DVD edition's high res video. Even for non-French speakers, it's pretty interesting to see how the voices are dubbed in a different country.

Kat on a Hot Durasteel Roof
2015-03-23 -- Dondragmer has been hard at work with fellow fans performing digital archeology on the art of Wing Commander 1, and he's made some interesting discoveries! The first reveals the ceiling panels of the original four Confed fighters. Everyone has probably seen these without noticing before, since they're briefly visible during the first person ejection sequence, but they fly by so fast that nobody ever gets a good look.

WCDX Restores Pinups, Planets & More!
2015-03-22 -- Stinger has published another big update to his WCDX patch for Kilrathi Saga. It restores even more of the original DOS games' features to the Windows edition of the earlier Wing Commanders. Background planets now appear in space and the joystick can be used for menu navigation.

Kick Back & Watch Some Wing Commander
2015-03-21 -- With the proliferation of Twitch and ever-better gadgets for digital recording, online video game playthroughs are absolutely booming. Lots of people are playing and posting classics like Wing Commander. Some aren't newsworthy, but we like to share certain clips when a lot of effort has been put into them.

Seether Bombs Innocent Installation
2015-03-20 -- Here's a funny/horrible story involving Robert Rusler, Seether from Wing Commander 4. Costar Robert Downey Jr. reports that the pair made a giant mess in a poor girl's trailer on the set of Weird Science.

WC4 Homeworld Mod Remastered!
2015-03-19 -- The WC4 Mod for Homeworld has now been fully relaunched! L.I.

The Fur's About to Fly!
2015-03-18 -- DigitalOrigami has put together an amazing scene with the help of Klavs' Model Archive. The backdrop is a large Kilrathi Dorkir convoy lead by a Fralthra and Rigakh. This combination of capships isn't one you'd ever naturally encounter in-game, which adds an artful extra layer to the melee.

Sivar's Hand Gameflow Room Coming Together
2015-03-17 -- The flight control room that Lars was cooking up for the Sivar's Hand mod wasn't quite in sync with the game's growing story, so he's retooled it into a more usable interface hub for the project. It has a more bridge / combat information center tone and can be used as a jumping off point to a ready room, tech room, campaign missions, game options, an exit and more. The second iteration below adds to the mood considerably with some more reddish light, better lighting effects and additional detail surrounding items like the ceiling wire.

Flat Universe Lays Out Path Ahead
2015-03-16 -- The Maslas Brothers have popped in to provide the latest status on Wing Commander Flat Universe, and they've also answered a few fan questions. A pending update to the game will address issues brought up by fans in the past, and their long term roadmap will continue to deliver what the people want. Grab the latest alpha for Windows, Mac or Linux here.

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