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.

--
Update published on . View all news from that day.

Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

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

Play The Flat Universe Alpha Now!
2014-10-30 -- The first playable edition of top-down shooter Wing Commander Flat Universe has been released! The Maslas Brothers still consider this a 0.5 alpha version, but it already looks like a lot of fun.

Crusader: No Remorse Goes Free On Origin!
2014-10-29 -- Electronic Arts' Origin service has announced its newest On The House game, Crusader: No Remorse! Crusader is an Origin Systems isometric shooter renowned for its rich setting, interactive environments and exciting action. After two games were released in the series, its lead designer, Tony Zurovec, left Origin to found Digital Anvil with Chris Roberts and now works on Star Citizen at Cloud Imperium Games Austin.

Antares Rocket Fails At Launch
2014-10-29 -- Yesterday's departure of an unmanned Orbital Sciences resupply module resulted in a large explosion shortly after liftoff. After half a dozen routine private resupply missions to the ISS and a lengthy stretch of diverse and successful exploratory ventures over the last several years, the mishap came as a bit of a shock. But it serves as a reminder of the difficulty and complexity associated with all space travel.

X-Wing & Tie Fighter Released on GOG!
2014-10-28 -- Classic '90s space sims X-Wing and Tie Fighter were released this morning via Good Old Games. In both cases, these are the special CD-ROM editions that come with all expansions and enhanced graphics & sound. Official strategy guides are also an extra bonus.

Alternate 3D Printing Resource Allows Resizing
2014-10-27 -- Klavs' latest 3D printing experiments have put his slick new Rapier front and center. The ship is now available to order from Sculpteo in unpainted plastic or resin and a fancy prepainted color variant. One major difference between this vendor and Terran Fleet Supply at Shapeways is the scalability.

Video Puts A Positive Spin On Kilrathi Concept Ship
2014-10-26 -- Howard Day has posted a slick animation of his Drak'thli. The ship was originally designed by Feng Zhu, who was commissioned to create concept art for an unreleased Wing Commander game that would have occurred after Secret Ops. Although it's not exactly like any other Kilrathi vessel that appears in the game, it fits into the WC3-era design scheme extremely well.

Latest Renders Bring New Armor Textures To Bear
2014-10-25 -- ScoobyDoo's interpretation of the cult favorite Bearcat fighter has been further refined in a new update. Enhanced techniques have allowed him to give the metal hull a better finish. The typical Confed markings are missing, but below Scooby explains how they can be modularly added in the FS2 engine - where most of his designs take flight.

Orchestra Warming Up For Wing Commander Album
2014-10-24 -- Lots of exciting news from George Oldziey today. Production of the Wing Commander live album (orchestra and choir) starts at the end of next week, and George has hired a professional film crew to document the process. And one dedicated fan with a talent for music has managed to score himself a seat in the orchestra...

'Exploring Believability' Explores Wing Commander
2014-10-23 -- The quirky Exploring Believability blog has posted an analysis of Wing Commander. Topics include typical subjects such as the setting and game mechanics, but they also briefly touch on morality and conceptual balance. Although elements of the later games continue to pop up in the discussion, the primary focus seems to be on the first game in the series - his issue with never "commanding wings" is resolved after a couple games.

YF-44 Fans In Good Company Here
2014-10-22 -- SabreAce was inspired by Klavs' recent Rapier renders to build a couple of stylish accompanying pieces. The first is a silhouette logo that would fit anything from Confed letterheads to decals affixed to a fighter itself. There's also a patch design that could be used for development team jackets/jumpsuits.

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff