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.

Rapier + Ninja = Boulder Blaster
2015-04-18 -- Wojo is well known as an aficionado of the WC Movie's Rapier I fighter. Recently he was shocked to see one Lego's latest toys, the Ninjago Boulder Blaster. It's a cylindrical fighter with a big rotary cannon for a nose.

New Preview Features Wing Commander Star
2015-04-17 -- Many of you have already seen it, but a hot new video is exploding across the internet. Wing Commander's Malcolm McDowell has been made the new spokesman for Lunchables Uploaded, but he's not a great fit. His hilarious new commercial is below.

WC Skin Pack Jazzes Up Modern Jets
2015-04-16 -- Cannon Song has put together a nifty skin pack for Vector Thrust, a new flight sim based around today's fighter jet designs. Rather than import Wing Commander models though, he's reimagined the paint schemes of six craft based on their WC equivalents. Looks closely and you'll see this was accomplished very creatively!

Wing Commander Joining Origin Humble Bundle Soon
2015-04-15 -- Electronic Arts is participating in a new Humble Bundle sale for charity. For those unfamiliar with this event, players can name their price for a set of games that would otherwise retail for $134. They can then determine how to split the proceeds among three designated organizations.

A Simple, Yet Beautiful, Dralthi
2015-04-14 -- NinjaLA's latest sketch is a really well drawn Dralthi medium fighter. The dynamic engine and laser cannon effects are a good complement to the space frame colored in with pencil-style filler. And everything contrasts well with that twilight blue background, including the darker bit where the Dralthi almost casts a shadow on the night sky.

Three's a Crowd, Twenty-Eight's a WC RPG
2015-04-13 -- Elegy of Sivar continues to make progress on a couple different fronts. capi spent the beginning of April working on the reputation system for the complex RPG, which is a big deal for a module that will have 28 different factions in it. He's spent quite a bit of time recently firming up the descriptions for these groups and filling out their backstories to make them varied and interesting.

Sivar's Hand Story Coming Together
2015-04-12 -- Aginor is nearly complete writing the fiction for his Sivar's Hand mod. The plot portions will be merged with a campaign that has about ten varied missions. More is possible later, but the plan is to keep the size manageable so that it has a better shot at being completed.

CIG's April 1st Update Angling for Wing Commander Ships
2015-04-11 -- In addition to their 2654 Around the Verse episode, Roberts Space Industries also put together several silly ship options for April Fools day last week. The new 'Pisces' ship featured an unprecedented 10 variants including the Pisces Rapier II and Pisces Dralthi which look quite familiar! The Kilrathi ship comes from Howard Day and the Confed fighter is one of Klavs'.

WC Saga Plus Adds to Extensive Changelog
2015-04-10 -- The WC Saga Plus upgrade continues to make great strides. The list of improvements is much too long to quote, but overall improvements have just been made to the menu interface, moddability and crash prevention. Luke is also additional enhancements in work now to upgrade the heads up display, pilot profiles and mouse control.

New Digital Paintings Illustrate Planetside Ops
2015-04-09 -- Klavs spotted a couple very slick digital tablet paintings from HandofManos. The first is a CF-105 Scimitar sitting on the tarmac. It's followed by a Rapier II taking off from a planet.

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