The first reviews are in! The August issue of Official Xbox Magazine has reviewed the finished version of Wing Commander Arena... and they are impressed! In fact, its 8.5 score has been surpassed only once by an Xbox Live Arcade marketplace title - a port of the arcade classic Street Fighter 2. What's more, Arena ties with Forza Motorsport 2 as the highest ranked title of the month - and Forza is a major release which is one of the biggest Xbox 360 titles of the quarter! Here's the word:
Wing Commander Arena
Where space is anything but a vacuum

Live/Multiplayer: 16 on Xbox Live
Selling Points: 16-player space combat
Cost: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)

Twitch space combat is hardly a tough sell, but so far on 360, it's largely been an offline pursuit for lone wolves anxious to put a gamertag in leaderboard lights. Any evil villain will tell you that human quarry makes for a more satisfying hunt, and Wing Commander Arena's heavy multiplayer focus proves as much.

That's not to say there's no single-player -- there is. As a rank amateur just learning the ropes or a top gun grabbing some solo-player down-time, you might defend space stations in a moderately amusing Asteroids clone, battle weak A.I. bots in timed melee, protect your mothership from waves of invaders, or just experiment in the Proving Grounds learning area. It pays to practice: though the simple fly-and-fire controls let anyone jump right in, the special maneuvers tied to the right thumbstick take time to perfect. Each war is waged on a 2D plane (ie., you move forward but not up/down), but you can barrel-roll away from missiles and throw off pursuers usings loops and quick U-turns, depending on which of the 18 unlockable ships you're piloting.

Once you're ready to go public, you'll discover Arena's beating heart: a frenetic 16-player cosmic Thunderdome of tense duels, frantic free-for-alls, and satisfying joint strikes. Work as a team or shoot anything that moves in boneyard canyons or space-station corridors; capture satellites that double as healing stations and ammo suppliers; or shred the gun batteries and bridge of the opposition's capital ship. Space is the lobby, so keep guns blasting while you wait for teams to fill out, or for your turn in the mano-a-mano bearpit. Since each well-balanced ship is outfitted with different tools -- cloaking devices, mines, tractor beams, turrets, energy weapons, and missiles -- swiftly assembled squads of complementary cruisers can wreak absolute cooperative havoc with gleeful abandon.

Wing Commander Arena isn't terribly inventive, but it so adeptly milks resonant genre basics that you won't care. Between equipment variety, handling differences, respawning pick-ups, and the cunning nooks and crannies of each map, the emergent strategic possibilities deliver surprising depth. All for a mere $10 on Live Arcade -- exactly the kind of change from the usual retro pace that we love to root for.

-- Cameron Lewis

+ Frantic 16-player mayhem... for 10 bucks on Live Arcade!
+ Simple but strategically rich.
- Light on personality and "Wing Commander-ness."
? C'mon...not even one shot of the goofy alien race of Kilrathi felines?


Little has been heard from the series since 1997's Wing Commander: Prophecy and 1999's abysmal big-screen crossover. Arena is a blast, but it's hardly the space opera fans might've hoped for. Could we see a Command & Conquer-style rebirth, complete with Mark Hamill cutscenes? Let's just say eternal vigilance is the price of fandom, and keep our fingers crossed.

THE SOURCE: Origin Systems gave the world Wing Commander, Ultima, and System Shock. It was gobbled up by Electronic Arts in 1992, and killed off completely in 2004.

{CAPTION} Capital ships consist of three levels. Destroy all the defenses on one level, and the whole ship drops down to the next.
{CAPTION} Jumpgates can teleport you from one end of the map to the other.

The article also includes four new screenshots, scanned below! A scan of the entire article is available here (2.4 mb). The fact that a print magazine has reviewed the game means that the release is just around the corner...

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. Recent updates:

Annual Call For Award Nominations
2017-11-22 -- Another busy year is flying by, and before we know it, 2017 will be coming to a close. To start to get things in order, we're now thinking about nominees for our traditional Web Site & Fan Project of the Year Awards. There are so many fans doing great things out there, so this is our chance to acknowledge some of their fantastic efforts.

Zappenduster Those Kindred!
2017-11-21 -- LOAF found a really cool Privateer 2 article from the German magazine PC Player. It dates back to August 1995 during the early development phases of the game, and the feature includes some cool behind-the-scenes set photos from the game. Check out the nose art on that Kalrechi too!

Get Your WC4 DVD On With Lazy Game Reviews
2017-11-20 -- It's turning out to be a great week for classic game channels on YouTube! Lazy Game Reviews has posted a very in-depth profile of the Creative Labs Encore DXR2 DVD-ROM kit. He does a great job setting the stage for just how cool this was in 1997 and covers every inch of the box and its contents.

Metal Jesus Rocks The Whole Wing Commander Series!
2017-11-19 -- Metal Jesus of MetalJesusRocks is back with another Wing Commander video, and this time he's here to do a rather comprehensive overview of the entire series. Anyone can cover WC1-4 and Prophecy on YouTube, but MJR goes further with coverage of expansion packs, Academy & Armada, the Privateers, Super Wing Commander and Kilrathi Saga. He even has both the regular and Premiere Edition of WC3, SNES & Sega CD ports of WC1, and both standard and Gold Prophecies.

We've Got This Sector Bottled Tight, Friend...
2017-11-18 -- We've got a new poll out today that asks which of the the galactic sectors in Wing Commander is your favorite. This obviously isn't an exhaustive list, and there are some omissions like the Landreich or Hari Sectors that have quite a mystique about them, but we went with eight mainline areas that are particularly noteworthy. Sometimes sectors are short-hand named after the stars and quadrants within them, so if you're looking for Antares or Deneb, you can find them within the larger Epsilon cluster.

I Like This A Hole Lot
2017-11-17 -- LOAF was poking around in Wing Commander 2's background files and discovered a hilarious easter egg that would ordinarily never be seen by the player. The game frequently uses a red and green communications interface for dialogue sequences between a fighter and larger carrier or base. A small rectangle on the right features a graph intended to depict signal strength or something like that.

Taste That Synthi Meat
2017-11-16 -- The Wing Commander series has had quite a few large and elaborate print advertisements over the years, but even by the franchise's often lofty standards, this one's a whopper. This ad is spread across six full pages and follows a "five senses" theme with a late '90s vibe. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are all emphasized along with a smattering of FMV screenshots, gameplay scenes and a handful of commodities.

A Localization Interrogation
2017-11-15 -- Most Wingnuts are familiar with all of the cool contents of a basic Wing Commander Prophecy box... but this one's a little different. Can you spot everything that makes this setup unique?

Upgraded Corvette Ready For Vision Engine
2017-11-14 -- Version 0.32B of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack was just released, but work continues at a rapid pace. The Kilrathi are the next focus, and they're led by the fearsome Corvette.

Catch Up On Strike Commander's History
2017-11-13 -- The DOS Game Club is a really cool place dedicated to gaming highlights of the '80s and '90s. Their community selects a game each month, and then they jointly play it together and discuss in their regular podcast. A recently selection was Origin's Strike Commander, and our own Bandit (LOAF) was able to participate in their episode on it.

Wing Commander Composer David Arnold Interviewed
2017-11-12 -- Modern Vinyl has posted an interesting interview with David Arnold, the composer behind the Wing Commander Movie's famous Overture theme. Much of the article focuses on the recent vinyl release of his work on Hot Fuzz, but it also notes his wide ranging involvement with films from James Bond to Stargate. Check out the full article here.

Homeworld Mod Removes Bugs & Fixes AI
2017-11-11 -- There's another new update to the Homeworld Remastered mod, Flag Commander. L.I.

OldiesGames Does Vengeance Of The Kilrathi
2017-11-10 -- We've been following the OldiesGamesTV series of Wing Commander reviews for a number of years, and now they've completed their three-part profile of Wing Commander 2. The videos are in French, but even if you can't speak the language, seeing all of the minor differences in the game are really cool if you originally played in another language. And where you understand their words or not, it's clear that they're big Wing Commander fans that we're happy to support!

Wing Commander Album Track List Complete!
2017-11-09 -- George Oldziey is back with another update on the progress of the second Wing Commander album. He's been quiet for a little bit, but there has been tons of progress on the orchestration front. The basic track list is complete and PDF scores will even be sent out soon.

Secret Ops Is All About Squashing Bugs!
2017-11-08 -- Fans have been running the new Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack through its paces hard since the latest version was released last week. As intended, the test managed to tease out a few bugs, and the team quickly responded. DefianceIndustries and PopsiclePete have already managed to put out a new version that resolves the issues identified so far.

Three Cheers For WC2 Manuals
2017-11-07 -- Wing Commander games can come in all shapes and sizes, and today we have a look at the different colored manuals of Wing Commander 2. WC2 was one of the most ubiquitous titles of the early '90s thanks to several factors: the popularity of WC1 was key, but it also was a major showcase for in-game speech and eventually mass-produced for inclusion in a large number of different OEM and budget CD-ROM releases. The red manual below was quite common and the black lesser so.

Shapely New Wing Commander 3D Prints Available
2017-11-06 -- Carter3D is a cool Shapeways outfit with a whole bunch of neat ships. There are quite a few Star Wars designs, but there are also about a dozen detailed Wing Commander models available to 3D print. Carter seems to be a Prophecy fan, but there are also a handful of ships from WC3&4 mixed in as well.

Wing Commander 3 Play-Through Remade At Nightmare Difficulty!
2017-11-05 -- It's been more than ten years since the legendary Queeg released his consolidated Wing Commander 3 movie. The original film set download records at the CIC and garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Now he's back with a brand new take on The Heart of the Tiger - this time he's completed the entire game on Nightmare difficulty!

GalCiv 3 Mod Continues To Expand
2017-11-04 -- Hellakazoo has posted some additional screenshots of his Galactic Civilizations 3 WC mod that highlight some of his latest additions, such as the Tarsus and Clarkson jammer. There's also a neat screenshot of one of the game's menus that feature the character portraits. Some of the recent CIC Forums discussion has been about what to add next.

Wing Commander Scores Lucky #7
2017-11-03 -- Here's a throwback to a twenty-one year old issue of Computer Gaming World. Back in November 1996, when we all were just getting into the Wingnut scene online, CGW posted a comprehensive "best 150" games feature. Wing Commander came in as the 7th best title of all time, just behind other famous contemporaries like Sid Meier's Civilization, Ultima IV, Doom & Sim City.

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