I had expected a more positive reaction to my comment. In fact I am wondering people here aren't calling it notWC:Arena or something like that. As a Wing Commander fan I feel insulted by that game.
Seriously though, I've never actually heard people who "hate" Arena or say they are "insulted" make any real valid claims about it's being or not being in the WC universe. Ok, so it has a different (somewhat) gameplay style. So did Armada and Academy. And you know what? People reacted just about the same way back then too.
It doesn't help that places like Gamestop decided to hate the game before ever trying it, which was evident in their review in which - when you read it - it becomes clear that they never really played the game. People were reviewing the game based on what it wasn't rather than what it was (a quick paced Arcade shooter set in the WC universe), and what it wasn't was a multimillion dollar FMV Wing Commander 7 starring Mark Hamill. There's no big conspiracy going on to bilk you out of a hard earned five dollars and no one certainly made efforts to decide to make a game specifically so that "fans" would hate it. It's the exact opposite in fact. The devs went out of their way to incorporate WC elements even coming here often before the game was released to chat with fans about elements in the game, and even changing things because of their feedback.
The problems with arena are few but they are significant though - the main one being the lack of tutorial to explain basics such as why using your afterburners eats up your maneuvering fuel making controls feel sluggish because your ship isn't maneuvering when you want it to. Honestly though, where the combat does feel a lot like button-mashing to start with, the game really does reward people that stick with it to figure out the nuances of each ship. Once you do the combat is surprisingly alike to the WC you know. Once you figure out maneuvering and chaff pods and missiles you can literally fly circles around other player and seldom die. It's a good feeling.
Second, Arena was designed for the old 50MB size limit for Live Arcade titles. The graphics just don't feel as flashy as you would expect though they do look miles better in HD than on an SD TV where they just look muddy. Also a lot of the look of a lot of the Art is explained in the downloadable manual - which EA and Microsoft really never did much to promote beyond here at the CIC.
Problem number three was Microsoft's then-insistence on not having multiplayer in the demo. The heart of Arena is multiplayer and if you haven't played it with your buddies as wingmen then you really haven't played Arena. Sadly, since it's been so long since release it's nearly impossible to find random matches online now unless you set something up in advance. The "asteroids" level is a bonus, and not at all what the game is actually about.
@LeHah: No matter how long you've been here, you really aren't helping anything here.
@ everyone: Try keeping the hyperbole to a minimum please and maybe people will respect your opinions more, and stop all the stupid juvenile insults or I'll start handing out vacations.