Happy Birthday Armada! (September 22, 2019)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Happy birthday to... WING COMMANDER ARMADA! Armada was released 25 years ago today. It was a spin-off project that added multiplayer, turn based strategy and a true 3D engine to the Wing Commander canon!





And in a series full of incredible lore manuals, Armada had perhaps the greatest of all time: Voices of War, a kind of Rashomon-like collection of documents which presented the Terran-Kilrathi war as it was seen by both sides. You can read it here.





Armada is available digitally on GOG today and thanks to their work the multiplayer is even easier to get running than in 1994. Look me up if you ever want to dogfight or take on the Gauntlet!





Armada also had a free add on called PROVING GROUNDS which you could download by dialing Origin's BBS. It added new game modes, six-player IPX multiplayer, in-flight pickups and ASTEROIDS! PG is pre-installed in the GOG release.





Origin made a big push for Armada in Japan where it was ported to the FM Towns and the NEC PC9821 computers. They also developed a Windows 3.1 port which was finished but is sadly lost today... it allowed higher resolution gameplay matching your Windows setup!





Armada was also the end of an era for Wing Commander: it was the last game to (optionally) ship on 3.5" diskettes. The original System Shock, released the following week, was Origin's last retail disk release!





Here are the source renders for the handsome scenes on the front and back of the box. They make great phone wallpapers!




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Original update published on September 22, 2019
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Such a great game! We've had a lot of fun exploring some of the features and oddities of the game on All Wings Considered.
 

Panther1.0

Master Chief Petty Officer
great game ! use to play against some friends of mine(multiplayer) back in the mid to late 90's I remember you could make custom recordings for 'taunting enemies' or wingman communication but not sure if it worked correctly.
 

Star Rider

Rear Admiral
I can remember Torpedo runs on the Lexington, and Shiraak were near impossible. In campaign mode this didn't really matter so much if you killed all the escorting fighters, and you have a Torpedo capable craft the game jumps right to the cut scene of the Carrier's Death.
 

capi3101

Rear Admiral
The torpedo runs weren't impossible, you just had to dodge around a bit; flak in Armada was killer, so the tried and tested method of coming to a dead stop to lock on was what got you killed. They certainly were easier to pull off in the Gladius/Kor'larh than the Banshee/Goran. What always kinda annoyed me there was that success was automatic - you got your lock, pulled the trigger to drop the torp and that was it. No chance of it getting shot down...

In my experience anyway.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I would love to find the Windows Armada port so much! You could have a whole sector on your screen in 4K!

great game ! use to play against some friends of mine(multiplayer) back in the mid to late 90's I remember you could make custom recordings for 'taunting enemies' or wingman communication but not sure if it worked correctly.
I forgot all about that! Another feature well ahead of its time. The custom taunts worked, but if you were playing on multiple machines, the other player had to have your custom recorded wav file already copied over beforehand to hear your four unique taunts.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
The torpedo runs weren't impossible, you just had to dodge around a bit; flak in Armada was killer, so the tried and tested method of coming to a dead stop to lock on was what got you killed. They certainly were easier to pull off in the Gladius/Kor'larh than the Banshee/Goran. What always kinda annoyed me there was that success was automatic - you got your lock, pulled the trigger to drop the torp and that was it. No chance of it getting shot down...

In my experience anyway.
I'm curious as to why they designed the killshot in that manner. I'm guessing it might have been easier to script the movie to play once a torpedo had been fired opposed to when it impacted the ship. Or maybe that doesn't really matter?

It really makes it a race to lock since trying to shoot down all the bombers before launching your own torp can backfire on you...as it did on me during one AWC episode...
 

Star Rider

Rear Admiral
The torpedo runs weren't impossible, you just had to dodge around a bit; flak in Armada was killer, so the tried and tested method of coming to a dead stop to lock on was what got you killed. They certainly were easier to pull off in the Gladius/Kor'larh than the Banshee/Goran. What always kinda annoyed me there was that success was automatic - you got your lock, pulled the trigger to drop the torp and that was it. No chance of it getting shot down...

In my experience anyway.
Good to see you again Capi.

I said that it was "near impossible", not that it was completely impossible. The one technique I found to work was to start locking at maximum range and then creep forward slowly staying at the edge of the Flak Guns range. It works better with the Banshee then the Gladius.

With Wing Commander 2 it was not possible to dodge flak as you needed to keep the target square in your sights or it would interrupt the torpedo lock process. Thats was part of what made some attacks more deadly then others... I'm looking at you pair of Fralthras in Ghorah Khar Mission D in Special Operations 1, and your Anti Matter Guns.

Having Logged more hours in WC2 then any other Wing Commander game I tended to stick to it's doctrine for torpedo attacks. Approach from beyond 10,000 Meters, Gain Target Lock, Release Torpedoes around 2000-3000 Meters... I prefer to push in close to 2000 to guarantee hits. Veer away and repeat.

I'll fire Armada up after work and give a torpedo run a try and see if dodging works without losing the torpedo lock.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
That's interesting, I have never had an issue with Armada torpedo runs at all... but I think part of it is knowing that you don't have to plan on surviving the run... the moment you hit enter it's over. So your ship can be absolutely crippled in the approach in a way it can't in WC2...
 

Star Rider

Rear Admiral
All it takes in WC2 is one hit to the Target Tracker, and it's game over torpedo run. Has to be one of the most frustrating things late game at K'Tithrak Mang.

The other of course being the swarm of Sartha flown by the Drakhai Imperial Guard.
 

gr1mre4per

Rear Admiral
I found you couldn't dodge the flak. It would always seem to hit the same side of your ship. In a 1v1 scenario the Gladius and Korlarh would always get destroyed before you can launch your torp. Your only hope was that very occasionally the flak would start hitting a different side of your ship, or your wingman takes a few hits first. Also the flak range seems to be a little longer than the lock range of your torp.

I loved playing this game split screen with my cousin when we went to visit. The Jrathek was devastating in Armada, but got nerfed in PG.

I wonder what the opinion of a remake would be? Not that I can do such a thing :(
 

capi3101

Rear Admiral
Spin, y'all...I knew there was some aspect of it I was forgetting. Keep a slow to moderate roll going as you close in.



Crap, I sound like the redneck version of Peppy Hare here. "Do a barrel roll, y'all!!"
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I'm curious as to why they designed the killshot in that manner. I'm guessing it might have been easier to script the movie to play once a torpedo had been fired opposed to when it impacted the ship. Or maybe that doesn't really matter?

It really makes it a race to lock since trying to shoot down all the bombers before launching your own torp can backfire on you...as it did on me during one AWC episode...
The trigger for the movie wouldn't be an issue. Either event would be easy to code.

I suspect it's mostly a balancing issue. Armada sidelines capship attacks in favour of fighter dogfights. They basically give the player every possible opportunity to avoid torpedo runs at all. It seems clear that this was intentional, and we can guess that the reason for it was simply to make the project that much simpler in terms of gameplay balance. Armada is, at all points, a game begging for two more months of polishing and balancing. I mean, come on, the steering is atrocious, the gameplay is crazy - it's obvious they had next to no time for the project, and they wanted to cut corners in a big way.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
I was a little late to this one. I got mine out of a discount bin at a now long-gone Toy Works. That was a sacred place for me, as I not only bought my original Playstation there with my first paycheck but that discount bin was a treasure trove. I got System Shock out of that bin too.

I forget the real details but I do remember my mom was away on work and I was able to use the computer without interruption. A perfect time to find a new WC game! And it was the CD ROM CLASSIC edition, so I think it set me back $10. I played the hell out of that strategy mode, once taking the time to push the AI all the way to the back corner of the map by placing bases on every planet and then strip-mining them for resources. IIRC, the Kilrathi had only three systems they could bounce between - and a massive flotilla of Banshee bombers waiting for them.

Thats the other thing! Most people think of the Banshee as the WC4 interceptor fighter - but Armada's Banshee is one of my favorites in the entire franchise. I could do work with that thing! Its neck and neck with the Thunderbolt for my favorite fighter.
 
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