Wing Commander III. Major Success, or Dramatic Fail?


212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
But then again, the new trilogy didnt do any good too, so its not just a failure of the Expanded Universe.

The prequel trilogy is soaked with Greek Tragedy and Old Testament metaphor. The problem is our Internet Generation has convinced its self to remain stupid on this. Theres way more nuance and thought put into the prequels - the Jedi live in a white tower, condone corruption, slavery, gambling as long as it keeps them "neutral", etc - than anything anyone bothers to really point out.

The prequels work and function with the exact same tone and ideas as the original movies. None of the books - even the good ones - work that way in any form or structure.


Mpanty's bane
I'm with NInjaLA and Quarto, at least concering WC3. While I still like WC3 because it's a WC game and certainly was very impressive from a technological standpoint. But WC3 is the only WC game where I didn't enjoy the gameplay. Dogfighting is just the least fun in WC3 of a ll games I think. I also didn't like the design choices, I found the Confed ship designs were all incredibly boring and dull and the Kilrathi ship designs while interesting just too extreme in their spikyness and asymmetricalness (and the Bhantkara class is just ugly). I also didn't like the story or chracaters (Cobra and Flint being particularily bad) and thought WC3 painted the Kilrathi just too much evil empire clichéd.

I liked WC4 considerably better, I only complained about the lack of a cockpit, that we had to fly the Hellcat and Longbow for Confed and that I never understood the need for the Avenger.

And WCP, while story and designwise (at least for the fighters) not my favourite either was just the most fun to play when it comes to dogfighting.


Rear Admiral
I thought that WC3 was great. Very immersive and entertaining cut scenes. The ability to walk around the ship, talk to people, influence their morale, and choose your own flight loadout was great. It continued to have a great story and even branching paths. Also, it had a porn star.

The only problems I had with it were:
1) There was a jump in time from the end of WC2 SO2 and the interim events were never really explained in game (or even hinted at). For someone that just had access to the games it felt strange from being on the verge of winning the war to being close to loosing it. Plus, all the stuff that happend between WC2 and 3 were really pivotal moments. I wish they had found a way to include it in game. I thought Blair's locker would be a perfect place to put some recent history holovids or good old fashioned newspaper/magazine articles.

2) They did a weird thing with Blair in that everyone called him by name, but everyone else was referred to by callsign. Even on his uniform was the word "Blair." I don't know why they were so stuck on having the player choose the callsign since it can never appear anywhere but the killboard. Since they had already taken away the name customization for sake of cinema why didn't they just do the same for callsign? Were people really that stuck on their nickname that they were going to riot if they couldn't use it?

I know that on the face of it, a callsign is not all that important, but I would honestly be furious if they took that away from me.

Captain Obvious

Rear Admiral
While I love Wing Commander 3 and 4 because I love the universe and I love the storyline, I'm of the opinion that some of the others have already shared that as far as gameplay goes 1 and 2 are a lot funner.

In the first two games and Prophecy the dogfights are fierce, the weapons feel powerful and I really found myself getting immersed in the combat. The first two games especially had the best cockpits with stuff blowing up and the damage showing on your fighter when you returned always made me reflect on my performance and sometimes give me a "holy cow how did I survive this at all?" sort of feeling.

The flight in 3 and 4 just feels stiff in comparison. I enjoyed how the ships broke apart but for some reason it felt more artificial to me. The same, multi-colored laser bolts that made up just about every gun didn't help either. I was just flying the missions to get to the next cutscenes. 4 was an improvement over 3 I think but not by a whole lot. I enjoyed them, but never really enjoyed them as much as I did the other games though the cutsenes made up for this weakness and I found myself missing the deep storylines when we moved on to Prophecy even as I welcomed a more action-packed flight model.

So again, while I love all things Wing Commander the first two games always get my blood pumping hotter than the others can.


Rear Admiral
Some of the deadlier or more difficult missions were in the first two games, which is probably why many people are replying that those games are better than WC3. I just recently installed and am playing #3 again on a harder difficulty just to see how well I do. I certainly consider WC3 to be a good bookend to the Kilrathi Saga.


Unknown Enemy
Just remember to put things in perspective - looking at WC3 now and saying it's not quite as good as the others is not at all the same as looking at the game when it first came out. Back then, it made quite a different impression...


Rear Admiral
I'm just playing WC3 again and I like it less than before. It lacks the playability that made 1&2 enjoyable, at least Prophecy has some of that.
In Prophecy/SO the huge numbers of enemies are OK since you have dozen friends out there, but it's stupid to make missions long by adding wave after wave; in WC3 you could theoretically kill as many enemies as there were in WC1, SM1&2, WC2 and SO1&2 added together. I had enough fighting 20 enemies per mission with a wingman in SM2, I'd been happy to never do that again.

I don't mind the plot (especially including the Hobbes holo message; why the heck did they leave out the arguably most important plot point of the game?), story is about as good as all WCs. But dialogue is often bad and so are most of actors. McDowell is the only real good actor here (compare to Priv 2, now there's some decent actors).


Rear Admiral
Personal experience: I had played WC1, SM2, WC2 and SO1, and i remember seeing the WC3 advertisements, and i had such a huge expectation of it, because my computer was too old and i couldn't play it. It took me years to actually play WC3, i got it with the Kilrathi Saga, and i can assure you it didn't dissapoint me! I was a fan of the previous 2 games, and still, i loved Wing Commander III


Rear Admiral
I haven't played it yet either (it's sitting on my table staring back at me...), but I think the whole point is that you can't trust that vibe at all--people were going to be ceaselessly negative about anything.

I have now spent some time with the game, and I think the general feeling that was going around is justified. It's very much a rehash of the first game, gameplay-wise, except...less. It's much shorter, things have been simplified (not in a good way), and the whole thing seems easier and smaller. The story is also much worse. There is no character development, there are some utterly pointless cameos that stick out, and there are a lot of things glossed over and unanswered.

That said, it isn't a BAD game. It was fun. The graphics and sound are great, the cut scenes are technically well-done, and it feels very cinematic. But it is a disappointment compared to the first, because it does much of the same thing, only not as well and not as much.

It's almost like the way I feel about Prophecy and SO. I thought SO was more of the same, but not done as well, and so I tend to think of it as one of the Wing Commander games I like least, even though on its own it's a perfectly good game, and a lot of fun. Of course, SO was free, so a lot of that is easy to forgive. And even though I thought SO wasn't as good, it was "more" in a sense, in that the battles were longer and more intense.


Rear Admiral
wc3 was great, but I always found myself moved more by the story of WC2. It just felt a lot more epic.

I agree, WC2 is my favorite. It was the first time you really got to see the character of Bluehair other than modest comments during mission debriefs seen in Wing 1. Wing 3 disappointed me story wise only because it was the end of it all, hence no more wing commander, but luckily wing 4 came out but i never felt the new antagonist was as engaging to me personally as the kilrathi. ok sorry getting off topic.

But Wing 3 has to be considered a major success. it pushed the envelope of gaming both technologically and as a story telling medium.


Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
But Wing 3 has to be considered a major success. it pushed the envelope of gaming both technologically and as a story telling medium.

Yeah, and to go back to the original question a bit: "did it stray too far from the original concept of the WC Universe?" I think overall, you actually have more people that consider WC3 something of a baseline defining core of the WC universe, and WC1/2 as kind of a "classic" early era and Prophecy/Secret Ops as a later style game. This certainly has a lot to do with its tremendous sales and absolutely groundbreaking technology.


As with Darkmage and Pigs, WC2 was my fave as well. While WC1 got me hooked via a friends' Sega console, WC2 was my first true PC game (ahh, the ancient-ness of the 386SX...) as it just felt better in terms of gameplay and flow. Storyline was great as well, and the first time had me popping my eyes open in surprise on a few plotpoints throughout. I could easily invest myself in it time and again. Which is probably why I thought Standoff was so great, as I thought it had that same feel to it.

Or maybe I just like things that fall in the middle. :)


Rear Admiral
I think overall, you actually have more people that consider WC3 something of a baseline defining core of the WC universe, and WC1/2 as kind of a "classic" early era and Prophecy/Secret Ops as a later style game. This certainly has a lot to do with its tremendous sales and absolutely groundbreaking technology.

Absolutely. I suppose its relative to when you first picked up a Wing Commander game. I was there in 90 with my shitty 386 that had a turbo button on the case (~~~), no soundcard, and 2 button joystick. I can certainly understand a different perspective if, for example, one's first game was Wing 3.

Astro commander

2nd Lieutenant
I liked all of them, but as ive gotten older Ive realized a few things that I think could help a lot of "fans" who criticize sequels or prequels and ive heard the whole gambit of those who liked any one or two of the WC series and hated one or more of the rest.

"I didnt think the plot for XXX was origional, new....."
I can accept not well done as a critique, but if your over the age of 20 youve seen almost every plot point and twist there is (assuming you read and watch/play media)

"It wasnt the same as the Nth, which did it best" Some stories resonate with us and we overlook other flaws as a result. Likewise some people (myself included) prefer things more physically plausable and will overlook other things for good flight dynamics. For this reason prophecy is one of my favorites as it has, I think, the largest dynamic range of flight dynamics based on vectored, boosted, bomber etc.

I think WC 1 and two were good solid games with solid stories conveyed in the manner that was most suited to the tech at the time. I think many 8 bit games have better plot and story than a lot of modern games, because like WC1 and 2 they had to work for it since they couldnt hide behind graphics (insert most FPS's today)

I think WC 3 and 4 had better mechanics implimented and were good for their stories. The story cutscenes were mildly annoying (IMO) but I feel mainly because they were fairly cutting edge at the time and so you often felt jerked into and out of them. But the games handled this with in flight dialog quite nicely to help the transitions.

WC Prophecy backed off on story a bit but I think they still did a good job of conveying the desparate situation that was the Neph incursion. It would have been nice if WCPSO had cutscenes or even just mid mission story appear in the game as documents you could read (my version requires jumping out of the game) But I think they polished the game nicely (I thought it was the most instense)so I could overlook that and let my imagination fill it in.

Privateer was a different beast and I loved both, but for different reasons. these made me feel like I was out in space alone, where as the main series I always felt a carrier was nearby. I loved the freedom to explore and choose my path in these.

Ultimately I think the entire series was great.

But back to the point of WC3
I think it did something important, critically important. It evolved. And the games continued to evolve while, I feel, staying fairly true to the WC universe and make you feel like you are continuing an adventure. Some parts were silly and Corney but that was part of the charm. I only wish other games evolved so well.

I would love for another WC to be made, both a privateer style and a mainline style, but Ultimately It requires one thing, other than a competent team. The people working on have to love it and take pride in it. Because you can tell when games are cared for and when they are just mechanically slapped together.