Remember 3Dfx? It was the hardware addon (and later stand-alone graphics cards) that made Wing Commander Prophecy beautiful (see below for an example). Apparently it still existed until recently - in the form of a lawsuit against a modern video card company. PC Pro recently ran an article detailing the end of a suit against nVidia by 3Dfx investors (here). More interestingly, they then published a story with reader reaction... and two out of the three comments remembered Wing Commander. Take that, Quake II!:
"I remember inviting a friend over to play the latest Wing Commander game on my new 3dfx card," sighs jgwilliams. "When he fired off a missile he almost fell off the chair laughing, he just couldn't believe the realism."
bobbdobbs was equally dreamy-eyed: "I can remember watching a friend play the first Wing Commander with bitmapped graphics and thinking 'bleeding ell'. Unless true photorealism suddenly appears there will be no OMFG factor to graphics anymore."