The Wing Commander Saga mod team has announced some interesting details about how their 'fiction viewer' works and how it will expand the game. The idea has an interesting lineage, which was never perfected in the Wing Commander series itself. Wing Commander Prophecy Gold was ready to ship with a fiction viewer to show the previously web-specific news stories and emails... but a strange request from the localization group at EA Germany cancelled the feature. Here's Saga's update:
One of thing that's always difficult for game designers is to figure out how to convey the story yet not interfere with the game play. This is difficult because not all gamers are the same. You might classify gamers into two camps: first, you have the gamers that LOVE story and want to know everything about every character, location, and event, and then you have the gamers that just want to blast Kilrathi out of the sky. We didn't want either of these camps to be dissapointed. So, we came up with a system that we believe lets us have the best of both worlds.
During missions the player will encounter in-game dialogue and scripted cutscenes which contain aspects of the story that are "mission critical," which means that without them the story just doesn't hold together and the characters are meaningless. The story told through the fiction viewer, though, is completely optional, but adds a tremendous amount of depth. It covers action that occurs in between missions, fleshes out characters' relationships and motivations, deals with human dilemmas, joys, triumphs, and downfalls, and provides background information, all while expanding the overall narrative. In this way, the fiction viewer allows players that are interested in the deeper aspects of the story to dig in a little further. However, it doesn't force this extra content on players who just want to jump back in the cockpit for the next mission.
So, if you are content just focusing on dodging missiles and icing Kilrathi, nothing will get in your way, and you'll still be able to enjoy the Wing Commander Saga story. If you would like to dig deeper into our representation of life in the Wing Commander universe, give the fiction viewer a try!
If the reviews are any indication, Dark Horizon isn't Wing Commander -- but it's still the basis for everyone's comparison. Here are two more reviews! GamePlasma:
Back in the nineties, space-sims were big business. We had Wing Commander, X-Wing then TIE Fighter and Frontier: Elite 2 and things were great. The choice of whether to play the grandiose, yet ever-so compelling, Wing Commander series or get stuck into the Rebellion in TIE Fighter was a truly difficult one...
...Dark Horizon is a beautiful and easily accessible game that does justice to a genre, which has been woefully under-represented in recent times. For those of you who took great joy in dispatching Kilrathi in their droves then you will almost certainly find a welcome home among Dark Horizon’s Mirk-infested stars. It even has the playability and the looks to draw in plenty of gamers who have never played a space-sim in their lives. This is a superb space-opera even if there are no big cats in sight.
It sure seems as though somebody at Moscow's Quazar Studios has been taking English lessons, because Dark Horizon is considerably less laughable than its 2007 predecessor, Tarr Chronicles. The first game in this series of spaceship shoot-'em-ups was chock-full of absurd metaphors, such as describing escaping enemies as fleeing "like puppies from a boiling cauldron." However, it's hard to give the game credit for cleaning up its grammar when the gameplay in this Wing Commander-style shooter with delusions of role-playing grandeur makes very few other improvements over last year's model. Mind-numbing dogfights, pitch-black visuals, and a general lack of direction in both storytelling and mission objectives make every hour spent with this game feel like a hundred...
...At least you can ignore this prattle and concentrate on what Dark Horizon is really all about: blasting stuff. The best part of the crazy storyline is that it has nothing to do with the gameplay a good 99 percent of the time. All of the generic space shoot-'em-up gameplay has been built around the good old Wing Commander formula, so you can tune out everything that your buddies are saying and simply lock on and attack enemies. Unfortunately, that's all you ever get to do. Every mission is loaded up with nonstop dogfights, so you whirl, twirl, and shoot through incessant waves of enemy assaults. It's all guaranteed to numb your brain in short order, as well as turn your mouse wrist into a throbbing mass of gristle because of the constant spinning and turning needed to stay on the tail of bad guys.