Numerous fans wrote in recently to let us know about the new All-TIME 100 Video Games list. Although these types of rankings are fairly common, TIME is obviously a significant publication, and they do a really good job of stretching back into the past for this lineup. Far too many "best of" lists are slanted towards the last few years, but the '80s and '90s easily rival the 2000s here. Wing Commander and Ultima Online both earned spots, and while there's nothing especially new or thought-provoking in any of the game write-ups, it's a pretty good assortment of games that deserve to be recognized.
There's also a little bit of a competitive element! Fans can vote on whether each game should be ranked on the list or not, and the results are tallied here. Wing Commander is in about 65th place - help change that here! Alternate headline if WC hadn't made the list: Better Luck Next TIME!
Wing Commander was a revelation in 1990 for PC space-sim buffs looking for a little less Star Trek and a little more Star Wars from the genre. The brainchild of Origin designer Chris Roberts, it married seat-of-your-pants space-based dogfighting with a movie-like story pitting a “Terran Confederation” of humans against a feline warrior-race called the Kilrathi.
Wielding a sophisticated 3D engine, Wing Commander placed players aboard a military battleship, the TCS Tiger Claw, then allowed them to rank up a blue-haired pilot by doing well during high octane fighter-based scenarios against tactically uncanny A.I. opponents. The game was notable at the time for its use of scalable bitmaps, a technique that offered unprecedented detail, especially when tailing an enemy close-up.
Roberts topped this off with a dynamic campaign that rewarded strong performance: Do well, and you’d eventually take the battle to the heart of Kilrathi High Command, but do poorly, and you’d find yourself increasingly on the defensive, up to the point that your battleship would retreat.