Happy Birthday Wing Commander 3! Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Today is the twentieth anniversary of Wing Commander 3's ship date! The logistics of high profile game releases were not as advanced as they are today, which meant there were few overnight shipments and zero midnight digital preload unlocks. But the game steadily made its way to stores, and ravenous fans bought them up in droves. Summer 1994's release of Wing Commander Armada forewarned fans that they would need to upgrade their machines with CD-ROMs and more RAM, and the gaming press was in awe of the big budget, SVGA 3D spaceflight engine and all star cast. The game even garnered PC Gamer's highest score in history until it was later surpassed by Half Life and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. It would also surpass Strike Commander to become Electronic Arts' top selling PC Game of all time until The Sims was released.

Looking back at 640x480 screenshots with just 256 colors, it can be hard to imagine, but those of us who lived through the WC3 launch were shocked at how real everything looked. It was a huge leap from the animated style of previous Wing Commander games in more ways than just the live actor FMVs. The game flow scenes aboard the victory were considered practically photorealistic. Players who previously steered clear of capships to avoid accidentally clipping the hit sphere were treated to glorious fly-through hangar bays. Terms like "interactive movie" got a bit of bad rap due to the poor quality of other '90s attempts to film actors for video games, but Wing Commander 3 (and later 4) really nailed it. And as much as the Hobbes defection and Angel's death seriously bummed everyone out, finally eliminating Thrakhath and the Kilrathi homeworld are amazing emotional high points of the series. As crazy as twenty years is, what almost shocks me more today is that it's been ten years since I wrote this post commemorating the game's tenth birthday. As vividly as I can remember first playing WC3 when it was brand new, the year 1994 seems like a long time ago - practically prehistoric compared with today's modern cloud storage, 4K TVs and supercomputer phablets - but I remember writing that tenth birthday post in 2004 just like it was yesterday. Where has all the time gone?! At least it was neat to see EA remember and commemorate the game this year. If all this talk has got you in a Heart of the Tiger mood, check out our WC3 Day festivities from a while back for tons of cool behind-the-scenes material.

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