Escapist has prettymixed feelings about Wing Commander. WC games and Privateer dot their best space sims of all time list, but they usually struggle to do the series justice (a WC Armada review that decides to ignore multiplayer?!?). Their latest article is about the "Top 5 Video Game Space Battles," which sounds like it should be a great topic. A Drakhri fighter graces the piece's cover art, but then Wing Commander almost comes up empty. WC2 earn an "honorable mention," alongside Star Wars: Battle for Naboo, for the emotion surrounding Shadow's death. While that event is certainly memorable as one of the first gut-wrenching plot points of the game, the "space battle" is non-existent. A wing of Sarthas have no chance of even scratching the paint on the Concordia. And just several systems later, your first wingman - Spirit - sacrifices herself in an epic kamikaze strike that destroys a major Kilrathi starbase and her fiance along with it. WC games generally shy away from capship combat, but WC2 actually also features some pretty prime engagements where the Concordia blasts Fralthra out of existence with the phase transit cannon. The losing endgame cutscene battles glimpsed at the end of WC3 and WC4 might be some of the most amazing of all. You can't win 'em all, I suppose. Check out the full article here.
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that this left an impression on me simply because of how long it took me to get to this point when I played the game as a kid. Wing Commander 2 is not an easy game and it kicked my ass back and forth when I was younger. By the time I actually reached this mission, Shadow had spent hours on my wing, following my orders and keeping me company in-game. Her death made me genuinely sad and it's always memorable to me when a game can do that.