James Reeve tipped us off about a new review of Wing Commander 2 by gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun. We've seen a few of these retro reviews pop up in the news over the last few months, but this one is fun because it's part of a series on finding old games in second hand stores. It also chronicles the experiences of an author who's playing classic games for the first time rather than going just for nostalgia. It's nice to read these types of reviews when the writer has an open mind, and it sounds like he had a blast! Check out the full review here.
Combat holds up well – I mean, these are really the core rules of starbound dogfighting, ones still used in those few games that fear to tread the undiscovered country, and while perhaps it feels slower and less dramatic (in terms of sound, vibration and explosion effects) than we might call for noawadays, in the main it hasn’t aged. There’s an appropriate edge of desperation to trying to keep a bead on a target that can move anywhere in what feels like an instant, the cockpit looks/feels fragile and claustrophobic, the right sounds and music play when you score a finishing shot – it’s all there and it all still works. I’m not particularly far in so haven’t been able to play with too many weapon systems but hell, I’d like to.GOG is also running a "soft" sale on Wing Commander. Visit a product page for a game like WC2, and the WC games are highlighted in a pane on the right side of the menu. Buying the whole series at once will save about $13 or 25% off the regular prices.
It looks great too, it really does. I’m sure it was a high-budget game for its time and it shows, but even so, and even despite all its fart-huffing fascination with its own fiction, it’s got a Saturday morning, Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon serial ethos in both presentation and tone that somehow keeps it appealing low-key no matter how much its cast preen and posture. Perhaps it’s because the dreary browns and greys that were the unfortunate necessity of 3D games old and new hadn’t yet turned up to assert their dreary dominance, or that a mere 256 colours made a brash, comic book palette unavoidable, or that the games’ industry idea of escapism and the desires of adolescents were a little more innocent, a little more cartoon-inspired.
Or perhaps, as I prefer to believe, it’s simply deliberate design that this is a game rich in vibrant blues and yellows, space combat as unabashed derring-do rather than posturing towards reality or militarism. The 23-year vintage shows, of course it does, but its gaudy, chunky, space opera tapestry remains immediately appealing and enticing.