After my long hard mission to reserve Wing Commander Movie action figures and buy a copy of Das Boot DVD I returned to my secret lair to find the February Computer Gaming World in my mail box. This month had an article with reviews of three 'minor' space sims: the Descent Freespace addon, Hardwar and Prophecy Gold. Our boy outranked both of the others, scoring 4 stars (out of 5)... although the article (see below) kept calling Secret Ops 'Strike Ops' or something... CGW also had an interview with JMS (B5 creator), who said he played 'all' of the WC games.
Wing Commander: Prophecy Gold Edition
For all of its visual grandeur, Wing Commander Prophecy followed the same well-worn path as its ancestors. The enemies were different, but little else changed. Missions remained simple affairs, the movie interludes provided most of the interest. Wing Commander Prophecy Gold Edition (WC:P) is more of the same.
The package includes the original Prophecy and an additional CD containing the Secret Ops missions (available free on the Internet for a time in 1998)/ The documentation includes the background fiction that was on the Secret Ops Web site.
WC:P Gold is still a solid blast-fest with gorgeous graphics, especially on PCs equipped with 3D cards. The missions are the only downside. You fly the assigned waypoints and kill all the bad guys at each, then rinse and repeat. The Strike Ops missions take this to unimaginative extremes. They are stuffed to overflowing with multiple waves of enemies, turning an amusing game into a monotonous shooting gallery.
There is some added value in the Secret Ops package. Instead of sandwiching in video, the package uses the game's graphic engine to provide new storyline vignettes. Your ships are fitted with new, rapid-firing weapons - you'll need them in the packed arenas in Strike Ops. Earlier Wing Commander spaceships make encores, but you can't piloted them.
Strike Ops adds little that Prophecy didn't already beat into the ground. I'd recommend WC:P Gold if you missed the original release, but Prophecy owners won't find much added value.