Ten Years of Wing Commander IV Update ID

It was exactly one decade ago today that the interactive movie reached its high water mark: on February 12th, 1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom was released.

Wing Commander IV will go down in history for its famous film shoot. With an estimated budget of $12 million, Wing Commander IV was at the time the most expensive video game ever made. Like its predecessor, Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander 4 featured a cast of professional actors -- including Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Wilson and John Rhys Davies. For the first time, though, the movies were shot on actual sets in Los Angeles using 35mm film. Series creator and director Chris Roberts' had finally brought to life the project he had dreamt of for years: a blockbuster Hollywood movie where you were the star.

The Austin-based Maverick Team deserves equal praise for Wing Commander IV's success. In terms of gameplay it was Heart of the Tiger writ large. Wing Commander III's visually stunning but technologically cumbersome flight engine was streamlined beyond all expectations: for the first time in the series' history a new Wing Commander didn't necessitate a major hardware upgrade. At the same time, the team introduced a host of new features that have now become standard in such games: dual wings, projectile and charging guns, in-flight interactive choices, a FMV map, infiltration and capture missions and more.

Equally important were the moments of quiet brilliance. Wing Commander 4's artists visited the USS Lexington museum and applied what they learned about the look and feel of real life naval aviation to the game. For the first time individual capital ships had their own specific artwork - the TCS Lexington was distinct from the Princeton, the BWS Intrepid from the Tango. The game introduced a working background to the Wing Commander universe, featuring missions set against a complex panorama of communications arrays, weapons factories, shipyards, spacelabs, starbases, turret mines and the like. Ground missions featured a detailed surface, eschewing the lumpy yellow blobs of the previous game. These little touches made gameplay more immersive than ever before - and have continued to reward a fandom interested in Wing Commander continuity to this day.

Those who waited for Wing Commander IV will forever remember January, 1996 as the longest month of their lives. The game was originally scheduled for release December 8th, 1995... fans awoke that day to find the disappointing news at Origin's early website: Wing Commander IV was delayed until February. Then, it hit. Wing Commander IV inaugurated one of the greatest years of Wing Commander fandom. Bookended by the release of two major titles, WC4 and Privateer 2, 1996 was an amazing year that helped create the community we know today. The WC:CCG was in full swing, the Academy series was on television, Baen kept novels in print and in development. In the news reports of a theatrical movie began to trickle in -- at the message board fans debated Tolwyn's ideology while lusting over the new Bearcat and Lance fighters. It was truly the best of times.

Ten years later Wing Commander fans continue to fervently hope and honestly believe that there will be another 1996 and another Wing Commander IV.


Recent Updates


Get Ready, Get Net

The American release of Wing Commander IV for the Playstation included two manuals: a 'Battle Book' which includes detailed controls for the flying portion of the game and a 'New Officer's Handbook' which shows new players how to navigate the game and lists specifications for several flyable ships (the European releases of the game had a single combined manual.) For today's update, we're looking at the cover of the latter booklet which is a little more interesting than it might seem!The single most fasscinating aspect of the New Officer's Handbook is that it introduces a small amount of lore in the form of the 'login text' which shows a new officer (not Blair as they are apparently an Ensign) logging into a Terran Confederation computer system. (2018-10-16)

Wing Commander Sprite Refresh Looks Promising

The original Wing Commander has never looked better! The fantastic work that UnnamedCharacter has been doing on the WC Toolbox is paying off in a big way. Goliath has begun adapting his work to increase the resolution of ship sprites in the game and the results, which use Howard Day's beautiful models, are looking very promising! (2018-10-15)

PC Games Previews Wing Commander IV

End your week with a nice blast from the past: a German PC Games magazine with an EXTENSIVE preview of Wing Commander IV! The cover features an awesome clear shot of the Kilrathi guard seen in the background of Wing Commander III and the exhaustive preview is full of rarely reproduced Wing Commander IV set photos and concept art. (2018-10-14)

Familiar Fighters Found

Eagle-eyed ship spotter Doug Lee has found a squadron of familiar Wing Commander designs in an unlikely place: a mobile game called Stellar Patrol: Galactic Conflict! The top-down space game features a host of familiar Wing Commander designs... and even uses a Rapier as its app icon! (2018-10-13)

Victory! Moongate Kickstarter Hits WC Goal

There's great news out of the Through the Moongate: the first stretch goal has been reached, which means that there will be an extra chapter looking at the developing of Wing Commander II! Here's the official word:A million thank yous to all our backers who made another achievement possible! We will have the pleasure to work with Siobhan Beeman, Ellen Guon Beeman, and other Originites on the Wing Commander 2 chapter, which will be delivered as a digital download to all backers from Honesty tier and higher. (2018-10-12)

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Current Poll

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Site Staff