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The May 2007 issue of the Official Xbox Magazine, on news stands now, includes a brief preview of Wing Commander Arena! It's strangely hung up on the Wing Commander movie, but it does offer a nice look at how the game's controls work:

Wing Commander Arena

Free Freddie Prinze Jr. not included!

Sixteen-player games on Live Arcade? We're listening!

At the height of classic PC space-combat series Wing Commander's popularity in the late '90s, a feature film was made with Freddie Prinze Jr. in the lead role. This proved to be the worst idea in the history of videogame movies until Uwe Boll was allowed to step behind a camera, but sadly, this is where the franchise left off.

So in what is perhaps an attempt to wipe the slate clean -- but more likely an opportunity to do something new on Xbox Live Arcade -- EA is reintroducing Wing Commander on a small scale: as an XBLA space-dogfighting shooter.

Fortunately, we're not just talking about Asteroids with the Wing Commander name slapped on it. Famous ships (18 in total) from both the Terran and Kilrathi sides are available in different classes -- bombers, fighters, and so on -- and in fact, series veterans will note that this is the first time the Kilrathi have been playable.

Gameplay is straightforward: the thumbsticks control your ship (with the right stick also able to initiate barrel rolls and other special moves), while the triggers and shoulders unleash your weapons arsenal. Four single-player modes are included, but it's the 16-player online play that distinguishes Arena from the pack. And while we weren't able to get a confirmed price, we suspect it will run you 800 Microsoft Points ($10). Our suggestion: grab some Battlestar Galactica DVDs and prime yourself for some space-blastin' action -- just do yourself a solid and try to pretend the movie never happened.

- Ryan McCaffrey

Platform: XBOX LIVE ARCADE
Publisher: EA
Developer: GAIA
Live/Multiplayer: YES
Release Date: SUMMER 2007
For Fans Of: Asteroids, Gradius, Wing Commander


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