Name: Wing Commander III
Format: PC / 3DO / PS1 (tested)
Genre: Space Combat Simulation
Region Reviewed: PAL
Year of Release: 1996 (PS1/UK)
Reviewer: Fossil Gamer
If you’re into Retro Gaming then more than likely you are also a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek or any other space based film/TV show. How often have people dreamt about travelling amongst the stars, shooting lasers at alien attackers and avenging the deaths of friends and team mates? Well Wing Commander III lets you do this in bucket loads.
When you first open the game you are welcomed by not one playable disc but four as you realise quickly why this is. The first time you load the game up you are treated to a massive full motion video (FMV) containing a star studded cast from John Rhys-Davies of Raiders of the Lost Ark fame to Mark Hamill who plays the lead character Christopher Blair. The introduction FMV tells the continued story of the Terran-Kilrathi war which has been raging on for over thirty years. Your task is to take charge of Colonel Blair and fly missions in which you try to defeat the Kilrathi and maintain the peace throughout the galaxy.
The missions are the main stay of the game and due to you playing a Colonel you can choose which ship you fly, which missiles you use and which severely unhinged individual you can call your wingman. These aren’t the only decisions you have to make as with real life decisions, each one will come with their own consequences. One example is when you have to choose between two love interests, if you spurn one for the other then they will not fly with you in the next mission. Typical woman behaviour (only joking). The missions are all flight missions and can get a little repetitive but when there isn’t much action you can flick on the autopilot and skip until you get to the flying fury of a good old fashioned dog fight.
After watching the polished cut scenes you finally get put into battle and get to see how the game actually plays. The flight controls are simple and everyone could pick up and play without reading a huge instruction manual. The backgrounds aren’t amazing as it is just space but ships have real texture and depth as they zoom past you during your duel to the death. That’s another good point that the speed of the ships seems to be just right not so fast they fly past at hyper speed and not so slow that it makes them easy to target and destroy.
Many missions you have to resort to dog fighting skills as missiles are limited and in most instances you have to defeat multiple ships. The game isn’t just full of plus points as one massive negative is the constant background music that plays in all your missions especially when you are having a hard time trying to bag a bogey and all you can hear is a tin sounding second rate jingle.
As previously stated the big money production really shows as the cut scenes tell the story nicely with the sprinkling of Hollywood stars really add the experience although the green screening backgrounds sometimes look like a four year old child have drawn them and forgotten to colour in between the lines. Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell give sterling performances but not even the voice of Tim Curry can save Kilrathi puppets as they all look like rejects from The Muppets.
Wing Commander series has always been a favourite of mine and Heart of the Tiger will please any Wing Commander fans out there. All the old favourites are there with the added bonus of Luke Skywalker making an appearance as Colonel Blair.
The 4 discs mentioned above mean this is not just a 2 hour experience either, the content really is immense however it's the completely engaging storyline that makes you need to finish this even when the repetitive looking missions try and stop your enjoyment. Like all good stories it's full of twists and turns high's and low's but it's about 4,000 times better than the quite awful film hollywood pumped out during the 90's and to be completely frank it's the prime example of fantastic FMV based games.
Although I reviewed the PlayStation version of the game I was asked nicely by Megatron's_Fury to mention the same game that is available on the 3DO console which he rates as one of the reasons to own that machine as even though it was released years earlier it is actually a smoother and better version. With that in mind and the fact it's also a PC title means you have several options on how to play it, happy days indeed.
Verdict:- Well known stars and the lovely full motion video really lets the players buy-in making the storyline a believable experience. The sound and lack of background art are negative points but how beautiful can you make space look and these are just minor issues in a galaxy full of shining stars.
Wing Commander III may look hard going with four discs but the game delivers exactly what a space combat simulation should; dark moody plots, alien invasions, dogfights by the bucket loads and wing men that Iceman would be proud of. If you every wanted to be Buck Rogers, Starbuck or Han Solo then get this game as you will not be disappointed.
Second Opinion:- Transbot approves of this review!!! Wing Commander 3 is utterly amazing as a game as it's set in space and you get to shoot at what seems like never ending waves of bad guys, what more could you puny earthlings want in a videoogame?
The graphics are mostly brilliant the FMV is easily some of the best of it's time and the story is amazing, really amazing. Weak points are the same old locations and the quite bad sound however the plus points make such trivial things seem un-important.
Transbot Scores:- 9 out of 10