The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 3: Mission #3: 26 April 2654, McAuliffe system

Mission #3: 26 April 2654, McAuliffe system

Previously on Wing Commander: Our first escort mission went well. We've seen the last of asteroids for a while (yes!) and we've been reassigned. Also, our first medal, a Bronze Star. Tiger's Claw has jumped into the McAuliffe system, further on towards the Kilrathi controlled space.

There's not too many places to go on Tiger's Claw, so...

Two new faces, it would seem. Hopefully Shotglass will give us a bit more of a warning, unlike last time with that Hunter dude.

Knight's a darned reliable pilot, a solid shot, a steady flier. Not flashy at all. He's sort of a craftsman. Gets the job done, though. Iceman, though, now he's an artist. Best pilot on the Tiger's Claw. Lives to fly and to fight. He's totally ruthless, and completely deadly. Some of the pilots say he's got freon for blood... at least, that's where he got the call sign.

Ok well that's not too bad I suppose, as long as we're not on the receiving end of his guns we should be fine. So as usual, we'll start on the right.

In case you missed it in the previous video, Blue Devils is the name of the squadron that we are now assigned to.

Ever flown Scimitars before? I think you're going to like them. A Scimitar isn't quite as fast or nimble as a Hornet, but she's got twice the armour, as well as heavier guns.

Heh, probably the best description for a Scimitar that I've heard, and I don't even know what a Centaurian mud-pig is like!

Iceman here'll try to tell you speed and handling'll save your butt, but I'll take an extra three centimetres of durasteel plating any day!

Considering we're going to be flying a Scimitar shortly, this doesn't sound very encouraging... But anyway, let's introduce ourselves to Iceman too.

Please note the appropriate choice of colour for his subtitles!

Don't let Knight fool you. The Scim's a gun-heavy slug. Forget finesse, just head straight in, guns blaring. Give me a ship that takes skill. A Raptor, even a Hornet... or one of those new Rapiers. If half of what they say is true, the Rapier's a true artist's ship!

Rapier is a new kind of fighter, but nobody's seen it yet as it's still undergoing testing.

Character Info

Descriptions from the manual:

Captain Joseph Khumalo ("Knight")

Captain Joseph Khumalo, known to the crews as Knight, admits that his piloting accomplishments don't dot the record books. "I'm not a cockpit genius like Hunter or a marksman like Angel. I'm an ordinary man. I'm a pilot. It's my job."

Yet wingleaders tend to breathe a sigh of relief when they draw Khumalo as wingman. Knight has a reputation of utter reliability in combat. "I got my nickname in the Enyo Engagement. The Kilrathi were swarming like flies. I was a second looie assigned as wingman to Captain Maria 'la Doña' Alvarez. We were hugging the deck of this transport and strafing it, did a tight turn going from its back to its belly, and ran right through a swarm of fighters headed the other way. And defensive maneuvering in those quarters would've cut me off from la Donña, so I just fired as fast as I could, and got lucky: I was an ace coming out of that pack, and had picked off a couple of fighters going after my wingleader. La Doña put on her thickest accent and said, 'Ooh, eet's my White Knight,' and the name stuck.

"But, honestly, I don't feel that way, I'm not a knight-errant. I'm a soldier. Not all of us can be geniuses... but I'm going to do the best I can with what I can," Khumalo, 36, hails from Kroonstad, South Africa.

Major Michael Casey ("Iceman")

Major Michael Casey, or Iceman to the crews, has racked up more confirmed kills while serving on the Tiger's Claw than any other pilot in the carrier's history. In the cockpit, he is known for calm under fire, letter-perfect flying technique, and deadly aim with ship's weapons, a combination which guarantees disaster for Kilrathi opponents.

Angel, frequent wingman for Iceman, describes flying with him: "You must learn to listen for Iceman. On the comm unit, in a large engagement, everyone is either shouting or at least very excitable; Iceman is whispering. You have to strain your ears to hear him. It's always terse little statements: 'Moving in.' 'Rolling right.' 'Target in sight.' 'Objective accomplished.' 'Head for home.' And I will tell you: He talks ten times as much in the cockpit as he ever talks on the carrier."

Iceman is 31, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia.

In case his name rings a bell, that's because the main character of "Wing Commander: Prophecy", Lance Casey, is supposed to be his son.

Mission Time!

The moment we've all been waiting for, it's time to do some hog riding (and not of the Harley Davidson kind!)

Paladin, you'll be flying on his wing.

Right. Since we jumped into the McAuliffe system just a few hours ago, we're still running preliminary patrols. Maverick, you'll be flying a four-point route, checking several potential jump points.

Long-range scanners indicate some sort of debris near Nav 3. We have reason to believe this might be a Kilrathi minefield, so be especially careful in that area. Questions? All right, then. Delta wing is Iceman and Angel...

A minefield? Oh joy. Well, at least they appear in missions much less often than asteroids, but they are a lot more difficult to navigate.

That's everyone. Last questions? [No hands are raised] Good. Let's get to work.

So here is our newly assigned ship:


Class: Medium Fighter
Length: 25 Meters
Mass: 16 tonnes
Max Velocity: 360 kps
Cruise Velocity: 150 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 6 dps
Maximum Pitch: 6 dps
Maximum Roll: 7 dps
Weapons: Mass Driver Cannon (2x), Dumb-Fire Missiles (2x), Heat-Seeking Missiles (3x)
Shields: Fore: 4 cm equivalent; Aft: 4 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 6 cm; Right: 5 cm; Left: 5 cm; Rear: 6 cm.

The much-maligned Scimitar, yes. The problem, in my opinion, is simply that this ship doesn't know what it wants to be. Will it be lightly armed but nimble fighter or will it be slower but more heavily armed? It's really stuck in the middle, neither here nor there, and that's the reason for all the badmouthing. It has neither the firepower nor the speed to compensate for lack of it. The mass driver cannon does a bit more damage but has about 30% shorter range than lasers and also consumes a lot more power than lasers; again the advantages do not justify the cost that is paid on the other side. There are two positive points though. The missile loadout is fairly generous with 3 whole heat seekers. Also, it has the best cockpit layout with better visiblity than any of the other ships. But you're not going to outmaneuver anybody in it and that's the bottom line.
So, yeah, mines. But more importantly, we got promoted! The way it works is a bit randomised. In every mission a number is chosen randomly from a certain range and if your to-date score (consisting of kills, successfully protecting friendly ships and other objectives) at the end of the mission is above that number, you get promoted to the next rank. Either way your to-date score is reset to zero and starts counting again with next mission. So even if you kill the same number of enemies during different playthroughs you may not get promotions at the exact same points in the game.

Again, no new kinds of enemies this time. But this is no time to get sloppy as the game will step up the... uh, game from the next mission. The unofficial tutorial is officially over and difficulty is now going to start ramping up.

The killboard is starting to look pretty funny:

If you fail a mission the game continues, however you can still get killed in battle and that's definite Game Over. But you do get a nice funeral sequence before that, and here it is:
The dialogue in it actually changes depending on where you are in the game at the moment. Also a question: there is a familiar bit of music near the end of the video, does anybody know what it's called? EDIT: Found it, it's Taps.

Next time on Wing Commander
Our first capital ship strike mission, or: how many guns does it take to destroy a destroyer?