The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 4: Mission #4: 26 April 2654, McAuliffe system

Mission #4: 26 April 2654, McAuliffe system

Previously on Wing Commander: Earlier today, we had a first mission in Scimitar, it was fairly uneventful except for that minefield! A bit of rest now and then back in action.

More new people to meet, but these are the last two for now. Maybe a game of cards?

Uh... Maniac?

Maniac's a real lunatic, a good pilot, but way too erratic. He was just comin' up when the fleabags put me outta commission. Just between you and me, I'd rather fly alone than with Maniac on my wing. Bossman's another story, though. He's a real team leader. A crack pilot, with 17 years behind him. Flown ever'thin' in the Terran fleet, and blown up at least one of every class the Kilrathi have.

How very true. Maniac is the one who I was earlier on referring to as not being much good for anything. When you fly with him, he almost never obeys orders and it's really a chore to even make sure he finishes a mission alive! Luckily, if you don't stray from the winning path (including Rostov), you never have to fly with him. And even if you do end up flying with him at some point, the Colonel gives you permission to shoot him down anyway! Probably best to get it over with then:

Glad to "meetcha"? Oh, man.

Bossman says we're gonna see some action against some battleships soon. I can't wait. Dodging flak and fighter cover to make a missile run at a destroyer... Man, that'll be a rush! Get in there quick, waste the mama cat, then pick the kittens off one by one. That's the way to do it!

So I'm going to take a wild guess here that we'll encounter one of those destroyers in this mission, since so far every time something was mentioned, we inevitably ran into it during the mission.

You look good for a rookie. You handle yourself well in a dogfight, but we'll be facing some bigger ships soon.

Just what do you mean by that, Boss?

...they lose their heads and go straight in for the battleship. Then a light fighter they forgot about blasts them from behind. Big ships move slow and turn like pigs. Thing to do is clean up the fighter cover first, then go in for the battleship.

Sounds like a good strategy for now... in the future we will sometimes face missions where this is not an option for various reasons though.

Character Info

Descriptions from the manual:

2nd Lt. Todd Marshall ("Maniac")

Fresh from the Academy is 2nd Lt. Todd Marshall, known as Maniac by his graduating class. Marshall, 23, tries hard to live up to his moniker. "Plodding along with your joystick in one hand and a copy of the naval regs in the other is not going to impress the Kilrathi," he says. "They know our regs. They know the Book, they know how we do things. If we're going to put them on the ropes, we have to adapt our rules, tactics, and flying styles. We have to outfly them, outfight them... we've got to want it more. And I want it.

"I'm a Proxie - homeworld Leto, Proxima Centauri IV. When the colonization started, anyone with any brains or skills high tailed it off Earth, and most of them ended up on Leto. That's why Proxies kick homeborn Terrans around in the ratings."

Despite his creative interpretation of colonial history and comparative Naval Academy standings, Marshall was one of the highest-rated Acadamy graduates in the '54 class and promises to be a worthy addition to the Tiger's Clas pilot roster.

In FMV Wing Commander games, he is played by Biff Tannen... er, Tom Wilson, which is just about the only thing that makes this character in any way bearable!

Major Chen Kien ("Bossman")

Major Chen Kien is known as Bossman to the spacecrews, but that wasn't always the case, "When I was young - er, younger - they called me Ripper; my old friends still do. I was a lot like Hunter, pushing everything to the limit. But I might have been a little too good, or at least lucky, at it. Replacement crews coming in, bright young second looies, took my lead... and got themselves shot to hell. When I started burying young pilots who had been killed for behaving like me, I decided to give them an example that would not get them blown out of space. It is sort of a visious cycle: You try to act as an example, and young pilots start coming to you for advice. That is when they started calling me Bossman. I do not regret all these changes... but there are times I miss the old days."

The 39-year-old native of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, has a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Confederation Net university system. He is married to ergonomics engineer Chen Mingxing and, last March, became the father of a baby girl.

Mission Time!

These are all the pilots we can meet for quite a long while, so time to get flying!

The Confederation is getting ready to mount a major offensive, so we're expecting several supply ships within the next 48 hours. But scanners show increased Kilrathi activity in this system. We've got to clean up the enemy presence here at McAuliffe, before the tankers and 'sports start to arrive tomorrow.

It jumped in about 20 minutes ago, and seems to be headed this way. It might be just a transport, but it's probably a small warship. Maverick, you and Paladin are going to go out and get a look at it...

Heh, Paladin always seems to have some sort of silly comment that gets ignored by the Colonel...

Here's your flight plan... should meet it here, at Nav 1. We've detected a fighter escort in the area as well, so be on the lookout for additional bogies.

[The Colonel quickly goes through the rest of the assignments, dispatching other wings to check out other bogies in the system.]

We are again in a Scimitar with Paladin, and this mission will serve as a very good demonstration just how bad are the defenses of big ships, even of non-civilian ones!
The enemy 'bestiary' is finally starting to expand. The fighter escort of that destroyer contained one new type of enemy:


Class: Medium Fighter
Length: 32 Meters
Mass: 16.6 tonnes
Max Velocity: 360 kps
Cruise Velocity: 200 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 7 dps
Maximum Pitch: 10 dps
Maximum Roll: 7 dps
Weapons: Laser Cannon (2x), Friend-or-Foe Missile, Heat-Seeking Missiles (3x)
Shields: Fore: 8 cm equivalent; Aft: 8 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 9 cm; Right: 8 cm; Left: 8 cm; Rear: 10 cm.

These guys are a little bit better armoured than the enemy fighters we've met so far, but all in all they are a reasonably even match for a Scimitar for once. It has friend-or-foe missile which we haven't seen yet; we'll be able to use those ourselves later on. Basically you fire them and they lock on to the nearest enemy ship; they do this by monitoring the communications, so in theory a friendly ship with a damaged comms system could become a target by accident.

And now for that destroyer thingy that wasn't much of a challenge at all:


Class: Destroyer
Length: 344 Meters
Mass: 18000 tonnes
Max Velocity: 150 kps
Cruise Velocity: 100 kps
Acceleration: Poor
Maximum Yaw: 2 dps
Maximum Pitch: 2 dps
Maximum Roll: 2 dps
Weapons: Turreted Lasers (6x), Porcupine Mine
Shields: Fore: 20 cm equivalent; Aft: 12 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 20 cm; Right: 18 cm; Left: 18 cm; Rear: 6 cm.

As you can see, not a whole lot more of shields/armour than you would find on a fighter. As such this thing is really no harder to destroy than one of those transports, it just takes a few more shots. I've already mentioned that this was completely fixed in WC2 where ordinary guns can no longer do anything at all against big ships pretty much.

In other news, we got another Bronze Star medal; the requirement for the medal in this mission is that you kill the destroyer plus at least four of the six fighters you encounter. We don't actually get a second physical medal, just one more bar is affixed above our existing one, like this:

Updated killboard, which I'll refrain from commenting on at this time:

In 1994, some wise person at Origin (or, far more likely, EA) decided to do a remake of Wing Commander 1 with new graphics and full speech. They also decided to release it only on... 3DO console! Yeah. Actually in 1995 it was also released for... Macintosh! They called this version "Super Wing Commander" and it features completely redone graphics, full speech, all missions from WC1/SM1/SM2 and even a few extra missions to bridge the gap between WC1 and SM1. Most of the dialogue was kept the same, but some retconning happened and a few lines here and there were adjusted to foreshadow some of the future events from WC2 and onwards (I believe this may be why the Sega CD version which is port of the original game but also with speech features different voice acting that the one you find here).

For a while I was actually considering to play this version instead, but that was until I took a really good look at it. For demonstration purposes I recorded a clip that features dialogues and briefing plus the launch sequence and a bit of combat for the first mission. It also features:
So, without further ado, here is the video and try not to cringe too much!

After you've seen it, try to answer these questions:

Next time on Wing Commander
An ace in the hole (or... something like that)!