The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 101: Mission #96: The Bonnie Heather, Ghorah Khar system

Mission #96: The Bonnie Heather, Ghorah Khar system

Previously on Wing Commander: First Olympus station was under attack and then we had to help out Paladin again. There was also a strange battle where two sets of cats were fighting each other; the end result of that is an ejected Kilrathi pilot that we 'picked up'.

Oh! Well, should have known it was going to be someone important, since only Kilrathi royalty have ejector seats in their ships!

Yeah, let's!

This whole thing at least appears to lend some credibility to what Hobbes was saying last time about the empire being rotten from the inside. In any case, a few hours later...

"Thrak"? Oh, man.

Fifteen minutes later...

So for a while it actually seemed like we are going to be fighting alongside Thrakhath against those 'other' cats, but no. We get to go chasing after him once again, except this time he's in a stolen Crossbow. Also we get no wingman again since Hobbes has been knocked out of action by Thrakhath.
Now, wasn't that fun? Seriously, this is one of the most fun missions in the entire game. No tricks of any kind, no capital ships, no asteroids, no mines and no wingman. Just you against six Gothri and a small test of your skill. This is another one of those missions with very well balanced difficulty that is not frustrating at all--I am being completely serious. Don't get too hasty, just work through them nicely one by one and you'll be absolutely fine. You can leave Khasra for last, but he's really no better than an ordinary pilot so I'm not sure it even matters. These guys have some small chance of running away so be wary of that.

As for Thrakhath, there is nothing you can do there. His Crossbow is flagged as indestructible in this mission, so while it IS there in the crowd, you cannot damage it. He will eventually activate the jump drive and there is no way to prevent that. The good thing about him is that he will distract the rest of the cats a little bit in the beginning so they won't all come immediately after you (in particular, Khasra).

And, believe it or not, this it for the Crossbow. We'll never be flying it again and I don't think it's even mentioned again after this. The next mission, last of SO1, is in a Sabre again (although for that one a Crossbow WOULD have been more appropriate, but oh well).

And now for something completely different!

Well then. As I've indicated last time, the briefing for this mission is notoriously buggy. The bug represents itself mostly through game being completely unable to display Thrakhath's portrait correctly. But unlike that other mission where Major Edmond's face simply fails to appear, here the whole thing bugs out in much more entertaining ways. It doesn't always happen, and in fact there is a 100% sure way to avoid the problem (which I did above to take the screenshots), which I will address below. Let's take a look at the bug now, though.

First of all, sometimes Thrakhath will fail to express himself fully, like so:

But then in other cases, he appears to have chosen to disguise himself and game will instead display a completely random unrelated character instead, such as:

...or even this, thus lending credibility to those suspicions that Sparks may be the real traitor after all:

The random character definitely CAN be Maverick too, which leads to a completely hilarious briefing where he is having a conversation with himself--it gets even better if the game chooses the mirrored portrait as then it even looks like he's talking to himself in a mirror!

Moving on, sometimes even the disguise will fail to express itself and you get this:

And other times, the disguise will fail completely and you get BOTH Thrakhath and parts of a random character showing together on a completely bugged out screen:

And then, things in the comm room sometimes get just a little awkward when one of senior officers forgets to put on clothes before coming in to work:

This one is even worse than it seems at first--that black/blue shape towards the right is actually the back part of Spirit's hair!

The whole thing is actually fun, as you can get a bit of an insight in how the cutscene engine works and how the character portraits are pieced together from various parts and all that. Just as a quick note, this particular engine mostly works in layers; i.e. different layers with transparency are pasted on top of each other to make a full picture. It is also capable of some other limited effects like parallax scrolling of said layers and such, although you don't see it that often.

The bug itself, is actually completely harmless. It only affects the few screens in this briefing where Thrakhath is supposed to appear and nothing else. It won't crash your game or otherwise affect it in any way. Also, it can be pretty funny, depending on what the game decides to display in a particular session. If you want to trigger this bug, do NOT advance the dialogue manually during the briefing, let the game do it--if you do it manually, bug usually does not trigger. Which may explain how this got through the testing unnoticed. The other explanation could be that they simply didn't have time to fix it as they were rushing to finish this--and this may even be true considering that SO1 does seem buggier than WC2 for some reason.

Current kill total: 96 missions/788 kills

Next time on Wing Commander
The SO1 finale!