The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 118: Mission #113: The Grimalkin, Ayer's system

Mission #113: The Grimalkin, Ayer's system

Previously on Wing Commander: Our run on Mandarin headquarters, Ayer's Rock, was successful and the base is no more! No sign of Jazz, though.

And then this mission begins with familiar words being heard on the Grimalkin:

But, Scorpion is dead... so, who then? Jazz, perhaps?

Oh, it's just Minx. Who cares.

As you can see, the game here pretty much makes the assumption that you nuked the base, as you would be inclined to do (well, here's a huge base built into a rock, and I have a nuclear missile, so... connect the dots), but as we saw, you don't actually have to do that, in which case this whole dialogue makes a bit less sense.

I'm transmitting a Nav course to you now. If you don't encounter Jazz, jump back to the Concordia. They've signalled us that they've taken care of their trouble and have repaired the flight deck. I'll follow you there.

Don't think you have anybody else to blame but yourself, Maniac. YOU DESIGNED THIS SHIP!

Objectives for this one are pretty clear; go find Jazz and annihilate him. There is no Angel around to stop us this time (or so we hope).
Well, for one, I thought it's a neat touch to get Maniac out of the picture in this manner so you can go at it alone, like the last time. Other than that, this mission is little more than a formality--the three Sabres pose almost no threat at all against a Morningstar, and the battle one-on-one against Jazz is just the same as before, except for the fact that we are flying Morningstars this time. He is still more or less unable to land a hit on you (which is why I said that any damage you take in the first part of mission pretty much does not even matter).

Do I even have to say that like the previous prototype, the Morningstar will also never be mentioned again.

So let's check out the situation at the Concordia after landing!

So, no special celebrations this time around, just a nice pat on the back from our friend the Admiral! But the job is done, at least and Mandarin organisation has been, if nothing else, seriously damaged, so that should be very good, right?


It would appear that once again we managed to fall into a Kilrathi trap! At this point, the whole thing just smells of lazy writing and is starting become considerably annoying.

But, instead of ranting about this let me tell you for a moment what happens on other branches of the game. Actually this time nothing particularly interesting: if you don't destroy the base you simply get an extra mission to cover the withdrawal of the Concordia (that mission is played after this one).

More interestingly, it is actually possible, at least in theory, to end this mission without destroying Jazz. This counts as the so-called bad non-losing ending; The only difference is in what Tolwyn says to you after landing--in this case he simply expresses his regret that Jazz escaped once again and will probably never be caught.

But, getting back to the things at hand, we find Concordia getting ready to depart after what they think was a successful mission...

And so, all that's left is empty space once again...

But just slightly less empty now, as there is a familiar object floating through it aimlessly...


And this is what you are rewarded with if you stay through to the end of the credits (which doesn't take long since games used to be made by much smaller teams back then!):

You would probably be right to be extremely annoyed, as it turns out finally that through SO1 and SO2 the game has mostly been just stringing us along!

But anyway, here we are almost a year later at the end of this playthrough of WC1/2 and what can I say? It's certainly been a fun ride revisiting these games again after a long time. I'm happy to say that for the most part I feel that they do still hold up very well today.

Even though they are 20 years old, these games are actually still fairly good on the technical level too, thanks to some good decisions having been made at the time. First and foremost, it has to be said, the completely insane idea to develop this kind of graphics engine that uses scaling and rotating of 2D sprites to render ships has proved to be a total win and makes the games look absolutely not dated even today. I don't even want to think what some kind of actual 3D rendering would look like today if it had been used with low resolution textures and low polygon count--all the awesome detail on ships would have been completely lost (actually you don't have to imagine this, WC3 gives you a good approximation!).

Music and sound is of course just as awesome as it has always been, and there's not much more that I can say about that. WC2 is also probably one of the earlier games that included proper speech and while some of the acting is a bit iffy, I have to say that having voiced wingman communication in WC2 makes an absolute world of difference compared to WC1 subtitled ones and I'm glad they opted to use the space on that, rather than on more cutscenes to be voiced!

About the games themselves, I think we've said quite a lot already but overall, I would probably chose the SM2/WC2 combination as my favourite part as I think they have the generally best story/characterisation with SM1 trailing closely behind. WC1 is of course the one that started it all but it has really no plot at all and IS in my opinion overshadowed in most aspects by its two expansions. The same cannot be said of WC2 as I feel that SO1 and SO2 are probably the "worst" part of these six games--they are still good games, but compared to the rest of WC1/2 set I never though they are quite on the same level. I also though that excepting all the Dralthi stuff, SM1 and SM2 also have probably the best missions. In WC2 and on through SO1 and SO2 while the missions are more connected to the plot, it almost feels like they get simpler and simpler--SO2 is especially guilty of this, I think; you can literally play through it in a couple of afternoons! Compare this to the missions from SM1/2 and you'll see the difference.

Well, now it sounds like I am ranting, but really I love these games, I just wish that SO1/2 would have been a little better than they are! In any case, thanks for watching and/or participating in the thread, it was fun for me, and hopefully for you too! My favourite bits were probably the discussion about Sparks as a traitor and of course the funny photoshops! Since we have a candidate who volunteered to play the rest of the games, I'm sure we won't have to wait long to see the continuation of the story. As for me, I'm probably going to be moving on to another Chris Roberts game, Strike Commander relatively soon(ish). I think this one a lot of people didn't get to play at the time of release due to steep hardware requirements so it may be interesting to show off. Also it happens to be set in the near future year of 2011, so there's that too.

Until then, of course, have fun.

Final kill total: 113 missions/922 kills

Meanwhile back in that empty space...

It would appear that company to Jazz's helmet is kept by a lone fighter, at least temporarily forgotten about by everybody...

. . .