The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 23: Mission #19: 21 May 2654, Goddard system

Good news, everyone! We are going to now push the third button on this screen:

Welcome to Secret Missions 1!

SM1 as we'll call it from now it is the first expansion mission set for Wing Commander 1. It was published in November 1990, just two months after the game itself (did you know that last week was the 20-year anniversary of Wing Commander--hope I didn't just make you feel very old!), and it was planned to be published right from the start (the original game includes that third button even if you haven't purchased the expansion). Believe it or not, it was distributed on a SINGLE FLOPPY DISK (SRP: $19.95), and it installed itself in your game directory for a seamless package--obviously, it reuses most of the graphics and sound resources.

What is new/different? Actually, first of all, what is not different. Not different is the game mechanics, which still follows the bar-briefing-mission pattern. But what is different there is that this time around we have an actual involving storyline and missions are in fact for the most part plot based and tend to be more interesting. Speaking of which, they are also harder than the original ones, and usually feature more enemies. Gone is the mission tree; you have to keep winning if you want to proceed. If you fail a mission set, you get shunted off to two losing missions with Maniac (of course) and then the game ends in failure. Winning these two missions DOES NOT get you back on track.

Plot-wise, I'm not going to reveal much now, but as I have already said a couple of times, bits and pieces of plot that starts here will be still ongoing through Wing Commander 2 and some even further. Suffice it to say that we are very definitely heading into much darker territory than what we've experienced so far. This will, of course, finally provide much more opportunity for character development, which is always welcome.

Logistics wise, I'm planning to follow the same pattern as before, but this time around when we move into a new system I will usually add a couple of sentences about where the name comes from in case it's notable (previously I only provided Wikipedia links in such cases). Otherwise, no changes from my end; you will still get to enjoy my lovely accent in videos and so on...

Well then, let's see what awaits us. According to the game, it's only the next day, 21 May 2654 believe it or not. Oh yeah, I'm going to keep the sequential numbering of missions without resetting to #1 in the updates, just because--the videos will have the number within the game.

And now, for real...

Mission #19: 21 May 2654, Goddard system

Previously on Wing Commander: The destruction of Kilrathi Vega Sector Command starbase earned us the Medal of Valour, which was very satisfying. However, the joy is muted by the fact that something odd seems to be happening on our carrier... after several jumps, we seem to have ended in Goddard system in Epsilon sector, Deneb quadrant (note the game keeps referring to Deneb sector, this has been retconned later on and is as I said above).

Historical note: Goddard system is named after Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945), the pioneer of rocket science and creator of first liquid-fueled rocket (1915-1926); his work was one of the key bits for later human space flights, including the first patent for a multi-staged rocket (also 1915). Today, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA is named after him.

Let's see what we can find out...

Hiya there!

A LOT of jumps. You don't have to be an active-duty pilot to realize that something unusual is happening.

Uh, I was kinda hoping you would be able to tell ME what's up, but ok. Let's see what Iceman and Bossman have to offer on the subject.

I was on the bridge a few hours ago. Tiger's Claw received a coded transmission from High Command. The Colonel read it... and ordered non-essentials off the bridge. Since then, we've been jumping like crazy.

Guess they don't know either...

He speaks!

Remember this conversation, folks.

Mission Time!

Time to head to the briefing room, maybe we'll get some info there.

Several hours ago, we received an emergency communication from the Goddard colony in the Deneb sector. A Kilrathi fleet has attacked the colony, using some kind of new weapon. Unfortunately, we've lost communications with the colony. Now we're preparing to jump to Goddard.

...and we don't know what's happened to the Goddard colony. For now, NO ONE is to talk about this to the crew. However, we won't be alone... as we're scheduled to make a rendezvous with the Hickok. She's a Dilligent-class 'sport loaded with emergency relief supplies for the colony. Also, we rendezvous with the Marciano, a Venture-class corvette. Mission assignments Alpha Wing will patrol in Hornets... we need you in our fastest ships.

Um... how about Rapiers, they are plenty fast and also not made of cardboard?

If there are any cats in our vicinity, eliminate them. Then I want you to go to Nav 1 and scout for any other Kilrathi activity. Afterwards, proceed to Nav Point 2, where the Hickok is preparing to jump to Goddard... and provide support for her if the Kilrathi attack. Once she's jumped, go to Nav Point 3, where you'll meet with the Marciano. Escort the corvette back to the Claw, eliminating any threats.

So it's a combination patrol/escort mission really. We have two ships to babysit plus we should eliminate anything else we come across. Despite what was said, there are no enemies attacking the Tiger's Claw so we can proceed as normal. As was said in the briefing, we are still flying with Hunter, but this time in a Hornet (groan). Let's hope we don't run into a wing of 5 Jalthi then.

Before we start the mission, there were a couple of unfamiliar ships mentioned... first up is the Hickok, a Dilligent-class transport. Dilligent is just a variation on the familiar Drayman:


Class: Transport
Length: 96 Meters
Mass: 2000 tonnes
Max Velocity: 150 kps
Cruise Velocity: 100 kps
Acceleration: Poor
Maximum Yaw: 2 dps
Maximum Pitch: 2 dps
Maximum Roll: 2 dps
Weapons: Single mount laser turret (1x)
Shields: Fore: 12 cm equivalent; Aft: 12 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 8 cm; Right: 6 cm; Left: 6 cm; Rear: 8 cm.

It has better shields than Drayman, but otherwise it's not very different.

Then we also have the Marciano, a Venture-class corvette:


Class: Corvette
Length: 80 Meters
Mass: 1000 tonnes
Max Velocity: 200 kps
Cruise Velocity: 150 kps
Acceleration: Poor
Maximum Yaw: 3 dps
Maximum Pitch: 3 dps
Maximum Roll: 3 dps
Weapons: Laser Cannon (2x), Friend or Foe Missile (1x), Heat-Seeking Missiles (2x).
Shields: Fore: 10 cm equivalent; Aft: 10 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 9 cm; Right: 8 cm; Left: 8 cm; Rear: 8 cm.

Venture class dates from the original game (although we didn't see it any of the missions we flew), while Dilligent is new in the expansion (where they decided to make capital ships a bit better protected), hence the somewhat paradoxical situation that the corvette has less shields than the transport.

On to the mission:
So this mission was a good example of how it's going to be in SM1--while before you would normally have 1 or 2 enemy encounters (possibly with multiple waves), here the norm will be more like 3-4 per mission (again with possible multiple waves). That alone makes the missions a bit harder to begin with.

This mission wasn't too bad though, but due to the AI scripting of the enemies it's kind of impossible to get them all. It wasn't seen in the video, but if you remember there was an asteroid field on the map during the briefing--due to where we ended up after the first enemy fight we missed going through there, and there would have been two more Salthis hiding inside if that would have been where the 'road' had taken us. It's just matter of luck where on the map you end up after the first fight.

Speaking of which, there was one new kind of enemy ship, a Lumbari-class transport; again this is just a small variation on the old Dorkir design:


Class: Transport
Length: 68 Meters
Mass: 2000 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 Laser (1x), Space Mine (3x)
Shields: Fore: 17 cm equivalent; Aft: 10 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 9 cm; Right: 9 cm; Left: 9 cm; Rear: 6 cm.

The hardest part of this mission is protecting the transport while it jumps out, the enemies that attack the corvette aren't nearly so focused as those. And since the last battle with the Salthis is happening very close to the Tiger's Claw, chances are you are going to encounter the 'all enemy self-destruct now' thing I showed in the video (although they are pretty easy to handle anyway).

Here's the updated killboard then:

And we got a promotion to Lt. Col. after a long long while without. This is in fact the highest rank you can have in WC1, so we're here to stay for the time being. All further changes in rank in subsequent games are strictly plot based and will no longer depend on how well you do in battle.

Next time on Wing Commander
We reach the Goddard colony...