The Let's Play Archive

Wing Commander

by ivantod

Part 55: Mission #51: Caernarvon Station, Gwynedd system

Stingray was right! We are playing Wing Commander 2!

Welcome to the next instalment of the Kilrathi saga!

Since it is basically impossible to even talk about the game without spoiling the introduction, let's watch that first and then I'll meet you back here. This time we get a proper cinematic intro, in fact quite impressive looking for a game published in 1991:

And then...

Sooo... that was pretty dramatic. In summary, the Tiger's Claw was destroyed in an attack performed by a wing of some kind of Kilrathi stealth fighters. For some reason, Maverick has managed to figure this out, but of course, nobody believes him and in fact he is blamed for the destruction of TC and is ultimately demoted back to the rank of Captain and transferred to In-system security forces, to serve on a backwater space station until the end of his days. And that's where we still find him, ten years later. In the meantime, the Kilrathi had to destroy the factory on Ghorah Khar that made these stealth fighters, so it wouldn't fall into the hands of the enemy, the local rebel forces. Also--hey it's that guy--we finally get to meet in person that annoying individual, prince Thrakhath!

It's a bit disconcerting to find that a decade on the war is still going on and has basically reached a state of impasse. Another question... what happened to our former shipmates? Did any of them survive? We'll find out soon enough one way or the other.

Well then, happy(?) new year 2665, folks!

A quick detour to 1991...

Wing Commander II was published by Origin in 1991, just about a year after the first game; and of course the time in-between was filled by the two Secret Missions expansion packs. This is really quite incredible when you think about it! Not to mention that they managed to make quite a few technical improvements in the second game. In fact, like I mentioned with the introduction, it is pretty amazing that this game was first published no less than 20 years ago! It still looks and sounds pretty great. And that intro with speech and all was certainly not something you saw every day back then. It also had pretty high system requirements for the time--not only CPU speed (at least 80386 for all features including speech), but also RAM (you needed quite a bit if you wanted all features enabled). Not to mention, disk space--on my drive the full game including speech and both expansions sets it takes full 27MB! That was A LOT in 1991!

Speaking of speech (he he), don't get too excited. It wasn't even part of the basic game, you had to buy a speech accessory pack to add it! However, despite the grand name, it had very limited effect: it only added speech to the intro you saw and also to the in-flight wingman communication. Everything else remained subtitled as before. With the quality of voice acting, maybe it's better that way.

How does the game differ from WC1? Well, in quite a few ways. First of all, it's been improved technically. It features some nicer sound effects and improved graphics, both in cutscenes and in flight (the ship sprites have slightly better resolution so it all looks a bit nicer, not to mention way more awesome explosions!). Gameplay wise, there are a few changes too. First of all, it follows a much less rigid strucutre--instead of standard bar->briefing->mission->debriefing, here things just 'happen' as they would in life. You may or may not get a debriefing, things may happen in the middle of your mission that change your objectives and so on. It all sounds pretty standard now, but it wasn't then. As for the missions, we aren't even tied to one base any more and tasks may take us elsewhere from our main location; we would then fly the next mission from there and all that. Sometimes we'll even fly a ship with a jump drive that will take us to a whole other part of the system and so on and so forth.

You can also look forward to a whole bunch of new ships on both sides (and one old favourite returning). Funnily enough most of Kilrathi ships have been in one way or another derived from WC1 designs with just slightly changed names. Oh and hey, remember that time when we destroyed a carrier by shooting it with pew-pew lasers? Yeah you can forget about that. The defence of capital ships has been strengthened to the point that in most cases ordinary guns can barely do anything to them! Again, you'll see soon enough.

Some things have been removed from the game too... Promotions? Gone, except where mandated by plot. Same goes for medals. The killboard? Followed the dodo bird to extinction. Also, no wingman deaths ever, except if mandated by plot! They will now always eject if damaged in a mission (and if you have the right ship, you can even pick them up yourself before returning to base!). On the other hand, the named aces will be making a return, as will the dreaded Imperial Guard pilots.

And the story? Well, not to reveal too much, but it's both on a much larger scale than before and at the same time more personal. You'll see. Certainly told with even more flair that we've seen so far.

Ok, enough talking.

Mission #51: April 2665, Caernarvon Station, Gwynedd system

This is Elizabeth. She'll be our wingperson for now.

Yep, definitely looks older.

Ferret is the ship we'll be flying for the foreseeable future. Not that great.

Good news though, Rapiers are still around!

So what's the plan for today, Shadow? Anything new?

I'm afraid not. We'll fly a standard 'diamond' patrol, checking for any hostiles. You know, all those pirates and Kilrathi just waiting to descend on this place. To be honest, I don't know why we bother. No one's spotted so much as an enemy garbage scow within twenty parsecs of here.

Look at it this way, Liz. If we didn't keep the brass happy, they'd give us even less glamorous missions.

Well, that was pretty depressing. But after 10 years, who can blame them. But, who is this woman actually?

Captain Elizabeth Norwood ("Shadow")

She has been Blair's closest friend since he was assigned to Caernarvon station ten years ago. A competent but not exceptional pilot; her main motivation is to get out of the Navy and rejoin her husband, a doctor, and their young son in the colonial farming community. She's like an older sister figure to Blair, and very concerned about his career.

And then, this is what we are going to be flying in the next few missions:


Class: Patrol Fighter
Length: 10.2 Meters
Mass: 10.5 tonnes
Max Velocity: 500 kps
Cruise Velocity: 360 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 8 dps
Maximum Pitch: 8 dps
Maximum Roll: 8 dps
Weapons: Mass-driver Cannon (2x)
Shields: Fore: 6 cm equivalent; Aft: 6 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 6.5 cm; Right: 4.5 cm; Left: 4.5 cm; Rear: 6.5 cm.

So this is a bit of a weird thing. It's really fast speed wise, but only moderately maneuvrable (but still better than Scimitar); As for weapons, it has two mass-drivers. And no, it's not a mistake: this ship does not carry a single missile. It's really annoying. However when you designate it as a 'Patrol fighter' I suppose it makes kind of a sense.

In any case, time to fly that patrol then.
Well, that wasn't very different from the first mission of WC1, was it? Although don't worry about the fact that it was so easy. It'll get much harder very soon, in just a mission or two.

Some interesting new enemies, though, even if their names do sound vaguely familiar.


Class: Light Fighter
Length: 8.3 Meters
Mass: 12.5 tonnes
Max Velocity: 400 kps
Cruise Velocity: 220 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 8 dps
Maximum Pitch: 8 dps
Maximum Roll: 8 dps
Weapons: Neutron gun (2x), Dumb-fire missile (1x)
Shields: Fore: 5 cm equivalent; Aft: 5 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 4 cm; Right: 3 cm; Left: 3 cm; Rear: 4 cm.

This year's Salthi, I suppose. But be careful of one thing: it may look like a Salthi, but it sports a pair of neutron guns in front! So not quite as harmless if you are accosted by several of them. Still, it's so weak that it dies in just a couple of hits basically.


Class: Medium Fighter
Length: 11.7 Meters
Mass: 14 tonnes
Max Velocity: 400 kps
Cruise Velocity: 200 kps
Acceleration: Good
Maximum Yaw: 7 dps
Maximum Pitch: 7 dps
Maximum Roll: 7 dps
Weapons: Laser Cannon (3x), Dumb-fire missile (4x), Chaff pod (1x)
Shields: Fore: 5.5 cm equivalent; Aft: 5.5 cm equivalent.
Armour: Front: 4 cm; Right: 3.5 cm; Left: 3.5 cm; Rear: 4 cm.

A little sturdier than Sartha, but in return it only has laser guns in front, so less dangerous on that front. Note the chaff pod; this is a missile decoy. At the moment it doesn't matter since we won't be firing any missiles because... we aren't carrying any! Also, we'll get to use the chaff pod later on if we want to.

Anyway, it's time to land!

Hm. Wonder what that's all about?

Current kill total: 51 missions/507 kills


Before this game was published, a trailer was distributed, believe it or not. I think it was given out on disks includes with computer gaming magazines at the time (I'm not really sure), but in any case it really features the first part of the introduction seen above. This would not normally be interesting, except... it's an early version featuring some different visuals and totally different voice acting. The different animation is very interesting and to be honest, I'm kind of disappointed they didn't include some of that in the finished version. But have a look and judge for yourself:

Next time on Wing Commander
"The Colonel wants to see you, sir!"