Everyone involved in gaming loves a good argument.
Right now, we're in the midst of arguments about 720p vs 1080p; Xbox One vs PlayStation 4; PC gaming vs everything; and plenty more besides.
Back in the '90s, though, the main points of contention between gamers were Street Fighter II vs Mortal Kombat; Sonic vs Mario; and, if you were a PC gamer, X-Wing vs Wing Commander.
LucasArts' Star Wars-licensed space sims and Chris Roberts' original series of cinematic space operas both took different approaches to putting you in the pilot's seat. The X-Wing series used polygonal 3D graphics while Wing Commander initially used sprites in its early installments; X-Wing placed the focus on providing a convincing simulation of what it might be like to fly various iconic ships from the Star Wars series, while Wing Commander concentrated on storytelling and characterization; X-Wing largely remained focused on its core experience, while the Wing Commander series was somewhat more inclined to go off-piste and experiment with different types of gameplay. In short, while both sides would be inclined to stick to their guns and declare theirs "the best," they both provided very distinctive experiences that, in many ways, weren't in direct competition with one another.
Both series make up an important part of gaming history. While the space sim has fallen somewhat from grace since its '90s heyday, it's been undergoing something of a resurgence recently thanks to brave efforts by the indie community, the release of Egosoft's impressive but flawed X: Rebirth, and, of course, Chris Roberts' phenomenally successful crowdfunding campaign for Star Citizen, which has, to date, raised over $28 million in funding from fans.
Those who are interested in Star Citizen -- or perhaps those who have already backed it -- may be interested to take a look at the history of the genre, and particularly those titles Roberts has previously worked on, to get an idea of where he and his team are coming from. Fortunately, you're now able to do just that; while the X-Wing series seemingly remains trapped in limbo at present, the retro specialists at GOG.com have been gradually optimizing the entire Wing Commander series for modern machines. And this week, with the release of curious strategy/space combat hybrid Wing Commander Armada, GOG.com now plays host to the entire Wing Commander saga from start to finish -- and, in fact, is currently the only place where you can get these officially licensed, updated versions that work on today's gaming rigs.
To celebrate the entire series finally being available digitally all in one place, GOG.com is running a special promotion until the end of Saturday -- you can grab the entire collection of nine games for $23.92, which is a saving of $24.00 on the usual price.
The series includes all five installments in the main Wing Commander saga -- which tells the tale of pilot Christopher Blair from rookie pilot up to the end of the war with the cat-like Kilrathi and beyond -- along with the various spinoffs. The Privateer subseries sees players flying, fighting and trading in a sandbox Wing Commander universe, while Wing Commander Academy focuses on dogfighting and provides you the ability to create your own missions. The most recently re-released title, Wing Commander Armada, meanwhile, takes the form of a strategy game in which you command a carrier and must defeat your opponent by mining for resources, producing ships and conquering the galaxy.
Wing Commander 3, 4 and 5 along with Privateer 2: The Darkening are also fine examples of late-'90s full-motion video games, each of which features a cast of recognizable names -- a big deal at the time, and still pretty impressive today. The mainline Wing Commander games feature Mark Hamill alongside John Rhys-Davies and Malcolm McDowell, while The Darkening features John Hurt, Christopher Walken and Brian Blessed.
Check out GOG.com's Wing Commander promo here -- but you'd better hurry if you want to take advantage of that 50% off!