In honor of Wing Commander II's upcoming 20th anniversary, we've asked members of the CIC staff to post their memories of the game here. Want to share your own? Post it to the forums and we'll collect them all in a future article!
I remember being given Wing Commander II the Christmas after it came out. My family was celebrating at some relative's house and I was desperate to go home and play the game. It was the 'promotional' release that came with the speech pack and I was terrified that I was going to somehow lose one of the giant stack of diskettes before I could make it home.Dundradal:
It goes without saying that Wing Commander II set a new standard for gaming. I don't know anyone who had a sound card in 1991 and didn't use the introduction to show off what home computers were capable of. It seems impossible now, but just being able to listen to Thrakhath and the Emperor speak was such an amazing sea change.
Everything about the game shined--it hit you in the gut when Spirit died, you cheered when you saved the day... you blushed when Angel kissed you. For all the credit live action gets, I honestly don't think we have ever been closer to the "interactive movie" than those faces in WC2.
It made such difficult choices, too--opening by destroying the Tiger's Claw? What a shock! Refusing to explain what happened to all your original wingmen? That had to be gnawing at the writers, but it grew the universe so much. Swapping the satisfying-but-easy capship runs for the complicated but so much more rewarding torpedo mechanic? Brilliant.
For me, Wing Commander II has also been--and remains!--a 'holy grail'. I'll never forget the first time Captain Johnny showed us his Wing Commander II FM Towns. A port of WC2? With an entirely new cover? I had to get one, and I learned to use a deputy service to purchase Wing Commander items from Japan... which became a very expensive hobby. Today the quest goes on, for Wing Commander II SNES, a game some of Origin's finest developed but that never saw release. There's a prototype out there somewhere--and we're going to find it!
I’ll always remember when I first started playing Wing Commander 2 in 1995. My dad surprised me one day by bringing a copy of Wing Commander 2 Deluxe he’d found at a swap meet. I was in the middle of playing Privateer for the first time when it arrived. It had to take a back seat for a bit.
When I first played the game, I had not played the original Wing Commander. For me that experience wouldn’t come until later with the arrival of The Kilrathi Saga. When I first played Wing Commander 2 I thought the first mission you flew with Hobbes was impossible. For some reason I simply could not take out the Jalkehi! I remember getting so frustrated I stopped playing for a week, before giving it a try again, and it’s not a hard mission! Then the game’s story and gameplay sucked me in and didn’t let go for a considerable amount of time.
The torpedo run is what sets Wing Commander 2 apart from the rest for me. The game mechanics make it one of the most challenging and rewarding gameplay sequences I’ve encountered. Anti-matter guns firing, flak cannons bursting out rounds, all without afterburners most of the time! Now that’s a challenge! Even the attempt to create those runs in Wing Commander Prophecy pale in comparison to the original.
For me, Wing Commander 2 will always hold a special place in my heart among all Wing Commander games and product, and while I wish some of the more brilliant flourishes from WC1 made it into the overall design, it's one of those games where you can still pick it up today and be sucked in just as easily by the story and gameplay as ever.Chris Reid:
While I had Wing Commander on the peripheral since it was released, it wasn't until Wing Commander 2 that I could really call myself a true Wingnut. My cousin and I would play WC1 on their 286 and eject to see the cutscenes... we weren't particularly good at the game back then. His dad even bought WC2 though I don't really remember playing it. It wasn't until nearly 1994 and Wing Commander 3 was close on the horizon that we found the WC2 deluxe CD somewhere. I took it home and spent the summer playing it on our 386.
Each new mission was a challenge but one that was rewarding. Sometimes I would only make it through one mission a day. It seemed like the more times I died the load time got longer when I went to re-fly the mission. I can't think of nearly any other game that would instill that same kind of dedication in me. To that, I credit the story and art design. From then, there was no question about whether we would be buying Wing Commander 3. It was in my blood and we were going back to play Wing Commander 1 the right way. And as they say, "the rest is history!"
The twentieth anniversary year for Wing Commander 2 is a huge milestone for me! It still seems just like yesterday. I played WC1 on the SNES, so WC2 was my first PC Wing Commander. I remember swapping disk after disk and then letting the installer decompress for an hour just to get it installed. Like many other people, I invited friends over just to see the animated intro and hear the real voices throughout. It didn't matter what mission I played - every day I booted up the computer, hit the "resume campaign" button and launched into space. From the quick and light Ferret to the almost-capship Broadsword, the WC2 engine felt so rock solid, and the game's story and atmosphere were perfect. What a great game!ace:
Wing Commander 2 was great. It's probably the first thing my mind turns to when I think about Wing Commander.