There aren't as many gaming sites name dropping Wing Commander as there were a decade ago, but they still pop up all over if you look. Here's a couple from just this week: HotHardware ran a feature on gaming clichés. The story decries the linear nature of modern games that screech to a halt if any losing conditions are met. Wing Commander's branching mission trees and losing paths are held up as a high example of how games should be made.
One of the reasons why the Wing Commander and, to some extent, Freespace franchises were so great is that both of them allowed you to fail. They handled the concept differently -- Wing Commander had a "Losing Tree" of missions that was separate and distinct from the main game, while Freespace handed you difficult mission objectives that you could fail without losing the game. Both approaches created uncertainty and left the player wondering if better performance in-mission would change elements of future missions.
GameSpy also ran a preview of the upcoming space sim Miner Wars. They say the game has a distinctly Privateer feel to it. A demo is available to try for yourself!
Rosa and I had a chance to talk for a bit at this past GDC, but it wasn't until a few days ago that I had some time to play the Miner Wars 2081 demo (you can download it here) to see how this space sim is coming along. In short, it feels like Descent meets Wing Commander: Privateer, which if implemented right, could be awesome.