The first problem I faced trying to play this game is it doesn’t seem to be available as abandonware anywhere on the internet unless I just couldn’t find it. This meant resorting to trying to load it off the original floppies and I don’t have a PC with a floppy drive. Fortunately it was on 3 1/2 inch disks which helped so I took it into work and imaged the disk – with a 16 year old floppy disk this took a look of retrying to read dodgy sectors but it got there in the end.
SM2 adds another 16 mission campaign just like SM1. This time it does actually add some new stuff – there is a new ship, new pilots and new enemies. More about them as I get to them. The plot starts off with you providing the guard for a new race joining the Federation called the Firekka who happen to look like giant birds.
In the first briefing the colonel informs us that the Dralthi have been upgraded and now use mass drivers and have better shields. I run into a load of these in my first mission – the mass driver guns definitely take you down pretty quickly if you get hit so they are more of a challenge.
After this mission Shotglass informs me that the Kilrahti got chased out of another sector but they appeared to just give up and leave.
Next briefing, we get told about more new enemies the Drakhai. These are elite pilots that can fly any of the ships and are a lot harder to hit than the run of the mill pilot. They are the equivalent of the aces in Wing Commander except I will be seeing an awful lot more of them.
A couple of missions in I get the first cutscene where the Firekka join the federation.
Next mission, I run into my first new fighter a Hhriss. These are pretty deadly and take you out in no time and also pretty tough.
They are guarding a new type of carrier a Snakeir. Carriers tend to just sit there while you shoot them so there isn’t too much to say about this. It seems to have a missle supply which I can’t remember seeing before and it takes a lot more hits than normal to kill off.
The plot rolls along steadily. A lot of it seems to be setting up stuff I know will be referred to in Wing Commander 2 like Spirits fiance being captured. As far as this game goes the Kilrathi are withdrawing from all other sectors and all their ships are coming here with just the Tigers Claw to stop them.
I get a mission to help escort a defecting Fralthi back over to the federation. This is where Hobbes who I will be seeing in Wing Commander 2 is introduced although he never makes an appearance in this game.
We receive a threat from Prince Thrakath (another WC2 character). It seems the Firekka planet is regarded as holy ground and they want us off it.
We recruit a couple of pilots temporarily from the TCS Austin (Jazz and Doomsday). Again they will be turning up in WC2 – you get the feeling this whole expansion pack is trying to set the scene for that game.
I also get a mission flying a dralthi from the defecting Kilrathi ship.
It looks quite different inside to any federation ship. I get 2 missions in it here which are pretty easy scout missions where I don’t even have to shoot anything if I don’t want. I get a new wingman Jazz for these 2 missions.
The defected Kilrathi tell us that the Kilrathi have to perform a religious ceremony on a given planet which happens this time to be Firekka. Failure to do so could mean rebellion in their ranks which is where we come in.
Another WC2 character from the Austin shows up – Doomsday. He isn’t the most useful of pilots but who is. The difficulty level of this game varies hugely but it definitely has the hardest missions so far and the co-pilots are just useless. They never seem to get any kills at all.
In the bar, I hear a little about a traitorous human faction called the society of Mandarins who will be showing up again in WC2.
A lot of missions later, there is another cutscene showing the Kilrathi ceremony being disrupted.
But at this point its time for us to retreat as the numbers are overwhelming.
For the last 2 missions maniac who has spent the last 2 mission packs in the sickbay with mental problems gets put on my wing.
The first mission with Maniac we have to take out 3 cap ships and its not the easiest. He turns out to be the single best wingman in the game in that he actually kills the enemy. For the first nav point with 2 cap ships I just concentrate on the fighters and he takes out the cap ships on his own. The next one is a bit trickier with a snakeir to destroy but it jumps out if its not taken out quickly enough. Again he concentrates on the Snakeir, I help him take it out and afternburner out. This gets me a Medal of Valor.
Just 1 mission left and the killboard looks a bit lopsided. The final mission is a defend the claw one – no nav points just keep the claw arrive and kill everything. Again Maniac is great. He doesn’t care if I’m in the way so I have to make sure I’m never fighting the same ship as him but we come back with 5 kills a piece. I don’t think any other wingman got more than 1 in the whole mission pack. This triggers the final cutscene with the Firekka defeating the Kilrathi.
Despite the new stuff in this mision pack, I think I preffered the last one. The difficulty level in this got a bit silly at times and some of the missions were rock hard. The enemy pilots are definitely better but their numbers haven’t gone down and if anything my wingmen (apart from Maniac) are worse than ever. I must have had the “you are about to die” music playing most of the time for every mission. Wing Commander 2 was well into development when this came out and its pretty obvious that this game is introducing characters and elements for that storyline. If you played this to the end though Wing Commander 2 should be a piece of cake to finish as I’m sure it wasn’t this hard. I’ll find that out later but I’ve got another game to fit in first.
Next:Ultima – Runes Of Virtue