The differences to the PC version quickly dried up as I got further into Wing Commander 3 on the PS1 with no different movie edits and only one or two additional news report each on CD’s 2,3 & 4. The news bulletin on CD #3 had actually been used in the background of an earlier scene when Rollins was commenting about how badly the war was going.
The most famous change on the PS1 is the addition of the scene in the locker room where Hobbes explains his motives. This bit of exposition really should have been in the PC original although it’s not a plot development I was keen on with or without it.
Something I failed to mention before is the lack of an option to turn the cockpit on and off in this port, with the only option being a cockpitless HUD. This is something of a loss depending on your point of view. I know most players just turned it straight off on the PC but I always left it on myself. It worked far better in Prophecy with the full 3D ship interior but in 2D still added atmosphere and gave each ship some character.
Other than that this was a clone of the PC version all the way to the planet missions. I’d been wondering how the PS1 would deal with these when I got that far. In essence it didn’t, and they were removed from the game and replaced with FMV instead. This makes some of these later missions extremely anti-climactic as the interesting part was planetside and there isn’t always a whole lot of mission left after it’s been removed.
The fact that the FMV was done after the fact is made clear by the use of speech samples from the game in relatively low sound quality. Also, I mysteriously gain a wingman on at least one of them which is a major continuity problem. I honestly would have thought the PS1 could have coped with the planetside missions in some form. I can understand the 3DO having to use FMV but this seems like a copout. Having said that, the new FMV is pretty cool and from the point of view of a PC gamer looking for something different, they were my favourite thing in the whole port.
With no trench run, the final mission ends with the fight above Kilrah which is a slight anticlimax although the final WC3 mission was never quite up to the standards of the real trench run in X-Wing. Thrakhath gives a lengthy speech at the start which I don’t remember hearing before. I never actually finished the fight with him before I was taken straight into the final FMV’s, presumably due to an emulation bug.
Out of all the console port’s I’ve played, this is the one where the gameplay suffered the most from d-pad controls. I’d often find the controls unresponsive and the speed of turn in each direction was rarely consistent. I’m definitely blaming the emulator rather than the port for this. There were numerous issues including instability, sticking sound, missing notes, incorrect fonts, movies skipping, etc.. and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d have been a lot better off picking up an old PS1 or PS2 and using the real hardware. They are practically being given away these days so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for one before I take on the PS1 version of WC4.
With the dubious controls, I found the gameplay lacking and this has been my least favourite of the Wing Commander ports to play so far because of it. WC3’s plot drifts around for most of the first 2 CD’s not getting going until Tolwyn shows up. From here on it kicks into gear building up to the big finish and I couldn’t not enjoy these later sections but it was frustrating at times getting that far. The battles with aces were especially tough with endless chases where I couldn’t get any clean shots in. The only tactic I found was stopping dead and being quicker at outshooting them when they steered toward me. To avoid too much of this sort of thing, I ended up dropping the difficulty level in later missions which certainly raised the fun factor but it’s not how I would have liked to be playing this.
With my setup this is one port that would have been best left alone until I had the right hardware. I don’t feel like the emulation worked well enough for me to even be able to offer any clear opinion now I’ve finished the game. However with the option for analog control it looks like the 3DO version has to be the console port of choice provided I ever get hold of a CH flightstick and can play it properly.
I’ll probably have a go at FM Towns Ultima 3 next to finish off the trilogy. On an unrelated side note, I just did a deal for the motherlode of 90’s PC gaming magazines complete with cover CD’s and floppy disks. Not sure where on Earth I’ll put them all but they were an absolute steal so I wasn’t going to worry about little details like that. I can’t say how many magazines there are but there are just shy of 600 cover CD’s which gives an idea. It’s a reasonable bet that there will be plenty of scanned articles appearing on here in due course.