I’ve been wanting to play this all week and I’d probably have got around to this last episode sooner but I’ve been messing around installing a RAID-array of hard disks, then reinstalling XP, then Windows 7 this week which has eaten into my time and then some. It’s all working now, apart from some slightly dodgy Win 7 sound drivers anyway.
Mission 1 is a two part mission and this is going to be a bit of a theme for this final episode. First I have to escort a load of fighters (being flown by techs) back to the Firekka, then I have to go and inspect a Kilrathi fleet. It sounds innocuous but on the winning path I’ve played this mission is the hardest in the game by a mile.
I fly to meet the Rapiers without incident. There is a nice big space station here and I guess the Kilrathi know better than to attack but on the way back we are ambushed first by a load of Salthi and then by some Drakhai in some fancy new ship. Trying to keep the tech’s (or even my own wingmen) alive here is a nightmare.
The Drakhai ship’s are extremely tough in the fighter I’m in and taking them out without using a missile is near enough impossible as my guns just don’t seem to hurt them all that much before running out of power. I manage to get back only losing a couple of the tech’s (eventually) which seems to be enough to complete this goal.
The second part of the mission is bound to be easy after that….. I suppose it’s easier than the first part but it’s still a nightmare. I have to fly into the middle of the Kilrathi fleet and inspect a ship. That doesn’t sound too hard except the inspection takes about a minute all of which time I have to stay within 5000m of the ship whilst being turreted + having a load of fighters come after me. I just about manage to survive after a few attempts and do my best to afterburn away with the little fuel I have left. I swear that the autopilot light comes on half a second after my afterburners give out. I’m not sure if this was by luck or designed into the mission but I don’t hang around to ask questions.
This mission was the Wing Commander equivalent of I Wanna Be The Guy. If this was the first mission it begs the question how hard it’s going to get but I’m glad to say it gets easier, maybe not much but enough.
Next mission, it’s straight back out there to take out some of these capships. This time I’m flying a Crossbow and it makes all the difference, although this mission is more about taking out capships than fighters. There are a lot of ships to take out but I complete this mission first attempt without any drama.
When I get back one of our support ships isn’t looking too clever which makes the next mission a little harder.
We have to scramble again to meet a load of incoming fighters and bombers. This mission is another tough one but this time it’s more about figuring out the strategy. I have to concentrate on bombers (which probably goes without saying). The biggest Jalkehi ships are trying to take out the Firekka and since this can take some punishment I have to leave them till last and instead go for the Gothri’s then the Grikhath’s which are aiming for the more vulnerable support ships.
The first time I follow this strategy, I complete the mission without losing any of our fleet.
There is another cutscene of me talking to my log and sounding confused about my feelings for Sparrow…
That doesn’t last long and then I’m given another tricky mission. This is an interesting one. We have to go after a Kilrathi carrier but we only have 3 Broadswords to escort + my small fighter wing. We are being joined by a load of civilian pilots who will act as cannon fodder for the operation.
They weren’t kidding about the civilians being cannon fodder and they get blown up in large numbers. They all have there own little speeches when they go. The only trick to this mission is to take out the fighters quickly enough that the bombers can get their job done. It’s tough and takes a few attempts.
When I get back, I’m out of missiles + most of my fuel but get sent off on more work without landing.
The Concordia has been damaged and can’t launch fighters so we have to go and help. I’m in no shape for this. I help out in the fight but after I run out of fuel I hang back and let the rest of the fighters clear up. This strategy works ok once I figure it out. In the middle of the battle the Concordia uses it’s main guns to take out the Fralthi so we don’t have to worry about anything except the fighters.
Our last strike was just a diversion. Now we are to proceed with the real plan. The marines are going to plant mines inside the enemy capships and we have to escort them.
The plan has to be put on hold as a wing of Kilrathi attacks the Firekka and we scramble our fighters.
The Firekka doesn’t seem to be in any real danger in this mission. The only real challenge is staying alive until the support arrives from the Lexington. My old strategy of hanging around the capships works well here.
At the end of the mission we get to keep the fighters from the Lexington + I get to rearm. Actually landing to rearm is a pleasant surprise as I’m expecting to have to go straight back into the fight.
I get straight back out after landing and fly out to meet the predictably huge fleet of Kilrathi. The marines have already taken out some of the ships. I have to attempt to escort the second wave in.
There may be some good tactics for this. I try a few things but in the end I just resort to killing the nearest ship as quick as I can over and over. There is no way to keep all the marines alive but I manage to get about 2/3 of them there safely. They make very short work of all of the ships when they get there but I’ve got plenty of fighters to keep me busy in the meanwhile.
I afterburn out after the mission. I’m expecting this to be the last one but there is still more to come.
I have an email telling me that my jump drive has been swapped for extra fuel. Since I’ve not used my jump drive in the whole game so far, I wish someone had thought of it sooner.
There is a video cutscene to introduce this final mission. Basically we just have to blow up as many Kilrathi capships as we can, especially their final super-carrier.
There is a huge wing for this mission and we will be meeting up with even more pilots from the Concordia. We have to face a wing of bombers on their way to Firekka on the way out but this many of us make light work of them.
The Kilrathi fleet is bigger than ever and they are joined by Prince Thrakhath who I get to fight. He comes straight for me so I can’t just ignore him and leave him to the others which is my usual strategy with the ace’s in this game. He’s quick but not too difficult and I get him with a dumbfire at short range.
After this I attempt to concentrate on the super carrier. I don’t have that many torpedoes but I use what I have to take out it’s engines and the rest of our fighters finish off everything else. It’s actually a fairly easy mission and I finish it on my first go destroying everything in sight.
The fleet is waiting for our return. Why they didn’t join us in the battle I don’t know…..
After completing every part of the last mission, I’m expecting the good ending.
The final cutscene shows me congratulating the crew, the Commodore gives us a couple of days off before we go on the counterattack and I give Sparrow the brush off to end the game. It’s a slightly downbeat ending considering, I’m assuming this is as upbeat as it gets and I’ve not got the middling ending.
This final episode has thrown a lot of capships at me, and mission after mission was packed with more ships than ever seen before in a Wing Commander game. The variety in mission design was kept up to some extent although destroying the huge groups of capships would have started to get old if there had been another episode. I liked the mission with the civilian pilots especially and the ending battle was suitably large. It felt like the real battle was escorting the marines the mission before and the final mission was just hammering home our advantage as we destroyed everything in sight.
The storyline didn’t really go anywhere in particular in the end and it finished on something of an anti-climax. I’m not saying it was badly done, there just wasn’t a lot to it. It reminded me a bit of the Wings of Glory or Pacific Strike games where it was very secondary to the action. For a fan game, I think this was the right decision. They could never take on WC4’s movies but the story we got helped to keep the game interesting. The movies that we did have were very well done with some decent voice acting. The worst acting was probably the main character which is a bit unfortunate but it wasn’t so bad as to be a problem.
I’m nitpicking here as usual. This game is good enough that you forget it’s been made by a load of WC fans when you are playing it. It’s more along the lines of playing a game that’s a few years old (which is still newer than most of the stuff I play). Any Wing Commander or space shooter fan should give this a go. I hope we haven’t seen the last from the Standoff team but after 10 years I could forgive them if they retire from WC mods.