Day 134

Our next set of missions is in the Solomons, where the Japanese are trying to take control of shipping lanes in this area. Our mission is to go out and destroy the transports.

I get to fly some new planes in this tour including bombers with tailguns. I can’t say that the planes feel all that much different to fly other than the different weaponry.

I’ve started using the option of turning the cockpit off in an attempt to make tracking targets a little easier. I’m still having serious problems shooting anything but I do manage to score my first definite kill.

One of my wingmen also dies off on the mission though. I could attempt to replay the mission and keep him alive no doubt but this is difficult enough as it is.

The Japanese definitely have the technological advantage over us with their new Zero planes.

New planes are becoming available to us also as the war goes on though and we get a new wildcat with 6 guns rather than 4 + a bit of extra armour.

Having flown a couple of missions we get to fly in the first ever carrier vs carrier battle.

One of my wingmen brings it down very quickly and we emerge from this tour on top.

Completing this mission grants me a promotion and I now get to pick whichever plane I like to fly a given mission.

The next tour is at Midway defending the base from the Japanese.

This is a tough mission and we have to fight off several waves of fighters – most of the base is wiped out but enough survives to count the mission as a success.

We have to attempt to sink 4 aircraft carriers on the tours next mission. Its succesful if you just destroy the one by all accounts although I gather from the playtesters guide that you need to get a few more to make the rest of the game easier. We sink at least a couple of them between us.

This victory gets me a medal. I don’t get to see a ceremony or anything but I have a medal box available in my bunk I can examine.

The tours final mission sees us attempting to finish off the remaining carriers. There are supposed to be 2 of them in the mission briefing but I only find the one.

This gets me another promotion which I’m told will allow me to choose my wingmen and the planes they fly.

For the next tour is back down to the solomons to ward off some bombers.

I’m about 1/3 of the way through this now and I’ve already had enough in truth. Its very difficult attempting to score any kills and the pace of the game feels very slow because of it. With the VGA graphics I can’t judge distance to my enemy at all – the grey cross usually obscures the enemy plane completely until they get very close. The missions feel a little more varied than Strike Commander – there are way more planes to fly at least but I’m missing my radar and HUD.

It does have its moments – if I was more into flight sims maybe I would love this game but I much prefer the immediate action of Wing Commander. It has to be said that this crop of 1994 games from Origin haven’t been the best and mark a real downturn as far as I’m concerned. There is better to come at least once I get this out of the way.

Day 133 – Pacific Strike

This is the second in Origins Strike series and not a game I’ve especially been looking forward to. It moves the Strike Commander gameplay into the 2nd world war with missions based on an air carrier. At the time the game came out it was much critisized for being unplayable at full detail on pretty much any machine, no matter how expensive. There were also issues with the digital sound being loaded off the drive each time and the game pausing and other gameplay issues. A patch was later released to address the issues but this sort of thing was becoming standard with each major Origin game.

I’m going into this playing the patched version with the optional speech pack and I don’t expect to have performance issues running it in Dosbox. I’d like this to be quite different to Strike Commander though as I’d really had enough of that game by the end.

The intro shows the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbour. My character is stationed there along with his wingman “Jester”.

Our first mission is to defend our base from the attack. The game puts me straight in the action.

On first impressions, the graphics are definitely a notch up from Strike Commander. There is more detail on all the models and more texturing.

I find the options and turn everything to full detail. This adds sky texturing among other things. There are no performance issues and I could crank up Dosbox more if I needed it so whatever performance problems there were at the time are not a there these days.

This being WW2, I don’t have all the missiles that were par for the course in Strike Commander. I also don’t have radar or a little crosshair to help me aim ahead of my enemy so its really back to basics. I score a few hits but I’m not sure I actually manage to take anyone down myself while defending our base.

Between the 2 of us and the flak gun we still take them out and we then get a call from to help defend some of our ships.

There is a lot more detail on the ship models than on anything in Strike Commander. Again, I’m not convinced I’m much help in the fight. Tracking a target is not easy as it just turns into a white crosshair which doesn’t stand out against the background. I make use of the keep eyes locked on target feature to get an idea where I need to turn.

I don’t help a lot but we get the job done and land back at home base.

On landing we get news that we are being transferred to a carrier ship where I expect we will be spending the rest of the game.

After a few brief cutscenes we find ourselves nearing Japan in the middle of the ocean.

Anyone who has played Wing Commander will know what to expect on the carrier. There are a few rooms with people in I can talk to and advance the storyline.

The briefing room is a variant on what we were seeing way back in Wing Commander 1. We are going to attempt to strike back at the Japenese in a mirror of their own Pearl Harbour attack. Our job is to take out an air base.

My plane is waiting for me to board it along with a technician who I can speak to at this point. This is very similar to what I’ll be seeing in Wing Commander 3 when I get that far. There is a nice animation of the ship being lifted onto the deck – this sort of thing must chew up disk space and is more what I’d expect from a CD game.

We have a few planes to take out and then I make a run on the airstrip and shoot a couple of buildings out. Again, I’m don’t contribute a lot to the mission but we get the job done.

We land after the mission and get the usual Wing Commander style debriefing that was missing in Strike Commander.

Next mission is to take out some Japanese boats.

I’ve barely started this today. First impressions are quite good actually for a game I wasn’t looking forward to. It is different enough from Strike Commander to be interesting for now and there looks to have been a lot of effort gone into the production standards. The manual talks of averting the nuclear bombs being used to end the war if you are successful enough and I do like the idea of having alternate histories for WW2 depending on your performance. There are 3 endings – the middle one being what actually happened, but there is also a losing path you can follow.

As for the flying part, I’m undecided for now and am still attempting to get the hang of it. I think this simpler combat may be more my style than Strike Commander was but I’ll hold off on judgement until I get a few missions in.