Wing Commander 3 PS1 – Part 2

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

6 thoughts on “Wing Commander 3 PS1 – Part 2

  1. >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.

    Personally, I never liked that Hobbes scene and I wish it had never been included at all. Is it so hard for players to believe that Hobbes simply couldn’t stand by and watch his world be destroyed and millions of Kilrathi killed, regardless of his past feelings towards them and his loyalty towards the Confederation? I think the lack of a definite explanation for Hobbes betrayal was far more poignant and thought provoking than inserting some bullshit sci-fi claptrap to explain it away. I’m really hoping that’s why it wasn’t included in the PC version and not just because of a lack of available CD space.

    I mean, if Hobbes was under THAT kind of control the whole time, don’t you think they would’ve found a way to trigger his programming, oh say, after he DEFECTED from the Kilrathi in Wing Commander I and started flying missions against them in Wing Commander II? ^_^;

    • I don’t reckon either option makes any sense which is one of my problems with this whole plot device. There is the scene with Thrakhath and Melek fairly early on where Thrakhath mentions the trigger/traitor and having waited many years. This more or less confirms Hobbes being a traitor in some shape or form long before the Behemoth shows up. If he had simply changed his mind and decided to undefect, I can’t quite imagine him being welcomed back into the fold and getting to fly on Thrakhath’s wing the moment he got to Kilrah either.

      • >There is the scene with Thrakhath and Melek fairly early on where Thrakhath mentions >the trigger/traitor and having waited many years.

        And had Cobra been the traitor, that would have made sense. But it just seems far too contrived for Hobbes to have been a sleeper agent all this time considering his backstory and his defection which had to hurt the Kilrathi in terms of intelligence, not to mention the missions he started flying against them.

        Plus the Kilrathi were not in the best state at the time Hobbes defected. The Confederation had forced them to withdraw from the Vega Sector, blew up their doomsday weapon and disrupted their religious ceremony. Sure, the Kilrathi blew up the Tiger’s Claw, but then they had to blow up their own stealth fighters, crippling their technological edge for years in order to quell a rebellion. And during all this, there was no opportunity for Hobbes to be awakened and do something productive, like say… assassinate Colonel Blair?

        >If he had simply changed his mind and decided to undefect, I can’t quite imagine him >being welcomed back into the fold and getting to fly on Thrakhath’s wing the moment
        >he got to Kilrah either.

        I imagine the conversation would’ve gone something like this:

        (Hobbes jumps into Kilrathi Space and sends out a message of surrender. He is met by Prince Thrakhath himself with a squad of personal escorts.)

        Thrakhath: You dare show your face here, Traitor!

        Hobbes: I have evidence of another Terran plot to destroy Kilrah.

        Thrakhath: What!? You expect me to believe your lies?

        Hobbes: The evidence is real and the danger to Kilrah is imminent. If you will not listen, I will bring this evidence to the Emperor myself. If you attempt to stop me, I will kill you all.

        Thrakhath: You vastly overestimate your chances.

        Hobbes: Time is wasting. Attack me or hear my evidence and judge for yourself.

        Thrakhath: If this is a trick…

        Hobbes: It is not.

        Thrakhath: …. Show me this evidence. Now.

        (A few minutes later)

        Thrakhath: So, it would appear the apes have one more trick up their sleeve… but why have you brought me this? Why have you betrayed them, as you once betrayed me?

        Hobbes: ….

        Thrakhath: Answer me!

        Hobbes: I am a Kilrathi… my homeworld is Kilrah… that is all you need to know.

        Thrakhath: You expect me to trust you? To forgive you for what you’ve done?

        Hobbes: No. But you would be a fool to turn away my help when it is most needed. I will fly on your wing and defend Kilrah. Once this is done, I will no longer care what happens to me.

        Thrakhath: And if I decide to destroy you now?

        Hobbes: I will defend myself. And we will waste precious time. Time we do not have.

        Thrakhath: …form on my wing.

        Hobbes: As you command… my Prince.

        • I entirely agree Cobra being a traitor would have worked better. They could even have stuck to the character conditioning plot with her time as a prisoner if an explanation was needed and it would have even have fit with Thrakhath’s speech then.

          Whatever spin you put on it I just don’t think this part of the WC3 plot bears up to this degree of close examination. For me, the personality construct explanation with Hobbes was silly but did at least get around some of the problems with him being a double agent so I prefer it left in. I do really like the idea of Hobbes wanting to save his homeworld and if it had been handled correctly this could have been a great twist with Hobbes maybe ending up in exile from both races.

  2. I suppose you used epsxe or pcsx or something like that as an emulator. My suggestion next time is that you use Xebra/Arbex. It runs almost perfectly all the games I got from ps1. The only annoying part is that you have to make sure that you save your memory card file before quitting or you will lose all your progress for that session.

    Xebra needs bios files, but Arbex doesn’t. If you have to play any other PS1 games, use one of those.

    http://drhell.web.fc2.com/ps1/ <– the link to the emulator is the picture near the end.

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