Wing Commander: Academy is essentially a level editor and an engine without a game. Taking advantage of the franchise's good name, it fails as a standalone title and should have been included with one (or more) of the Wing Commander games as an enhancement package, where it would have been welcomed by fans. Gameplay is built on the solid Wing Commander II flight engine, with a few minor modifications. As good as the basic engine is, though, there's no narrative and thus no real sense of accomplishment. The action quickly grows tiresome.
Previous titles in the series offered several types of mission models, including search-and-destroy, search-and-rescue, escort, and so forth; the variety is the ingredient that keeps the games fresh. In Academy, you're limited to using only fighters in mission design and creating slight variations on the search-and-destroy theme. Dogfights are fun for a time but pointless when there is no purpose or storyline to advance. Creating and testing missions may be initially novel to fans, but the lack of any multiplayer options ultimately diminishes Academy's long-term appeal.
Wing Commander Academy puts players into the role of a fresh young recruit at the Confederation Academy, where new pilots must test their skills in the simulator. Unlike other Wing Commander games, Wing Commander Academy features no storyline or campaign. Instead players may play through simple dogfight missions or build "waypoints" on an interface similar to the radar view. Using this mission builder, the player may place objects that include friendly fighters, enemy fighters, enemy capital ships, space stations and ejected pilots.
Wing Commander Academy's controls and graphics are almost directly copied from Wing Commander II. Similar to that game, the player engages in a first person space battle against Kilrathi forces in 360 space. Players are able to choose different ships, weapon types and wingmen.
Wing Commander Academy is a fun but often overlooked 3D space shooter. Originally released to appease anxious fans eagerly awaiting the release of Wing Commander 3 and Privateer, this little game has since been forgotten by the masses.
The premise is quite simple: you're a student at the Academy, training to be a pilot in the war against the Kilrathi. With no plot or missions to speak of, this game is essentially for the Wing Commander fan, and probably won't entice other gamers. Wing Commander Academy is modeled as a Confederation Academy simulator, allowing players to create and then fly their own customized missions; the player is able to easily play around and create custom scenarios. The only limit is your imagination.
There are a few old faces available as wingmen: Angel, Hobbes and Maniac; but also new pilots such as Lightspeed. Different fighters are available, including all Wing Commander 2-era Confederation fighters, as well as most of the Kilrathi models. Two new fighters are also introduced: the Confederation Wraith medium fighter and the Kilrathi Jrathek medium fighter. The game has an addictive high-score gauntlet mode, which can keep the player shooting down enemy ships for quite some time.
The graphics are pretty much on par with those of Wing Commander 2; they are almost directly copied from the second installment in the series.
Bottom line is: no plot, no cinematics, just the challenge of fighting off wave after wave of fighters.
Wing Commader Academy is a fun but overlooked 3D space shooter based on the Wing Commander 2 engine, released by Origin to appease fans who were anxiously awaiting the release of Privateer and Wing Commander 3. To prevent fans from crying "foul!" at this straight rip-off of the "simulator" practice mode in the original games, Origin added some new features. First off, there are two new ships, the Wraith and the Jrathek, for the Terran and Kilrathi sides respectively. The Wraith is a small but very fast fighter with two new weapons: a Reaper cannon and the Leach missile. The Leach missile adds a whole new dimension to dogfighting in space, as it drains all power from weapons and shields of any ship, including capital ships. There are also some new spacial effects, such as a burning sun and spinning planets.
Game play consists of two simple phases: Constructing missions, and then playing them. Missions can have up to four nav points each with its own set of enemies and objects such as enemy ships, terran ship, space stations, asteroids, ejected pilots and data pods. You can save up to twenty-four different missions which you can trade with friends or you can take on the pre-built simulation, the gauntlet, which consists of fifteen levels made up of three waves each in increasing difficulty. The higher levels are a true test for any Wing Commander veteran. Overall, Wing Commander Academy achieves its purpose of whetting the player's appetite for future games in the series. And the action is for the most part so engrossing that you won't even notice the lack of plot in this game.
As a student at the TCSN Academy, you custom-design and fly unique combat, rescue, and search and retrieval missions from the CyberSchool's holographic simulator. You are trained in a variety of classes and exercises that will adequately prepare you for real-life combat in space. You will learn how to effectively navigate asteroid and mine fields, retrieve ejected pilots and data capsules from space, blow enemy capital ships out of space and defend your own space station against attacking forces. Using the same flight engine as Wing Commander 2, but allowing you to customize scenarios, Academy is an ok game with a limited play-time potential. With no real plot or destiny, along with no tie-in to the main Wing Commander storyline, Academy is just a game to beef up on flight skill.
How to run this game on modern Windows PC?
People who downloaded Wing Commander: Academy have also downloaded:
Wing Commander II: Deluxe Edition, Wing Commander 1, Wing Commander: Prophecy - Gold, Wing Commander Privateer (CD-ROM), Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander: Armada, Wing Commander: Privateer
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