Although the main storyline of the space combat series Wing Commander remains intact, Wing Commander: Prophecy presents you with a change in role, as you take on a new character in a war against a newly introduced alien race. After many years of interstellar war against the hostile catlike Kilrathi, followed by yet another war against the rebel border worlds, the Confederation settles into a peaceful rebuilding existence. But, a new and unknown threat looms on the horizon, a destroyer foretold in Kilrathi prophecies.
Prophecy offers 3D first-person missions (both solo and with wingmen) of varying objectives. Spacecraft range from fast and nimble fighters to slow but heavily armored bombers, both with a variety of energy guns and missile weapons available. The combination of spacecraft and mission types, coupled with a simple but very responsive control system, augers well for enjoyable gameplay.
Unfortunately, other than graphical improvements, the series has not seen significant changes since Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi introduced the targeting lead cursor and the concept of torpedoing capital ships. While Prophecy introduces a new alien race to shoot at, their sense of superiority and obsession with honor is too similar to the Kilrathi from previous games, and some of their evasive maneuvers appear to be lifted straight out of the Kilrathi flight manual. In fact, remove the new alien race's graphics and storyline elements, and you're left with Wing Commander II with updated graphics.
Wing Commander: Prophecy is fundamentally a solid and fulfilling space combat simulation with much to offer newcomers and veterans, but the latter will be disappointed by the lack of innovation.
Well, this was definately a surprise to me, seing as the game was deemed unrippable by so many people. In the end, Paradigm has released this very reasonable rip. Even though cinematics play a huge role in WC4, Prophecy does focus a lot more on the physical gameplay. I am sure that if I had played this game with the videos, it would have been much more enjoyable, but since I haven't seen the videos before it isn't a problem to me. I just see the game as a space combat simulation with a cool unfolding plot line, awesome gameplay, sweet graphics and perfect sound effects! Never the less, lets get on with the review.
When you blew up the planet of Kilrah at the end of WC3, an old prophecy began to come true... Reports of the construction of a new Kilrathi home fleet lead to a reconnoisance mission that only finds it utterly destroyed, blown to pieces without any casualties on the attacker's side... In 2670, the Kilrathi were brought to their knees with the destruction of their homeworld at the hand of the human Christopher Blair. Now, in 2681, among the shattered remains of Kilrah, a new, mysterious threat emerges from an unknown source, laying waste to everything in its path with the Hellfire of Death incarnate...
The game features a smooth playing engine that boasts great control, and at the same time provides the end user with easy manuevering and advanced targeting/weapons systems. The game first starts you off in the main recreation room of the space station, from there you can go to the mission breifing room. I was pleased to see that the mission breifing had a full scale map of the mission proceeding, and full voice as well. The space combat is definately intense, and your actions during the actual game effect how the storyline unfolds. For those who find the game too difficult, go to the options and you can choose rookie difficulty. This definately decreases the challenge, I just left mine on Ace (default setting) and I had some moderate difficulty evading the alien space ships and attacking large fleets.
The targeting system is really cool, you simple cycle through your missles and when the enemy is withing lock range it automatically locks on the target. When you fire a missle and get a direct hit, you can actually see parts of the ship fly off and trails of smoke and debris (that is how realistic it is!). I was really impressed with the explosions too, but I will talk about that in later on. Gun targeting is not hard if you are a good pilot, I have had a lot of experience with X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, if you have, aiming your conventional guns will come naturally. For those who aren't native to space sims, you will probably need some practice in this area. The 2 ways you can tell if you have properly hit the oppenent craft are, first the damage status on your Head up Display will change, and secondly you can see the shield system on the oppenent light up like on 'Star Trek'. Some missions are more difficult than others, but unlike a progressive campaign, they don't get harder as you move along, it seems to be more of a mix. I found some of the later missions easier than the beginning ones, but then they can compensate later on in the game. Overall, Prophecy features very dynamic gameplay and is quite an enjoyable experience.
The controls are quite managable, and even with a Keyboard you can have a cool experience control-wise. Of course, you can still take full advantage of your joystick. The ships are quite responsive to your controls, and rolling is really effective for evading missles. It is also easy to cycle through your weapons, guns and missles having seperate cycle keys is an excellent way to quickly change weapons systems.
The sound definately rocks! Full stereo/surround sound features blaring through your ears give the realism of space combat a new level. I really liked the sound effects used for the weapons and explosions, also the engine sound are quite realistic. I also downloaded the 46 disk Music Addon (which Paradigm released as well) and the musical score definately suits this game, much like XvT's Star Wars theme suited that game. If you want a more enjoyable experience, I would suggest downloading the music addon. If it doesn't matter to you, then don't bother seeing it is quite big. I also downloaded the Speech Addon (which was released by some group named POD, never heard of em before, hehe). Sadly, it did NOT work for me, and I havent spoken with anyone who has gotten it to work. So if you are reading this, and have a solution for this problem, please get in touch with me!
The graphics definately rule as well! Imagine i-War with the combined power of 3Dfx and awesome features like coloured lighting! Yes, coloured lighting, as seen in Quake2, and it's quite beautiful to witness. Also the lighting and rendering is all done in real-time, so it's full action all the time. Also there are features like fog and transparent smoke which add to the realism of the game. The explosions are really awesome, and I reminded me of Star Wars Special Edition (the movie). Also the missle trails look good, but some of the lasers don't look too realistic (but the Ion Cannons do!). I really liked the use of 3Dfx, seeing how it added so many more features in this edition of Wing Commander. Once again, I will stress that if you do not have a 3Dfx card you cannot get the full gaming experience from a lot of games. It's not just about special effects and graphics, but also the framerate is vastly increased, therefor providing much better gameplay!
Overall, this game rocks for space combat simulation fans. If you did not enjoy games like I-War and XvT (and of course the older WC games), you probably will not enjoy this one. But that is up to you to decide, not me!
People who downloaded Wing Commander: Prophecy - Gold have also downloaded:
Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander: Privateer - Gemini Gold, Wing Commander II: Deluxe Edition, Wing Commander 1, Wing Commander Privateer (CD-ROM), Wing Commander: Academy, Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga
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