QT3 Classic Game Club #7 Wing Commander 3

Over the years it is inevitable that you will miss some terrific games. There is a wide array of ‘classic’ titles, a list which will vary greatly depending on whom you ask. Some of these are games I overlooked, which the years pushed into memory all too quickly. Others are games I simply lacked interest in. The Classic Game Club has been an opportunity to discover some of these classics with new eyes. Not all aged gracefully, but each offered something special to recommend it.

Which brings us to my selection, a game which is frequently hailed as one of the best all time. One which, in almost any list of the genre, is at or near the top. It is also a game I should have jumped on and loved. I am talking about Wing Commander 3. It is one of the greatest omissions in my gaming history, and it thrills me to no end to see if this game really lives up to it’s reputation.

See I grew up a huge fan of science fiction, I became obsessed with Star Wars as soon as I discovered it. When my family finally got a PC my first game was a flight sim. Here was a game combining sci fi flight sim with Luke Skywalker. It was tailor made for 12 year old me. Unfortunately at the time the only computer I had access to was an old Apple IIE, and most of my gaming was done on the Sega Genesis. By the time I had the ability to play the game, it had already faded from it’s glory days.

There are other reasons to pick Wing Commander 3 other than reputation. Space sims are quickly gaining traction, look no further than Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen to see examples. Speaking of Star Citizen, the crowd funded darling, the designer is none other than Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame. So now is the perfect time to see why his name gains such reverence that it can garner $48 million in crowd funding. That kind of cash is evidence of fierce loyalty, loyalty that only could come from some truly seminal games.

The game is also notable for it’s story. IT might seem odd for a flight sim of any stripe to b heralded for narrative, they rank with strategy games for their perfunctory nature often, but it remains one of the frequently cited strengths of the series. Full motion video, with live big name actors no less, underpins the storytelling. The Kilrathi have managed to gain enough notoriety that even my complete absence of any experience with the series does not prevent me from knowing of them, a notable feat in itself.

All that said it’s simply a game I’ve long wanted to try. Well no time like the present. Time to dust off those old flight sticks, because we’re going flying.

Wing Commander can be found at GOG for $5.99.

I’ve never actually played this myself, but I remember being quite envious of a friend of mine who got this back in junior high. Not sure how far I’ll get into it, but I’ll definitely play it for a bit. Good choice.

OH shit yes.

Would this play well with just mouse and keyboard? Or is there anyway to get a 360 controller to work with it?

Ha, it seems my question to you was well timed Brian. BTW my plan to play it before my pick came obviously didn’t work. Oh well, I’m not the only one going in cold so that’s cool too.

Nice pick, Craig! Let’s find out if this Roberts guy really deserves our 50 million dollars!

I played the hell out of WC1 and 2 (I would have picked 2, if it were me, although I think the actual gameplay engine hasn’t aged well). I think something about the FMV sequences bugged me and kept me away from WC3. Actually, no. You know what it was? This is weird: It was that you couldn’t name the character or pretend it was you. Now you were Mark Hamill. For some reason that really turned me off. It made the game more of a movie and less of a game to me somehow.

I do have some memories of Malcolm McDowell hamming it up, so either I played part of this or watched a friend play over his shoulder.

Anyway, I agree it seems increasingly relevant today, after a long drought (or apparent drought) of space flight sims and their new renaissance. This’ll be fun!

Oh! Craig, you should link to a place to buy the game. GOG, I assume?

After playing TIE Fighter a lot lately, WOW the flight model of this seems so simple by comparison. I’d totally forgotten…

That’s what I worry about as well - except I don’t have a 360 controller on hand either.

Back in the day I used a joystick to play space sims, but even though I still have it somewhere it’s gameport-based and my PC no longer has a gameport.
IIRC they only developed a very good mouse-based interface with Freelancer and everything else was almost unplayable without a joystick for me.

Nice pick, though - I hope to get a chance to look for game discs and my old joystick on the weekend.


I did add one in last night, right after the picture. Although at first I had forgotten it. But it is happily there (though perhaps could use some more separation, yeah I’ll add a few lines to make it stand out more).

As for the game, I was thrown at first by the fact you are NOT a generic avatar. I had thought this was the case, and Mark Hamill was merely a supporting cast. Nope, you are Mark. I take it 1&2 were not like this, but where you named your avatar. As for control methods, my joystick is long dead, not that it’d do me any good if it wasn’t. Old Microsoft Sidewinder, but COM port only. Oh well.

One thing I do wish to add, in light of conversation on the club thread, is that I think we should be a bit freer with spoilers perhaps than we have been. It is a 20 year old game, and it’s reputation as a narrative led game would make it difficult perhaps to engage in meanigful discussion if we try and excise all spoilers. Maybe, as someone suggested, beginning week 2 all spoiler topics get the green light? Just a thought, if others disagree then that’s ok too.

I own WC4 on GoG, but not 3. Never played either, cuz I suck at space shooters.

Maybe I’ll be a club rebel and take WC4 for a test drive.

Cool choice. I originally played the 3DO version with the special thrustmaster flightstick. Yeah you heard right. THE 3DO VERSION, YO! I remember having a great time with it, cheesy action and all.

Now I have to dig up my flightstick…

I may have to make time for this. I might play on Easy though as to avoid skipper missile frustration.

I believe this is one of those games where you don’t have to play through the same difficulty for the whole game. I think it was ALT-O or something to bring up options during the mission even.


Hey, another game I already own and was totally meaning to play one day! Actually I have never played a Wing Commander game at all and was hoping to start with the first one but come on, that was never really going to happen. May as well jump in with you jokers and see what the fuss was all about. I definitely hope I can get my Xbox controller to work otherwise it’s going to be keyboard + mouse and that’s no way to fly a spaceship.

It does have the ability to go newtonian-physics-mode (rotation while letting ship drift in original direction) though. Helps when taking out those capital ships.

As someone who has never played a flight sim of any kind and only has a keyboard and mouse should I sit this one out? I’d like to see what all the fuss is about with these shooty space games…

I think you should be able to do reasonably well with a mouse and keyboard.

Hooboy. I dunno about anyone else, but I tried with a gamepad, and it was basically unplayable. For starters the sensitivity was way out of whack, at once both unresponsive, and way too touchy. The inability to roll and turn, or yaw at all, is untenable. I ran the first sim, the one where you fly to a point and fight a guy, and nearly lost. Baaaaaaad baaaad. While mouse may not be an ideal input system, it is a faaar faaar better option than a gamepad. Lacking a flightstick I can make no commentary there.

That said it wasn’t too bad with a mouse actually. I had issues adjusting to the aiming and a printer on the fritz means I don’t have a control reference to use during the game, but I can probably scrape by.

For those interested the gamepad is a Logitech, but one that is essentially identical in mapping to a 360 controller. In fact most games think it is, so if you have one of those do not expect better results. If anyone has had success with a gamepad I would dearly love to hear it.