Star Citizen / Squadron 42 - Space Sim/Combat/Trader : (The History Then and Now)

Good morning viewers today we have a big article about Star Citizen/Squadron 42 and the comparisons between the Wing Commander series and now. Star Citizen/Squadron 42 is being developed by the Legendary Chris Roberts the developer of Wing Commander, Strike Commander and the concept behind Privateer. The Wing Commander series were truly Epic games for there time and still highly regarded today, especially when the live action FMV's came into play and far higher graphical possibilities.  I remember playing Wing Commander 1 in the very early 90's on my Amiga 500 it was so involved, you felt very much in the story and a love and respect for all the characters in the game let alone the combat gameplay!.

 In Wing Commander 1 you take the role of a nameless pilot aboard the TCS Tiger's Claw, a rather large Bengal-class Strike Carrier. However you do get to chose not just the name of the pilot for yourself but the call sign as well, I usually picked FireHawk or HawkFire. Unlike most games whereby you are given an intro and then dumped straight into a battle after battle, in Wing Commander 1 you spend time between missions on the Carrier talking to your buddies. These characters have their own personalities which really added to the feel of the story and the life on the Carrier.  Also to note is that damn Simulator in the bar, nearly every inbetween mission you have the chance to play it as a basic tutorial. It's like playing the combat part of the game but on an arcade machine, however I usually avoid it, for I preferred getting on with the full game experience.

After the briefing which begins before every mission you are straight into the space sim/combat part of the game and even then for it's time it blew me away. You are not just looking at space with some Crosshair placed in front but have the full view of the front inside of the cockpit, what's even more cool was when you moved to fight incoming spaceships your hand and flight joystick move at the same time, how awesome is that?. Enemy Ships whiz past you, from above, below, left and right but make sure you keep an eye on that Radar Display so they don't get behind and start taking pot shots at your shields

But who are you fighting you might ask well that enemy was the Kilrathi, a warlike, feline extraterrestrial!.  Through pretty much the entire game series of Wing Commander you are fighting the Kilrathi and as the game graphics and cutscenes improve so do they, you thought they looked good in the Cartoony style graphics in the full Fmv's they look positively dangerous!. Wing Commander 1 did have two expansions which included new missions, new ships, a new storyline, and an increase in difficulty ( The Secret Missions & 2 the Crusade ). The game came on these systems DOS, Amiga, Amiga CD32, Sega CD, SNES, 3DO, FM Towns, Mac OS. The 3DO version was an enhanced version with enhanced graphics and full speech

 Again in the early 90's Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi the DOS version was released however the storyline was further improved, various sprite-animated cut scenes and of cause voiced over characters in the Speech Accessory Pack, another example of this was seen in Strike Commander. That game was totally different, Think Top Gun. The story line in Wing Commander II was also less open-ended, the game's campaign tree is much more structured and the player character can no longer be promoted or awarded medals. Which was a shame as it took a little more life out of the game but it didn't damage the series at all. Also Wingmen can no longer be killed during normal gameplay; when their fighters are damaged beyond repair, they eject (though some die in scripted sequences).

The story basically goes that in Wing Commander II The TCS Tiger's Claw is on campaign in the Enigma sector, near the Kilrathi sector headquarters, close to the K'tithrak Mang starbase. In a sudden attack, it is lost with all hands apart from a few players who were transferred off and one player YOU who was out on patrol. At the start of the game in a Cutscene you claim that the ship was destroyed by some sort of Kilrathi stealth fighter yet you have no evidence to back this up, because of a damaged fight data recorder. Hence you are charged, demoted and called The Coward of K'Tithrak Mang.

 Being that the story is a long one I wont get too involved with giving it away but you end up being triumph in a battle some years later and become the crew of a flagship. However all is not easy especially with your past, you do also keep finding those Stealth Ships and every time the Recorder ends up damaged, so who will believe you?, will you finally be able to clear your name?. Two more expansions were released Special Operations 1 and 2 in which the newly-promoted Colonel Blair, along with Col. Ralgha "Hobbes" nar Hhallas, is scheduled for a transfer to the "Special Operations" division of Intelligence, under Col. Taggart, who is Chief Field Officer of Intelligence and Special Operations in the Enigma Sector. So expect even more story and combat!.

Now onto the 1994 Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger and the biggest upgrade in graphics and style with further missions and story lines, it was also huge and came on 4 CD's and a multitude of systems.

In WCIII the story begins with a rather impressive cutscene at the Kilrathi Empire, presiding over the execution of Terran Confederation prisoners of war. Yes those Kilrathi are at it again, but all is not lost when Blair's lover is left alive as she has the status of a warrior amongst the Kilrathi. Did I also not mention that Blair is who you play in 1 and 2 however it wasn't until WCIII that you finally get a name given by the developers, also Blair is being played by the actor Mark Hamill. The war with the Kilrathi has been going on for many years and as time has passed so much, Mr Mark I mean Blair has been given the status of Wing Commander with a transfer to the TCS Victory, a Ranger-class carrier. What's even more interesting is one of the crew is a Kilrathi and is played by an actor extremely well!. In WCIII you even have the chance to pilot a prototype fighter especially with the much improved graphics far beyond Wing Commander 1 and 2 hence the amount of CDS having to be used let alone the FMV size. The game unlike it's predecessors doesn't need a speech pack so the game is fully voice acted!

Expect a huge story line once again with deep character involvement and an incredible graphical overhaul from the original both on the carrier and in space. Once again I won't give too much away of the story of the games, but in WCIII you do end up having a multiple choice option later in the game which affects certain outcomes.  Also the ending of WCIII is regarding a rather large bomb that also has a massive affect on the outcome of the war but you won't get to that point so easily, there's a lot of ship battles and an excellent story to go through.

Now it's time for (1996) Wing Commander IV The Price of Freedom and my personal favorite with even further upgrades in the graphics, including far improved cut scene quality thus the game coming on 6CDS. I remember those square box cd containers very well, some had the sleeve version, The orchestrated music is also very impressive! We are talking Hollywood acting, Music and Movie quality fmv's right here!

The war between the alien Kilrathi Empire and the Terran Confederation has been over for several years. Confed is attempting to stabilize its economy, after the abrupt end to thirty-five years of war. The Kilrathi survivors, retainer to the late Prince Thrakhath, are having even greater problems, since so much of their racial and social makeup revolves around hunting and killing. Tensions between the outer colonies and inner Confed worlds are higher than ever. And the Savior of the Confederation Colonel Christopher 'Maverick' Blair, retired, is trying to make out a living on a desert world as a farmer. However you are soon called back to Millitary service!. The war escalates big time especially when a transport is destroyed by a wing of mysterious fighters equipped with a strange new anti-ship weapon that doesn't explode, but rather incinerates the target's contents.

During this story you become the in betweener trying to unravel the story of this war, calm the tensions between the factions, what are these new anti-ship weapons? for example. What also makes this story even better than the previous ones is the outcome of your choices that have a far outweighing affect of who you end up with, who becomes friend and who becomes ally, who will you fight for?

Regarding the battles, the ship combat is far beyond any of the previous games in the series with new ships, new weapons big battles and bigger ships. However the down side is you don't have the joystick/hand movement which was so well known in the previous games but you do have far more respect and admiration for your wing men that call out for assistance in the corner of your viewpoint.

The last game in the series from 2003 was Wing Commander: Prophecy. The game features a new game engine (the VISION Engine), new spacecraft, characters and story elements. Another one of my favorites it was also developed by Origin Systems which was a very impressive Developer. Unlike the previous games with the Kilrathi based action or the confeds this time it involved a very deadly alien race called the Nephilim which is given the name later on.  Not just that you don't play as Mr Blair but rather 2nd Lieutenant Lance Casey, son of the venerable Major Michael "Iceman". Even though you have far bigger actually, MASSIVE ships you spend a lot of the time in big battles with this new alien threat and believe me, even with your huge ships you do take a loss. They are deadly especially as No one knows who or what these new aggressors are, but there is definitely a lot of them. Blair does re-appear in this game and is a major part of the story even though you don't play as him, Will you be able to stop the Alien Menace?

The game followed very much like FreeSpace 2 which was not wing commander but it's one of the greatest games of all time both had big alien nasties. These Aliens also have an impressive array of firepower including a plasma weapon which could take out entire fleets. The game also has an improved hud and great FMV's. WC:P did have an internet based expansion Secret Operations Released solely over the Internet, Secret Ops consisted of two parts: gameplay, using the VISION Engine, and text-based plot and character development.

Well that's the final of the Wing Commander series itself, it did have a number of spin offs namely Wing Commander Privateer which was more trade orientated, making more and more money getting bigger and bigger ships while completing missions of your choice. In my personal opinion Privateer 2 was the better game because of the high end graphics and movie like fmv's, especially the planet station screens.

Now we are onto the big update, the game which when was announced sent the world into a crazed frenzy of mad gamers crying while holding wing commander deeply to their hearts. It's also being developed by the top guy himself, Chris Roberts the main man behind the Wing Commander Series and wow this is one major graphical overhaul, it will blow you away.

The big title in question is Star Citizen/Squadron 42, you will be able to fight in massive fleet battles with graphics unmatched in the space combat genre, be on a space adventure while trading and making lots of money. The universe is open-ended which means you make your own story a universe where any number of adventures can take place. There is also a multitude of jobs for your player but who will you be?, will you be a smuggler, pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, or enlist as a pilot, protecting the borders from outside threats. Star Citizen just gets better, the universe is persistent It will be a constantly shifting and evolving place for players to explore and affect.

According to the developer it's a cohesive universe that's he's always wanted to create, a universe that blends all the best from Wing Commander and Privateer / Freelancer.  Not just that, because it persistent there will be micro updates. No longer are us gamers limited by a 5cd+ release from the originals and having to wait for an expansion but the developers can micro update. By adding data, stories and campaigns as well as reacting to the needs and actions of the players it's constantly enhancing the game to new levels of enjoyment.

The game isn't just limited to online, no there is an offline mode as well Playable offline or online, co-op with friends, you sign up for a tour of duty with the UEE fleet, manning the front lines, protecting settlements from Vanduul warbands. If you distinguish yourself in combat being the best of the best, your player may end up in Squadron 42 these are the big dogs, the warriors in the heart of action. However when your tour is complete the game opens up even further, that's when you enter the persistent universe with credits in your pocket and a small name for yourself but how far will you prosper, how will you play in this persistent space?

Seriously gamers, this sounds like one hell of a game and going by the Wing Commander games he's created this developer will not dissapoint!. Want more check out this quote from the man himself.

The universe will change based on the players' actions and adventures allowing them to become part of the history of the universe. As an example, players can scan for gravitational anomalies while out in space. If one is discovered and the player manages to successfully navigate this uncharted jump point, they’ll be able to sell their Nav- Computers recording of their jump flight path for a great profit to a space company for other users to download. But the real prize is getting the system or jump-point named after them!
Also unlike the originals you can work with your friends or against them, being attacked by other bad guys then call in the support send a distress broadcast to your friends and if they’re nearby they can jump in-system to be a real wingman experience and help you out. What about the ships? with every upgrade of Wing Commander the ships got better, meaner, BIGGER but this is a totally different ball game. On larger ships, friends can join you to man turrets, repair systems, or switch with you on the pilot’s chair. Can you imagine that?, you're in a huge cruiser being attacked from all sides, your friends take control of the turrets and lasers are going all over the place, sound effects coming from left , right up, down, ships whizzing past!. Another fine addition which is back, the cockpit!! "woohoo" and you also can see the hand on the joystick move as you do, you can even look around the cockpit at the dials.

The list is endless for ships and here's just a snippet

  • Full rigid body simulation of all spaceships
  • Dynamic Ship Maneuverability
  • Ship Components matter!
The developers also mention scale, the game will truelly make you feel small or large in the grand scheme of the game. You are in a massive battleship for example why make the ship look like a tiny blip it has to be HUGE and so it is. Just check out the information and video below of the scale in the game

         Range of scale never seen before in a game

From a vast 1km long carrier to a 27m fighter, to your 1.8m tall pilot, Everything is rendered and to the same level of detail. Zoom in to the paneling of the carrier and its texel density is the same as the 27m fighter. All without a load screen or loss of visual fidelity.

Really feel the scale of ships and space battles

Because of the ability of the game to scale seamlessly you could be looking out the windows on the bridge of a carrier watching the battle unfold or jump into a cockpit and take the fight to the enemy.

So what are you waiting for? this game as I said will blow your mind and the information above doesn't include everything in the kickstarter for example control methods, Advanced peripheral support and Virtual reality.... With a grand funding so far of $5,703,911 nearly 6 million dollars, Chris Roberts has all the funding he needs to create probably one of the best Space/Trading/Combat sims ever seen, but will it be as grand as the Wing Commander series?, time will tell!


  • Star Citizen - Early Spaceport concept art to 3D environment test


  •  Star Citizen Breaks Every Crowd-Funding Game pledge goal & Hits Its $6 Million !
Which means
“At six million you’ll launch the game with 100 systems, a full orchestral score and a free copy of the first Squadron 42 mission disk, Behind Enemy Lines.”
Well done everyone, we could well have the best space/combat/trading simulator game on it's way!

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