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Incomparable

I first saw Wing Commander at a friend's house in 1990, and found myself transfixed by the game, as it was like nothing I'd ever seen before - and I've seen it few times since.

Space combat sims are a spotty affair, some are well done and some not so much - and few of them get made to begin with so imagine my joy when I discovered that this game not only boasted challenging gameplay and stellar (for the time) graphics but also an exciting story!

By now most people should be familiar with the human/Kilrathi conflict and the Battlestar Galactica-esque flavor to the story - but this was one of the first graphics heavy games that truly immersed me into the story and made me care about my character, the NPC's and whether or not my actions would bode ill or well.

Prior to Wing Commander most games that could boast this level of story immersion were primarily text based, or were games in which graphical considerations were secondary. I couldn't have imagined playing a combat sim that pulled me in as much as anything in the Ultima universe I'd played up to that time.

Wing Commander's gameplay requires quite a bit of precision and takes some practice to master - the Z-Board did not yet exist and unless I am mistaken Sidewinder was then still a gleam in Bill Gates' Borg implanted eye.

Though the game controls were highly challenging I found it necessary to beg a close friend to lend me the disks (If you had a CD ROM on your PC in 1990 you were really something special), as well as his Sound Blaster (again, if you had a sound card in your PC in 1990, you were a rock star) so I could experience it for myself.

Before I knew it I'd called in sick to work two days in a row and by the following Sunday I had beaten the campaign, only to discover that the game's bleak ending is the same no matter what you do.

Talk about a cliffhanger.

If you have an old computer that will run Wing Commander (on modern machines older games are often unplayable) I urge you to give it a try. If you want to go back to a simpler time when PC Gaming was a highly inexact science and coming by good gear and good games was much more rare than it is now - you won't regret it.

Don't let the outdated graphics fool you - this was one of the most influential games of the 1990's and is still fairly challenging - before you know it you too will have spend 36 hours trying desperately for that one...last...kill...

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