Wing Commander Arena Review

Wing Commander Arena has the right idea, but the gameplay and presentation come together to form an extremely dull experience.

Wing Commander Arena is another one of those new games with an old name that's different enough from the older games to anger the old fans, while being so underwhelming that new players will probably think that the whole series was just as lame. So it's starting out in sort of a no-win position, but the game's lackluster gameplay and generic presentation certainly don't do it any favors, either.

Arena is a stripped-down, multiplayer-focused shooter that puts you at the controls of one of several ships, each with differences in weaponry and statistics. The game is played from a third-person, behind-the-back view of your ship, and you can fly around with the left stick, make evasive maneuvers with the right, and fire weapons using the shoulder buttons and triggers. Despite looking like space, the game actually takes place on a flat plane. This basic action is broken out into a few different modes, both online and off. The main and most obvious of the bunch is a basic free-for-all deathmatch-style mode, where you attempt to blast any ship in sight while avoiding the same fate. The other modes have you pairing off for duels, teaming up with other players to take out enemy capital ships, and so on. There are plenty of power-up items sprinkled around each level, giving you opportunities to replenish your missiles, regenerate shield energy, or temporarily boost your ship's abilities.

Wing Commander Arena will have you stifling yawns within the first 15 minutes of play.
Wing Commander Arena will have you stifling yawns within the first 15 minutes of play.

Beyond the differentiation between team and nonteam games, the different modes all feel sort of the same. Each mode is played on its own level, which is sort of weird, and in the end means that there aren't enough different arenas in the game to hold your interest. The simple gameplay allows for a little bit of strategy, but again, not enough to keep you coming back for very long, especially in the offline modes, which are particularly boring.

The presentation is marred by a bad piece of music that plays whenever you're in game. It's repetitive, and on top of that, it doesn't even loop properly, making each restart of the tune noticeable. The sound effects are pretty standard and the graphics are plain and, in a few spots, pretty dull.

While the concept of a 16-player arcadelike space shooter is definitely a good one, the various aspects of Wing Commander Arena come together in a very jejune way, leaving behind a husk of a game that doesn't have enough variety or thrills to keep you excited for more than one or two matches. Give the demo a spin if you're innately curious, but you're probably better off not wasting your money on this one.

The Good
Allows up to 16 players to fight it out
The Bad
Ship control is sluggish and unresponsive
All of the gameplay modes are sleep-inducing
Difficult to find full games online
Not enough variety in modes and level design
This is a particularly lame way to use the Wing Commander name
4
Poor
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Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

Wing Commander Arena More Info

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  • First Released Jul 25, 2007
    released
    • Xbox 360
    Wing Commander heads to the Xbox Live Arcade with an all-new game titled Arena, featuring competitive online modes as well as offline leaderboards.
    4.9
    Average Rating189 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Gaia Industries
    Published by:
    EA Games
    Genre(s):
    Third-Person, 3D, Action, Shooter
    Theme(s):
    Sci-Fi
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    Fantasy Violence