For more than half a decade and half a dozen games, Origin Systems' Wing Commander saga has been a perennial favorite among computer gamers. From its humble space combat beginnings to the big-budget epic of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, the popular sci-fi series has stayed on the cutting edge of computer game technology and interactive storytelling.
Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom stays true to the formula of WCIII, alternating interactive movie sequences with Origin's excellent space combat simulator. But WCIV manages to surpass even the excellence of its predecessor. This is due largely to its spellbinding story line, a tale of military corruption and relentless ambition much more complex than the Us vs. Them theme of previous Wing Commander games.
The long-standing war between the human Confederation and their arch enemies the Kilrathi has ended, ushering in an unstable era of peace. As Christopher Blair (once again portrayed by Mark Hamill), you must return to active duty to quell a small rebellion. But all is not as it seems, and you'll be constantly questioning your alliances as the true nature of the insurrection is slowly revealed.
The game's interactive movie element has been noticeably improved, with better production and many more paths for the story to follow. The computer generated backgrounds of WCIII have been replaced with physical sets, making the film sequences much more realistic, and your decisions during these movies seem to carry more weight, with a multitude of plot twists and endings.
The space combat is everything Wing Commander fans have come to expect, and there are plenty of options for novices including the ability to make yourself invincible if the battle gets too tough. The varied missions add to the suspense of the story, seamlessly blending the two distinct areas of the game. Wing Commander IV is a great chapter in this excellent series, and will prove an enthralling experience for long-time fans and newcomers alike.