Wing Commander Saga

17Band a bunch of Wing Commander nerds together and this happens!

It took years of work, talent and dedication to bring to light something as ambitious as Wing Commander Saga. An indirect sequel built by hardcore fans of the series, WCS uses the FreeSpace 2 engine to great effect. It brings together a huge campaign – over fifty missions huge – all with good scripting, fast combat, an impressive amount of voice acting and an interesting narrative. What’s even more awesome is that it’s all free to download!

You won’t be Mark Hamill in this one, but are instead cast as a lowly fighter pilot stationed on the TCS Hermes. The Wing Commander universe, however, is very much there. You fight a tough war against the always aggressive Kilrathi, frequently hearing their telltale snarls as you dogfight their fighter ships, and even get involved in a few spectacular battles against capital ships.

The modified FS2 engine does lend the game a more Wing Commander vibe to it, though in many respects you can tell it wears the FreeSpace coat. Many of the core FS mechanics have been left intact or tweaked ever so slightly, such as controlling your aim direction with a ‘floating’ mouse cursor like you did in the old WC games (the deadzone slider now affects both mouse and joystick). Or how you have to physically fly out of the TCS Hermes, follow waypoints (which you can fast-forward to using the new auto-pilot command) and fly back into the flight deck once you’ve completed your mission.

The action is very familiar to that of FS, though the models, weapons and ship capabilities are firmly fastened in the Wing Commander universe. All ships are a lot faster here, for instance, and you have your own fuel reserve during a mission which you must consider when applying the afterburners for long periods of time. Some of your weapons are also much more potent but require greater precision, including missiles which can easily score a kill.


Bet you couldn’t see this in Freespace 2!

The narrative, which was always central to WC games, is also pronounced here as far as the engine permits. There’s an impressive deal of new voice acting throughout the campaign missions, solid scripting holding it all together, and a few impressive and totally unexpected combat situations to keep you engaged. In mission 13, for instance, you have to wipe out a small fleet of dropships filled with Kilrathi just minutes before they land on the surface of a planet. You then enter through the upper atmosphere and engage in some extremely cool high altitude combat with fighter escorts before wiping out the dropships and their precious cargo.

This is a really cool free game to play regardless of whether you’re a Wing Commander fan or FreeSpace fan – there’s a little bit of something for everybody, and for fans of space combat game it’s really a no-brainer. Wing Commander Saga is fun, fast and true to the series.

System Requirements: 1 GHz CPU, 2 GB RAM, 128 MB Video, 6 GB HDD, WinXP

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