Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger Reader Review
Remember when the F9 and F10 keys shuffled power between lasers and shields?
In 1994 Chris Roberts somehow (I'll go with bribery) managed to align a tour de force of casting. The greatest voice actor of our time Mark Hamil, John Rhys-Davis, the always peculiar Malcom McDowell, Tom 'Biff Tannen' Wilson and François Chau. What? François Chau? He's an actor, he does the orientation videos in Lost! Scared of rabbits or something. Plus some other folks and I'm fairly certain a porn actress's 'respectable role' début converged into 4 disc long sci di epic.
Also, the movie came with a game!
Space sims are a neglected genre nowadays, veterans huddle round burning steel drums in worn out foul booze smelling clothes, entertaining each other with tales of how they the reached the Cappela Jump Node just in time or how with only a single Y-Wing they destroyed the SSD Invincible in the third sortie of their first tour. But 13 years ago these joyless sorry souls were in their prime fighting the Kilrathi in a war that had raged for two full games and 4 add-ons.
In Wing Commander 3 you play the role of Christopher Blair portrayed by Mark Hamil, you, after some ups and downs in your illustrious space career, now lead the fighting forces of the TCS Victory under the command of Captain William Eisen (played by the bloke who did the judge in Liar Liar who is now sadly deceased).
Before each mission you choose your wing man (or wing woman) and the load out of your ship before the mission, which really didn't make much difference, in the beginning you chose the the strongest of the weakest weaponry you were provided with, to save the human race and later on near the end the most over powered of the choices of weapons of mass destruction available. Which makes you wonder why when fighting for the future of the human race do the military only let you have missiles and laser that can barely penetrate tin foil at the start?
The forces that the human race are trying to fight against are a race of cat people, the Kilrathi. Well specifically they are a race of bipedal tigermen who behave surprisingly like Klingons, a bipedal race of Cornish pasties. You'd think a race of tiger folk would hail from a planet covered in tropical forests and rolling savannahs, but you'd be wrong, its more a bleak fiery mountainous hell that reminds me of the setting of the thundercats cartoon, who are also cat people. So maybe there's something I'm missing here.... Anyway!
The combat doesn't really meet up to the impressiveness of the later freespace games or the earlier X-wing games and includes the usual array of space sim missions, escorts where you have to shoot incoming torpedoes and bomber missions against incredibly massive spaceships but are enjoyable enough to string along the movie. One I particularly enjoyed was guarding a ship from my very own school of design, a giant laser gun with an engine on it.
In between missions you can wonder round your carrier engaging your wing men in conversations with the occasional �Yes� or �No� responses to choose from, also the opportunity to score a new love interest (the previous games love interest is executed in the opening cinematic) a red headed fellow pilot or a tom boyish ex-or-maybe-momentarily-non porn actress mechanic. During these segments you'll get to know the characters backstory and motivations that are well written and thought out for the most part, especially if you compare them to the hideous feature film version of the game Roberts abandoned us to make. Seriously don't see it, its horrible. Freddie Prinz Jnr is in it.
In the end the game is purely worth playing for the installation process that tells you your CD-ROM drive is impossibly fast.
8 / 10