The fan-made Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn project that's been 10 years in the making now has a release date: 22nd March 2012.
This has the blessing of IP holder EA, original creator Chris Roberts and developer/publisher Origin. That's what project co-creator Tolwyn told Gnome's Lair.
What's more, Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn will be free, according to the game's FAQ. Presumably the client will be available from the Wing Commander Saga website.
It should, in theory, be fantastic. Or at least very good. Xbox Live Arcade is surprisingly short of no-frills spaceship blast-em-ups, and the dormant Wing Commander franchise would seem to be fairly solid source material for just such a fragfest. After all, the thrill of a decent dogfight against a multitude of human opponents is hard to mess up.
Yet mess it up they have. Wing Commander Arena boasts a veritable feast of gameplay options, but can only offer anaemic gameplay with which to fill them. Basic gameplay can be a blessing where this sort of game is concerned, but here it's not so much the simplicity of the fly-and-shoot action that's at fault but some of the frankly awful design decisions that have gone into it.
From the front end, it all looks very impressive. There's a host of different play modes, both solo and multiplayer, and 18 ships to choose from. Four are available at the start - two Terran, two Kilrathi - and new ones are unlocked depending on how many kills you rack up, and what sort of ship you're flying when you do so. From free-for-all deathmatches to team-based capture the flag challenges, from a single player survival mode to mammoth 16 player Capital Ship assaults, it seems that there's absolutely no excuse for getting bored. Sadly, the inherent flaws in the way the game has been implemented ensure that Stuart Boredom is coming for a visit whether you like it or not - and he's bringing his friend, Brian Frustration.
EA has accidentally let slip that this week's Xbox Live Arcade offering will be Wing Commander Arena, which will cost 800 Microsoft points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.30) to buy.
Wing Commander Arena is coming to Xbox 360 Live Arcade this summer, Electronic Arts has confirmed, following yesterday's ESRB outing of the game.