To say Origin was ahead of their time is quite an understatement. It is almost pointless to bring that back up, at least for retro gamers that were gaming around the “Origin Era” on PC’s. For everyone else, Origin was this development company that was doing stuff gamers only dreamed of. Take Wing Commander for instance, it was released in 1990 and was basically World War II in space and gamers ate it up. There was an actual story told in the game with animated cut scenes that were on topic. For the most part, previous attempts at this style of storytelling was left in the manuals and only sparsely shown on screen with static images of low quality. Origin went above and beyond this by having the cut scenes actually related to what was going on. Then there is the actual gameplay to keep early adopters interested.
Wing Commander was not just cool cinemas between levels. No, there is an actual game here that was quite awesome. Many have compared the Wing Commander games to Star Wars in many respects (such as overall story) but I was never a member of that team. Looking back, it would have been awesome had LucasArts done something similar with at least some of their Star Wars games.
Most of the game is played from within the cockpit of a space ship armed to the teeth (later on in the game). Your actions here actually effect the outcome of the storyline that is told between rounds. Win, or go above and beyond duty by taking out a major enemy or assisting a team mate then you may get an appropriate cinema. Now, depending on if you defied orders or not to perform that action of valor in battle your cinema may be bad (butt chewing) or good (medal awards ceremony).
This article was originally published on Retro Gaming Magazine one of my gaming websites.
Wing Commander was a seminal release when it hit nearly 30 years ago. If you have not played it yet then hit Ebay and see all of the various platforms it was released on, mission packs and sequels (Wing Commander III on 3DO was AWESOME).