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Wing Commander IV:
The Price of Freedom

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by Origin
The Kilrathi war is over, the Confederation has entered a new era of peace. Mankind has triumphed, but all is not well. 40 years of war cannot be erased overnight. The post-war military scale down has left many veterans without work or skills for civilian life. The fringes of the Confederation are in disarray and to top it off, pirates who seem to be from the Border Worlds are attacking Confederation shipping and killing with extreme prejudice. The Border Worlds are the planets colonized by humans or other species which are too far out to fall under Confederation control. However, the Border Worlds were one of Confederations staunchest allies during the war with the Kilrathi, so care must be taken in handling the situation. The Confederation Great Assembly must take action to hold this new Confederation together before everything dissolves into chaos.

Enter you: Colonel Christopher Blair -- retired. The twenty years of your life given to the war effort were enough and you have settled down on a quiet, distant planet and bought a small farm. However, a sudden visit from your old "comrade" Maniac leaves you recalled to active duty. The mission is for you, the famous "Heart of the Tiger", to go personally to the Border Worlds and investigate these mysterious attacks. Your report will help the Great Assembly decided whether or not to declare war on the Border Worlds. It seems cut-and-dried, but these are not enemies of mankind, they are humans, and will you like what you find?

The Review:
If you thought Wing Commander 2 or 3 had a good story line, you will love this. Origin spent an estimated 10 million dollars on this game and it shows. The story line graphics are outstanding, the actors are great, and the story itself is comparable to that of an actual movie. In fact, you have 6 CD's worth of story line, and all of it good! In addition, you have the more options to make decision in the story line. The decisions are bigger that just what to say to someone, they include the option to defect to the Border Worlds, the option of which sector of space to fly missions to, and what to tell the Great Assembly in the end--and your life depends on saying the right thing. As far as simulator flying goes, it is good also, although not a whole lot different than WC 3. The Hellcat and the Longbow are back from WC 3 but the rest are new, with some really funky special weapons like a "scatter" ion gun, a fission cannon, a Stormfire gun which shoots actual ammunition, and a plasma gun.

Wing Commander 4 seems to have everything going for it. The graphics are good, the acting is good, the story is good, this is definitely a must have game if you are a Wing Commander fan. You are given so many options to alter the story line as you go along, you almost get nervous that you are making the best choices. There are many new weapons which makes for a real arsenal at your disposal. Notable actors are the same as in WC 3, Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Tom Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future Raiders of the Lost Ark), Jason Bernard (forget a movie for sure, but Eisen from WC 3, and you will recognized him from several movies), and Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations). You also get to choose your wingmen from all the pilots on board, not just the main characters.

The only things I found that were off par was the fact that it forces you to defect to the Border Worlds rather than giving you the option to stay with the Confederation. If you do not defect when you first have the option, you fly a few more missions with Confed. Then you are given the option again, if you do not take it this time, you face a mission which is a no winner... game over. Also, there is no romance to chase this time around. Although the acting and story is better, I sort of liked having the budding romance in the works like in WC 2 & WC 3. In addition, I found the autoexec.bat and config.sys configuration had to be fiddled with in some cases or it had a tendency to crash on you.

--Brent Hegarty