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A step in the wrong direction
Armada is a bit of a departure for the mighty Wing Commander series. Instead of being an epic narrative-driven space combat simulator with oodles of impressive cutscenes, it's actually a strategy game based in the same universe. It's far from being the best game with the Wing Commander name attached to it, and while it offers some reasonable strategy fun, it far from being a must play. The idea here is that the Kilrathi and the humans are at it again, and this time they're fighting it out for control of a subsector of the galaxy. You can control either of the two races and the game provides a mix of exploration, strategy and combat, which plays out in the traditional dogfighting sense. The strategy is pretty simple, and mostly consists of moving your carrier around, then choose to build on nearby planets, with the only real point being to build enough fighters to defeat the enemy. The combat is similar to the main games, but feels stripped down and very repetitive, with none of the intensity of its brethren. The lack of a story too is a big factor which goes against Armada, and it just doesn't feel like a Wing Commander game because of this. This could be forgiven though, if the rest of the game were interesting enough but it's really just too shallow and lacking in entertainment to be a must play. The visuals are decent enough, but a little lacking in detail, while the interface is simple enough to pick up. However, at the end of the day, there's just not enough here to keep you playing for more than a couple of hours.
Armada is even better than the original
When it comes to space battle games, Wing Commander is one of the definitive games of the genre, up there with other gems such as Elite and the like. Armada however is even more interesting and exciting and brings in to the table a host of additions. You will find a few new modes of play along with the classical campaign. These extend from single battles to gauntlet battles to armada conflicts to the campaign mentioned. The game featured an extended weapons system as well with a few new additions and also changes to the weapons of the original game (balancing oriented mainly). The background story of the game is again set out in great detail in the Voices of War manual, a material accompanying the game and extending it even further. The game was also the first in the series to feature a multiplayer feature available over the then common IPX networks. However, today a multiplayer game might require a bit too much fiddling and the setting up of a relatively intricate emulator network. However, even the single player campaign can still be entertaining enough, so if you like space based games with crafts and shooting, this is one of the best of them.
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- Wing Commander 3: Heart of ... Simulation, 1994
- Wing Commander: the Kilrath... Simulation, 1996
- Wing Commander: Privateer Simulation, 1993
- Wing Commander 2 Simulation, 1991
- Wing Commander: The Secret ... Simulation, 1991
- Wing Commander: Secret Ops Simulation, 1998
- Wing Commander 4: The Price... Simulation, 1996