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Game info

Game console compatibility:PC
ESRB rating:Teen - Mild Language, Realistic Violence
Subcategory:Simulation
Elements:Small Spaceship Sim
Context:Sci-Fi
Difficulty:Hard
Learning curve:About 2 hours

 

For more than half a decade and half a dozen games, Origin Systems' Wing Commander saga has been a perennial favorite among computer gamers. From its humble space combat beginnings to the big-budget epic of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, the popular sci-fi series has stayed on the cutting edge of computer game technology and interactive storytelling.

 

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom stays true to the formula of WCIII, alternating interactive movie sequences with Origin's excellent space combat simulator. But WCIV manages to surpass even the excellence of its predecessor. This is due largely to its spellbinding story line, a tale of military corruption and relentless ambition much more complex than the ?Us vs. Them?theme of previous Wing Commander games.

 

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (PC) screenshot 0

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (PC) screenshot 1

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (PC) screenshot 2

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (PC) screenshot 3

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (PC) screenshot 4

 

The long-standing war between the human Confederation and their arch enemies the Kilrathi has ended, ushering in an unstable era of peace. As Christopher Blair (once again portrayed by Mark Hamill), you must return to active duty to quell a small rebellion. But all is not as it seems, and you'll be constantly questioning your alliances as the true nature of the insurrection is slowly revealed.

 

The game's interactive movie element has been noticeably improved, with better production and many more paths for the story to follow. The computer generated backgrounds of WCIII have been replaced with physical sets, making the film sequences much more realistic, and your decisions during these movies seem to carry more weight, with a multitude of plot twists and endings.

 

The space combat is everything Wing Commander fans have come to expect, and there are plenty of options for novices including the ability to make yourself invincible if the battle gets too tough. The varied missions add to the suspense of the story, seamlessly blending the two distinct areas of the game. Wing Commander IV is a great chapter in this excellent series, and will prove an enthralling experience for long-time fans and newcomers alike.

 

Ratings explained

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Value: 9
Tilt: 9

Editors' rating: Games

The final score for every game we review is generated automatically from the individual scores that our reviewers give it. The final score is not an average of these five scores. Each of these components is weighted differently to come up with the final overall score. GameSpot has consistently applied this same rating formula since its launch in 1996.

Graphics
This includes technical use of graphics, as well as the aesthetic quality of a game's appearance and presentation. Games that look impressive in still images do not automatically earn high graphics scores, because the graphical performance of a game weighs heavily into our consideration of its visuals.

Sound
This includes the quality and use of sound effects, voice acting, and music in the game. Any of these may potentially have a significant impact on the overall sound score. For instance, a game with an excellent soundtrack and sound effects may still lose points for sound if the voice acting is of low quality.

Gameplay
This includes everything, from the game's interface to its control to how well balanced it is. Basically, this represents how well a game plays and how enjoyable it is to play. Games very rarely earn a 10 in this category, due to how elusive games with perfect or near-perfect gameplay actually are.

Value
For the most part, a game's value score is an indicator of the game's longevity. It represents how long you'll be able to both play and enjoy the game, and it also signifies how much replay value you'll get out of it. Breadth of gameplay options and overall volume of content both weigh heavily into this score. The retail price of a game can also figure into the value score, as can the presence or lack of similar, competitive products in the market. Finally, the overall quality of the game has some impact on its value, so, for instance, a bad game that's extremely long is still probably not worth playing.

Reviewer's Tilt (Tilt)
This score basically lets a reviewer sway the final score--either higher or lower--based on the reviewer's overall experience with a game. Here's an example: A game might have really good graphics and sound but only mediocre gameplay. As a result, it gets a low tilt score to keep the overall from being boosted too high, since the game ultimately isn't fun. Likewise, a game might have mediocre graphics and sound, but it might include a really good story and a lot of original ideas. As a result, it might get a high tilt to boost the overall score a bit, which suggests to you that you should look beyond the game's production values.

What the numbers mean

10.0 (Perfect):
This exceedingly rare score refers to a game that is as perfect as a game can ever aspire to be. A game that receives this rating could not reasonably be improved upon in any meaningful way. GameSpot is not intrinsically opposed to doling out perfect scores; we just haven't played very many games that deserve them.

9.0 to 9.9 (Excellent):
We absolutely recommend any game in this range, especially to fans of that particular genre. However, games that score in the 9 range are also well suited to new players. Games that score in this range are highly uncommon and automatically earn GameSpot's Editors' Choice Award . In practice, these games are the best of the best, so we only dole out a relatively small handful of such scores in a given year.

8.0 to 8.9 (Very good):
This score range refers to great games that are excellent in most every way and whose few setbacks probably aren't too important. We highly recommend games in the upper half of this range, since they tend to be good enough to provide an enjoyable experience to fans of the game's particular genre and to new players alike.

7.0 to 7.9 (Good):
A game within this range is good and is likely worth playing by fans of its particular genre or by those otherwise interested. While its strengths outweigh its weaknesses, a game that falls in this range tends to have noticeable faults. A low 7 represents the average score on GameSpot, which is suggestive of the fact that the typical game found on store shelves is actually pretty good.

6.0 to 6.9 (Fair):
A game within this range has certain good qualities but significant problems as well. Games that score in the 6 range may well be worth playing, but you should approach them with caution.

5.0 to 5.9 (Mediocre):
A 5-range score refers to a game that's "merely average" in the negative sense. In other words, it's mediocre. These games tend to have more weaknesses than they should, which dampens their strengths. A much better game probably exists--and it's one that you should sooner try.

4.0 to 4.9 (Poor):
Games that just don't work right and maybe didn't spend enough time in production tend to fall into this category. They simply lack the cohesion and quality that make other games fun.

3.0 to 3.9 (Very poor):
You probably shouldn't get too close to a game in this range. Any of its positive qualities most likely serves only to make the rest of it seem even more disappointing.

2.0 to 2.9 (Terrible):
Beware. A game within this range is almost entirely devoid of any effective or fully functional features.

1.0 to 1.9 (Abysmal):
Ouch. The rare game that falls in this lowest of the low ranges has no redeeming qualities at all. Don't play this game.
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