Kilrathi Gratuit: Wing Commander 3 Free On Origin

By Alice O'Connor on August 7th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Serious stuff, spaceships.

Mark Hamill might be wearing those dusty old wizard robes again, but 20 years ago, the Wing Commander games were the only hope of Hamillaniacs to see him zapping about in spaceships and all that. Perhaps in the spirit of his renewed Star Warring, or patting Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts on the back for Star Citizen, or–who knows!–possibly even promoting their service, EA are giving away Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger free on Origin for a bit.

The FMV-tastic spaceship shooter usually costs £3.99, though the price isn’t the reason why you weren’t playing Wing Commander 3 last night anyway, is it? Offers like this are handy reminders of “Hey! That game exists! It’s meant to be good, isn’t it? Oh, go on then!” Or for people who played it the first time around, it’s a horrible reminder that you were once so young and so free and quick! if you play this maybe you’ll recapture that?

WC3 was a big jump for the series. It went from sprites to 3D models, and introduced the lashings of live action cutscenes that the series is remembered for as much as its spaceship action. Mark Hamill played the main character, somehow managing to stay gravelly and serious even when faced with a species of giant spacecat puppet people. It also had future dwarf John Rhys-Davies and, because they are in everything, Tim Curry (in voice only) and Malcolm McDowell.

It’s a freebie until September 3. And yes, of course this requires Origin. It’s still weird that EA chose to revive the name of the folks who made Wing Commander, Origin Systems, for its download store, seven years after shutting the studio down.

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49 Comments »

  1. fredc says:

    I had forgotten that Wing Commander 3 for some unknowable reason had Luciano Pavarotti playing a fat space dude. Thank you Alice.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Do I get to be the first person in this comments thread to say space opera?

    • slerbal says:

      I’m assuming you meant that in jest as it is the excellent John Rhys-Davies http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0722636/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t27 who has made lots of fine movies (such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and… holy crap he has been in a lot of budget stuff recently!

      • Bull0 says:

        Why am I JUST NOW REALISING that “him off Sliders” is Gimli? Probably because I didn’t enjoy the films that much.

        • Danny252 says:

          Don’t worry, I’m doing the same, as well as realising what the name of “that actor who looks like Pavarotti” is. It’s gonna be a while before I find another comment thread this educational…

          • Bull0 says:

            Yeah, I knew he was “John something-welsh-sounding” but no more than that. He’s one of those people that crops up everywhere, isn’t he? He’s great in Dune 2.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          He’s also the voice for Treebeard.

      • Taidan says:

        It still irks me that these young folk still refer to his Lord of the Rings work as his defining contribution to Western culture.

        He was in two Indiana Jones movies, fer crying out loud!

        He’s “That guy from Indiana Jones”. He’s always been “That guy from Indiana Jones” and he always will be “That guy from Indiana Jones”.

        Now Get. Off. My. Lawn. (And stay away from my bins.)

        • slerbal says:

          Haha, I’m amused that at 40 I can still be classified as “young folk” :D

          But more seriously – I figured it would be more sensible to reference him by his most recent major appearance. He was of course masterful in Raiders :)

  2. MuscleHorse says:

    Things WC3 has over Star Citizen: It is a real game.

    • Love Albatross says:

      But can you spend hundreds of dollars on unplayable virtual spaceships? I think not.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Talking to friends who worked on WC3, Roberts spent most of his production time on the cut scene filming for this. Leading up to his stellar pass as director of Wing Commander: The Movie!

  3. Jim9137 says:

    Yeah, that’s all fine and dandy but where is my Bioforge PLUS. >:(

  4. SanguineAngel says:

    I wonder if, seeing the success of the genre in the crowd funding space, particularly noting Chris Roberts’ success – are EA considering milking the franchise for every penny it’s worth until all that remains is a dessicated husk bearing no discernible resemblance to the proud creature this series once was, save the last fleeting thoughts ebbing away as it recalls wistfully the hopes and dreams it had for its future so very long ago.

    Erm, I mean revive the franchise for fans new and old to enjoy!

    • slerbal says:

      I would say without a shadow of doubt: yes.

      They would be mad not to – Chris Roberts is doing all the heavy lifting for them. I bet there have been a fair few conversations over in the infernal palaces of EA about reviving the Wing Commander series.

      EA has always gone where the money is, letting other people do the hard work of finding it then swooping in and hoovering it all up with “AAA” versions. Though in this case I would be surprised if they could convincingly top the production values of Star Cirizen so budget / freemium crap titles would seem to be their route.

      • peterako1989 says:

        I don’t want to see a new wing commander game. Why? Because its EA. There will be tons of day one DLCs a wide asortment of special editions and pre order bonuses that would cause 50% of the game’s content(ships, missions and whatnot) to be split all around as its always the case with EA’s games lately. Last, but not least the game will give players a “social experience” boo hoo.

        I don’t want a Wing commander thats a glorified facebook base for DLC.

    • Bull0 says:

      I’d love a new Wing Commander sequel.

    • Turkey says:

      If they did it, it would end up being some kind of half-assed, arena, F2P dogfighter. EA is too afraid of pirates to make a Wing Commander game with a single-player campaign.

    • derbefrier says:

      Squadron 42 is a spiritual successor to the wing commander games. Don’t think we will ever see another game called wing commander though.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I’d say the chances of them doing a new Wing Commander is extremely unlikely to be honest. Space games are becoming popular again, new Star Wars films are coming out, EA owns the Star Wars license. It’s not difficult to add all that together. No way EA is releasing a Wing Commander space game over a Star Wars space game.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Yep, they’d make tons more money with a bad Star Wars game than with a terrific Wing Commander game. The IP is also saddled with an association with the movie version, which was such a stinker that even the last three Star Wars movies look good by comparison.

        Even if they wanted to do a new one, I don’t think that game world has much to offer. It’s a very basic setting, with alien baddies ripped off from Niven’s Kzinti warriors, plus some juvenile soap opera drama among the humans. Roberts is probably smart to be developing a new setting and story for Squadron 42 (whatever that turns out to be).

  5. Laurentius says:

    Hmm WC3 is not bad but I’d prefer Privateer2:The Darkening which is great, and now i checked, it can be obtained from GoG for 6$ whuch is a bit steep. The irritating thing is though that since I jump and installed W7 I don’t have working joystick so i can’t play either one…

  6. Solidstate89 says:

    Just a neat little homage that the video you posted reminded me of. When CIG had the commercial done for the 300i in Star Citizen, the Director’s Cut included a flyover of the ship at the 5 minute mark for the WC3 opening.

    You can skip to about 1:55. It’s not very long, but it’s just a neat little remembrance.

  7. mattevansc3 says:

    I personally have no issue with Origin but I’ve yet to fathom the business model behind these freebies. EA talks and acts like Origin is an actual digital distribution platform and not just a boutique etailer.

    On the last update it asked me to fill out the questionnaire and asked would I recommend Origin. Who would I recommend Origin to and what for? If you want a new EA game you have to install Origin regardless and if you don’t want an EA game its unlikely you’ll find it on Origin anyway. Unless EA is serious about branching out and making Origin something more than an EA platform then these free games are pointless, nice but pointless.

    • Bull0 says:

      Probably aimed at getting a few people to install their client who previously hadn’t, from which point on the barrier of “i can’t be arsed to install their client to play X” no longer need be negotiated.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      For their “How can we make Origin better?” question, I said “Get rid of it and sell things on Steam. The nicest thing I can say about Origin is that it isn’t Uplay.”

    • jezcentral says:

      Origin does sell non-EA games, and at the very least you can back-up your EA Steam keys with Origin, so that, If Gaben does fall under a bus one day, and Steam comes crashing down, you’ve still got your games.

    • shutter says:

      I’m a former Origin employee, and did some work on the business plan for the giveaways, and it’s mostly two big reasons for doing the giveaways:

      A) It makes people like the Origin more, this is partly a naked attempt to fix the poor perception some people have of Origin (justified or not, Origin still has to deal with the customer perception) and partly because there are lots of folks at Origin who genuinely like games and gamers and want people to have a good time.

      B) It gets people onto the platform. You’re more likely to find something you want to buy on Origin and actually buy it if you’ve already got an account than if you need to sign up first. It’s pretty standard (across the industry) to track how much you expect to make on average per person from people who join the platforms through various means, as long as the average per person revenue for people who come in for free games is reasonably healthy vs various other factors (cost of giving stuff away, revenue per person for people who don’t need freebies to join, etc.) the business case to give stuff away pretty much writes itself, it essentially becomes an advertizing cost (and I think we’d all agree that getting WC3 is a more fun way for EA to spend marketing money than seeing another banner ad).

      Getting more titles on Origin (and making them higher profile) is almost certainly still a goal for them (it was while I was there), as well as for several other publishers (i.e. Ubisoft does not want to be locked in to Steam as their only distribution channel), but it’s a little chicken and egg, getting more titles on the platform is part of making the service better, but publishers don’t want to put titles on the platform until it’s better. The focus on getting more titles vs. beefing up the services features swings back and forth, and I’d guess they’re on the ‘make Origin client better’ side of the pendulum swing right now.

      The “Would you recommend this product” question is a pretty standard survey question for evaluating customer satisfaction called Net Promoter Score (NPS) (you add up the % who answer 9-10, and subtract the number who say 0-6).

      • HidingCat says:

        But Origin is terrible. I mean, just scrolling through the games during a sale is bad enough. It’s just awful to use, nevermind the EA baggage that it comes with.

      • MacPoedel says:

        I understand you no longer work with EA, so you can’t change anything about it, but if EA’s supposed to be in the stage of “improving” the Origin client, how on earth is it possible that we still can’t choose the language of the store?? For me it’s a pretty minor problem, I live in Belgium and EA apparently thinks everyone in Belgium speaks French (while actually the majority speaks Dutch), but at least I understand French without a problem and making the store show up in Dutch wouldn’t change the situation either since the French speaking part is hardly smaller than the Dutch speaking part. Imagine being an expat in Thailand or Russia, even if you set the client to English, the store still shows the language that EA decides is the local language, makes Origin pretty much unusable. This has been a problem for about 5 years now and EA still manages to ignore it, instead of giving away old games they should spend the resources on some programmers to make the store work a little better.

        I was glad to get Dead Space for free though.

  8. rexx.sabotage says:

    This is why we can’t have nice space games.

  9. peterako1989 says:

    I would say that I expected to be underwhelmed by Wing commander 3 due to how old it is, but nope. Its actually pretty awesome. There are problems as nothing beyond the keyboard works for playing the game and its a little clunky but its still fun. Oh and the FMV narative? Mind blown! Its awesome. Yeah, its origin, I know, But its free.

    • K_Sezegedin says:

      Yeah its a pretty decent space sim. It doesn’t have a great flight model, even for its time, but adequate to deliver a fun experience while navigating the story.

      Does this version use dosbox? If so you could look up info about getting your devices working in the emulator, – there’s probably a guide on VOGONS forums about setting things up in Wc3 specifically.

  10. Wisq says:

    Origin on Origin just makes me resent Origin even more. :(

  11. JimmyJamNYC says:

    The game that made me purchase a CD ROM drive for my computer! Bought both together at a Ken Gordon Productions show. Good times.

  12. Mr_Blastman says:

    Hah, I just played through this a year or two ago on my DOS PC again after all these years. Such a hard, fun, rewarding game. I love how it branches like Wing Commander 1 did.

    • K_Sezegedin says:

      Oo you still have your DOS PC? Great!

      I played it through about a year ago too on dosbox, – played it on nightmare and found many pre-excalibur missions impossible unless I picked an Arrow. Full burn autoslide is WC3′s ‘I win’ button.

      Its funny, an autosliding Arrow can take out a carrier more easily than a longbow can.

  13. Kittim says:

    I liked Ginger ;)

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