Wing Commander is the first entry in a series of cinematic space combat games that spawned a terrible movie (I know, right?). It was a great game when it came out, and is still fun to play now. Face off against the Kilrathi, a race of aggressive space cats (much cooler than it sounds) as you fly a variety of ships, dogfighting, escorting, and creating general mayhem wherever you go.
Wing Commander features a branching storyline that depends on your performance as a pilot. A strong set of cinematic features including more than a dozen characters and a bunch of really cool cutscenes keeps things interesting, whether you are taking off, coming home, chatting with fellow pilots, ejecting, or dying in a fiery explosion. Here's a gallery of screenshots. Enjoy.
When I was a kid, I played through this game and enjoyed every minute of it. I even lost missions on purpose so I could explore every branch of the mission tree and I remember epic dogfights against Kilrathi aces. The best thing about Wing Commander (besides the combat) is it is abandonware and free to download. Go get it here!
Any Wing Commanders out there? Have fond (or not-so-fond) memories of this game? Sound off in the comments!
PS - Wikipedia rocks: As development for Wing Commander came to a close, the EMM386 memory manager the game used would give an exception when the user exited the game. It would print out a message similar to "EMM386 Memory manager error..." with additional information. The team couldn't isolate and fix the error and they needed to ship it as soon as possible. As a work-around, Ken Demarest, a developer on the game, hex-edited the text so it displayed a different message. Instead of the error message, it instead printed "Thank you for playing Wing Commander."