Wing Commander: Secret Ops
Windows - 1998
Description of Wing Commander: Secret Ops
Secret Ops was a free (and huge) stand-alone episode in the Wing Commander: Prophecy saga that was available for download from the game's official site in 1999.
It is not available for download there anymore, but is included in the Wing Commander: Prophecy Gold package.
Secret Ops continues the story of Wing Commander: Prophecy, and as such feels like a mission disk even though it's a stand-alone product. Casey and some of his wingmates are transferred to the Confederation's newest cruiser, the TCS Cerberus. They are assigned patrol duties close to the Sol system. However, the bugs are back and this time, they are close to Earth. It's naturally up to Casey to stop their plans once more.
The missions are very similar to those in Prophecy, which is both good and bad. It's bad because there's very little that you haven't seen before, but good because it retains all the fast-paced space combat action that is a hallmark of the series. As in Prophecy, you will fly the standard patrol, bomber escort, capship escort, interception and strike missions.
One thing that Prophecy veterans will notice is that the missions in Secret Ops are much tougher. The missions now tend to feature multiple Devil Rays, a very tough Alien fighter that you rarely saw in Prophecy. You will fly the same ships as in Prophecy, but most of them have been significantly upgraded. They are now faster, have heavier armour, and best of all, have a whole array of new weapons to play around with. The best upgraded craft is probably the 'Black Wasp' which now features twice as many of the deadly Swarmer missiles as before. These missiles can take down just about anything in the game, though you need to keep the target in your gunsights until the missiles hit (similar to a modern SARH missile).
Other fun weapons include the Mosquito missile packs, which are essentially rockets with tracking capabilities. You get 30 rockets per pack, so a few salvos of these will cut any opponent down to size. There are also some new guns such as the Pulse Particle gun (a very rapid firing form of a Particle gun), the Dust Cannon (essentially a machine gun that doesn't need ammo) and the Clouburst Gun (a seriously upgraded Ion cannon).
In conclusion, Secret Ops is a great addition to the long-running Wing Commander franchise. If you like Prophecy but wish it were more difficult, Secret Ops fits the bill. You get as many missions as the original game, which is something that very few add-on packs will give you. All the missions are well designed, and the storyline (while not up to the usual standard) is better than average.
Best of all, it costs nothing to try (aside from the huge phone bills and complaint from your modem from downloading the 112MB monster)-- two thumbs up!
Review By HOTUD
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