Chris Roberts is currently busy promoting and helping lead the development teams behind the biggest budget space sim of all-time in Star Citizen, but the reason why he's able to have so much success from crowdfunding is because of his resume of work dating back to the '90s. Roberts helped craft the Wing Commander franchise, one of the best space sim series ever and now, more than ever, the space sim genre is making a massive comeback.
Depressingly, there hasn't been a full main entry in the Wing Commander series since 1997's incredible Wing Commander: Prophecy (We're not going to count the downloadable Xbox Arcade title Wing Commander Arena) and Roberts' failed attempt at making a Wing Commander feature film in 1999 did the opposite of helping boost the brand's appeal. In the end, the franchise's developer Origin Systems represents another developer acquired and disbanded by Electronic Arts with once-hot franchises all killed off.
But the games will forever be in our memory... and playable on PC! Origin, a name EA ironically kept to use for their online store to compete with Steam, hosts the first four Wing Commander games and Wing Commander: Privateer, all available for purchase for $4.99 (you can get these and the later games in the series for $5.99 on GOG.com as well). But starting today, as part of EA Origin's On The House promotion, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger is available for FREE.
Wing Commander 3 (we'll refer to it as that for simplicity) released in 1994 and featured an impressive cast highlighted by familiar Hollywood names Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, Tom Wilson, Josh Lucas and the voice of Tim Curry. The actors played a role in green-screen heavy cutscenes between missions to help carry players through the story.
Wing Commander 3 continues the conflict between humans (Terran Confederation) and the cat-like Kilrathi Empire and brings the fight to their homeworld. The game features a few key points of player-choice and even one mission where, depending on your actions, you can attempt to fly drunk.
If you want to play Wing Commander 3, download Origin and add the title to your library where it'll stay there forever once added - available for play on any machine with Origin after download.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.