Strike Commander

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Strike Commander
Strike commander.jpg
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Chris Roberts
Producer(s) Chris Roberts
Erin D. Roberts
Designer(s) Chris Roberts
Jeff George
Programmer(s) Paul C. Isaac
Chris Roberts
Jason Templeman
Arthur DiBianca
Frank Savage
Jason Yenawine
Scott Biggs
Artist(s) Paul Steed
Jennifer Davis
Chris Douglas
Craig Halverson
Bruce Lemons
Denis R. Loubet
Jake Rodgers
Danny Garrett
Writer(s) Gilbert P. Austin
Composer(s) Randy Buck
Dana Glover
Marc Schaefgen
Martin Galway
Engine RealSpace
Platform(s) x86 (DOS)
Release date(s) April 1993[1]
Genre(s) Combat flight simulator
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution Floppy disks / CD-ROM

Strike Commander is a combat flight simulator video game designed by Chris Roberts and released by Origin Systems for the PC DOS in 1993. Its 3D graphics-engine used both gouraud shading and texture-mapping on both aircraft-models and terrain, an impressive feat at the time. Significant plot elements were presented through in-game cut-scene animations, a hallmark storytelling vehicle from Chris Robert's previous Wing Commander games. Strike Commander has been called "Privateer on Earth," due to the mercenary role-playing in the game.

The game was mass released in 1994 as part of a Creative Labs bundle pack with Syndicate Plus, Ultima VIII: Pagan and Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. It was also available in a CD bundle with Wing Commander: Privateer; both games included the core game, the expansion pack and voice pack on a single CD-ROM disc.

Gameplay[edit]

The player accepts missions from interesting characters and gets paid for doing them which allows the player to buy more weapons. The missions involve flying an F-16 Fighting Falcon and, in the last missions of the game, the more advanced F-22 and F-23, and accomplishing certain objectives.

Other simulators, such as the F-22 series from Novalogic have been compared with Strike Commander because of their simplified flight model and emphasis on graphic detail, which makes them relatively similar in terms of philosophy.

Plot[edit]

The game takes place in a fictional near-future (2011) where significant political changes have occurred in the world. It revolves around a group of crack private military contractor fighter pilots in a group known as the 'Wildcats', based in Turkey who fly F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The events that occur in Strike Commander are triggered by events starting 20 years before the game is set, actually the seeds are sown in the 1980s and onwards, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disastrous economic policies of the United States, conflict in the Middle East, the world-wide dependence on petroleum and the resultant rise in nationalism globally.

Background[edit]

1992 - Encouraged by the fall of the Soviet Union and the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), minorities in Eastern Europe greet their newfound freedom with a backlash of militant nationalistic sentiment. Despite their central governments' assurances of perestroika and an official commitment to democratic and capitalist ideals, the majority of outlying satellite states attempt to withdraw from the CIS. This leads to minor military skirmishes throughout the CIS, as the internal stresses of intermittent conflict along several fronts prompt resurgence of hardliner support in the government, consolidation of power in a strong central government and intensification of nationalist discontent.

1994 - Iraq formally admits having a nuclear strike capability. A U.N proclamation condemning Iraq and authorizing the use of military force against that country is used. The United States deploys its first occupational force within Saudi Arabia since Operation Desert Storm, launching Operation Fallout, which consists of surgical strikes against Iraqi nuclear targets. These raids turn out to be somewhat less surgical than planned. A total of twenty U.S. "smart" missiles strike civilian populations, inflicting widespread casualties. The resulting backlash of anti-U.S. sentiment coalesces into Middle Eastern jihad against the Western powers. Oil exports are discontinued, and Westerners in the Middle East are slaughtered.

The U.S. retaliates with punitive strikes against Iraq and Iran. Meanwhile, with petroleum scarce, the U.S. Government escalates oil production and drilling in Alaska. Accidents occur, resulting in considerable environmental damage. Alaska files a formal protest and sues the U.S. Government. The lawsuit is dismissed in federal court.

1995 - The European Nationalism fostered in CIS satellite states spreads to Western nations. In Great Britain, Wales and Scotland become secessionist, and terrorism flourishes. Shock waves are felt throughout the West when the English Parliament is destroyed by a terrorist bombing during a full session on Guy Fawkes Day.

1997 - Peace is restored in the Middle East as the Western powers strangle the East economically and militarily, but at a price; a majority of Eastern oil fields are destroyed, resulting in a global oil crisis. Despite strident protests by Alaskans, drilling is increased in Alaska. Additionally, a U.S. policy shift towards escalation of offshore drilling and promotion of nuclear energy is greeted concerted environmental protests organized by militant environmental groups. The incidence of eco-terrorist acts increases over that reported in 1996 by an estimated 700%.

1998 - Alarmed by escalating terrorism, and to prevent nationalism from further dividing an already unstable global power structure, the U.S., Britain and Germany commit troops to the CIS in order to assist the Central Government in putting down rebellion within the CIS.

2000 - Western forces operating on behalf of the CIS are defeated and withdraw, leaving the CIS alone and in chaos. The second American economic collapse begins 16 April 2000, when an international run on oil futures, exacerbated by a low dollar to yen exchange, precipitates "Pay Day", the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unable to lean upon Japanese brokers for bailout as they had so often in the past, the three largest financial institutions in the West - FISCOMP, First Allied Bank and Trust, and United States Commodities, close their doors, prompting a run on all domestic banks and S&Ls. The federal government nears bankruptcy, trying to cover FDIC debts.

Meanwhile, "The Big One" finally hits California, an earthquake that destroys the Oakland, San Mateo and Richmond bridges in San Francisco and cripples most of the freeway systems and free standing structures in Los Angeles. California industry virtually grinds to a halt, and hundreds of thousands are reported dead or missing. When the federal government refuses to supply the disaster aid because of the financial crunch, there are riots in San Francisco and Los Angeles. California threatens secession from the Union and the U.S. Government sends in federal troops. Local resistance, however, proves fierce, and although the federal government readies sufficient power to crush California, excessive force is deemed unwise due to California's valuable natural resources, and in light of public opinion.

2001 - As the federal government searches for solutions to this problem, Congress levies new taxes to compensate for the FDIC debacle. At this point, legislators, believing they've devised a solution to the California question, offer relief to California in the form of tax breaks scheduled over the next hundred years. This satisfies California. It does not, however, suit the rest of the nation. Texas is the first to secede, withdrawing from the Union and then splintering into three states because of infighting over debt. Then Alaska secedes, declaring itself an independent nation, shutting off the Alaskan pipeline and proclaiming their oil a national resource. Congress resolves to apply military force against Alaska in an attempt to secure the oil that is even more vital now, in light of the global petro-economic situation; in the mean-time, however, Canada has signed a mutual non-aggression pact with Alaska, recognizing Alaska's sovereignty and guaranteeing them aid in the event that Alaska is attacked. This conflict escalates into a multi-lateral, international conflict known as the Petro War of 2001, in which the U.S., Canada, Alaska, OPEC and the remnants of the CIS wage limited non-nuclear war over Alaskan oil rights. As a result, the majority of Alaska's wilderness is set ablaze when the oil fields ignite, and heavy losses are inflicted upon Canadian and U.S. naval forces.

2002 - In retaliation for the destruction of Alaska, environmentalists initiate a military occupation of Yosemite National Park. This action precipitates open warfare between environmental activists and Eastern owners of Setting Sun, Inc., a foreign investment corporation that operates key tourist concerns in the park. This is the first time mercenaries are legally employed on American soil. Scandal rocks Congress, as leaders of both parties are implicated in the Bloodmoney Scandal. Allegations of misconduct are leveled when evidence is presented that congressmen used their contacts to allow the shedding of American blood on American soil at the hands of foreign concerns.

On May 1, H.R. 2343 goes into effect. The IRS gains 200,000 employees and initiates an intense campaign to collect back taxes nationwide. The so-called "witch audits" prompt widespread civil demonstrations. Portions of downtown Washington are razed during the "Juneteenth Purge.” IRS officials are accused of terrorizing the population. Resentment is manifested in riots that erupt in most major urban centers across the continental U.S. After the Petro War of 2001, the CIS loses its status as a superpower, fragmented by the same forces assailing the U.S.: bankruptcy, internal politics and self-liberating provinces. The Government solicits Japanese investment, and resource-poor Japan welcomes the opportunity, exploiting the Russians' negotiating disadvantage to invest yen at high interest rates, then foreclosing on defaults. At present, it is estimated that Japan owns 28% of Russia and the rest of the CIS.

2003 - Following Texas' lead, by this year, 14 of the 50 states have declared their independence. Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia merge into one confederation, the Southern Confederate Block. North and South Dakota and North and South Carolina each merge into single states to guard against IRS predation. Regardless of state claims to the contrary, the federal government refuses to recognize the right of states to secede, and continues its attempts to levy back taxes against the secessionist factions. In its December issue, Time magazine pronounces civil war inevitable in a controversial editorial. Meanwhile the U.S. Government draws criticism for diverting funding from social and administrative programs to sustain ongoing military concerns.

Following the virtual bankruptcy of the United States and armed attempts by the IRS to collect additional taxes against corporations, the major multinational corporations meet in Stockholm for the First Multinational Corporation Summit. At this conference, the corporations assert their sovereignty and unaccountability to individual nation-states that engage in terrorist activities (i.e., the U.S. and the IRS). This independence is challenged by the international community, prompting corporations to invest in their own defensive forces. As a result of this initially defensive tactic, full-scale inter-corporation wars are commonplace by the year 2005.

2005 - Citing executive privilege to declare a state of national emergency, U.S. President Guerrero expands the IRS and grants it rights above and beyond the constitution to collect on back taxes owed by corporations and states illegally declaring secession. The Director of the IRS hires a Dutch mercenary commando unit to help collect taxes in New York City, following a street war in which New Yorkers repel IRS auditors with automatic weapons. Mercenaries emerge to fill this new market demand, fostered by the new martial environment. Istanbul becomes known as the mercenaries' market when Turkey grants "Turkish Diplomatic Forces" rights and privileges to mercenary squadrons, in exchange for a 10% share of their profits. Over a dozen sizeable mercenary squadrons quickly emerge within Turkish borders, availing themselves a safe haven for their legally questionable activities. Utilizing loopholes in international law and twisting the chaos within the new world order to their advantage, mercenary squadrons operating from Turkish bases are considered emissaries of the Turkish Government, and are able to operate with relative impunity within the borders of other countries shielded by the "technically creative application" of the principle of diplomatic immunity. This immunity prevents other governments from retaliating directly against Turkish mercenary squadrons operating within their borders.

Squadrons incurring the wrath of foreign nations are occasionally targeted when the offended governments put out contracts of their own in Turkey. Far from frowning on such activity, the Turkish government considers this good for business and diplomatically encourages vendettas whenever possible. Likewise, rather than risk their own standing defensive air forces, foreign governments and corporations begin to hire mercenaries for risky offensive missions. This arrangement seems to benefit all concerned, encouraging the perpetuation of the status quo and allowing the mercenaries to function freely in a manner that would be impossible, were it not for the latitude allowed by this liberal interpretation of international law. Mercenary trade becomes Turkey's number one export. Meanwhile, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador unite and, proclaiming themselves a Central American Bloc, attack Guatemala and Costa Rica in a two-front war. Unrest blossoms throughout South America, as the economic collapse in the United States allows South American countries to default on U.S. loans. Unbalanced by this expected fiscal relief, many South American countries rediscover the luxury of war, and begin to implement a policy of invasive adventurism.

2008 - When Italy's economy collapses, Vatican City expands its territories, declaring the New Papal States. The pre-eminence of Japan as a world power stirs Western interest in Eastern religions, converting large numbers of Catholics from the Holy Roman Church. The Pope becomes alarmed, and hires the media firm of Golan and Schwartz to combat what, to the immense relief of His Holiness, is revealed to be not so much of a crisis of faith as a PR problem. Under the direction of Golan and Schwartz, exorcisms become televised regularly, birth control is allowed and the Catholic Church takes her place alongside other commercially successful cults, advertising in the National Enquirer. The United States, in the truest spirit of capitalism and terrorism, begins taxing the profits of mercenary squadrons which destroy property within U.S. borders.

Predictions for 2011-2020 - Oil supplies will continue to dwindle. The automobile will become a thing of the past for all but the ultra-elite, and gasoline will be used primarily for shipping, trucking, electrical generation and defensive purposes. Mercenary squadrons will consume a great deal of the remaining fuel, and a good 25% of their fee will be going to the procurement of oil for their operations by the end of the decade. Petrodollars will still account for OPECs continued existence as a world power, and may enable the cartel to challenge Japan's position as the number one world power, if Middle Eastern oil supplies hold.

Development[edit]

The Strike Commander project took more than four years and over a million man hours on background development. Very little of that production time turned out to be actually usable in the final product, as at least one and possibly several complete project "reboots" were required to refine the graphical engine to a playable state. Nevertheless, some successful gameplay elements from Strike Commander were re-used by other more notable Origin products such as Privateer and the Wing Commander series. Chris Roberts, in the game's manual, compares the game's long development time with the events in the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, a film account of what it took to get the 1979 film Apocalypse Now made.

Release[edit]

A separate Speech Pack, sold on floppy disk, replaced some of the game's text-dialogue with voice-acted recordings.

An expansion pack Strike Commander: Tactical Operations continued the game's story by adding more missions and flyable aircraft.

A later CD-ROM edition of Strike Commander bundled the game, expansion pack, and more audio content (beyond what was available in the Speech Pack).

In March 2013 Strike Commander was re-released in the Digital Distribution by gog.com.[2]

In 2013 a SC reverse engineering project by Fabien Sanglard with a reconstructed source code variant became available on GitHub as the original source code was most probably lost in the take over of Origin by EA (Abandonware).[3][4]

Reception[edit]

In 1993 Computer Gaming World stated that "Strike is not and does not attempt to be a high-fidelity simulation ... It focuses on action and combat" and "is designed to get players in the air and having fun in the shortest amount of time", with a "much gentler learning curve" than Falcon 3.0 or Red Baron and better graphics than F-117 Stealth Fighter or Jetfighter.[5] In 1996, the magazine ranked it as the 13th top vaporware title in computer game history (due 1991, delivered 1993), stating "The haze you see from the cockpit is emblematic of this title's troubled development on the bleeding edge of technology."[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Strike Commander". PC Zone (1): 8. April 1993. ISSN 0967-8220. OCLC 173325816. 
  2. ^ Strike Commander - Simulations-Klassiker jetzt über GOG.com veröffentlicht on Gamestar.de (german)
  3. ^ Sanglard, Fabien (2014-01-22). "Reverse Engineering Strike Commander". Retrieved 2014-01-23. "Most people assume the source codes and gold versions of all finished games were stored in a Vault somewhere at EA. But after getting in touch with people at Wing Commander CIC, it appeared that all the source code was lost when the company closed.[...]On his first day one developer managed to delete the full 900MB of Strike Commander source tree." 
  4. ^ libRealSpace on github.com
  5. ^ Basham, Tom (1993-08). "Origin's Strike Commander". Computer Gaming World. p. 130. Retrieved 12 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ CGW 148 The 15 Vaporware Title in Computer Game History

External links[edit]