Way back in 1994, a game company called Origin decided to make a game like a feature film. Back then they called it Full Motion Video (FMV), to separate it from the sprite-based movement of previous Wing Commander games. Oh, and when they weren't usingg FMV cut scenes, they still did away with sprite-based movement in favor of 3D animation.
DVDs didn't exist at that time, but Origin didn't care. They may have to put it all on 4 or 6 CDs, but they were out to shoot it like a feature film. Which to them meant shooting it at Pinewood Studios in London, England (where they shot the James Bond movies).
What's more, this little gaming company out of Austin, Texas wasn't fooling around! You wouldn't believe the cast they hired!
I'm not talking about some mere voice-over actor for an awkward cgi puppet, but big name, live-action actors on big budget sets.
Lots of cinema talk is made over "Lost movies", but possibly no movie is more lost than the Cinema Obscura made for an Operating System that hasn't been on the market for the last 15 years!
One of those lost movies is WING COMMANDER III: HEART OF THE TIGER.
You can find practically anything on the Internet, in this case, someone went to all of the trouble to edit together all of the cut scenes into one movie (care was taken to provide a bit of gameplay just so the story or dialogue in the very next cut scene makes sense).
There's no telling how long this will stay online, so enjoy it while you can. Chris Robert's WING COMMANDER III: HEART OF THE TIGER. The full movie!
Interview with Jennfer MacDonald
Wing Commander: Behind The Screens
Additional directing was done by Steve Hilliker, from a screenplay by Diane Duane and the original story by Nick Elms and Phillip Meller. Additional dialogue by Peter Milligan.
The game was a smash hit and more cinematic FMV games were to follow including Chris' brother, Erin, directing PRIVATEER 2: THE DARKENING.
Flush with success, Chris (WING COMMANDER III: HEART OF THE TIGER) wrote and directed the extraordinarily awful WING COMMANDER feature film, which effectively murdered the game for a very long time to come. Apparently nobody had the heart to tell Chris that game players were at the door paying the pizza guy while his cinematics were playing. Paying audiences - the same folks who made the game such a hit - who had no game to wait for - weren't so kind with their ticket dollars (especially after trading The Game's Wing Commander, Mark Hamill for Scooby-Doo's Freddie Prinze Jr.! WTF?!?).
While in all fairness, WING COMMANDER III was probably no better directed than its theatrical sibling, it had a solid cast of actors who knew what they were doing. And while it lacks even standard DVD quality, it more than blew away anything seen in videogames.
Built to run only on DOS and Windows 95, it eventually made its way to the Mac 8 Operating System. But even that OS version was trashed years ago in favor of the Unix OSX flavors.
Now over 20 years later, it's unlikely that Chris' original game movie in all of its never-before-seen high definition glory, will ever be released to home video.
Still, would it hurt to see the full HD version released to Vimeo or YouTube or something?
There are more movies at the Feo Amante Theater. Go to NOW SHOWING!
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