One of my favorite genres of all time is Space Sim games a la Freespace, DarkStar One and especially Wing Commander.
I have many great memories of the Wing Commander series. The first 2 games were pure Space sims letting you gain ranks as you killed hoards of Kilrathi and have upgraded ships. Wing Commander 3 and 4 introduced FMV video to advance the story featuring Mark Hammil as the titular Christopher Blair with Tom Wilson as Maniac and Malcolm McDowell as Admiral Tolwyn.
Decent story and acting, compelling events (Angel being killed, Tolwyn’s suicide) made these experiences instead of games. The gameplay was a nicer looking version of the Wing Commander series and was pure magic. They continued with Wing Commander Prophecy which was average and not really at the level of the previous games. There was also offshoots of the series called Privateer and Armada. Armada was a simple strategy game that I played a lot of but Privateer was a true innovation. Giving you the ability to choose your path and trade as well as fly missions much like the classic series you had a great deal of choice with the quality Wing Commander engine.
There was a sequel to the game called Privateer 2: The Darkening which took the FMV route and featured an up and coming Clive Owen as the title character. IT was a decent game with a slightly muddled story and barely advanced gameplay. Since then there have been new games like Freelancer, Freespace, Darkstar One and others but the genre has been relatively stagnant and never at it’s heights again since the WC 3-4 era.
Apparently there are some other passionate people like me out there and there has been an open source 3d Space Sim engine created called Vega Strike that is making the rounds. This engine will work on Modern PC’s and an enterprising group has ported Privateer to this engine and called it Wing Commander Privateer Gemini Gold. This one is out now and I have hopes for another project that is a recreation of Wing Commander 3 using the Freespace 2 engine called Wing Commander Saga.