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Released by Origin Systems in 1993, Strike Commander is a plot-oriented F-16 Flight Simulator that follows in the footsteps of the successful Wing Commander series.
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Set in 2011, the world has taken a turn for the worse. Global oil crises in combination with the rise of terrorism and the fall of the Soviet Union spark a series of nationalistic uprisings in some of the larger union countries (including Great Britain and the United States!). The abundance of warring nations have prompted the creation of mercenary military groups who conduct large-scale military operations on behalf of anyone who can afford them. Turkey in particular has created a "tax umbrella" for mercenary activity, and Istanbul is now considered the base-of-operations for many such groups.

The player takes the role of a Commander in one of the smaller but most elite mercenary groups, the "Wildcats", who specialize in aerial operations - especially F-16 fighter jets. After conducting several combat missions for various small organizations at the start of the game, the Wildcats receive a lucrative offer to fight for a South American dictator against his "troublesome" neighbours, and they reluctantly accept. However, after completing their mission, after treachery against the Wildcats It's Up to You to lead the crippled Wildcats forward, trying to survive both physically and financially in a complicated world.

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As mentioned earlier, much like its Wing Commander predecessors the game has a strong emphasis on the plot. Between missions you can spend some time walking around your base and having conversations with other (well-characterized) members of your group - most of whom are also your wingmen and display various personalities in their flying styles as well. In the CD-ROM version of the game, each character is also fully-voiced, and in total there is more than an hour of conversations and cutscenes to be enjoyed. As the leader of the group, you also have to make sure that the armament inventory is fully-stocked with the missiles and bombs necessary for your next mission. Finally, in Istanbul you can drive down to the local Mercenary cafe to seek "fixers" - representatives of governments or other organizations who offer contracts for your employment. Once a deal with one of the fixers is made, the Wildcats fly off to whatever zone of conflict across the world, and then preform a series of missions for their employer.

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The management side of the game forces the player to make tradeoffs between expensive advanced weaponry such as laser-guided bombs, all-aspect IR missiles, long range radar-guided missiles and guided anti-tank missiles which make missions much easier but are hard on the budget and cheaper unguided bombs, older versions of missiles that only lock on the the rear of enemy aircraft and direct cannon fire that require more skill to use effectively. It was entirely possible to get a Non Standard Game Over by failing to keep the financial side of the business in the black.

During the course of the game, the player learns more about the geo-political situation, about the rival mercenary groups that compete against you for work, and about the truth behind the fate of the previous leader of the Wildcats. The plot culminates in combat against the most powerful rival group, the Jackals, with whom the Wildcats have a long grudge as well as ideological differences: One group will do everything for money, while the other at least tries to work only for those who deserve it.

As a flight simulator, Strike Commander is more arcade-like than realistic, and can be compared to what Wing Commander would be like in atmospheric conditions. However, at the time it offered a ground-breaking 3D flight engine coupled with stunning VGA visuals (for 1993), which included advanced gouraud shading coupled with polygon textures. It was compatible with several different kinds of advanced joysticks as well, and was commonly included with Sound-Blaster/Joystick packages sold around that period (when the Sound-Blaster 16 had its own Joystick port).

The game was less successful than the Wing Commander series, in spite of its technical innovations. Nevertheless, it did produce an Expansion Pack called Tactical Operations. The expansion had a somewhat-irrelevant over-arching story about Turkey's attempts to raise its mercenary umbrella tax, but was mostly just a collection of short, ever-more-difficult campaigns with a relatively low Story to Gameplay Ratio compared to the original game. The major innovations in the expansion were the inclusion of the F-22 Raptor jet-fighter as an integral part of Wildcat operations (used in pure air-to-air interception missions), and a new pilot (with barely any new dialog) to replace Lyle Richards.

The game also opened the way to another flight simulator from Origin, called Pacific Strike, which took the same game engine into the Pacific Theatre of World War II.


This work features examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: While many of the pilots are aces, only a few of them have the attitude of superiority embodied in this trope, with Jean-Paul Prideaux at the top of the list.
  • Ace Pilot: Basically all of the named pilots in this game are flight aces, including yourself, Stern, Janet, and the evil Prideaux. The only real non-aces in your group are Miguel (the pilot/mechanic) and Virgil Beetlebaum (the accountant). The game also keeps track of how many planes you shot down during the game, as well as planes shot down by your wingmen.
  • A House Divided: Despite massive damage caused to both Californias during the great earthquake, they still find the time and energy to conduct several wars against each other instead of working together to recover.
  • Airstrike Impossible: The attack on the Nevada base deep inside the Grand Canyon is repeatedly described as a high-risk mission. As it turns out, the Nevada military has set up SAM sites along the edge of the canyon, and they've placed multiple radar-guided anti-aircraft guns inside the canyon itself. Maneuvers are deadly-difficult in the narrow areas, and trying to fly out of the canyon to make things easier only exposes you to the enemy missile launchers.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Wildcat accountant Virgil Beetlebaum is the only Jewish character in the original game, and he takes the trope up to eleven - kvetching about every single expense. On his very first appearance, he argues for a badly-damaged F-16 to be repaired and put back into service instead of scrapping it, posing a risk to whoever has to pilot that plane. On the other hand, Virgil is ultimately shown to be both reasonable and honorable; he just worries too much about finances, and The Commander appears not to worry enough.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Literally no one except the I.R.S. is lamenting the death of their Director. Gwen is particularly pleased.
    Gwen: May he rot in peace!
  • Animal Metaphor: The final shot of the game is a hawk flying over the celebrating Wildcats. James Stern's callsign was "Hawk". Obvious enough for you?
  • Animal Motifs: Every mercenary group referenced in the game is named after an animal. The Wildcats and the Jackals are the primary example, representing an inverted Cat/Dog Dichotomy in their actions and morals (in this case, Panthera Awesome and Savage Wolves). We also get to fight the Hammerheads, who are described as "a street gang with wings" for their viciousness. We do hear a story about the Barracudas as well, but we learn nothing else about them.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Given by the I.R.S. when they try to recruit the Wildcats for their invasion of Rhode Island. The I.R.S. claims that the Wildcats owe taxes for operating in California - which the United States considers its rightful territory. Participating in the invasion, as distasteful as it might be, is the only way for the Wildcats to avoid what would otherwise be — quite literally — an extremely painful audit.
  • The Apprentice: At the start of the story, The Commander is James Stern's right-hand man, learning the ropes in order to take over the Wildcats some day. That day arrives only a few missions into the game.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Ari Bengazi, the Israeli pilot from Tactical Operations. Ari is an Israeli given name meaning "lion" (sometimes short for "Ariel" - "lion of God"). "Ben-Gazi", on the other hand, sure would sound like an Israeli surname to a foreigner, but is in fact the name of a major port city in Libya. The game was made decades before the city's name became more familiar to American audiences due to an infamous terrorist attack that occurred there.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Janet leaves the Wildcats early on to join their primary rivals, the Jackals. She then spends most of the game trying to ingratiate herself to The Commander and The Wildcats in various ways, in order to gain his trust. In the end, she reveals that she's exactly as self-interested as he had always suspected, when she uses him in a ploy to steal the F-22 for herself.
  • Badass Israeli: Ari Bengazi in Tactical Operations, an ex-Israeli Air Force pilot who joins the Wildcats after Lyle's death, is the polar opposite of the walking American Jewish stereotype that is Virgil Beetlebaum. He's stone-cold, claims that he doesn't like to "mingle" with others, and is a highly-skilled Ace Pilot. He also complains about absolutely nothing, which admittedly might be taking it a step too far.
  • Balkanize Me: In Strike Commander's 2011, the majority of superpowers around the world have undergone internal schisms and have split up into smaller nations. In particular, many states have seceded from the U.S.A — and California has even split up into two separate countries (North California and South California), who are now at war with both the United States and with each other!
  • Banana Republic: The South American "republic" of Andes Mallorca qualifies. It is run by a Generalissimo dictator, and is at war with every single one of its neighbours. It even has a group of rebels up in the mountains, although it's unclear whether the rebels are genuine or whether Generalissimo Mendez is actually funding them as a ruse.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the Rhode Island campaign. The United States — with the help of the Wildcats — has invaded and conquered Rhode Island, whose army paid a dear price. On the other hand, the Wildcats have killed the Director of the I.R.S. and have won the massive bounty placed on his head by Massachusetts and Vermont.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Even the Wildcats work for the "wrong" people sometimes. In fact it seems like no one has truly pure intentions. The player is supposed to try and follow the White Morality path, but then again, you're a mercenary...
  • Blackmail:
    • Done by the I.R.S. to the Wildcats, threatening them with an audit for actions taken on "U.S. soil" if they don't acquiesce to help the I.R.S. reconquer Rhode Island. The Wildcats fulfill their part of the contract, but then turn around and shoot down the Director of the I.R.S. as retribution. Although Virgil claims the I.R.S. can't legally start another audit, they do seek revenge on the Wildcats in other ways for this transgression.
    • When Walters reveals that TWP were trying to get the Wildcats killed during the campaign against Global Oil, instead of punching him in the face The Commander decides instead to march into the TWP offices and threaten to reveal their Frame-Up attempt to GO - which would completely ruin their plan. In exchange for his silence, The Commander demands Walters be fired from the company... as well as some extra monetary compensation.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When The Commander catches Philip Walters on the tarmac at a remote airport before sunrise, Walters tries claiming that he's simply checking the place out as a possible opportunity for investment. The Commander immediately points out that Walters has a suitcase with him.
    • When The Commander demands Walters hand over the reward he had promised, Walters claims to have no money and offers to write The Commander a cheque. He puts his hand in his vest pocket and tries to pull out a gun, but is shot dead first. His briefcase falls to the floor and breaks open, revealing millions of dollars.
  • Breather Episode: The Egypt contract - the first contract taken after Stern's death and the losses incurred by the Wildcats - starts out this way, with the Wildcats being contracted to fly at an air show. However, things take a turn when Libya chooses this exact moment to invade Egypt.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Philip Walters tries escaping Istanbul with one, containing millions of dollars he had made off his fraudulent deal with TWP.
  • The Bully: Lyle Richards describes the Hammerheads - a rival mercenary company - as nothing but a street gang with wings. They've been contracted by Canada to attack Quebec, and have set up a no-fly zone where they attack anyone who dares take to the skies, forcing cargo planes to hand over their goods.
  • Bully Hunter: The Wildcats are contracted by Quebec to rid themselves of the Hammerheads. The Wildcats exact quite a toll, forcing the Hammerheads to cut their losses and flee the region - saving Quebec from invasion. To make sure the bullies can't just repeat their behavior elsewhere, chase the Hammerheads' fleeing cargo plane and shoot it down - effectively bankrupting them.
  • But Thou Must!: There are several points in the game where you can refuse to take a contract, but can't advance any further in the game until you go back and accept it. The person who offers the contract will wait as long as necessary - and endure as many rejections as necessary - until you accept. Philip Walters, in particular, will lampshade the fact that the Wildcats seem to have no choice but to accept his offers.
  • California Collapse: The "Big One" occurred several years before the start of the game. It caused massive damage to San Francisco, leading to California's financial collapse. This in turn triggered a series of conflicts between North California and South California.
  • Calling Card: When the Wildcats take revenge on someone who betrayed them, they tend to do so in broad daylight so that everyone will know.
    • Subverted with Philip Walters, who is killed at an airstrip shortly before dawn. Nevertheless, the story spreads throughout the Istanbul mercenary community by the next day.
  • Call to Adventure: Most action in the game results from The Commander heading off to Selim's to look for someone who'll give the Wildcats a commission. The players must accept the call to start a new mission set.
  • Celebrating the Heroes: The game ends with a celebration at the Wildcat strike base, coupled with final words from each Wildcat.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Partway through the game, Billy tells a cautionary tale about how the I.R.S. attacked a mercenary company's base in Istanbul and stole an F-22 advanced fighter jet from an underground bunker. The penultimate mission has you stealing that jet back from the I.R.S. in order to go after Mendez.
  • Close-Range Combatant: The agility of the F-16 is its primary advantage against all manner of enemy planes. It can out-turn any other plane in the game, allowing you to get on your enemy's six o'clock simply by continuously spiraling with your opponent. This allows for the use of both cannons and rear-aspect missiles, which are your primary air-to-air weapons.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Janet Page is unique among the Wildcats in believing that combat is not a place for lofty ideals. When a mission calls for "preventing a civilian plane from landing", she chooses the obvious and easy path and simply shoots it down. This puts her in conflict with James Stern, and she ends up quitting the Wildcats.
  • Complaining About Complaining: Virgil, being the blatant Jewish stereotype that he is, complains about literally everything - including other Wildcats complaining about anything. He tries to defend this by claiming that he only offers "constructive criticism".
  • Cool Plane: You and your wingmen fly F-16 Fighting Falcons but the game includes enemies who fly F-15 Eagles, Panavia Tornadoes, MiG-29 Fulcrums, Su-27 Flankers and many more. Late in the game you get to fly a prototype version of the F-22 Raptor and the final duel is against your Arch-Enemy flying the YF-23 Black Widow II prototype.
  • Corporate Warfare: Common, especially among supra-national oil conglomerates such as Trans-World Petrochem and Global Oil, using mercenary companies to directly attack each others' assets in service of more complicated business endeavours.
  • Crapsack World: Pretty much every country seems to be either at war, threatened with war, or supporting someone else's war in one way or another.
  • Cutting Corners:
    • It's quite easy to bankrupt the company by purchasing high-grade precision-guided munitions for every mission. The game encourages you to try and learn how to use cheaper munitions such as rear-aspect air-to-air missiles and unguided bombs, just to stay in the black.
    • Virgil is always looking for ways to save money. In his first appearance, he tries to argue that a badly-damaged F-16 should be refurbished and put back into service just to save money - despite the risk this poses to anyone trying to pilot the plane in combat.
  • Cynic–Idealist Duo: It's hard to believe that Stern and Prideaux were once co-leaders of the Wildcats, given how diametrically opposed their moral outlooks are. Eventually, Prideaux did the sensible thing and went off to start his own mercenary company - one that is purely cynical.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • At the end of the second campaign, the Wildcats have lost their beloved leader, who was shot down while bringing home the money they were due for the mission. To make matters even worse, they return to Istanbul to find that their home base has been heavily bombed by a vengeful oil conglomerate.
    • Near the end of the game, the Wildcats are set up by Generalissimo Mendez, with their strike base and most of their equipment destroyed completely. They barely make it out of there alive with a handful of planes. To make matters even worse, the I.R.S. has frozen all of their financial assets pending an audit that they thought had already been called off.
  • Death by Transceiver: Twice in Andes Mallorca.
    • Played by the book with Stern's death. We even get a good close-up shot of the voltage needles swinging as Stern describes his situation, praises the Wildcats and bids them farewell, and finally dropping to "0" when the transmission cuts out.
    • During the surprise attack on the Wildcats' Andes Mallorca strike base near the end of the game, Lyle issues a Distress Call to the pilots to rush back to defend the base. The Commander, embroiled in a difficult dogfight at the time, can't help but listen as the situation gets progressively worse, until Lyle sends out a message instructing the Wildcats not to return to base, as it has been completely destroyed.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: As part of his Evil Gloating at the end of the game, Mendez expresses profound amazement at the fact that the Wildcats haven't figured out who killed Stern and why, or that they are at all still willing to have anything to do with the Generalissimo after everything he's done to them.
  • Distress Call: From the Wildcat strike base in Andes Mallorca when it is attacked by Generalissimo Mendez's bombers. This happens while The Commander is involved in a protracted dogfight with enemy fighters, and there is no way to make it back in time before the base is destroyed.
  • Divided States of America: By the year 2011, 14 states have seceded from the union. The Internal Revenue Service (de-facto government of the U.S. in 2011) is waging war against each of these.
    • First was Texas, in response to heavy taxes levied on it to try and pay for a massive earthquake that hit California (Texas also split into three sub-nations shortly afterwards).
    • Next was Alaska, in protest of heavy oil drilling and subsequent environmental damage forced upon it by the federal government due to a major oil crisis in the Middle East. Canada recognizes Alaska as an independent state, leading to a massive war between it and the U.S. over Alaska's oil fields.
    • The Dakotas and the Carolinas are now single countries.
    • Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia are now singular countries that have joined together to form the Southern Confederate Bloc.
    • As mentioned earlier, California did eventually secede from the union, and has split into two countries — South California and North California — who are now at war with each other.
    • Though the details are not mentioned, an ad in the accompanying faux-magazine indicates that Hawaii has also seceded and is now recruiting an army to defend itself. You get to participate in its defense in Tactical Operations.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In Tactical Operations, Lyle Richards' plane just explodes in mid-air during a dogfight, supposedly shot down by enemies. It's completely scripted, so there's absolutely nothing you can do to prevent this.
  • Easily Forgiven: Janet shoots down a plane full of Trans-World Petrochem board members, and TWP hires The Jackals to bomb the Wildcat base in retaliation. Not long afterwards, a representative of TWP approaches The Commander to offer him work for the company, claiming that the retaliation was sufficient and it's now time to return to business. It's later revealed that the vendetta isn't over at all, and TWP were actually hoping to get the Wildcats killed while doing their dirty business for them.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: In the penultimate mission, The Commander plans to land a fully-functioning F-16 at an I.R.S. base and leave it there in order to steal an F-22 fighter. This is seen as totally worth it, assuming it succeeds.
  • The Engineer: Miguel "Zorro" Schraeder is both a pilot and the Wildcats' chief mechanic, responsible for keeping your F-16s flying despite all the battle damage they're sure to suffer.
  • Escort Mission: A few, including the very first mission in the game - escorting a U.N. C-130 delivering humanitarian packages in Mauritania. Fortunately, enemy fighters almost always go after you instead of the aircraft you're escorting.
    • Any mission can feel like this, since your wingman can get him/herself shot down by enemy planes, which will cost you a hefty chunk of money replacing their plane. Some players prefer sending the wingman home shortly after take-off, simply to avoid this happening.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the intro, The Commander shoots down an enemy pilot with a hefty bounty on his head. The pilot parachutes to the ground, and is caught helpless as he tries to unhook himself from the parachute. Despite Tex's urging, The Commander refuses to shoot the unarmed pilot - demonstrating the lofty ideals held by the Wildcat leadership.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The player character is known only as The Commander. No other name appears in the game nor in the documentation. See also Hello, [Insert Name Here].
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Most conversations with Jean-Paul Prideaux revolve around this, with Prideaux expressing all sorts of bewilderment and pity as he sees the Wildcats spiral down into financial crisis due to their adherence to a moral code.
  • Evil Gloating: Over the radio during the final mission, Generalissimo Mendez reveals his entire plan as well as explaining everything he had done to the Wildcats from the get go.
  • Evil Pays Better: The reason Prideaux left the Wildcats to found a new company, and later the reason Janet Page joined his company.
  • Evil States of America: The Internal Revenue Service has taken over what's left of the United States, and is completely unscrupulous in its attempts to regain the lost states. Their invasion of Rhode Island, in which the Wildcats participate, is repeatedly characterized as an act of evil. Additionally, the I.R.S. uses legal and financial warfare to take down anyone who dares fight for the secessionist states.
  • Expansion Pack: Tactical Operations. It has a new story (kinda...), many missions featuring the F-22 as a flyable aircraft, and a couple of new characters. It is significantly more difficult than the original game, but is lacking in story, contrary to what was arguably the original game's strongest feature.
    • The story partly deals with Turkey's attempts to raise the mercenary umbrella tax, training mercenaries and terrorists in order to enforce it. However only a few campaigns actually involve this storyline directly; mostly it's just woven into conversations here and there throughout the game, with various characters mentioning how the impending threat of the tax is driving mercenaries and fixers out of Istanbul. As far as actual story-related missions go, the Wildcats go to Syria twice to bomb Turkish training bases there, but this only "delays" the introduction of the tax. The plot is never actually resolved; We never learn whether the tax actually went into effect, nor how the Wildcats dealt with it if and when it did.
    • Each mission that isn't about the Turkish tax has its own stand-alone storyline. Among others, the Wildcats help New Siberia resist Alaskan bombing raids, save Nicaraguan Natives from being evicted off their land, and help Hawaii destroy a United States aircraft carrier attempting to enact an invasion of the islands. The final mission of the game comes straight out of left field, involving a stolen B-1 bomber making an attack with nuclear missiles on Ireland, and has nothing to do with the Turkish plot or any other storyline from previously in the game.
    • The F-22 Raptor plays a much greater role in the game, being used for almost all aerial interception missions. It has a very powerful engine, but is less agile than the F-16, and cannot carry any ground-attack weaponry (except its main gun). A very minor part of the story involves the ever-more-difficult search for spare parts for this rare aircraft, culminating in the Wildcats selling it off to the highest bidder shortly before the end of the game.
    • All mission maps are new, though some are reused within the expansion.
    • Lyle Richards dies for seemingly no reason during an early mission, not even during a cutscene. He is immediately replaced with a new character, Ari Ben-Gazi, an ex-Israeli Air Force pilot. Ari has a few lines of voiced dialog to give him some characterization, but has effectively no impact on the plot.
    • A fixer by the name of Maxwell appears in Selim's near the end of the game. He comes to Istanbul just as the umbrella tax is about to be raised, and quickly regrets that.
    • Overall, there is much less dialog between the Wildcats in the expansion, compared to the original game. There is also exactly one conversation with Prideaux, when it's revealed that he'd survived the Post-Final Boss battle of the original game.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: Janet pulls a What the Hell, Hero? when she shoots down a civilian aircraft (which was the target of the mission, but was only supposed to be delayed from landing). After being reprimanded by Stern she leaves the Wildcats, and within a week she's working for their sworn rivals, the Jackals. Nevertheless, she spends the rest of the game trying to atone for her actions while also cultivating a romantic relationship with The Commander. In the end, she betrays both squads for her own personal gain.
  • Fanservice: In the barracks at the Wildcat base in Istanbul are two sexy swimsuit posters - zoomable to full screen - one of a woman and the other of a man. They serve no gameplay-related purpose. Additionally, there's a hunky male pilot sleeping in one of the beds at the Istanbul base, and a sexy female pilot sleeping under a light blanket that's threatening to slide off her shapely bum at every strike base. These sleeping pilots actually serve the purpose of being GUI for saving and loading the game, and will raise their heads momentarily if you place the mouse over them.
  • Femme Fatale: Janet "Vixen" Page, a deadly pilot and The Commander's Love Interest. She ends up betraying The Commander for money, and almost kills him herself.
  • The Fettered: James Stern is very much this, and has modeled the Wildcats in his own image. They take pride in taking jobs that could help the helpless or make the world a better place. After Stern's death, The Commander does his best to stay true to these morals, though he finds himself compromising his ideals more frequently - mostly due to circumstances out of his control.
  • Fiery Cover Up: Walters sold a bunch of fake stocks to Trans-world Petrochem, which are being transferred to the company's main office in Istanbul by plane. He hires the Wildcats to do shoot the plane down, making up a completely different lie about why he wants it destroyed.
  • Fiery Redhead: Gwen "Phoenix" Forrester, a freckled redhead, is easily the most gung-ho of the Wildcats. She often complains whenever a plan involves subterfuge or reducing the risk of tough combat.
  • Forced into Evil: The Wildcats are strong-armed into assisting the United States with its invasion and reconquest of Rhode Island. The Wildcats are visibly uneasy with literally every part of this mission. Fortunately, they eventually find a way to pay the I.R.S. back for its evil actions.
  • Frame-Up: Multiple times by multiple groups during the game.
    • The Mauritanian rebels plunder United Nations relief shipments to the starving population, then blame the government for the humanitarian disaster.
    • Generalissimo Mendez sends planes painted with enemy markings to shoot down James Stern.
    • Philip Walters hires the Wildcats to attack Global Oil assets on behalf of Trans-World Petrochem. He later reveals that the objective was not to destroy Global Oil, but to blame the attacks on a third company - Pegasus Oil. Pegasus had been hoping to buy out GO, so blaming them for the attack would sour relations between the two companies, allowing TWP to swoop in and buy out GO instead.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • While the Wildcats are mourning the death of their leader, Stern, The Commander goes back to Mendez's palace to collect the payment for the Andes Mallorca campaign - only to learn that Stern was carrying all the gold with him when he was shot down. Not only are the Wildcats left leaderless; now they're also nearly broke.
    • Then, when the Wildcats return from Andes Mallorca, they discover that their base has been bombed as revenge for an earlier job they'd taken against Trans-World Petrochem.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The story hinges on the fact that, after Stern's death, the Wildcats are struggling to find work and can barely stay in the black. The game assumes that the player will buy at least some precision-guided munitions for each mission, struggle to complete bonus objectives, and even lose an F-16 here and there. Naturally, some players are either extremely skilled pilots or will happily tone down the difficulty a little, resulting in their bank account practically overflowing with cash - and yet the dialog about the company's financial situation stays exactly the same. This leads to a few bizarre moments where the Wildcats are pressured into a contract because they're "practically broke", despite having more money in the bank than they'd know what to do with!
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Wildcats become suspicious when the Peruvian "guerillas" they've been sent to suppress turn out to have MiG-29 fighter jets. It turns out that Mendez is helping his own enemy's guerillas as part of a ruse to rope in the Wildcats for an attack on Peru, while also planning to destroy the Wildcats themselves.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Janet has several apparent ones during the game, constantly trying to prove to The Commander that she's not a self-interested bitch. This culminates with her offering to help The Commander steal the F-22 from the I.R.S. In the end it turns out that she was a heel the entire time anyway.
    • After being forced to assist the United States in conquering Rhode Island and completing their contract, the Wildcats regain their morale and credibility by turning right around and shooting down the plane carrying the Director of the I.R.S. - effectively the U.S. President.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The player must enter a name and callsign at the start of the game. The name is used nowhere in the game, whereas the callsign only appears on the kill board. Other than this, the player character is always referred to by others as The Commander. He has no canon name.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Although it happened at a remote location in the middle of the night, rumors about The Commander's final encounter with Walters spreads quickly throughout Istanbul. The details get left out, giving the impression that it was a cold-blooded murder, and instantly gaining The Commander a reputation as someone who could backstab a fixer and steal all their money. Naturally, most of the fixers want nothing to do with the Wildcats after that.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Possible, but it's safer with flares.
  • Human Shield: Or rather, "monumental shield". The Libyans park their invasion force next to the Great Pyramids of Giza in order to deter the Egyptians from attacking them - lest they damage their own priceless heritage!
  • The Idealist: James "Hawk" Stern, a former officer in the U.S. navy who quit to found his own mercenary company to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. He is adamant that the Wildcats only take missions that are morally sound, and never fight for the bad guys. Unfortunately, this eventually leads to his death at the hands of one of his employers.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: This is how the Wildcats justify their participation in the invasion of Rhode Island, given that the I.R.S. effectively threatened to kill them if they didn't.
  • Implied Death Threat: Prideaux constantly makes veiled threats against Stern, The Commander, and the Wildcats in general, claiming that they are "doomed" if they don't change their philosophy soon.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: As expected from what is basically Wing Commander dressed as Top Gun. High G-Forces can blind you, though.
  • In Medias Res: The intro takes place in the middle of a dogfight in South America.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: The IRS is now the de facto Federal government, and uses military force to collect back taxes from Mega Corps and the Divided States of America. One of your missions gives you the choice between a painful audit or helping them invade the secessionist state of Rhode Island, though there's a happy ending where you blow up IRS One with a missile.
    "Commander, the IRS has been called a terrorist enclave. Rest assured, we are."
  • Jewish Complaining: Exaggerated with Virgil Beetlebaum, who complains about everything. Then Inverted in Tactical Operations with Ari Bengazi, who complains about nothing.
  • Kangaroo Court: According to Virgil, the I.R.S. have no qualms about inventing bogus tax infringements in order to prosecute anyone they wish to punish.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: At higher difficulty levels, it's hard to down enemy planes with missiles - they either dodge them or dump enough flares or chaff to distract them every time. But your cannon remains effective and assuming you can aim well it's impossible to dodge. Often your missiles are only useful to distract enemy planes and force them to break off their cannon attacks on you.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: During the penultimate mission, The Commander is forced to shoot down Janet as she tries to take the F-22 from him by force. The two even exchange a lovers' farewell before engaging each other in combat.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: During the California campaign, Billy gets fed up with his North Californian superiors waffling over attacking an enemy force. Losing his patience, he breaks off and attacks an enemy fighter wing, wiping them out single-handedly. The North Californians are displeased, but The Commander seems to understand where Billy's coming from given that the North California all seem to be Surfer Dude types.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: During an attack by Peruvian fighters on the Wildcat strike base, Stern decides to leave in a cargo plane to go collect the Wildcats' payment for the Andes Mallorca campaign. His decision to fly without escorts results in his plane being shot down, and himself being killed.
  • Like a Son to Me: Implied to be the nature of the relationship between Stern and The Commander.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Philip Walters tries to ensure that The Wildcats never reveal what TWP was planning to do to Global Oil by feeding them bad intel on the opposition forces.
  • Leonine Contract: The Wildcats can't really refuse any of the contracts they're offered, as doing so would result in their bankruptcy. This leads to multiple situations where the Wildcats find the terms being changed unfavorably without warning.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: To be expected when a game runs off a CD at 1x speed, common at the time of its release.
  • Loading Screen: Thankfully, the loading screen had a mini-game where you played pong against yourself with a CD instead of a ball. There was also incentive to play well: If you let the CD fall off the bottom edge of the screen, the mini-game ended and you had no choice but to wait patiently for the mission to finish loading... and that could take a while.
  • Long-Range Fighter: British Tornadoes are dangerous fighters because of their propensity to attack from a distance using guided missiles. The Tornadoes are significantly faster than your F-16, and at high difficulty levels can simply speed away to set up another missile attack.
  • Loose Lips: On the night before the Wildcats depart for Andes Mallorca to kill Mendez, one of the Wildcats gets drunk in a bar and spills the plans to some stranger. The stranger quickly calls Mendez to warn him of the Wildcats' plan, probably hoping to be paid generously for the information.
  • Love Interest: Janet Page to The Commander, despite often being at odds due to her self-interested nature. They even spend the night together at one point.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Janet Page to The Commander. While indeed having genuine feelings for him, ultimately she's really Only in It for the Money.
  • Make an Example of Them: Multiple times.
    • The Wildcats take this approach several times throughout the game, as they are frequently betrayed by their own employers. This includes blowing up a Mauritanian government base, taking revenge on the Peruvians for shooting down Stern, killing the Director of the I.R.S. for forcing them to assist in the invasion of Rhode Island, killing Philip Walters for defrauding them, and shooting down Generalissimo Mendez for his nefarious actions. The Wildcats specifically state that they're only doing this to teach others not to mess with them - but the plot shows that this doesn't seem to dissuade anybody.
    • Trans-World Petrochem send The Jackals to bomb the Wildcat base while the Wildcats are off in Andes Mallorca. This is in direct retaliation for shooting down a civilian plane carrying some of their executives early in the game. Later they take it a step further by hiring the Wildcats and trying to get them killed in California.
    • The Internal Revenue Service commissions Jean-Paul Prideaux to shoot down the F-22 and The Commander just to show that no one kills their Director and steals their (already-stolen) aircraft and gets away with it.
  • Mega-Corp: Several of the mission sets are from multinational megacorps, who given the times frequently have to use force for protection and carrying out certain goals.
  • The Men First: At the start of the game, Stern orders a damaged F-16 to be scrapped for parts instead of risking it killing a Wildcat pilot if they tried to get it airborne again. This is much to the chagrin of Virgil Beetlebaum, given the massive financial loss this action signifies.
  • Missing Man Formation: At Stern's funeral. Also at the Player Character's funeral, during a Game Over.
  • Mock Surprise Reaction: Janet's reaction to hearing about the bombing of the Wildcat home base makes it perfectly clear that she's not innocent in the matter. Not long after, Prideaux confesses to bombing the base in service of Trans-World Petrochem.
  • Monumental Battle:
    • The missions in Egypt have you flying past - and later protecting - the Great Pyramids of Giza from Libyan forces. If you're not fast enough, enemy tanks can actually destroy the monuments.
    • The main offices of Global Oil - which you must destroy - are located in one of the middle floors of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe; the Wildcats feel they've crossed this horizon when they agree to serve the United States in its attempt to retake Rhode Island. Morale in the unit is palpably low during the campaign.
  • More Dakka: If you are unlucky enough to end up in front of an A-10 Thunderbolt II it will only take a couple of hits from his 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon to down you. Not surprising since this gun is designed to defeat tank armour.
  • My Fist Forgives You: Walters hopes that allowing The Commander to viciously beat him up would resolve any hard feelings that might arise from him manipulating the Wildcats and trying to get them all killed in order to tie up loose ends, as part of an underhanded and hostile business takeover. However, he is Wrong Genre Savvy in this case.
  • Mysterious Employer: Walters refuses to divulge who his employer is when he offers the Wildcats another mission later in the game. Eventually, it turns out that he was working for his own self-interest.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: When accosted by a mugger in an alleyway behind Selim's, The Commander punches him in the face. And then...
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: ...when the aforementioned mugger calls his friends to surround The Commander, Janet shows up with an Uzi.
  • New Meat: Conversations with the other Wildcats occasionally indicate that rookie pilots are joining the company every once in a while - but we never get to see them. Billy serves as one of the instructors, and is constantly complaining that their inexperience is a huge liability in combat.
  • No Ending:
    • Several of the campaigns in Tactical Operations end with you unceremoniously returning to Istanbul after completing the campaign's final mission, without any conversations with other characters about what you've just accomplished or what impact (if any) your actions have had. This is quite contrary to the original game, where there was always at least one character who had something to comment about each campaign.
    • Most egregiously, the "main conflict" of Tactical Operations is never actually resolved. The Turkish umbrella tax-rise is treated from the get-go as inevitable, and there is never any indication otherwise. Thus, assuming the new tax was indeed enacted, we have no idea how the Wildcats dealt with it.
  • No-Gear Level:
    • The Egypt campaign starts with the Wildcats about to take part in an air show, where naturally the planes are unarmed for safety. Things goes sideways when Libyan planes enter the country's airspace and the Wildcats are hurriedly hired to intercept them. The situation evolves so rapidly there isn't enough time to re-arm your F-16s with missiles so you and your wingman have to scramble and face the enemy fighters armed only with your internal cannons.
    • You spend most of the game earning money and purchasing various munitions to help you fight. Near the end of the game, the Wildcats lose practically everything and their funds are frozen by the I.R.S., forcing you to fly the last couple of missions with whatever the game gives you.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Wildcats are betrayed several times by the very people they try to help.
    • The first mission in the game takes place in Mauritania, where the Wildcats are contracted to help food shipments reach the population in the face of a rebel blockade. After they accomplish this, the government is taken over by hard-liners who try to kick the Wildcats out of Mauritania without their pay.
    • The Wildcats fly for Generalissimo Mendez of Andes Mallorca to protect his country against the many enemies surrounding it. For their trouble, Mendez bilks them out of their payment, and kills James Stern while he's at it.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: The Barracudas, another mercenary company, refused to pay their taxes to the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. In return, the I.R.S. leveled their base - leaving nothing to be collected at all.
  • Non-Action Guy: Virgil Beetlebaum, the Wildcats' accountant, is the only Wildcat who isn't a pilot. He can usually be found behind a desk in his office. When he accompanies the unit to Rhode Island, everyone realizes this as a sign that things are getting serious.
  • Noodle Incident: The "Gator Raid" of 2002 is mentioned as the single highest-paying mission in mercenary history, but no details are added beyond this.
  • Nothing Personal: Variations of this crop up throughout the dialog, with several characters claiming that their backroom dealings and frequent backstabs are just good business decisions. Even The Commander starts claiming this after being wrongly accused of murdering Walters. It usually turns out that these actions are at least a little personal, despite what these characters keep claiming.
  • Obsessed with Food: Beto the fixer is always seen scarfing down a plate of muffins. One conversation has him explain exactly why he's so crazy about muffins.
  • Only in It for the Money: Most mercenaries in the world are like this, with the Wildcats being a curious exception.
    • The Jackals, led by Jean Paul Prideaux, will take any job so long as it pays the bills. Prideaux criticizes Stern and The Commander for not adopting this mindset, and predicts that their company will inevitably fail as a result.
    • Janet Page holds this principle, and is therefore quite an exception in the Wildcats. She can't fathom Stern's approach, putting ideals before money, and eventually leaves the Wildcats as a result in order to join the unscrupulous Jackals. At the end of the game, she quits the Jackals only so she can manipulate her own lover into stealing an F-22 jet from the I.R.S., which she then plans to steal for herself.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Wildcats themselves are surprised and worried when Virgil Beetlebaum gets out of his office and accompanies them to Rhode Island. As The Commander explains, Virgil is from Rhode Island - and the Wildcats are about to attack his country. More practically, he there to deal with the incredibly dangerous threat that is the Internal Revenue Service.
  • The Paranoiac: Farhad the fixer reacts with suspicion and accusations whenever he is approached for a contract.
  • Perpetual Poverty: After Stern's death, conversations about the Wildcats' financial situation always indicate that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy, regardless of how much money you've actually accumulated in your account. Even the Fixers comment on this, as they attempt to convince you that you can't afford to refuse their contracts. This even leads to several But Thou Must! moments where your supposed poverty forces you to take a contract when it is literally the worst idea - e.g. the second Philip Walters contract.
  • Plotline Death: In Tactical Operations, Lyle Richards is shot down suddenly and unavoidably. It's scripted to occur just as new enemy planes are spawned for a dogfight - they're not even within range to shoot him down, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. He's not even given a cutscene for this - his plane just blows up in mid-air. Ordering him to return to base before the event occurs doesn't work either; he simply refuses.
  • Poisonous Friend: Janet Page is this to the Wildcats until she leaves the unit. Whereas Stern wants the Wildcats to present an image of trustworthiness and honorable conduct, Page believes that the most important thing is to complete the mission by whatever means necessary. Stern tries to set her straight, but she decides to leave and join the unscrupulous Jackals instead.
  • Post-Final Boss: On the way back from killing Mendez, The Commander has to tangle with one final enemy: Jean-Paul Prideaux in a YF-23 stealth fighter given to him by the I.R.S. for the specific purpose of shooting down The Commander and his F-22.
  • Post-Peak Oil: The main reason for most conflicts - especially the violent dissolution of the major powers - is an oil crisis that followed the 1991 Gulf War. The war in Alaska, which the player participates in at one point, is all about Russia's attempts to secure the oil fields. Massive oil conglomerates seem to be even more powerful than governments, competing for business using mercenary military violence.
  • Price on Their Head: Generalissimo Mendez has a huge bounty on his head, offered by his neighbouring countries. Stern assumes that this is because the General is trying to bring peace and unity to South America against his neighbours' wishes. The final mission involves collecting on that bounty, after it's revealed that Mendez absolutely deserves it.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Wildcats and Jackals are both this, specializing in fighter jets. In fact, the premise of the game is that PMCs have become numerous and powerful due to the sheer number of wars going on all across the Earth at the same time and the economic conditions of the world making it too expensive for many nations to maintain their own large armed forces. Most PMCs operate out of Turkey thanks to a tax umbrella the country offers.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Commander is highly suspicious of Walters' second offer, given what happened the first time the Wildcats worked for him. It turns out he was even more right to be worried than he had thought.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Wildcats play this role briefly during the invasion of Rhode Island, which they assist exactly for as long as their contract is in progress. As soon as the contract is fulfilled, they immediately turn around and attack their nefarious ex-employers.
  • Recycled In Space: Being based upon Origin System's Magnum Opus, Wing Commander, Strike Commander inverts this trope by being essentially Wing Commander, but set during a Next Sunday A.D. era set on good old planet Earth, and with real Fighter Jets instead of Starfighters.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Not long after having tried to get the Wildcats killed, Philip Walters has the nerve to walk right into the Wildcat home base to offer them a new mission.
  • The Remnant: A sizable British force still occupying a fortress deep inside Germany ever since World War II refuses to leave, even though Britain and Germany are no longer on speaking terms.
  • Revenge Before Reason: A few of the Wildcat pilots are real hot-heads, but none more-so than Janet Page. In the very first campaign, she exacts revenge for the Mauritanian government's betrayal by blowing up one of their bases, angering the level-headed Stern.
  • Russia Called; They Want Alaska Back: Not Russia per-se, but the break-away country of New Siberia. They want to invade Alaska - now an independent country - to take over its precious oil fields.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Stern, possibly the most experienced and talented pilot in the group (as well as its leader) is shot down early in the game. Even though he was piloting a C-130 cargo plane at the time, he put up a good fight against several enemy jets.
  • Scarily Specific Story: The I.R.S. attack on the Barracudas, a rival mercenary company also based in Istanbul, after the latter refused to pay taxes for operating on territory claimed by the United States. In-Universe this foreshadows what might happen to the Wildcats if they did the same thing - especially since Billy tells the story while the Wildcats are on a mission in California.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: A distinguishing characteristic of the Wildcats compared to all over mercenary groups, and especially their main rivals, the Jackals. Unfortunately for The Commander, the Wildcats run into financial difficulties (though not because of this trope) and other external pressures, forcing him to compromise more often than he might want to.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: How the Hammerheads react to being attacked by a better-supplied and better-trained mercenary company. After just a few losses they pack up and leave Quebec. The Wildcats, not wanting them to just take their shady business elsewhere, decide to destroy their fleeing cargo plane carrying all of their equipment.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: The Libyan invasion force takes up residence right next to the Great Pyramids of Giza, reasoning that the Egyptians would never dare attack them for fear of damaging the ancient monuments. The Wildcats fly in with precision bombs to take out the enemy forces without collateral damage.
  • Short-Lived Aerial Escape: Mendez's standard protocol when his person is threatened is to jump in his heavily-escorted private plane and circle above the country until his military can take of the problem. Unfortunately for him, no amount of escorts can keep him safe from the Wildcats, who deliberately trigger this protocol in order to get a chance to shoot him down.
  • Tempting Fate: Trans-world Petrochem launch a heavy retaliation against the Wildcats during the second Walters contract. Before the attack they actually send a message to the Wildcats, informing them of the attack and daring them to resist. To avoid losing the game, the player would have to shoot down the entire attack force almost single-handedly, fulfilling the trope.
  • The Siege: The Wildcats force the British forces in Germany to retreat to their castle, which they then defend ferociously with an entire battalion of anti-aircraft weapons. Only bombing the castle itself finally convinces them to leave.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Billy is certain that he's the best and most famous among the Wildcats, even when The Commander demonstrably overshadows him.
  • Stern Teacher: James Stern chews out Janet Page twice early in the game for her reckless, violent behavior in service of the mission. He goes far enough that she decides to leave the Wildcats soon after, though it's made clear that she had never really been a good fit for the group's unique moral compass.
  • Surfer Dude: The North California wingmen assigned to you during the California campaign all speak like this. The other Wildcats complain about it constantly throughout the campaign.
  • Thrill Seeker: Billy is very much excited to fly through the Grand Canyon, precisely because it is so well-defended and so hard to maneuver through.
  • Time to Step Up, Commander: After just a few missions under the leadership of James Stern, the man is shot down and killed - leaving The Commander to step into the role for which he had been groomed.
  • Too Good To Be True: Generalissimo Mendez offers a massive payout to the Wildcats for just a couple of missions in his service, causing even Stern to raise an eyebrow. Mendez explains that he offers payouts in order to convince mercenary contractors that it's better to work for him than to try to collect the bounty on his head.
  • Travel Montage: Every time the Wildcats leave Istanbul on a campaign, including a map with a red line to show where they are going, and a shot of the C-130 and a couple of jets.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: The Wildcats are often betrayed by their own employers, but Philip Walters and Generalissimo Mendez take the cake.
    • Walters hires the Wildcats to work for Trans-World Petrochem, ensuring them that the company had forgiven them for shooting down their board members. It later turns out that the company was hoping to get the Wildcats killed during the mission, to tie up loose ends.
    • Walters outdoes himself when, after offering yet another mission to the Wildcats, he disappears with the payout. When he's finally tracked down, he reveals that he was swindling both the Wildcats and Global Oil at the same time.
    • Mendez first hires the Wildcats to help him defeat an attack by a neighbouring country, offering them a huge payout for just a few missions. He then refuses to pay Stern, and sends planes marked as Peruvian jets to shoot him down before he can return to the Wildcat base — but tells the Wildcats that Stern received the payment and was taking it home when he was shot down. When the Wildcats are hired once more by Mendez to help root out some rebels, it turns out that he was using the rebels as bait to waste the Wildcats' money on munitions, keep them busy attacking random targets, and then bomb their base and destroy all of their equipment.
  • Turncoat: Virgil feels this way about himself when the Wildcats are forced into attacking Rhode Island - his home state.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Billy indicates that he wouldn't be averse to attacking the United States ground forces during the invasion of Rhode Island - the same forces that the Wildcats are working with at the time. Despite The Commander shutting this idea down immediately, the Wildcats eventually do attack - and destroy - the plane carrying the Director of the I.R.S., but only after completing their contract.
  • Uriah Gambit:
    • Walters tries to pull this off for TWP, hiring the Wildcats to attack Global Oil assets as part of a scheme to acquire Global Oil, while providing them with false intel in the hopes that Global Oil will be able to surprise and kill the Wildcats at some point.
    • Generalissimo Mendez tries doing this when he hires the Wildcats to work for him a second time. He sends them to attack Peruvian guerillas striking into his country from across the border —Guerillas whom he himself is funding, training, and equipping with top-of-the-line fighters. When this fails, he arranges for the Wildcats to attack a nonexistent enemy base in the jungle, and while they are busy he sends his own planes to level their strike base.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Janet is the one who introduces The Commander to Philip Walters, supposedly helping the destitute Wildcats land a juicy contract at the expense of the Jackals. After the mess with Walters, The Commander asks her to please stop helping him. Given events later in the game, it may be that Janet knew exactly who Walters is - and how dangerous his offer would be to the Wildcats - since he was looking to hire them specifically anyway!
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Wildcats serve this role several times, but particularly in service of Trans-World Petrochem and Generalissimo Mendez.
  • Veteran Instructor: Lyle "Baseline" Richards, the oldest member of the Wildcats after Stern's death, at least, is an experienced aviator, whose responsibilities include instructing rookie pilots. He'll give you a few good tips here and there, too.
  • Villains Want Mercy: As soon as Mendez realizes that his escorts aren't going to stop The Commander, he goes straight from vicious Evil Gloating to begging for mercy, offering the Wildcats anything they want in exchange for his life.
  • We Help the Helpless: James Stern does his best to always fight for the underdog, even if the underdog can't pay very well. Prideaux criticizes him to his face about this, and many characters throughout the game comment on how this has inevitably led the Wildcats to become a struggling company. It occasionally blows up in the Wildcats' faces in one way or another, when those same underdogs decide to repay kindness with betrayal.
    • One of the reasons Stern takes the Andes Mallorca job is because the country is surrounded by enemies who've put a bounty on Generalissimo Mendez's head. He doesn't realize that the underdog can sometimes be the bad guy.
  • We Need a Distraction: Many of the Wildcats' battle plans revolve around distracting the enemy and keeping them busy at one location, while attacking at another. The final mission in the game also employs this, with most of the Wildcats keeping Mendez's mercenaries busy while The Commander attempts to intercept the man's private jet.
  • Where It All Began: The story begins in earnest during the Wildcats' assignment in Andes Mallorca, and ends there as well.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: The Wildcats are forced to assist the United States in retaking Rhode Island. Virgul Beetlebaum, otherwise a Non-Action Guy, tags along for this mission, raising many eyebrows among the Wildcats. The Commander then reveals that Virgil was born in the same state that they are now helping to destroy.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Stern goes beyond The Idealist into this trope, as illustrated in the first two campaigns. First, he decides to work for the Mauritanians (for legitimately humanitarian reasons) only to get backstabbed by them as soon as the unstable government is toppled by nationalist extremists. Soon afterwards, he takes a job for Generalissimo Mendez, believing that Andes Mallorca is a beleaguered nation and that the General is marked for death because of his desire for peace and cooperation between the South American countries. Stern is betrayed and killed by Mendez, and we later find out that Mendez is the one instigating conflict with every single one of his neighbouring countries.
  • Wing Man: As with the other flying game from Chris Roberts, you're given wingmen (and some wingwomen), and as the commander of the Wildcats after Stern is shot down and killed you're given the option of choosing who you fly with. All can help with the mission, but some are better at certain attributes than others.
  • Won't Get Fooled Again: The Commander's initial reaction when Walters reappears and offers the Wildcats another mission. Unfortunately, it is An Offer You Can't Refuse.
  • Worthy Opponent: Prideaux expresses this feeling after hearing of Stern's death, though it's unclear whether he genuinely feels that way.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Philip Walters assumes that the Wildcats are nothing more than simple thugs, just like the rest of the mercenaries. Unfortunately for him, the Wildcats are pretty much the only group that breaks the mold.
  • Wronski Feint: The AI can have serious difficulty flying inside the Grand Canyon, running into the ground or the walls during dogfights. Then again, so can you.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Selim's Bar in Istanbul is where you get most of the jobs.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After The Commander kills Walters and the story spreads throughout the Istanbul mercenary community, Prideaux compliments him for his cold-blooded act, causing The Commander to immediately defend himself against the compliment. However when he tells Prideaux "I Did What I Had to Do", this only serves to intensify Prideaux's approval.
  • You Would Do the Same for Me: The Commander claims that taking revenge on the Peruvians for killing Stern - despite it being a complete waste of money at a time of financial difficulty - is exactly what Stern would've done for any of them.

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