The first two Wing Commander games had a cartoony style to their cutscenes, and the Kilrathi looked like this:
Which was just fine for a 1990 space shooter game that used space cats as the enemy. With Wing Commander 3, though, they decided to make a technological leap forward and do filmed cutscenes, which was pretty cutting edge at the time. But the Kilrathi design didn't make the transition from cartoon to video too well, and as a result it looked campy. That's easy for me to forgive, taking into account the whole franchise and how it came to be. It was never meant as anything too serious anyway. I can understand how somebody trying to get into it today would find them totally, game-breaking ridiculous.
The problem I had with Wing Commander games wasn't really with the universe or it's species though; it was the fact that I found the X-Wing games much, much better as actual space sims. Wing Commander's flight model just felt bad to me when I compared it to, say, Tie Fighter. The story was engaging and the whole interactive movie thing worked, but I always felt the missions were there just because they had to be to justify calling it a game, and progressing the story always came first to actual game mechanics; while I felt my skills challenged in X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and later outings, Wing Commander was just autopilot sequence - generic shooting at aliens - rinse and repeat.
I consider one of the best games set in that universe to be the often overlooked Privateer 1. That was the only one where I found the gameplay as much fun as following the story - buying new ships, upgrading them, jumping around unexplored systems, it felt good. Privateer 2 never managed to capture me in such a way.
That all being said, the videos of Space Citizen look pretty great to me. I know a video alone proves nothing, but if this thing delivers half of what it promises to it'll be great. The sad fact is that if you want to get funding for a space sim these days, you need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt it's going to sell - so I do understand the "give us money now and get the game much, much later" approach to some degree. If it resurrects the genre even for a short while, it'll be worth it.