After more than two weeks and 121 videos I finished X-wing - Collector's CD-rom
I had fun for most of it but at times I remembered why I went through it from start to finish only once more than ten years ago (when I was little I mostly messed around with the simulator mission thanks in large part to a pilot with all missions unlocked on the CD).
As someone who's experienced enough with the sequels my experience is a bit skewed as I have a much better knowledge of the game systems than someone going in only reading the manual and the Farlander Papers short story (which wasn't even present with the CD-rom edition for some reason, I have it only because back then I bought the floppy version by mistake while travelling at first and the bloody thing didn't even install for some reason) so at least the first chunk of the campaign was surprisingly easy.
Note that the CD version has only some marginal graphical and movement math improvements from the original floppy release so it's still very rough around the edges compared to Tie Fighter (especially the CD version which had 640x480 support).
For starters there is no "press A to see if someone's attacking your target" which means you often have to either eyeball or consult the tactical map (which is a bit cumbersome to use and doesn't display mines, buoys and satellites for some reason) to try and deduce what is really attacking whatever ship(s) you need to keep alive.
There are already target presets though and most of the times being able to instantly switch to your convoy/mothership/whatever or the ISD that is vomiting TIEs on them is perfectly sufficient to get your bearings after a particularly disorienting dogfight.
Unfortunately the game is really on another galaxy compared to its immediate sequel Tie Fighter
in many other regards.
The targeting computer for example is a bitmap of the ship you are targeting with some fake readouts, designation/cargo and a status that can be OK/Shields down/hull damaged/disabled/captured which sometimes can be frustratingly vague when you are chipping and the tougher ships with only lasers.
Enemy missiles are much more lethal here because they are very difficult to dodge and their hitbox is much smaller than in the sequels meaning that the only way not to get hit is constantly swerving (which is not an option on slower ships) until the missiles selfdestruct which in an escort mission often means losing precious time, it is tecnically possible to shoot them down but very difficult outside fully frontal initial approach and even then you might get a missile in the canopy about 60% of the times.
One of the worst issue is how opaque objectives and mission status are, you can fail a mission and not notice it until you finally run out of patience and hyper out. Only in one of the later missions I actually got a mission failed message in-game and it came about ten minutes too late. Some briefings (not many fortunately) are downright misleading and state objectives you don't need to complete for the mission to succeed, which actually got me stuck on a mission for months during my first serious playthrough.
One of the things that messes with me is that if your pilot gets killed or captured during the campaign you can kiss your score and rank goodbye, probably a residual of a scrapped career mode but it's incredibly annoying and basically forced me to backup my pilot after every succesful mission.
Some later missions (especially in the expansions) can be extremely frustrating and at least one felt basically luck-based (fortunately part of a binary choice so you can avoid it and play another mission instead but I wanted to record everything so...).
The shipset while being superior to the average Wing Commander game is still fairly limited, the absence of real space stations and platforms leads to countless missions with lots of containers and parked bulk freighters trying to pose as platforms and drydocks.
Of course being an old school sim there is also very little railroading during gameplay, you can break the game in ways that allow to get all the bonus medals before finishing the first Tour of Duty just by the sheer insanity of single-handedly attacking Nebulon B Frigates and Star Destroyers after wiping out their entire complement of fighters. In particular I managed to down the Star Destroyer that gets sabotaged at the end of the first ToD several times in the missions that lead up to said sabotage.
Of course part of it seems deliberate as for example you can get a capital ship to appear in the very first mission if you do certain things under certain conditions which leads to the first bonus medal (I think I might have posted about it before).
Bottom line: fine game but aged badly, better start with Tie Fighter
Here's a playlist of my playthrough:https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2rDW_VqgcXya3v3yzaZXCJRVuKO3odlo
I obviously omitted my many, many deaths and also forgive the AMD watermark in the first few videos, I had yet to figure out I could use the AMD control panel to edit out parts of the videos when I made them.