You mean that the difficulty level is totally a mess and unbalanced?
It´s hard to me, but i start feeling WC4 is not a good game..
What you wrote is pretty much how I remember it from years back. There was just something (or many) unexplainable things that rubbed me the wrong way in WC4. For me it was probably the least fun of all Wing Commander games I've played (WC1-5 (and Privateer), I haven't yet played WC Armadas/Academies and whatever there were).
WC4 in hard difficulty was merely irritating to me, not really challenging (in a good way) like e.g. Star Wars or Tie Fighters, which were also quite hard but still lots of fun. To me WC4 was like banging head to wall, and fortunately the wall would eventually crack, but it didn't leave me with a good feeling afterwards. But some of the interactive movie parts (like the very last one) were semi-interesting at least once.
I don't recall feeling the same way about WC3 either, I liked it more than WC4 but I don't know whether it was just because it felt fresher when it came out, while WC4 was already "been there done that" movielike game. A similar problem I have with Half-life 1 vs. Half-life 2.
The amazing thing is this happen since the second or third mission, even plaing in "veteran" or later lowing the difficulty even bellow veteran... is kinda frustrating... not challenging, as you said some missions are like banging your head to a wall, again and again, until by some kind of luck, not just skill... you finish it.
Im thinking in left the game...
I tried and tried, after the HORRIBLE first 5 or 7 missions in the game, i must say i starting to enjoying it. The plot is slightly better, the same for the secondary characters, now there are more and better, maybe only the bad guy is honestly ridiculous and hilarious... is a total cliché.
The gameplay is now not so painful, it still have some horrible issues with missiles and shields and decoys that doesnt work even with hard evasive manouvers, but its more playable, maybe the first missions are just so horrible because added to this problems, the HELLCAT is the same piece of s... as spaceship at it was on WC3.
The game turns again playable just not piloting that ship.
The game is pretty good in the plot, characters, and mostly fun... but again i need to say is a bittersweet experience, i go bad to my first opinion, but only about difficulty. I played WC3 in one of the hardest difficulties, and i finish it as with the feeling it was hard but a good challenge, WC4 difficult is a totally non-sense experience.
It seems EA started to apply that kind of NFS Underground or FIFA or NBA AI, yes, this one "if player is winning Ai will score a goal from the other side" or in NFS that was like "if you are losing, opponents are not more than few meteers in front of you, but if you´re winning doing your best... they´re pursuing you in your butt"
WC4 is like this, and its a totally crappy way to finish AI gameplay. I will put an example with a mission in the game. I need to notiice for enjoy this game i needed to "low" the difficult settings, but even in this mission in needed to low to "VETERAN" the second easiest difficulty.
There is a moment in the game you need to choose between 3 missions, one is take care of a "tank battle", second escort some shuttles, third search and destroy some enemy activity near a jump point.
Well as long as i know you can choose the one you prefer and do the others later, im talking about the search and destroy mission as example, and for god shake... in veteran difficulty... well i choosed several good wingmen to try with every of them, the mission is like this:
Nav 1 to Nave 3 or so... you need to destroy several waves of fighters, sometimes 2 stealh fighers appear, but the problem are pirates. If you kill them fast, they are not a problem, if you take them slow, sometimes the CLOUD of missiles flying to you is absolutely crazy, even in this difficulty. Anyway i get used to this kind of missions, so you can beat them, but the problem is at the supposed last NAV appears a Destroyer, and you need torpedoes to take care of it.
So thats the problem? Yes, because the Banshee is a slow turtle that becomes a coffin in space for this mission, even with the hardest armor, and the best of the three confed ships, the light one, has no torpedoes... so you need to choose the "medium" fighter, that 1: has less missiles to destroy fighters before they start with the WAVE MISSILE TECHNIQUE, 2: It´s not fast enough, not manouverable enough, to overcome wave missile moments... but at least can survive not as the Banshee.
SO after you try and try and try... the odds are like this: You fly with someone as crazy as Maniac to destroy as fast as possible the "pirate fighters waves" before they start to launch missiles, BUT not using your missiles yourself... just to save it for the last NAV. Why? Because once you destroy the DESTROYER, you need to destroy the rest of the Excalibur fighters as i didnt recieved any "mission complete" message, and you cannot destroy first the Excaliburs, as if you dont destroy the DEstroyer new Excaliburs are launched when you destroy the first ones.
So, if you have the LUCK, yes because is mostly LUCK to survive the firsts rounds... and believe me i seen a PIrate ship, only one, that my wingman and me been on hist tail... launching a missile that totally turns out and destroy my ship not even having time to launch a decoy ¡¿Back mounted magical missile launcher?!
But ok, at the end you survive and with enough missiles to burn the Excaliburs fast once the destroyer is down. +You afterburn to the Destroyer, sending your wingman for the fighters (i try send the wingman to the destroyer, but usually dies) then the time is so tight, several Excalibur nail you on your tail even if your wingman is protecting you, so you need to afterburn, lock the torpedo and in the last second launch it when it "locks" just few moments to turn around your spacecraft or you will just vaporize it in the Destroyer´s hull.
You did it! you destroy it, you have IFF missiles for the rest of the Excaliburs, you saved Decoys enough in the previous fightings... that was SO hard, then you start to reape the remaining excaliburs... 1, 2, 3... 4... there is the last one...
Then the last one start to shoot at you any MIssile that exist, whatever your posititon even if you are in his tail, i promise it happens this to me FOUR times... 3 of them i got fu.... 10 decoys or more, and i started to do crazy evasive manouvers that works in the previous NAV even with several fighters launching me missiles. Forget it, i count more than TEN decoys with this manouvers in this last bad guy "challenge" it happens to me FOUR times... this last ship just DESTROY YOU, as in NBA Live you´re winning and the AI decide to score the ball from the other side of screen.
And i already low the difficulty 4 points since i started the game, and it´s almost the same all the time, only you can win if yuo choose the easiest one, but the gap from this one to "veteran" is HUGE, and suddenlly the enemy turns DUMBEST ever. I
I honestly think this kind of "tricky" AI it´s a major bothering issue in many EA games, but i didnt know it started so early.