As a new player who hasn't delved into the world of space sims yet (I backed Star Citizen because I REALLY want to get into the genre), which Wing Commander games do you recommend I try out? I've read that the first two instalments really haven't aged well, but I want to hear what you guys have to say.
Buy them all! There is a sale on right now, each title costing $2.99 (that includes Wing Commander I & II packaged together!) The whole series would cost around $20 (guesstimate). I personally still love WC1, WC2 has better storyline and more missions, but can get annoying with the dynamic difficulty level that can be harsh.
WC3 introduced Videos and true 3D models. I loved this back when it first came out, so much so I was willing to wait for the 1-2 minutes it took to load each mission on my P90. Funny, cause it ran smooth in gameplay.
WCIV, different enemy, more FMV, a good successor the WC3. Shame about the imbalanced missiles though!
WC5: Prophecy. Fancy new engine (Good), new actors (Not so good), new enemy (Sort of OK).
Privateer 1: Open sandbox using WC1/2 engine, must buy!
Privateer 2: 3D engine, Privateer name may have been tacked on but quirky videos are good to watch. Has massive database with background lore if you like that thing.
Armada is an Turn Based strategy game, a stepping stone between WC2 and 3. Have not played much of this, as not a fan of turn based combat, and gameplay feels like you are just strafing in circles chasing tail (I can do that in real like for free)!
Academy is just a simulation using the WC2. If you want to create you own mock battles or see if a Ferret can take on a Jalkthi, then you can try it!
If you are interested in seeing what WC1 looks like check out my play though of the secret missions here. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=SPrpzalZMayej9JaIitWEleuVugF1B6WmU