Still, as of 2002, the most expensive computer game ever. Produced for a cost of roughly 10 million dollars.
Whereas the live action cutscenes for the previous game were shot on video in front of a green screen (all the scenery was computer generated), this game had a higher budget and its cutscenes were shot on film using real sets (although CGI backgrounds are used for some scenes, such as the flight deck scenes). So this time camera actually moves during shots and there's focus pulls and zoom ins/zoom outs. The video resolution is higher and there are more cutscenes, this game came with six CD-ROM discs, the previous game came with four.
The last game in the series in which Christopher Blair is the player character. In the next game, Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997), Lance Casey is introduced as the new player character for the series and Blair is in a supporting role.
Seether (Blair's nemesis in this game) wears the same 3 medal ribbons as Blair, but in reverse order.
When the player selects wingmen on the computer terminal, the ones who aren't part of the main cast are members of the game development team (their photos and names are used). Other things in the Wing Commander series are also named after the game developers, such as fighter manufacturers (Douglas Aerospace and McCall Industries) and the 'Shelton slide' (a flying maneuver).
The medal that Tolwyn wears around his neck when he is promoted to Space Marshal in the game's finale is actually a Meritorious Service Medal, a medium-level US military service award usually given to field grade officers and senior non-commissioned officers. Tolwyn's other medals are a random assortment of US military decorations.
Many of the star systems in the game are named after characters in Greek mythology, such as Nephele, Silenus, Orestes, Peleus, Circe, Telamon, Axius, Ella and Talos. As for some of the others, Tyr is the Norse god of war, Hellespont was the ancient Greek name for the Dardanelles strait and Callimachus was an ancient Greek poet.
Originally Chris Roberts only intended the Wing Commander series to be a trilogy, but due to the success of the previous game and Electronics Arts not selling enough other computer games, he was asked to make a fourth game. However he was only given one year to make it, whereas he would have preferred two years in order to develop a new "engine" for the game. Wing Commander IV uses the same game engine as Wing Commander III i.e. the gameplay and overall design of the game is similar, but with enhanced graphics. Roberts tried to compensate for this for focusing more on the storytelling with more live action cutscenes than in the previous game.