X3: The Reunion

I‘ve been hesitating to write a review of X3 Reunionthe (PC) game ‘X3: The Reunion’. Basically this is because the game has left me with both bad and good impressions.

First of all, the graphics (if you have a good graphics card) are plain stunning. I have not seen anything like this before. Of course space does not look as fancy as this, but, in a game that purports to be a space trade combat simulator, the eye candy (and accompanying music) works. Actually, when loading up the game, the first thing I did was ‘fly around’ to see if this was all for real. Obviously, you may need some ‘power’ to get this running smoothly, particularly if you want to run it fullscreen (in my case that’s 1440 x 900).

X3 allows the player plenty of freedom to explore, discover, trade and fight in a universe that is driven by an AL engine (appropriately) called ‘GOD’. Yes, there’s a storyline with over 10 missions that you may complete, but it’s more or less up to the user to follow through or not. These missions (not to be confused with the BBS missions) suck big time. I have not seen such a bunch of lousy missions sown together by a meagre and thin plot. Hey, if I want to play Space Invaders, I might just as well grab out my copy of ‘Jade Empire’. The humour in some of the cut-scenes is so bad, that it had my dog barking. Apparently, these ‘story line’ missions are full of bugs too and the apparent workaround (‘lower your graphics’) made me decide to stay clear from them. I recommend you do the same too.

That said: when the going gets tough, that is if you choose to start the game on ‘Normal level’, you’ll end up with a bare to bones M4 class ship, 5,000 credits and the word that the universe is all up to grabs for yourself. Without going in too many details, what makes X3 unique is that you can create your own empire with your own starbases, your own (fricking) fleets and carriers and pounce away on the other aliens. That is, if you can magically make 50,000,000 out of your 5,000 credits (that said, the universe has a lottery running too, so if you’re lucky…). Even after less than 4 days playing, I’m still nowhere near building up my first bases. However, I did have a fleet of 3 escorting fighters and two transports. I decided to throw them out so I could start to save some money for a carrier or a ‘monster’ transport.

So is X3 good? Yes. If you have the time and patience to build and discover around, it’s worth the 20 box (please do read the system recommendations first!). Yes: if you enjoyed playing Elite, X3 is definitely worth looking out for. That is: even if you forego the storyline missions. You won’t miss anything, really.