I‘ve been a long-time fan of Egosoft’s X3 series: A while ago, I used to play ‘X3: Reunion’, but I have slowly moved to the game’s successor ‘X3: Terran Conflict’ (company info, Wikipedia info and Metacritic reviews).
Following in the tradition of ‘Reunion’, Terran Conflict (or X3:TC) is an open-ended space/combat simulator and if that’s still incomprehensible: think ‘Elite’. There’s no real goal in this game: if you prefer to float around then that’s you choice. However, TC is definitely different than ‘Reunion': first of all, it has multiple ‘story/mission lines’, which you can (of course) choose to ignore. Secondly, TC now provides ‘sector missions’, which are rated missions (from easy to very hard) which you can (again) choose to take up or ignore. These missions literally can fill up your wallet: compared to ‘Reunion’ where it may take months to get to the 10 million credits mark, in X3:TC this is only a matter of days. This of course changes the player’s progress dramatically and with serious consequences: the faster you rate up the harder the competition will get. You’ll find that with all the earned monies, you’ll actually have to buy and use corvettes and carriers to get through some of the hardest missions. Particularly the ‘Patrol’ and ‘Xenon’ missions.
There’s still a lot to explore in this X3-universe: if you’re coming from X3:Reunion, you’ll notice the slight graphical differences, the (changed) user interface (which now offers extensive support for gamers who prefer to play with mice) and several command options that (purportedly) help smoothen out first-time players. In TC, it’s now also possible to board capital ships (as opposed to trying to ‘capture’ them), plus, there’s finally support for using ‘wings’. However, the AI (for your wingmen) is still flaky at times: avoid making too large fighter/support wings.
So, ‘TC’ is the grand finale for the X3 series and (if you’re into these kind of games) a worthwhile buy: However, it can be fairly hard at times. On my game rating level, it’s a 6: the game can be frustrating and has a steep learning curve, but generally, it’s a highly rewarding and one-of-a-kind game. I can’t wait to see what Egosoft is planning next.
See below for screenshots.
04/29/2010: Egosoft bumped up the version to 2.6, which now includes Steam achievements, if that strikes your fancy.