Tag Archives: X3

Winter 2012

On the personal side: This month the weather has been really wet and mild. The weather has been hovering around the -5 to +7 degrees. I recall we only had 2 or 3 days really cold weather (-19s). Additionally, we had a couple of snow days, but since the temperature still goes up during the day, most of the snow has melted and/or changed into ice. It definitely doesn’t make for good photo opportunities.

Continuing on that post I made earlier this month on Elite and X3 (here): I decided to get Evochron Mercenary. From the initial screens,the impression I got is that this game strongly resembles Elite. It looks like fun (you know, that is if you like these free-form games) but you can’t compare it to the X3 series. Evochron seems to focus on the Newtonian flight model: to be honest, the flight model is not all too different from X3. When I find time (time is precious), I’ll take a closer look at EM. Get it or not? Well: it’s not badly priced. If you’re into games with a steep learning curve, you should check it out.

Having spent almost 100 hours on X3:Albion Prelude, I find the game itself sort of boring: this is mostly because there are no real missions in this extension pack. Sadly, X3:AP does not include the X3:TC missions and as far as I can tell only contains one true mission. Egosoft promised to reintroduce the PHQ (Player Headquarters) in a V2 of X3:Albion Prelude, but the emptiness has quite some people upset. Lets hope I can run X Rebirth on my laptop.

X3 and Elite

It probably doesn’t surprise anybody that I’ve added “X3: Albion Prelude” (Egosoft) to my collection of playable games. This is supposed to be an expansion to “X3:Terran Conflict” (earlier on xsamplex), but to be honest, it doesn’t feel like that: from what I can tell is that some of the X3:TC features aren’t there. It feels more like a stand-alone game than an expansion, which makes the $9.99 price it sold at initially a very reasonable price. Alright: this is not supposed to be a review of sorts, so,

The reason I bring up X3 is that the joy playing this game stems from the initial skirmishes I had in the MSX version of Elite, like, way back in the late 80s (earlier). At one time I showed someone some X3 gameplay, and I was asked what ‘the point is of travelling for hours without doing anything at all’. Which is true: the game doesn’t have real goals (besides the missions). The only goal in the game is whatever the player wants to make out of it. On your own pace.

This is also what set Elite apart, 25 or so years ago, and it was indeed one of the most successful games ever made. I wish X3 would get the same attention as I believe Egosoft is doing something remarkable here.

X3: Terran Conflict

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.

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Games redux

I finally managed to find some time to play a couple of rounds of ‘Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword’ (2007) and while I’m hesitant to judge it right now, I’m not overly enthusiastic about it (previously.). Particularly considering the current hardware I’m running it on, all across the board (from the custom dialogs to the AI) it is god awful slow. I’ll see if I can revisit this in a separate item.

People who’ve followed this blog, should be familiar with the praise I heaped on X3: Reunion (old material right here): I decided to pick up the game where I left it a couple of years ago. Just recently, I decided to move up to ‘X3: Terran Conflict’ (which incidentally, is also available for the Mac): Excellent once again. Since this is the last game in the X-Universe, it’s going to be curious to see what Egosoft (company site) will come up in the near future.

Minor update: Additionally, I noticed that in Civ4:BTS for some of the technology discoveries some other person’s voice was used (definitely not Leonard Nimoy’s).

X3: The return

Last week, I X3: The Reunion screenshotnoticed that I had missed an update for ‘X3: Reunion’ (earlier on xsamplex), which should patch your X3 game up to 2.5 (if you’ve got X3 via Steam, it should come as an automatic update).

Since the last time I played the game was probably almost a year ago, I decided to try out the new patch. Three or four days later, I can (safely) report that I’m hooked to it again: It’s an excellent game, that is if you’re into space-sims a la Privateer and Elite. So yeah, here’s the next batch of tips and remarks about X3 (previous tips). If you’re not familiar with the X3 world, you may want to hold up right here.

1. I used to hate flying slow Nova’s and Falcons (M3 classes), however, in the fight against pirates and others, they are superior, particularly when you have an escort of 3 or 4 M4 fighters handy. If you need fast M4 fighters, you can buy Buster Vanguards at the ‘Heart of Light’ system: though, make sure to upgrade their shields and weaponry first (run ‘southward’ via sectors Montalaar and Lucky Planets). Additionally, keep at least 2 captured pirate Falcons. During fights, let your M4 fighters handle the fast flyers, while using your squad of Falcons to finish off the larger ships.

2. The only good transporter is the Demeter Miner: it’s faster than regular transporters and at least it can carry XL commodities like ore and silicone wafers.

3. In the beginning, trade ore, silicone wafers and energy cells in areas like ‘Kingdom’s End’ (via Power Circle and Queen’s Space), ‘Argon Prime/Home of Light’ (via Power Circle and/Or The Wall), ‘Paranid Prime’ (via Emperor Mines, Priest Rings and Empire’s Edge), ‘CEO’s Buckzoid’ (via Profit Share and Seizewell) and ‘Trinity Sanctum’ (via Lucky Planets). Notice that the AI is smart enough to detect when you start dumping raw materials in all sectors, so if you see the prices for ore and silicone wafers fall, it’s time to start trading energy cells or Teladinanium.

4. Use Pegasus M5 scouts to travel through sectors that sell special devices like “Trade Extensions #3″ (see sector ‘Industry of Finance’).

5. A high ore yield for asteroids doesn’t automatically mean profits. You find several asteroids with a yield of 61 in ‘Antigone Memorial': these asteroids eat resources. No, really: you’ll be burning money to keep those mining stations on those asteroids running.

6. You can actually capture Kha’ak interceptors and Xenon M and Ls. They make lousy fighters though.

7. Patch 2.5 added a couple of new sectors, which aren’t that interesting, unless I miss something.

Back to X3

With X3 Reunionthe intermittent (or rather lack of) Internet connectivity earlier this week, I decided to copy my savegame data back to the X3 game directory and play a couple of rounds.

Fun: it took a while to get used to the controls, but after an hour my trade routes were set-up and running again (2 Mercuries and 2 other medium freighters), safely [I hope] guarded by a fleet of small to medium fighters. I ended up going after the Nova in the 2nd Unknown Territory: apparently one of my savegames was geared to get that one. I had given up, I guess. The only way to get there unharmed is to get a fast fighter (Discoverer or the Boron M5 class ship I forget the name of) with a jump device, go in, change ships (while exchanging freight) and jump out in the Nova to Grand Exchange. The Discoverer I considered ‘scrap’, but apparently made it out unscathed too.

I’m not sure if EgoSoft (the maker of X3) is planning to create a succesor to the game: it doesn’t look like it. Their website only lists 2 extra bonus packs (including XTM, which I might try) and for the rest, the forums seem to be geared to modding only.

X3: week one

I managedRendez-vous to survive fairly well after the first week of playing X3: At this stage, I own 3 Mercury freighters, 1 Iguanu and my lonely Argon Buster. Here the tips:

Tip 1: Making money is a slow process. Your Buster doesn’t cut it and trying to go after pirates doesn’t cut it either, particularly if you want to upgrade your own ship. The tip here is to sell every pirate ship you capture. It’s not worth it to repair them. They’re not useful in the early stages anyways.

Tip 2: Do not forget to buy the hyperdrive (they’re around 50,000) before you decide to venture out. After all, you can only buy them in Argon space (Goner temple and Terracorp stations). Buy them for your freighters too.

Tip 3: I have not had use for missiles yet. If you have a Argon Buster, consider buying 4 particle guns (Alpha and Beta types) plus 2 Ray Emitter ones. A frontal (or side) hit with all of them fairly disables Harriers and Falcons.

Tip 4: Buy only fast freighters: I recommend the Mercury (Argon Prime) and the Split Iguanu (there’s one free one in Split space). If you reached your first 1,000,000, buy 4 of them so you can start to haul ore, silicon and other large stuff.

Tip 5: If you need to make money fast (and are willing to take some risks) at the start of the game, consider doing some Space Fuel runs in Heron’s Nebula. It’s ‘illegal’ to carry that stuff, but I have never been caught yet doing so.

Tip 6: Explore the Boron, Split and Teladi space (North/East). You may get hired to fight off a Xenon attack. This is quite the lucrative proposition: the fights are long, but well worth it. Xenons are slow and are (in fact) defeatable.

Tip 7: Do not get involved in a fight with the Kha’ak (‘the Thargoids of X3′).

Tip 8: Profitable Ore, Silicon and Energy cells runs: Emperor’s Mines – Argon Prime, The Wall – Argon Prime, Ore Belt – Argon Primer and ‘Antigone Memorial’ – Argon Prime.

Tip 9: Do not combat Novas in a Buster. Also, don’t take the lucrative assasination missions without a hyperdrive. When doing these missions, remove the escorts first before starting to peel away on the ‘transport’.

Tip 10: Buy an Ore mining base (from the Boron for example) and dump it in Three Worlds. It’s not a money maker there, but at least it’s fairly safe (and away) from conflicts between Xenon/Kha’ak and others. Also, buy up satellites and drop them in each sector around Argon Prime.

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.