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Default X3: Reunion… finally.

June 21st, 2007, 16:46
Okay this thread is pretty much for dte, since I know he's an X universe fan.

Why did I name the topic X3: Reunion… finally? Because it's the first X game that is actually designed logically enough for me to have the patience to play. About a year or two ago I tried out X2 shortly after playing Freelancer. Now I think Freelancer is a bit too simple, mind you, and I loved Independence War and it's ridiculously hard sequel, so I'm not stranger to punishing Space sims. But X2 just seemed ridiculous! It was mostly the interface layout that I couldn't handle. It's one thing to challenge a player with his flying skills, but I cry "Not fair!" when you don't even properly show him how to fly… the end result was that I returned the game for a refund, and had to do some fancing talking to do that.

So despite great reservation I went ahead and purchased X3, mostly because there hasn't been anything out there in the genre that I could play OTHER than X3 in a while. And hey, I figured at a $20 price tag, I could afford to gamble.

It would appear this gamble has paid off! X3 has definitely been improved over its predecessor. The menus are definitely more accessible, although I will say they are still quite a bit more complicated than most games. This is not a game for a casual gamer, and for what it's worth, I think they intended it to be that way. This can be a good thing. I feel that once I get a hang of the interface, it will be more rewarding than the simple arcade game that Freelancer was.

The thing that's hanging me up with the controls is that just about every single button on the keyboard has 2 or 3 different functions. The functions are activated depending on what menu you are currently in. I'm nowhere close to memorizing them yet.

I have learned what some buttons do and use them often, such as the handy-dandy auto pilot. The auto pilot button is context sensitive. That means that if I have a station targeted and press 'u', my ship will auto-dock with the station. If I have a jump gate targeted and press 'u', my ship will auto-guide itself through the gate. If I have a ship targeted and press 'u', my ship will follow the other. Now you can't beat that with a stick, I don't care who you are!!

Incedentally I have started playing this game twice. The first time was right after I bought it, and the following details are why I shelved it -- One thing I notice that the game suffers from (or shines in - depending on how you look at it) is the lack of guidance. For instance, on the second mission I'm asked to go to "Farnham's Legend" to do something. For an experienced 'X' player that might have been simple. My problem is that I had no idea what Farnham's Legend is. Is it a ship? A station? A sector? My in-game universe map only lists the sector that I have visited, which up to this point was a whopping 3. There were no instructions whatsoever accompanying this mission as to where or what Farnham's Legend was, so theorectically a player might have to fly through 50+ sectors before stumbling onto the right one. With every sector possessing jump gates that branch off in four different directions, the chances of me picking the right combo from my current location was slim to none. I got about two sectors out in all directions, and not finding it, simply gave up. I shelved the game, thinking "X3: the game they almost got right, but still didn't." Now I'm all for exploring, but I also like story, and I can't devote the time it takes to explore 50 sectors without a definite goal. Even in complex RPG's you are usually given a map of all the major cities.

Anyway, last week I decided to go online to see if I could figure out where "Farnham's Legend" is. What I found was a thriving, vibrant community of devoted X fans. "Wow," I thought, "there must be something cool about this game. Indeed there is, now that I've downloaded a comprehensive sector map, and a host of other goodies. Check this fan made map out: http://forum.egosoft.com/viewtopic.php?t=179689
Hopefully I direct linked it. If I did, download it, and then promptly crap your pants it is so cool.

Anyways, in the meantime I also learned how to decipher the HUD, as I downloaded the user manual to the game, which, believe it or not, didn't even come with a hard copy.

So my first night of playing (round two) I completed the first mission again. It's a simple patrol of three sectors, in which you get a taste of combat. X3 feels tremendously more real in the flight department than, say, X2, which made combat equal to the futility of chasing a fly with a swatter.

One of the biggest single improvements that I see is the voice acting. It's certainly not OSCAR material, but it is infinitely better than the acting of X2. In fact, some of the bantar between the patrol pilots is quite entertaining. This great leap forward is tempered with extremely repetitive character faces - I think I saw the same guy three times last night in the form of three different characters.

Anyhow… I didn't intend for this thread to become a lengthy review of the game, there's plenty of reviews out there, but oh well too late now. Like I said, this thread is for dte, since he commented that his rig isn't up to the specs of the game - I guess he wants to live vicariously through my X3 experiences!

My advice to you, dte, is to get a rig that will handle it, because if you already were an X fan, this game will surely rock your world!

I'll be back later to comment on the graphics and trading…
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