This is one reunion you’re going to enjoy. by Daemia
February 15, 2006 – The sequel to X2: The Threat, X3 Reunion gives us a bigger and better galaxy to explore where one can experience trade and commerce, build factories to create product, battle pirates, or uncover a plot of various factions to acquire the powers of an ancient machine for control of the X-universe. If not, you can always just “zone out” and enjoy the incredible outerspace scenery while you float through the galaxy at your own relaxed pace.
X3 Reunion is a not a space shooter. It’s a realistic sim game that offers action but doesn’t make it the core element of the gameplay. The pace of the game is rather slow but that’s to facilitate the realism and let you experience the vastness of this virtual universe.
This is the X-universe where humans reside with aliens among the stars. The game is wide open and you’re free to experience everything on your own time. Some players may not appreciate the lack of direction but others will relish the open-ended nature of the gameplay and claim a more personal experience. A single-player campaign offers some structure in the form of missions and plot development but you won’t get much help from the CPU or NPCs in terms of direction. The missions can be abandoned and returned to at various times. You can pursue other objectives in the meantime or just explore. Eventually you are going to want to complete these missions, at least to find out what new plot twists are developing in the storyline.
Julienne Brennen is the main character. His concerns are your concerns and vice versa. Beginning with a small ship you enter into the universe with little to no idea of what the hell you’re doing there despite a manual that’s almost 100-pages long. There are a number of interfaces that will assist you with various control functions from operating your ship to conducting trade. One of the first things you’ll notice is the gorgeous atmosphere – although technically it’s not atmosphere. The planets are huge and stunning with various radiant colors that hint at the topography. Space stations are incredibly well detailed with shiny, metallic surfaces. Stanley Kubrick would certainly approve.
Floating around the universe, like anything else, requires money. You’ve got to be able to finance your excursions, and while you can get some quick money by performing various missions such as bounty hunting, you won’t get rich doing it. The best way to get the most money is by establishing yourself as a trade merchant. You’ll start by purchasing items from one plant and selling them for more money at another. Eventually you can acquire a fleet of transport vehicles and even manufacture your own product. Like any business you have to buy low and sell high. There are display bars that you can use to gauge the bargain of the price you’re getting your resources at as determined by supply and demand. When looking to sell you’re going to want to find a bar that is less than half full to sell your resources for a good profit.
All of these propositions are risky ventures and not just guaranteed money-makers. You have to make sure you have mapped out the best trade routes so that transport fees won’t cripple you. Pirates can also attack your fleet and make off with your cargo. You might also wind up producing things that there is no market for. You’ve got to do your research.
Searching for missions, characters to fights and characters to capture can be a daunting task. You have to search for what seems like weeks to get anywhere in this game. Fortunately you can use Jumpgates to quickly access sectors that you’re previously explored. Another way to speed things up is to set your course and then time compress the journey. This move will cost you in crystal cells. You can set the speed for up to 1000% but I did experience a frame rate drop. Just pull it down to about 800% and everything should be fine – and a lot quicker.
Expect various random encounters for a while until you can build up your weapons and armor. A place like Xenon is just crawling with pirates and if you’re not properly equipped you’re going to get torn to pieces. There are some diversions to keep you from going stir crazy in the meantime. You can dock in space stations and have a conversation with some NPCs or even play a blackjack mini-game.
I did experience some freezing and some bugs but a few patches later it was smooth sailing. You can increase the framerate if you turn off the HUB. There are some collision detection issues that I don’t think will be addressed as these were prevalent in the previous games. As far as controllers go you can use a joystick or a combination of mouse and keyboard. Both work very well but due to the slow nature of the game and the constant interface communication. I found the mouse and key combo to be the most efficient.
You have to really be into this kind of game to truly appreciate it otherwise you might just declare it as boring. It’s a thinking man’s game, not as deep as chess but there are certainly a lot of elements to juggle around in your head.
- The Technology
Extensive development has gone into the X3 engine, making full use of DirectX 9 technology, to create dramatic visual effects and stunningly realistic starships. Coupled with the massively enhanced A.L. (Artificial Life) system, X3: Reunion will present players with an ever changing, evolving universe; where a player’s actions really can shape the future of the universe.
- The Feature
Newcomers will enjoy the additions to the already graphically impressive, almost living X3-Universe, while veterans can expect new construction options and an improved physics model.
- The Story
What happened so far: While the Argon fleet is stretched almost to breaking point by the continuing attacks from Khaak, a new enemy is stalking the X-universe. What links a mysterious ship with the power to disappear, the ruthless Yaki pirates and a machine left by an ancient species? It’s time to strap yourself into your cockpit, warm up your laser cannon and get some answers.
CCC Staff Writer