X3: Reunion (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Saturday, April 5, 2008

Graphics: 9.50
Sound: 8.00
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 9.00
Gamelength: 10.00

Egosoft’s latest entry to the “X” series, “X3: Reunion” picks up where “X2” left off and promises more of the same slow-paced, yet deeply involved game play.

The “X” series has become a long-time cult favorite amongst space simulation ehtusiasts across the world. The game’s motto, “Trade Fight Build Think” just about sums the series up for the most part, but X3 goes for an extremely open-ended approach. So, how is it? Let’s take a trip into the farthest reaches of the universe as we explore “X3: Reunion”.

There’s a story here, but it’s not very deep and the game doesn’t really do an extremely good job of encouraging players to find it. The main character of X2, “Julian Brenner” returns for more space simulation action. The story is pretty basic and isn’t even really very engagig, but what’s there is enough to hold the game together. You’re not just “given” the story, though. You have to go out and find it, which is a really long and involved process.

The graphics are simply amazing and probably the best out there for the time being in terms of open-ended space simulation games. The system requirements are a bit high even after all of the patches and stuttering is likely to happen at times, but still it’s very much worth it. The visuals really do a good job of representing the universe and it’s contents, which really helps create a serious sense of immersion.

Now, I realize that no one knows how the far reaches of the universe, space piloting and space combat would “really” sound, but “X3: Reuinion” sure does a damn convincing job. Even if it’s a little on the generic side, I feel like I’ve actually been to the end of the universe and back because of this game and let me tell you, if this is what this stuff will really sound like, sign me up to become a space pilot in 100 years. Everything sounds wonderfully realistic and I’m sure it’ll make a believer out of you, too!

And so we come to the meat of the game: the breakdown of the gameplay and the content therein. Does “X3: Reuinion” live up to the hype? Is it freakin’ awesome? In a word, yes, but it’s by far not for everyone and the mind numbingly slow pace gives off a serious hardcore vibe. The majority of the game play is spent exploring the universe time and time again, looking for the next bit of story. However, the game is so open ended that there’s no need to even take part in the story if you so choose not to do so. You can fly anywhere you want, whenever you want and do so at your leisure. You can take on various missions spread throughout the universe, trade goods, upgrade stuff, build things, fight enemies and ultimately save the day. There’s a LOT to do here, but despite all of this, the flaws stand out just as well. First of all, the user interface is excessively complex and takes a lot of time to really get used to. This makes for some very intimidating first impressions, but for those who stick with it and get through the learning curve, the other flaws are likely to show their faces over time. The most important flaw here is the absolutely extreme slow pacing of everything. The game is easily hundreds of hours long, but not because there’s enough content to fill that amount of time, rather because it’s just so damn slow. This is an obvious turn off for most people, but if you’re still with me and you’re ready to move on, there’s only 1 more potential flaw. The controls are a little weird, but they were built from the ground up to be most fitting for a mouse and keyboard setup. For this kind of game, it’s sometimes awkward to have better control with a mouse and keyboard when compared to a flight stick or a joypad. Either way, “X3: Reuinion” stands out as one of the best galactic simulation games in the world and I look forward to experiencing the 4th game in the event Egosoft ever releases another title int he series.

Overall, “X3: Reuinion” is an amazing game for those who don’t mind the snail’s pace or the keyboard and mouse-favored controls. This series is only gettinng better, so maybe if a 4th game is ever release, these flaws will be addressed somehow.

Pros:
-Visually stunning.
-Sound effects and music are equally impressive.
-Extremely long.
-Insane amount of things to do.

Cons:
-Far too slow-paced for most people.
-Joypad and flight stick support is lacking.
-User interface is very complex and intimidating.

Bottom Line:
If you’ve read the rest of this review and you think you can handle the slow pace, this game will bring you many hours of fun. Buy it if that’s the case. For anyone else, it may be best to check out a demo or play it at a friend’s house first.

Overall Rating: 9.00

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