X3: Reunion

Aron Schatz
December 3, 2005
X3: Reunion is the next game in the X series from Egosoft. In its current state it is not recommended, but be sure to check back for a full review on the next patch.
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Page 1: X3 Preview


First and foremost, I want everyone to understand this is a preview of the game. I consider the game to be unfinished in its current state and will revisit it with a full review after the next patch. Currently the game is at 1.201 with patch 1.3 coming out soon. If you are eager to buy the game I suggest waiting till the new patch comes out as to not spoil your enjoyment of the game.

X3: Reunion takes place just after X2: The Threat left off. You are Julian Brennan, hero and son of Terracorp's owner Kyle Brennan. At the start of X3 you get a bit of background of why you start with hardly any resources available at your disposal. Basically the Kha'ak are wearing everything down and are a huge threat. When you actually get in the game they are nothing more than a nuisance, I'm not buying that story. When I played X2 I stopped at about 30 factories and 100s of ships. I cannot believe that my fleet just got destroyed so easily. It would be better to make a different character instead of continuing with Mr. Gardna... Brennan. Inconsistency aside, the game is absolutely gorgeous. As you can see from the screenshots below, everything is nice and shiny. Those reflections are very realistic looking and look better when viewed in game.


The graphics engine for X3 is built from scratch and made for DirectX 9 class hardware. I'm glad that Egosoft went this route instead of catering to people with lower end hardware. Shaders are heavily used in this game, anyone with two generation old hardware will have a tough time running this at acceptable framerates. Along with the graphical changes, sound makes an improvement in the series as well. The music for the home sectors are great. I'm a bit let down to find out that many assets from X2 have been dropped into X3 with no changes. All older item descriptions have been dropped in with no changes and the new items when spoken do not sound well at all. It sounds as if the announcer can't speak two words without taking a breath of air. The music in every other sector besides the home sectors are recycled from the old game as are most of the comm pictures. I hope the new patch will add some new content and refresh the game to what it should be.


Gameplay as taken a step forward as well. Fighting is now fun due to the fact that ships have inertia and slide while moving and turning. This seems more realistic than having WW2 style dogfights like in X2. You can almost circle strafe around enemies if you are good enough and can avoid shots by doing some crazy maneuverings. Each of the ship classes have been improved and each have a place in the game. There are also multiple variants of each of the smaller ships and this is a welcome addition. I would still like to see completely different ships (like the older ones) instead of the same ships everywhere, but these new variants help ease that annoyance.


The HUD is improved and Egosoft finally got rid of the forced ship cockpit (in fact, there are no cockpits). You are left with a digital HUD that does get cluttered at times (as shown in the screenshots). You can turn off the HUD, but everything gets turned off. An option to selectively turn off some features would be very helpful. The menus have taken a step back in the game. You cannot hit any hotkeys to get to something fast. It feels very consoley.

<b>The Universe</b>:

The universe has changed and so have the stations. Internal docking is all gone. You now have docking 'clamps' that dock externally and lead to a more sterile universe... Here is another inconsistency, what happened to all the older stations that had internal docking bays? Yep, all gone. NPC factories don't own any ships and are forced to get their goods from NPC traders (that seem like they are running Trader MK3 scripts). This doesn't work so well and many times the economy just stands still. This needs to be fixed. Although there is a problem with the NPC traders, it does add more life to the universe. This life is also sterile since you can't communicate well with anyone.

<b>The Problems</b>:

Enough with the good for this preview, let's go into the problems. There are crash to desktops in the game which is unacceptable. The game just does not feel finished. Many things do not function such as mobile mining. Factory complexes are a good idea, but poorly implemented. Nebulas don't work correctly (you can see stars and planets in the far distance but you can't see a station 3 feet in front of your face). Sounds are recycled and most need some normalization (some are too low and some are too high). There is no player to NPC communication to speak of. There are no random mission! When I'm flying around I want to hear distress calls, calls for jobs, and other such things. The BBS is useless, there are no good missions on it and it still shows missions which you can't perform.

For now, wait to buy the game. I find it quite fun and it does have some nice things in the game. There are some showstoppers in it like the CTDs and such that prevent me from recommending buying it. Wait till the next patch for a full review.


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