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X3 Reunion PC DVD-ROM

Published by Deep Silver
Developed by Egosoft
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

X3 Reunion, an introduction.

A while ago now we reviewed X2 The Threat which itself was the sequel to X-Beyond the Frontier. Both games are similar in style to the classic space combat and trading game, Elite. Both titles were very popular which is no surprise really, when you consider how many gamers still consider Elite one of the best games of all time. It's also no surprise then that here we have the third game in the series, X3 Reunion. Many gamers have been eagerly waiting for X3 Reunion and bearing in mind what the game has promised during it's development, fans have been correct in anticipating this game to be the best in the series.

What's the game about?

X3 Reunion once again sees you playing as Julian Brenner, at least it does if you select the Normal, Quick Start or X-Treme option from the new game menu. There are also options to play as an Aspiring Explorer (in the role of Akira Jon), a Humble Merchant (as Hari Gul) or a Bankrupt Assassin (as the rather weird looking O'ren Rock). Finally there's the option to create a custom game which basically lets you do what you want. Even if you play in the Normal, Quick Start and X-Treme modes which have the storyline, you can still do just as you please.

What's good about the game?

The previous games in the X series have been open ended and once again X3 Reunion lets you do pretty much what you want to do. The game engine has been redone and now fully supports the DirectX 9 niceties and pixel shader 2.0 effects. The visuals are said to be up to 10 times more detailed, which is very impressive. Many new spacecraft have been included and the size of some of these spacecraft is absolutely huge. New technologies and weapons have been included to spice up the combat. A new economic model has been included to take 'elasticity of demand', 'economies of scale', and 'return on investment' into account. You can control your ship with either a joystick or completely with the mouse. Right clicking the mouse enables you to switch between a mouse pointer and a directional controller. The amount of options, which we've listed in the above paragraph, for creating a new game is also impressive and there's no denying the game has almost limitless replay value and can be played in many different ways. In fact there are so many promising improvements here over X2 that the game should definitely be a classic. That is to say if wasn't for the fact the game has many problems.

What's not so good about the game?

X3 has the potential to be a great game but it's obvious that it has been rushed out in time for the Christmas run in. The game has many issues including freezing and crashing (seemingly at random) and one look at the official message boards for the game, shows that many are having issues with the game. It's not funny for instance when the auto pilot decides to crash into a gate which brings up the game over message. Many gamers can't get the game to run at anything like a decent frame rate which also makes playing the game a disappointing experience. With one patch already out and another one being worked on, it's fair to say the game wasn't released in a healthy state. In fact there's even a post from Egosoft on the official message boards saying that the main story can't even be completed with the current patch installed.

How does it look?

The highlight of X3 is definitely the graphics. With all the graphical options set to maximum you have one of the best looking PC games there has been to date and the game does a wonderful job of creating a believable, futuristic environment for us to play in. The spaceships in particular look superb and are quite an improvement on those in X2. However, and this is a massive sticking point, with all the details set to maximum you'll get nothing but a slide show on today's hardware. Even when turning the details down, to the point where a lot of visual splendour has been lost, it's still not a frame rate friendly experience. Our PC contains an AMD 64 3200+, 1GB RAM and an ATi X800XT and we couldn't obtain a frame rate we were happy with even when the details were turned right down. We put an extra 1GB of RAM in our PC and whilst it improved the situation a little, it wasn't a major improvement. Obviously you can buy PC hardware that's a generation in front of ours (although our PC hardware is by no means poor) but from reading around various message boards, even those with a 7800GTX graphics card are still having frame rate problems, which just isn't good enough.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

There are subtitles in X3 but they have been implemented in such a sloppy fashion that it hardly seems worth the bother. For starters, subtitles are turned off by default, which in itself is no bad thing but the subtitles can't be enabled from the options menu before you start a game. When starting a new game, you'll have to sit through the first lot of dialogue and press the escape key, select the options menu and under audio, there's the option to enable the subtitles. You can't even do this and then start a new game as once again the subtitles will be turned off. Whilst character windows are shown at the top of the screen, subtitles are shown at the bottom of the screen. Naturally your eyes will be drawn to the talking characters but in doing so you'll miss the text. Objectives and such can be recalled for you to read, which is useful if you've been away from the game for a while. Mission briefings are not subtitled, although the gist of what's being said is listed in bullet points that are displayed in text.

Final thoughts.

Your opinion of X3 will depend on whether you can see its potential or not. In its current state it’s a mess, a rather large mess. The developers have admitted that the first patch hasn't fixed everything and won't even let you complete the main story. Will the next patch fix all of the problems? It seems unlikely given the extent of the problems that exist. How long will it take to release the next patch? Again given the amount of problems it seems unlikely that a quick fix will appear. There is no doubt the game has huge potential but when you pay good money for a game, you want the finished article and not a product that looks like a beta version. It may be wise to wait until the game is fully patched up because when everything is finally sorted out it will be a game deserving of your money.

 

Overall Game Rating: 6.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:


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X3 Reunion has the potential to be something really special. However in its current state it's in quite a bit of a mess and is in serious need of further patches to bring up it to the standard of being the finished article.