Time Enforcer Anubis here with another review!
Some genres just aren’t around as much as they used to be. This is both a blessing and a curse, as the remaining games in these genres tend to be the hardest-of-hardcore, but as time moves on, said genres will slowly drift into obscurity. One such genre is the space-flight sim, which is the genre that the game I have today fits squarely in.
X3: Terran Conflict is a PC space combat and trading sim developed by Egosoft. The player takes on the role of anyone he/she wants and sets off to do whatever he/she wants. The game has no set campaign, only a set of starting scenarios to choose from. Each has its own guidelines and story, but the player is given a massive degree of freedom to choose their own path. Of course, for complete freedom, a bare-bones scenario is also available.
This freedom, however, comes at a price to the gameplay. The learning curve is somewhat steep. Past a short “flight school” mission available at the start of every scenario, the player is left to either consult the manual or learn as they go, which isn’t much of a problem for seasoned players of the genre, but could potentially turn newcomers away.
Speaking of the controls, like most other games in the genre, a flight stick, or a flight stick/throttle, is the best setup in terms of optimum flight and weapon control. The rest of the ship is controlled with the keyboard and mouse, and works quite intuitively, once the player figures out what does what. An unexpected pleasant surprise is how the game uses the mouse. Many of the ship’s menu and computer functions are controlled with the mouse, instead of keys. In addition, the mouse can also be used for targeting, steering, and even firing weapons toward the cursor.
Graphically, the game looks outstanding. Stations and large ships are awe-inspiring in their size and detail, not to mention the beautiful look of space itself. Presentation-wise, the sound, especially the voices, was obviously given much consideration. The game is fully voice-acted, and the ship computer’s voice sounds very much like a standard sci-fi computer voice, with phrases sounding spliced together and awkward inflections. This does carry over a bit into the actual people in the game, but it sounds a great deal more natural. As far as where things are located in-game, the game really gives a sense of scale. Things in space are far apart, and it takes a while to travel between them, which brings me to the make-or-break part of the game:
X3’s gameplay is slow. Even with the time-acceleration mechanic present in the game, the game plays at a slow-and-steady pace. Combat has a quicker pace to it, but the game requires patience to play, since most in-game time is spent flying around. Players like myself, who play slower-paced games like this while doing other things (Such as writing this review) would feel more at home with X3 and its slower pace. Players who sit down for one or two hours to just play a game, however, probably won’t enjoy the game’s slower pace. It all depends on the player.
X3: Terran Conflict is a good example of a game in a niche genre that’s truly stuck to its guns. A straight-up, no-nonsense hardcore space trading and combat sim, patient players and players who multitask while playing slower-paced games, as well as hardcore space sim players of course, would get the most value out of this game. Players looking for more fast-paced gameplay should look elsewhere. This is definitely not a game for newcomers to the space sim genre. All-in-all, I recommend this game to patient players, space sim fans, and other players who enjoy slower-paced games. Also, if you enjoyed Vega Strike and are looking for more, look no further than X3: Terran Conflict.
‘Till next time!
TE Anubis on Xbox Live
Timeenforceranubis on Xfire