The ‘X’ series of space sims have always been known for their open-universe gameplay and freedom of choice. X3: Terran Conflict upholds this tradition along with bringing the story began ten years ago, in X: Beyond the Frontier, to a close.
For newcomers, you should expect to scratch your heads for many hours while attempting to suss out what to do next. Don’t fear, this is a perfectly normal effect of jumping into an ‘X’ game. The effect will pass in time as you realize that the whole universe is your oyster. You can do just about anything you like within the realm of the game, whether it is to work as a trader, mercenary, or pirate (and a whole lot more). You can even build up a fleet of your own to perform duties while you are away. The game even allows you to build your own business empire by owning factories, stations, etc. The depth in X3: Terran Conflict is so vast, I doubt anyone could do everything the game has to offer. So explore why don’t you!?! Just remember to save often.
For you veterans to the series that have played X3: Reunion, feel happy, as you are in for a treat. Egosoft has enhanced Terran Conflict from its recent predecessor in many fruitful ways. For instance, graphically, the game looks even better than Reunion (and that is saying something). Space is so vast, the word ‘vast’ really can’t do it justice. This feeling of hugeality (my word) is properly infused within the game. No matter how powerful you become, how rich, or how many ships you acquire, you are still just one person in a very humbling universe. Your starship’s user interface, while still full of complex options, has been refined as has controlling your space craft with your mouse (although I highly recommend a flight stick for the ‘full effect’). Navigating the menus is easily done, but make sure you are out of harms way before exploring them, it would be a shame for some pirates to get the drop on you! Based on the new features, it is quite clear that Egosoft has listened to the fans and has brought out a very complete product.
One thing that has bugged me since X3: Reunion, however, is the lack of a cockpit view. In the original X: Beyond the Frontier, your viewpoint was from within a 3d cockpit view as was it in X2: The Threat. In the third game of the series, Egosoft removed the cockpit and provided a view more reminiscent of Freespace 2 (one of the greatest space-combat games of all time, btw). This is, obviously, more a personal preference and I just like to see the ship around me. In its defense, the view does work well and gives you more of an unobstructed view than a cockpit would.
Combat still feels realistic (well, as realistic as I think space-combat should be), even without true Newtonian movement. You can purchase and equip a variety of weapons, from energy-based blasters to torpedoes and cannons. Same goes for ship/station components: there is just a gigantic variety of everything for everything. This hearkens back to the game’s magnificent scope and continues to show their desire to create a truly immersive universe for the player to exist within.
In our interview with Egosoft Founder Bernd Lehahn, he mentioned that his biggest regret with the ‘X’ series was that they were forced to release X3: Reunion early, and in a more unpolished state than he would have liked it to be in. I can safely say that X3: Terran Conflict has not suffered such a fate and will be enjoyable by long-time fans of the series as well as fans of games such as Independence War, Privateer, and Starlancer. X3: Terran Conflict has something in it for everyone. Unfortunately, big-production space sims are few and far between these days and it is very important to support quality work like this.
Confused about our rating system? See here, citizen!