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X - The Threat Gameplay Review - Page 1 Of 1

INTRODUCTION

I recently had the opportunity of playing X2 The Threat by EgoSoft. It's a large scale empire building game set in the far reaches of the universe. I believe that's a good thing. I think this game should be shipped there. As far as open-ended space trading games are concerned, this game is certainly part of the genre. However, as a space opera, it's long on game time, but comes up short on the story. I have a few words that I would use to describe this game: stunning, infinite, monotonous, tiresome, and laughable.


STUNNING

Hey, the graphics are stunning. Hands down. The separate sectors have beautifully rendered effects such as gases, planets, explosions, etc. The ships are well rendered. The different types of facilities throughout the universe are also quite nicely designed, from swirling tentacles on some stations to mining facilities on asteroids.

The only problems that I seemed to run into with the graphics were when my ships would be in a dogfight or a lot of other ships were close by. It seemed like the game chugged and chugged and chugged. While mine is not the fastest machine in the world, it certainly exceeds the required specs on the X2 box.

Tons Of Eye Candy


INFINITE

This game is absolutely huge. There are far reaching sectors to conquer, plunder, or just plain explore. In this game, I conquered many a sector, and declared myself the Supreme Overlord of the Universe. Seriously, when you get enough cash, create enough mining colonies and space stations, and build a bunch of ships, you can literally take over anything. With my delusions of grandeur, this was the perfect environment for me to reign supreme. After all, in my universe I'm only a ruler of pixels and bits.

The economic aspects of this game are expansive. You can buy here, trade there, mine and develop over here, and wipe out the economy over there. Early in the game, you have to keep an eye on what you buy and sell, because you could end up selling something for far less than you bought it for. It happened to me a couple of times, until I started keeping track of what I was buying and selling on paper. Used up a whole notebook. I should've pulled out my laptop and kept an Excel Spreadsheet to show everyone. But I'm lazy, and I don't think anyone cares enough anyway.

Tons Of Stuff To Explore


MONOTONOUS

This game is not for the feint of heart when it comes to menus and controls. Keeping track of all the keyboard commands for menus is a tough job. Not only that, the actual in-game control is awkward. I wish that I could reset the keys, like I can in just about every other game I've played in the last 8 years! But the menu system is too dependent on the keyboard, so we don't get to change them. Why we just can't use the mouse to run the menu system, I don't know. It appears to only be useful for steering the ship. In order to make the ship go, you have to use the A, Z, and Backspace keys. A is to accelerate, Z is to decelerate, and Backspace brings you to a stop. Why not make the stop key a little bit closer to the A and Z? Its controls like these that make the fighting in the game absolutely worthless, where it otherwise could've been really cool.

But It Looks So Sweet!

The time it takes to fly around before you figure out what the J button (that's the "Time Compression" button) does is mind-numbing. Before the J button, I was flying through sectors straight from one warp to the next. Without the J button, it would take a good 12 minutes to fly across a sector. That provided me with enough time to get up, get a can of Coke, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and gouge out my eyeballs. But, gee, what happens when you need to get somewhere that's 4 sectors away? Well, you burn an hour. It seems a little excessive to have the ships get around this slowly, but it's how everything is before you figure out Time Compression. With time compression, you can get across a sector in a transport ship in about 3 minutes. Still time to go to the bathroom, or get a Coke, and make it back in time to find out that your ship is under attack by pirates. But hey, at least you don't want to gouge your eyes out at that point. Later in the game you can get a Jump Drive. It's a nifty little device that lets you "jump" to other sectors, saving you enormous amounts of time. Jump Drives should be something that every ship is equipped with from the beginning; they might save the people who get deterred at the wait times to fly across sectors.

In The Cockpit


TIRESOME
I found the training missions to be full of bugs. After starting a couple of the missions over two or three times, the instructor would stop telling me the next step. If it just happened once, I wouldn't have been so annoyed. But it happed about a half dozen times, and never in the same place. For such a complex game, those training missions seemed to me to be critical to help me understand more of the game controls before starting the actual game. As it turns out, the only way I learned how to access some of the menus, and create my own products, was to throw myself into the deep end of the pool. I only drowned 3 or 4 times. Boy, I'm glad that's only an analogy.

With a lot of ships comes a lot of responsibility. There's a lot of: you do this, you do that, and you, fly over there. It's heaven for a micromanager, but sometimes I don't have that kind of eye for details. I don't want to tell you what to do, just go do something. Take as many credits from the coffers as you want. We've got plenty. Just leave me alone!

Heading Into New Sector

LAUGHABLE
Hey, the game has a plot. It wasn't designed with the plot in mind, but the plot does exist. It seems like they forgot about it until after the game was fully coded, and stapled the plot to the outside of the box. I've seen B-movies with MUCH better plots. It starts off with the main character, you, stealing a ship with another guy. You get caught. Then this guy named Ban Danna (I actually laughed at that because it was a joke that I didn't get, and I wanted to fit in) wants to reward you for doing such a good job stealing a ship by giving you another one and having you do some work. You're a criminal, and a poor one at that. Sure, all criminals deserve a second chance!

What's with the camera action on the cut-scenes? The cameras are jumpy and move around too much. It's a cut-scene! I'm interested in what the person has to say, not that the cameraman has to use the bathroom so badly he can't stand still. I would ask that any game publisher in the future not use incontinent cameramen for the cut-scenes.

What's with people in this game not believing in the existence of the fabled Earth? I mean, after all, I'm sitting here, on Earth, playing this game about Space. If I'm an Earthling, and I know about them, shouldn't they know about me? I mean, the game had to show up on this planet somehow. Unless I'm not what I think I am, then my entire psyche will be crushed because I have no idea who I am. The very thread of my existence is being pulled!

Wicked Looking Space Station


CONCLUSION
This game is great if all you're looking for is a space trading game. The graphics are nice when you're not in combat, and the empire building can be really rewarding if you're into that sort of thing. The only reason I would play this game over another would be if I had to have a space trading game. You can get much better game play, and in some cases, graphics, out of other more open-ended games like Morrowind or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Action gamers will likely find this to be a very boring game.

Just Gorgeous...

You can check out some more full screen screenshots from Clay's BFG 5700Ultra Review.

 

 

Last Updated on February 25, 2004


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