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Moogle Reviews - X3:Albion Prelude


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So. You came here of all places. Well done.

X3 Albion Prelude is actually an expandalone sequel, believe it or not, so I'm going to talk about what came before it. Not what comes next.

The 'X' series of games came out way back when, in a time immemorial mainly because I was 3 feet tall and busy eating lots of ice cream. Boy, if only I knew what I was missing.

The 'X' series has been the staple space-sim of the gaming world, taking up the mantle of the ageing Elite games in 1999. It's quite a simple premise. You fly around, trading things, and shooting the odd bad guy.

In reality, these games have been the most challenging use of the keyboard, mouse, or joystick with a learning curve that can only be described as vertical.

Let me tell you why. The X universe is fucking huge.

I'm talking about physical content here. There's getting on for 400 ships now and 200 stations - that's more than EVE Online. There's 100 of lasers, cannons, shields and missiles. And 5 gajillion miles of room to move around. There'll be over 100 ships in every sector you fly through, all going about vital business, which I'll get round to talking about.

So the main thing that will explode your primitive brain is the economy. It's utterly flawless. And flawed. Every single item you trade fits into a hierarchy of tech levels, that eventually ends up affecting what goes in your ship. Every shipment of Delexian Wheat you drop off means some Wasp Missiles you buy later on in a completely different factory could be cheaper. New to the game is a stock market, allowing for you and other corporations in the game to battle it out behind the scenes.

But Albion Prelude is different. There's a war on.

Backstory backtstory blah blah, there's the Terrans (us) and the Argonians (technically also us, but part of a Commonwealth of alien species) that have gone through a period of Cold War (In X3 : Terran Conflict) that just went superheated.

What was previously a devilishly difficult economy to barge into, just got made worse by the fact that sectors now get invaded, and NPC trading ships get caught up in the firefight.

But have no fear! You can join one of the two factions!

So combat, the other fiendishly difficult part of the X series. It primarily consists of dogfighting in fighters, but in order to have any hope in hell of surviving, you need to take part in the trading systems in place to upgrade your ship. Oh, and AP adds head tracking, which helps hugely.

That's where the appeal of the series lies. You aren't a player. You are an Empire. A dominating force in the Universe, that other space sims just miss out entirely.

But the scale of this game has its problems. Once the 10 hour long uninventive story is over, all the 'war updates' get particularly grating if you aren't in a combat mood, as you get constantly reminded of sectors being fought for and won/lost every twenty minutes or so. Also, as you upgrade your ship, things get more difficult. To the point where jumping into a battle with a fleet of heavy fighters means you will be pitted against a never ending onslaught of gruelling combat. God help you if you own a capital ship like I do... the final battle in X3:Reunion took nearly two hours for me.

There's also still bugs about that didn't even get adressed in the last game. Things like capital ships still behave like fighters, and the new 'wings' system is still broken. And the infamous 'auto-pillock' is made ever more frustration by the addition of more complex structures to crash into.

But these don't detract from the immersion. Say goodbye to your family, job and social life. If there's anything you like about what you heard above, you will never have a reason to go back. You thought you were astonished you could sink 100 hours into Skyrim? That time wouldn't scratch the surface of this ocean sized, delicious raspberry jelly of a game.

EDIT : My mistake this isn't an expandalone, it requires X3:Terran Conflict (also just as good). Both are on Steam.

Arbitrary Rating - Hyper Excellent!

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I played X3: TC when the newest version of Freelancer: Discovery turned out to be disappointing.

My main complaints with the X series is that flight feels really slow, weapons take forever and a half to charge, and the plot is incredibad.

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My main complaints with the X series is that flight feels really slow, weapons take forever and a half to charge, and the plot is incredibad.

Aye, that be true. But it sounds like you spent some time over there, so for the love of god, get the 'XTC' mod for it. That shizz is an incredible piece of work. They also might have had a certain Moogle write some tunes for it... :D

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