X2: The Threat - Game Review
2004 off with a bang, zap and kaboom! we decided to take a look at a game which
many of our readers, even those that are into PC gaming, may not be familiar
with; X2: The Threat. Published by Egosoft,
X2: The Threat has not had anything like the hype accompanying several
recent, underwhelming game
releases (Max Payne 2 anyone?) and that's a pity, because the ambition of this
game's design deserves attention.
What is X2: The Threat about?
X2: The Threat is a space-simulation that mixes fairly typical story driven missions with
an extremely detailed and complex economic system, achieving a sort of pseudo-RPG effect as players
choose whether to follow the missions or branch of into one of the many
entertaining career possibilities afforded by the free-form universe.
In fact, the story mode itself
is one of the weakest portions of the game, functioning better as a device to
get players quickly up a few rungs on the game's economic ladder and teach
essential game skills than as a gripping narrative.
The synopsis is this. The player is a hard-bitten
but skilled pilot who has lapsed into piracy and been apprehended. He is
reprieved by mysterious benefactors who are in need of his piloting skill and
blah blah blah. You get the
Fortunately the universe is considerably more captivating than the story. X2
space is comprised of over a hundred 'sectors' each containing a number of floating
bases and factories. These sectors are divided between the six game races with some falling
into unclaimed space.
start out with a single ship and a handful of cash, and a basic mission. At this
point, you can start in on the initial game missions (highly recommended, as it
will get you some fast cash and some other useful rewards) or go and do
something completely different…
And there are a lot of things
to do. The way the X2 universe is constructed, there are no practical
limits on your movement. If you want to go the mercantile route, you
can find a lucrative trading sector and do small runs until
you have amassed enough cash to by a freighter and start hauling some serious
cargo, eventually amassing your own trading fleet and the factories to supply them. You
can take out a law-enforcement license and hunt pirates for fun and profit.
You can BE the
pirate, raiding and capturing freighters (ships can be disabled and boarded
during combat) and amassing enough cash to buy a fleet of attack craft. Mining
is an option, once you have the credit for the necessary equipment. In essence,
the game can function as a sort of galactic sandbox for your imagination.
Following the main mission does have rewards
beyond the merely financial though, as despite the poor cut scenes, the plot twists and turns, many
interesting battles are fought and some big (and unpleasant) surprises are revealed.
Following the story is also
the fastest way to find yourself in command of a battle fleet of ships. Also,
once you finish the main story arc, you are still just as free to explore the
universe and trade as you were at the start of the game.
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