X2: The Threat
|a game by||EGOSOFT GmbH|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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It's no secret that Elite remains my favourite game of all time. Its atmospheric mix of trading and deep space combat, role-playing and freeform play captivated me from the moment I clapped eyes on its wireframe graphics in 1984. Egosoft too, the German developer ofX - Beyond The Frontier are unashamed in their admiration of the Braben/Bell classic. As much as a game in its own right, X - BTF could be considered a tribute, one of a handful of games over the years (there's been perhaps three decent attempts) that have managed to capture the Elite spirit. It certainly hooked me, and occasionally still does. But the important thing is that with X2 - The Threat, the series will begin to find its own legs and move away, ever so slightly, from its Elite-inspired roots.
One problem with the original X was that many found the pace too slow and laborious, with little reward early on (though I found this most refreshing myself).
"It was both a plus and a minus, depending on how far you were through the game," says X2 creator Bernd Lehahn. "We probably lost many potential players during the first few hours of gameplay because they couldn't stand the slow pace. On the other hand, it made the game even more addictive once you were beyond that stage. So what we will try is to find a good balance: the game will be much easier to start and show more of its potential features early on in the game, but still the player will take a while to gain the money and knowledge to explore all the more advanced possibilities."
Of course the full-on dynamic economy will be in there and remains the X series' strongest card, with dozens of tradable items, from basic resources to high-tech manufactured items built from those resources in NPC or player-controlled factories.
"We've enhanced the economy in so many different ways that it is hard to list them all," says Lehahn. "Literally hundreds of new features, some small, some big, have been added to improve what we consider one of the most important aspects of the X series." Lehahn then went on to list just a few: new products, new weapon systems, new ships of all sizes, new AI logic (NPC players can now man turrets on large capital ships), plus loads more besides...
"X2 - The Threat will be much bigger, but still include the old universe," says Lehahn. "The game will remain true to its history and fiction. Fans will recognise large parts of the old sectors and even find stations where they used to be. Some years after the original X - BTF and X -Tension, stations and ships have been developed further, in new designs."
My biggest gripe with the original game was the combat system - the A1 enemy ships were far less convincing than the impressive economy. Egosoft assure us that this has been addressed, and by introducing an enemy race called the Khaak, tell us the game will focus as much on combat as it will on trading, offering we hope, high-octane FreeSpace-style dogfighting action. Unfortunately we can forget about any multiplayer options: X2 - The Threat, like its predecessor is single-player only. X - Online however, you can read about on page 100.