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X Rebirth – PC

X Rebirth – PC

thPlatform: PC

Developer: EgoSoft

Publisher:
 Tri Synergy (US)

Release Date (NA):
November 15, 2013

Genre: 
Action/Adventure, Rail Shooter

Nerd Rating:
5 out of 10

The sixth entry into the X series, X Rebirth attempts to provide gamers with a sandbox universe in which complete freedom is the key.  Players are free to do most anything they would like, from mining asteroids, trading materials, marauding competitors’ cargo ships, or even starting your own galactic empire (if you’re feeling particularly Sithy).  The game offers the player an endless slew of choices on how to behave in their simulated universe, and while this might sound like any sci-fi nerd/gamer’s dream game, the execution is one that might prove to alienate more than immerse.

The Good

Cookie Cutter "Dance Club"/Bar

A place you’ll be meeting and hiring your crews.

When the developers say that you can do anything, you can literally do anything.  You can play the game nicely by defending stations from occasional attacks before docking at your favorite local dance club, engaging in small talk with a local pilot, hiring a space captain for your new freighter, and going back out with your newly captained freighter to mine some asteroids.  Or you can attack an unguarded cargo ship for the goods, and afterwards, you can let loose you inner Ferengi and sell the pilfered goods to a station in need because the latest delivery never made it. *wink*

Even space stations themselves are attackable, though I do not suggest doing this until you have a fleet of warships following you as most stations are heavily guarded, and will put up a significant fight.  But if you do manage to take over a Space station, you’ll then be able to control it and use it as a base of operations to expand your empire.

Rear of the docked player ship, Albion Skunk

Rear of the docked player ship, Albion Skunk

Navigation through the universe is made easy by the myriad of space highways connecting everything which can be jumped in and out of on the fly.  A Nascar drafting mini-game will ensue allowing you to increase your speed by jumping behind faster moving convoys.

The developers have also streamlined several of the controls to make piloting the ship fairly intuitive, however, the keyboard placement could be better – I’d ended up remapping most of the controls.  And for those who are more used to console games, the game is designed to natively support gamepads.  Plug in your wired Xbox controller, and it should be ready to go without needing any configuration.

The Bad

SAVE FAILED!

SAVE FAILED!

The game suffers from a large amount of bugs like client crashes, saved game corruptions, and even an ironic little gremlin that will cause the frame rate to lag on more powerful machines.  The developers blog states that these are known issues and they are working diligently to fix these errors, several of which they have stated will take some time to resolve.  I myself have suffered from all three of the bugs which I listed, and I would only describe my machine in the mid range for gaming machines.

Your piloting view is locked to straight ahead, and cannot be moved.

Your piloting view is locked to straight ahead, and cannot be moved.

Beyond the technical, the game also suffers from several design flaws.  The piloting perspective is locked to a straight ahead view, where in previous games the pilots could look around in the cockpit to see things without having to maneuver the ship for a better view.  While this might not have seemed like much of an issue, players with less spacial awareness will find themselves bouncing off of space stations, other ships, and asteroids alike.  Luckily, there doesn’t appear to be much of a penalty for this, as I pin balled around in my own freighters docking bay for a several seconds before finally getting free with little or no ill effects.  Note to self:  don’t try boosting out of a docking bay again.

The Albion Skunk is a 1br 1 cockpit ship.

The Albion Skunk is an extremely tiny ship. The door on the right is the cockpit.

The game is not very supportive of players new to the genre, and even those who have played the previous games may have some issues with getting started.  There is an extreme lack of any kind of tutorial or even a standalone training module.   Players are given a series of tasks that should supposedly teach the nuances of gameplay, however, these usually are simple directives such as “Dock at the station” without explaining how to dock.  As a litmus test, I’d asked a friend to play the first few “missions” in the game, and found that he too had several issues with understanding the interaction with the world.  And this was not because interactions were difficult, but because the basic controls were not explained clearly.  NOTE:  As of the recent update, popup messages are much more clear, and this may have solved many of the tutorial issues.

The most unforgivable thing of all is that the game does not natively support joysticks.  I had purposely gone out and bought a new joystick just to play, only to find out that it wasn’t supported.  In some cases you’ll be able to change the mapping, but for me, it was just too awkward and I was still not able to use the throttle controls.  As a gamer who cut his teeth on space sims like Star Wars X-Wing and Tie Fighter, to develop a space sim and not even support joystick is just a slap in the face.  It feels almost like they’d wanted to make this game on consoles, but the scope and size of the game wouldn’t allow it.  Even the lackluster DarkStar One supported joysticks, so this game has no excuse.  NOTE:  The developers have listened to the outcry of Joystick lovers, and plan to implement native support in the future.

The Ugly

Zero-G Sunglasses

Zero-G Sunglasses

By far the ugliest part of this game is the immersion breaking visual glitches.  Eyewear tends to move independently of the wearer’s head, and textures make it look more often like Geriatrics in Space.  Even the actual Character models are off-putting, where NPC’s body proportions are just…wrong, looking more like Mister Fantastic having a stretch than a human being.   Graphics aren’t everything, but if you can’t support the graphics don’t try to half-ass them.  And despite all the little glitch’s here and there, the character faces will make you cringe.

Beyond the visual, the writing is some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard to date, with phrases along the lines of “I’ve enjoyed the conversation we just had and feel as if I owe you something for it,” or my favorite, “At last! Someone both clever and innocent!”.  Even the voice acting is bland and usually not conducive to the emotions of the scene.  Having experience in recording voice actors, it seems to me that this lacked significant direction, or at the very least, the voice director did not have the necessary knowledge of the scenes to offer good direction.   Worse yet, these inane lines are the majority of just a handful of dialogue responses, so you’ll hear these often and repeated.

Over use of banners is just "Ass-inine"

Over use of banners is just “Ass-inine”

The environments themselves are also worthy of being noted as ugly.  While they do follow George Lucas’ Used Universe philosophy – in which an environment is made to look dingy and cluttered to look as if it’s lived in, EgoSoft has taken this to extreme, having environments look SO cluttered and dirty that it looks as if no one has lived there in several years.  This is compounded by the fact that the majority of docking locations will look the same as any hundred other docking locations.  You’ll walk through either a bright, or dark corridor with random things everywhere (such as people welding, cleaning robots, or a bulkhead display you can’t use).  You’ll also see an endless stream of banners with ladies’ butts in clear display (probably the only GOOD looking thing in the game).

Worst Space Suit EVER!

Worst Space Suit EVER!

On that sexist note, I’d like to point out that there was likely not one woman on this design team.  The main female protagonist of the campaign mode is wearing a space suit with her cleavage laid bare for all to see.  While I have to admit I’m guilty of ogling a scantily clad femme fatale, there is a point where this just gets stupid.  Before you even see her in person, you see her throw down a space helmet and act as if she were out of breath and choking.  Maybe she was choking because all the oxygen in her [nonexistent] tank escaped through the giant cleavage hole in your shirt there, lady.  Also, to nitpick, she had an armored abdomen piece to her suit, and pauldrons, but she leaves her heart and lungs completely unprotected and exposed.  *FAIL*

The Conclusion

This game started out as a great premise, but is riddled with issues that make it barely a pass.  Space is busy and looks alive, but often doesn’t feel very reactive to the player.  The game gives nearly every conceivable option, however, the clunky gameplay and lack of tutorial will make players struggle to get hooked.  Lack of joystick support also hinders gameplay by not supporting the core of loyal gamers that doggedly champion the genre.  And a lack of true diversity in off-ship environments will leave those that enjoy exploring the final frontier bored within a matter of hours.

Final Conclusion:  Avoid this game if you’re not at least a fan of Space Sims.  Casual gamers should avoid this all together as even if you can get past all the issues, the game is very deep and is meant to be played almost endlessly to get your money’s worth.

PROS

  • Large Galaxy in which to play
  • Absurd amount of gameplay choices
  • Free Play or Campaign
  • An entry into a Niche genre
  • Galactic economy that reacts to player decisions
  • Native support for Gamepad

CONS

  • Lack of Joystick support
  • Horrible Writing and Voice Acting
  • Repetitive environments
  • Locked Pilot perspective
  • Outdated and glitchy graphics
  • Only 1 flyable ship for Player

 

Written by Variand

Variand

Agree or Disagree with something? Want to request a review a specific game? Just want to troll? Leave a comment, Twitter @Variand, or email me at Variand@NerdBacon.com. Or feel free to find and frag me on Xbox Live (GT: Rukhan), PSN (Variand), or Steam(Variand99).

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