X: Beyond The Frontier
Genre Simulation -> Space
Today's Rank 0
Date 2000-01-26
Date N/A
Publisher THQ
North America Retail Box ArtUnited Kingdom Retail Box ArtLooking for high-flying action in the farthest reaches of space? Well look elsewhere because you won't find it in X: Beyond the Frontier. What you will find is an almost cerebral space-exploration simulation in which players must hone their financial talent as well as their dogfighting skills--all at a pace that makes turtles seem speedy. This is not to say that X is a bad game--far from it, in fact. The game is designed to be played in a freeform fashion, much like the Commodore 64/Apple IIE classic Elite and the Privateer series. Players begin the game in a strange new universe, marooned in space after a failed test flight of Earth's first hyperspace-capable spacecraft. Alone, defenseless, and broke, players must figure out how to make money and equip themselves to fight off pirates and a warlike alien race known as the Xenon, all while exploring their new galactic surroundings. The game gives a few gentle pushes and hints to get you going, but for the most part, players decide the flow of the game for themselves. X can be trying for newcomers, since it moves along at a very slow pace. Even simple travel from one space station to another is tedious and boring until you save enough cash to upgrade your ship with time acceleration capabilities. The charm of the game lies in this pace, however, since it breaks completely from the style of Freespace 2, the Wing Commander series, and the X-Wing games from LucasArts. And while you cannot dive headlong into a 30-ship dogfight in X, you can build a financial empire by purchasing space factories that supply income. With the money you make, you can transform your ship into a weapons-laden flying fortress. This becomes necessary as you stumble across the game's plot (there is a story--and plenty of combat--but you don't really come across it right away). The graphics are a mix of staggering beauty and amateurish 3-D design. While some effects--spinning planets, glowing engine coronas, slick space stations--are truly stunning, others are not so impressive. The simplistic ship designs are disappointing, for one thing, and so is the heavily seamed nebula background visible in most star systems. The game's biggest flaw, however, is its poor documentation, which does little to educate the player on the intricacies of the game. Instead, players must discover most of the game's most important aspects on their own (how to buy and manage a factory, for example). Still, X can be a very appealing game, especially for anyone looking for a break from the adrenaline-charged space shoot-'em-ups that pervade the gaming market. The game's open-ended design and unique space-entrepreneur features make X a compelling alternative to the typical space combat game. --Michael E. Ryan Pros: Open-ended game play Slick graphics Can purchase/run factories Cons: Open-ended game play Requires patience of a saint (especially at the beginning) Can only pilot one spacecraft Poor documentation
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