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X3: Reunion: the first day

X3: Reunion: Argon Prime
I’ve been intrigued by the X series of games for some time but never got around to trying any of them out before I got the latest game in the series, X3: Reunion, on Tuesday.

The idea of a sandbox game that lets you play the role of a hotshot pirate-hunter, a starfleet commander, a trader or a manufacturing mogul is very appealing.

I was put off by reports of bugs and the exceptionally paranoid copy protection scheme used for X3. I doubt I would have bought the game if it wasn’t on Steam.

The Steam version of the game includes a 3.78MB PDF manual but it would have been really nice to have a paper manual to put on my lap because there’s a lot to take in. The game supports widescreen formats but I played the game in a window for the first few hours so I could quickly Alt-TAB between the game and the PDF manual.

I still haven’t got the hang of all the various subsystems but I’ve at least got the flight basics down now so I’m no longer killing myself by accidentally putting my ship into reverse and ramming into objects. Please hold your applause.

I may have made a mistake in playing the game at the Normal difficulty setting because trading is tough. Buying low and selling high is not a difficult concept to grasp but I have little idea of what to buy and where to sell it for the best profits. The Quickstart difficulty setting provides a free freight trader and tools to locate stations with the best prices and I wish I had chosen that instead. I make mistakes so you can learn from them, kids.

Without those trading aids, I had little choice but to spend a lot of time hopping from one sector to another, from station to station, trying to figure out the supply-demand thing and what runs would be profitable. For the longest time, I stuck with running Energy Cells from the Solar Power Stations in The Wall sector to the various factories in the Argon Prime sector. The profits weren’t great — about five or six credits per unit — and I couldn’t trade in large volumes due to limited cargo space on my starting ship, the Argon Buster. But hey, it’s a start.

I’m glad the game has a command to accelerate time and a lot of auto-navigation tools. These automate and speed up the station-to-station trips. The downside is I felt at times the game was playing itself and I was left watching a sped up screensaver.

Overall, tedious and boring are two words that best describe my X3: Reunion experience at the moment. It’s easy to understand why others have deemed this a pain simulator. But I think the eventual payoff will be worth it. I just need to stick with it.

Posted in Games, X3.

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