Game Review - X2: The Threat

1958
Genre: Space sim
Format: DVD
Developer: Enlight Software
Mac Publisher: Virtual Programming
U.S. Distributor: Freeverse Software
Minimum System Requirements: 1.25GHz G4, Mac OS X v10.2.8, 256MB RAM, 2GB hard disk space, ATI Radeon 7000 or NVidia GeForce3 (cut scenes will be slow)
Review Computer: 800 MHz iMac, 256MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce2 MX video card; and Powerbook 17" 1.5GHz, 512MB RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 (AGP 4X) graphics processor with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM
Network Feature: No
Price: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T (drug references, mild violence)
Availability: Now
Official Website: www.enlight.com/x2/

They made a game called X2 that has nothing to do with Famke Janssen in leather.

Europeans.

X2 - The Threat is a spaceship flight simulator. As such, it has a learning curve that would give Braniac pause. Like a standard flight sim, it uses a complex system of commands to determine what your ship does. This is further complicated by the elements of space travel, both realistic (lack of gravity, meteorites) and fantastic (laser combat, mining). I'm trying to say that the game is a little...complicated.

And it's not just a matter of learning the hotkeys. X2 uses a lot of menu-driven interfaces that take you away from the main game screen. The whole system doesn't feel like it was invented along the lines of "how can we make a gamer feel like a starship pilot" so much as they invented a (rather convoluted) way a spacehip would work, and built the game around that.

X2 - The Threat

Like, well, all sim games, how much fun you'll have playing X2 is dependent on how much time you're willing to put into it. Until you work with the interface so much that it becomes intuitive, you're going to feel like you're fighting the game, rather than Xur and the Ko-dan Armada.

I never got to that point. I felt X2 could be an intriguing game, but the command system was so Baroque that I didn't care. An example: in the training mission, I suffocated in my space suit while trying to find the command to enter a ship I'd captured.

Another problem is that the combat aspect of the game is difficult to master using only a keyboard. The motion of the ship is simply too jerky at high speed. If I slowed down to target an enemy, his wing men would nail me. If I moved fast enough to protect myself, the ship moved so erratically I couldn't get them in my sights.

But for those who master the games bizarre controls, X2 has (apparently) a real toybox quality to it. While there is a storyline you can play through, the game also has an open-ended style. Want to blow crap up? Here's a laser cannon: go be a bounty hunter. Want to take a more economic approach to galactic domination? Create mining colonies and trading operations to build a fleet.

X2 - The Threat

But, in the end, X2 - The Threat is just a hard game to care about. It's so focused on open game play that it doesn't give you a reason to invest emotionally, and the controls are so convoluted that it's hard to find a reason to commit the time to caring about the game in the first place.

Strengths: High replayability. Different styles of play.
Weaknesses: Complex controls. Sterile storylines.

Applelinks Rating

Order X2 - The Threat


Bill's been using Macs since the late 80s. When he's not making smartass remarks to amuse Kirk Hiner, he enjoys fighting for the user.



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