X3: Albion Prelude Review
Is the distinct lack of anything futuristic about real life getting you down? Then celebrate the anti-climax that is 2012 by pretending you live in outer space, with X3: Albion Prelude.
X3: Albion Prelude is the latest massive outer space romp in the much-loved X Universe series created by Egosoft.
The X Universe is a very, very, very large universe indeed. In fact, it’s even bigger than that. It may even be as vast as the real universe for all I know, and that’s bloody infinite.
It all began way back in the year 1999, when Egosoft released X: Beyond The Frontier; a ground-breaking space trading and combat simulator set in the mind-blowing X Universe.
The year was 2912, and the protagonist was Kyle Brennan, an Earth test pilot for the X-Shuttle, also known as the X-Perimental Shuttle, which could leap across the universe utilising wormholes, without the need for cumbersome jumpgates. The test flight went horribly wrong though, and Kyle found himself stranded in an unknown region of space known as the X Universe.
Lucky for Kyle, he then met the Teladi, an alien race who had evolved a highly capitalist, profit-focused culture. Being a decent sort, the Teladi fixed our hero’s ship and lent him some currency to aid his search for home. Kyle discovered that the X Universe is a complex network of sectors linked by jumpgates. With his jumpdrive destroyed, and no idea how to return to Earth, Kyle was up intergalactic shit creek without a paddle.
Since then, the X Universe has expanded beyond belief with the addition of X: Tension in 2000, X2: The Threat in 2003, X3: Reunion in 2005 and X3: Terran Conflict in 2008.
Thirteen years on and we now have X3: Albion Prelude. The X Universe is at war and the corporations are vying for power and driving the X Universe in a new direction. X3: Albion Prelude is an expansion for X3: Terran Conflict and prepares for the next full instalment in the series, X: Rebirth, which is released later this year.
A technological breakthrough will soon allow massive accelerators, forming highways in space and allowing the economy to expand on an unprecedented scale. Highways, a key feature of X: Rebirth, are not yet completed, but X3: Albion Prelude sees them being constructed and the power struggles that begin to develop.
This iconic series continues to evolve and improve with time. If you’re a science fiction loving pc gamer and you haven’t played an X Universe game yet, go and fix that as soon as you’ve finished reading this high quality article. If you have played an X Universe game, then you already know how fantastic they are and don’t need me to tell you.
This isn’t about the whole X series though, for that would be an insane challenge to set myself. This is about X3: Albion Prelude.
It is very possible to pick up the X Universe story from X3: Terran Conflict, which you need to play the X3: Albion Prelude expansion, or if you want to save time, skip Terran Conflict and just begin with Albion Prelude in preparation for X: Rebirth.
X3: Albion Prelude (X3AP) is built around the largest simulated universe ever created and features dynamic real-time economy. It is truly jaw droppingly awesome. Newcomers should be mindful that X Universe titles are not to be rushed; this is about the long game.
Everything about X3AP is exceptionally beautiful. The graphics, sound design, mechanics, balance, story, playability…it’s got it all. There are 30 new ships and stations to explore, a spanking new stock exchange feature that allows investment strategies and the development of an exciting new twist in the saga. Plus, it’s a sandbox game, so the player can do whatever they bally well like. Trade, fight and build are the operative words here. Several alternate ‘start-ups’ are also available, such as defender, assassin, patriot, trader and space squid. These have the affect of changing the overall difficulty of the game and further start-ups are unlocked in relation to progress through the universe. Personally, I prefer a combat focused role, and found this route readily available. I played using a wireless 360 controller, which suited the job perfectly, though I had to use X-Padder to bind the roll axis. That is a microscopic bug compared to the magnificence of the game though and easily fixed. Being a science fiction loving PC gaming nerd, with an added affection for flight simulators and strategy games, you’ll understand why I am so in awe of X3AP. If I were to win millions on the lottery, there’s a chance I might lock myself away in a luxury penthouse, needs supplied by Tesco online, and wired up to the X Universe 24/7. I’ve rated X3AP 10/10 and mean every point of it.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live the intergalactic outer space lifestyle of the future, find out now.
But be warned, the X Universe is very, very addictive. You may never leave.
You can get your nerdy little hands on X3AP in the following forms:
X3: Terran War Pack – This is the new standalone version which bundles X3: Albion Prelude together with X3: Terran Conflict
X3: Albion Prelude Expansion for owners of X3: Terran Conflict
X-Superbox: Owners who activate their copy on Steam will get X3 : Albion Prelude for free
X3: Albion Prelude for MAC OSX on Deliver2Mac.com
A standalone version of X3: Albion Prelude will be available from the MAC Appstore soon
(See stores for prices)
AMD 4200+ X2 2233 MHz CPU
ATI HD4670 512mb GPU
Windows XP SP3