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SummaryMust have? Don't think so.
The GoodSince SMACX is an expansion, gameplay suffers little or no changes: the same empire-building as ever, so all good and bad points of SMAC apply here.
Good? Well, new techs, equipment and projects were expected; it's the minimum to find in an expansion pack! The idea of aliens is the best, perhaps: I think the story of the Manifolds is a great addition to the plot, although it's a matter of tastes. Playing alien factions, with all their special features (automatic vengeance, "energy grid" instead of trade, Singularity Beacon victory) can be interesting, but ultimately not that different.
The BadApart from that, SMACX has nothing more to offer: the new human factions may appeal to some, but ultimately aren't necessary (an empire of hackers? Sounds a bit strange to me). The faction editor? New factions can be created also in SMAC by editing text archives. And the editor sure has more bugs than the whole game itself, uncorrected to date as far as I know!