X²: The Threat

aka: X2: The Khaak Threat, X²: Die Bedrohung, X²: La minaccia
Moby ID: 11861
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Included in Special Edition

Description official descriptions

X²: The Threat is the sequel to X: Beyond the Frontier. The player takes the role of Julian Gardna, a space pirate in search of his missing father. A new mysterious and hostile alien race, the Khaak, emerge on the horizon, and Julian will have to learn about their origins, intentions, and a possible connection to his father's disappearance.

Like its predecessor, the game is an open-ended space trading and combat simulation. The player is generally free to go anywhere in the vast X-Universe, provided he has enough resources and credits. The game features a dynamic market economy: prices rise and fall depending on many factors, which the player should consider before making purchases. The player can acquire weapons, equipment, entire space ships, and eventually space stations of unlimited amount, as long as he has enough credits to afford them. It is also possible to build factories to produce goods such as weapons and shields.

Numerous alien races populate the X-Universe. The protagonist's reputation among the socially inclined races can be built up by undertaking missions on their behalf, defending their space, or though trade. The way these races treat the protagonist and the nature of the missions given to him depend on his reputation rating, which is divided into "Mercantile", "Combat", and "Notoriety" categories.

Some races are irreversibly hostile, and will leave the player no choice but defend himself in space ship combat. However, the player can also choose to be aggressive, piracy being an available option together with trading, mining, and bounty-hunting.

Spellings

  • X2: The Threat - Alternate spelling
  • X²: Угроза - Russian spelling
  • 星域大反攻2:威胁 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 74% (based on 41 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 29 ratings with 1 reviews)

So much potential - but oh, so many bugs.

The Good
X2 is one of a number of "Elite-clones". The basic gist of it is, you fly around the universe in your spaceship, trading commodities, fighting pirates (or friendlies), upgrading your ship, and so on. Also, like Elite and Frontier, there's a storyline and scripted missions in here somewhere, but you can completely ignore them if you like, and seek your fortune on your own. (Although I'd recommend doing the first few missions - you get some cash and a free cargo ship out of the deal.)

X2 allows you to own as many ships as you like, ranging from small scoutships to huge cruisers. By installing specialized software on your ships, you can control them remotely by issuing basic commands. "Dock at (station)", or "Follow me", or "Attack my target", and so on. This lets you cruise around with "wingmen", which are effectively your own ships on autopilot.

In time, you can even afford to purchase your own space station, and start contributing to the galactic economy on a much larger scale. For example, every single item in the game, ranging from energy crystals, to different types of food, to specific missiles, must be produced by a particular type of factory. There are a large number of economic "weak points" in the galaxy of X2, giving you ideal opportunities for economic exploitation. Of course, once your station is constructed, you'll need to outfit it to defend against pirates. All sectors in the galaxy continue "running", even when you aren't physically in them, so you need to plan carefully.

Another neat touch is that you can eject from your ship, and scoot around in a spacesuit. It's not particularly useful, unless you want to board (and thus steal) another disabled ship, but it's a neat touch all the same.

The Bad
Oh, geez, where to begin.

In order to have spoken dialog in this game, you must run Windows XP. With Win98, you'll get music, and sound effects, but no speech. Since the subtitles scroll at a really bizarre pace, they can sometimes be impossible to read.

Also, the cutscenes for this game were horrible. The graphics engine was designed to model starships, which it does very well - but it spectacularly fails when it tries to render people. The camera also seems to be manned by an inebriated "Real World" cameraman; it constantly swoops and dips, leading very quickly to mild nausea.

Combat wasn't very impressive either - AI ships seem to want to play chicken, and will continually try to ram you. Since your shields stop energy damage (like lasers), but not physical damage (like mass driver rounds, or collisions), ramming can potentially be disastrous for both ships.

The manual is also sadly inadequate, and the tutorials don't help much either. Some of the tutorials, in the 1.2 version, can't actually be completed. (And you really need the 1.2 patch.) Given some of the bizarre, contradictory keystroke controls this game uses (which can't be remapped), the learning curve can be quite steep.

Every ship has a unique cockpit. This would be a "Good" point, except you can't turn this feature off. The cockpit takes up a very large portion of the screen, giving you a tiny viewport to look out of. And even more annoyingly, it shudders like mad whenever you change your speed. This effect is so strong, I'm surprised my ships don't violently break apart from the stress whenever I accelerate or decelerate.

The Bottom Line
It's not really a bad game, on paper. Everything is there - lots of spaceships, big universe, economic simulation, spacestation ownership... But an enormous amount of patience is required; this game doesn't seem to be something one can just jump into.

Windows · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2004

Trivia

Copy Protection

The various geographical releases actually have different copy protection schemes. The earlier US release uses SecuROM 5, but the later European and Australian releases (both prepatched to v1.2) come with the much stronger StarForce 3 protection. The latter installs hidden drivers that won't be removed when uninstalled, and can cause conflicts with USB memory drives.

References

Argon Prime is the major city on the Argon planet in the universe. The Light Works provided models and data for the realtime in-game cutscene featuring Argon Prime.

Awards

  • Golden Joystick Awards
    • 2004 - Runner-up to DOOM³ as PC Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Jeanne and piltdown man.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Riamus.

Macintosh, Linux added by Iggi.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, EddyB43, Shoddyan, tarmo888, Sciere, Xoleras, Dmichal, Zeppin, Patrick Bregger.

Game added February 6, 2004. Last modified May 18, 2024.