Top critical review
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Well The Music Is Nice!
on 18 June 2015
Have played the X games for many years, starting with X2 The Threat, always a bit quirky and different but this has fallen too far from the tree.
Good points: The music is nice.
Bad points: Pretty much everything else.
Most of the problems with this game have already been covered but for me there are several key points. First why oh why did Egosoft abandon their tried and trusted galactic structure? The new arrangements just don't look, feel or play like you're in space at all - more like some sort of underwater world. The lane travel is plucked almost directly from Freelancer. The built in maps are next to useless at trying to identify some sort of structure as to where you need to go or how to get there. I know the premise of the story is that all the jump gates were destroyed but things presumably didn't change that radically.
You only have access to one player ship, appropriately named Albion "Skunk". You cannot go about doing direct trading any more either, need to drag along a separate freighter then work out how the heck you actually make money. A key factor in all previous X games has been copious trading opportunities and generic missions to build your cash up early on. In Rebirth it's very hard to find these missions - when they do pop up it's via a tiny icon, hard to spot in all the other on screen clutter. Of the one's I've actually found so far, roughly half have been unplayable due to a ridiculous time limit or other factor. The main campaign such as it is has to be supported financially by doing these missions so why did Egosoft not keep the tried and trusted means of entering a system, calling up a list of bases and looking to see which ones have work for you.
Or given the new interaction on space stations, why not have players head to the bar in Freelancer or Privateer style to choose missions from patrons or guild reps. On the subject of space stations, Egosoft seem to have wanted to do their own poor man's version of Mass Effect with their efforts in this direction - tip, leave it to Mass Effect.
Back in space, the Skunk provides an oddly restricted view and is pretty much useless at combat. Your primary laser weapon aims nowhere near the centre reticule so actually hitting an enemy is random at best. Meanwhile, attack drones can strip away your shields in seconds.
I bought Rebirth at Xmas 2014 but left off playing it until now, in the hope things might have got better. They haven't. I will probably try and see the main campaign out to justify paying the money but this about as far as I will go. There only seems to be one campaign anyway, unlike Terran Conflict which had several including The Hub which encouraged players to set up their own trading empire etc. In short, the original Privateer from 2003 managed better gameplay than this.
Just one star I'm afraid and that's only 'cos the music is nice...