Freelancer and X2

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AndyThomas
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Freelancer and X2

Postby AndyThomas » Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:32 pm

X2 has only been out for a couple of days in the UK, but as I picked it up on Saturday I thought I'd do a very brief review here and compare it with Freelancer which I've also been playing recently.First of all - don't go anywhere near X2 unless your machine is at least at the optimum spec on the box. This thing is very, very resource hungry even with options turned down. That said, it's also very, very pretty - if a little dark. But then it's space, so...!X2 is very reminiscent of Elite - if anything, trade is even clearer than in Elite from a supply/demand point of view but rather than the stations in Elite which were one stop shops, here specific stations (namely factories) sell specific goods and require specific goods - although there are also some freeports that sell a variety. Weapons are only available from certain places, along with software upgrades.Further departures from Elite include the ability to own an entire fleet of autonomous ships - I only own 2 at the moment though! Ships range from scouts to Starship Troopers size carriers, for several races. There have been other games where you have access to more than one ship, but having them do stuff in your absence is unusual and possibly unique. You can also build factories - putting you right in the economic chain.Compared with Freelancer, there are certain similarities - trading, jump gates between systems, different ships to buy and fly. But Freelancer was in a sense a more straightforward game and although I haven't played X2 as much at this point it clearly has more depth even now. On the downside, compared with Freelancer, it's tougher to get into and I suspect a lot of people will return their copy to the shop having bought it. I'll persevere and see how I get on, I think...
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AndyThomas
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Freelancer and X2

Postby AndyThomas » Wed Feb 11, 2004 9:03 pm

Not having played the prequel I'm coming to it cold, so perhaps I'm more forgiving - although the mouse control is chronic. I actually had a crack at combat last night - me in my M5 scout versus a TS class pirate ship. NOT a good idea! However, calling in my freighter to attack first worked quite well because it forced the pirate to pick one target or the other. As a bonus, the pirate actually gave up his ship! So although the payment you get is chronic, there's a very big potential payoff. The only downside is that I'm finding I keep upgrading when I should at this point be getting factories - I burn so much cash upgrading that it takes me a while to build up in trade again.Oh, and yes, the character animation leaves a lot to be desired!
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AndyThomas
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Freelancer and X2

Postby AndyThomas » Thu Feb 12, 2004 8:21 pm

My bench mark with antialiasing on was, ah, poor to say the least - sub 30 fps.  Better without - 55+.  But, having entered combat, a speech animation popped up and caused the whole thing to grind to a temporary halt.  X2 has reminded me that my graphics card is 2 years old, let's put it that way - in fact I was out looking at new ones tonight.  This is on an AMD 1900XP 512MB with a GeForce 3 Ti 500.  It was top of the range 24 months ago but of course it's been eclipsed now.  I notice that on X2's box it actually mentions GeForce - I don't know if having a Radeon would slow things down further.  It may well be that my GF3 doesn't have some bells and whistles a current card would have - I think the graphics look very good, if dark, but I could be missing out too.  Oh, shadows are off as well incidentally.  I'm currently looking into whether having an AGP 4X slot will have a big impact on an AGP 8X card - apparently not, but I need to do some research...



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AndyThomas
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Freelancer and X2

Postby AndyThomas » Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:42 pm

I'm running at 1024 by 768, 32 bit. Just ran the test again and came out with 50fps, no antialiasing, no shadows. Apparently to not notice slowdown you want about 30 to 40 fps, so that seems OK, but I know from experience back in 3dfx days what happens to your fps when things get busy...Bear in mind that no matter how good your graphics card is, it's restrained by the speed it can get its data into the rest of the system, the quality of your monitor etc. I've even just upgraded by motherboard's BIOS for the first time since I've had it, having dug out its manual and a disc with an update facility I didn't realise I had! On the plus side, it turns out I have an AGP Pro slot 4X so 8X cards won't be a problem - and apparently 8X cards in 4X slots don't really lose out because no games produce enough data for the bandwidth difference to matter. Of course my Athlon XP1900 may be a bit long in the tooth now, which may not be helping - even if I get a new graphics card it's debatable whether the rest of my system will keep up with it.As for the FX cards - apparently many people still swear by the older 4 Ti series and aren't impressed by the 5 series. I mean, I looked at the top end 5 series and it needs a PCI slot for its EXHAUST! One proton torpedo up that and my PC's going to blow up! Whereas the Radeons have silent cooling, but suffer more slowdown when antialiasing. There's a big jump in cost of course - a Radeon 9600 Pro with 128 MB DDR (apparently as with 8X AGP 256 MB won't affect performance a lot at the moment) is about £100 less than the 9800 Pro which is pretty much Radeon's top of the line at the moment (9800 XT excepted). Plus the Radeons don't require extra power connections, but the GeForces do. Ah, decisions...It's strange - until I started trying to help someone else pick a system elsewhere I hadn't even been thinking about upgrading mine, but it is afer all 2 years old so I suppose it's about that time. But at least I don't have to swap the motherboard out just yet...
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AndyThomas
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Freelancer and X2

Postby AndyThomas » Fri Feb 27, 2004 5:55 pm

For those of you who actually possess such a beast:http://www.eliteppc.com/index.htm
Andy Thomas - SFXB Webmaster and Forum Moderator

AndyThomas
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Freelancer and X2

Postby AndyThomas » Fri Feb 27, 2004 10:47 pm

... and I just finished X2. That was surprisingly quick! Finished in the sense of plot only mind you, still bigger ships to buy, but slightly surprised by the relatively short plot. Still, the original Elite only really had a couple of missions depending on what version you had so I can't really fault X2 for that...
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