Review

X Rebirth Review

  • Game release: November 15, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

The big crunch.

Einstein taught us that space is both homogeneous and isotropic--that is, on a large scale, the universe is smooth and uniform in all directions. It's empty out there. Like many space games before it, X Rebirth depicts an unrealistically vibrant universe bursting with color and texture, and that's as it should be. A near-vacuum makes a dreary backdrop for a video game, at least for a human observer.

It isn't X Rebirth's inauthentic view of space that should anger you; it's that this sequel is a galactic collision of unparalleled scale, an interstellar parade of bad ideas badly executed. Just as the observable universe has no center, neither does space exploration game X Rebirth find a foundation from which to grow outward, and I am unsure how to begin describing its failures. I can only begin at the quantum level, pulling out each particle and analyzing its deficiencies. And so I start in the cockpit, where most galactic adventures begin.

The Albion Skunk is the aptly named vessel that carries you on this journey. Unless you're peering out of a space port's window or piloting one of the game's different drones, you always see space through the Skunk's front window, and overlooking the aesthetically dull control panel that tells you the ship's condition. In fact, you look at most of X Rebirth's menus in the cockpit, each list pulling up on a digital display viewable by both you the player and protagonist pilot Ren Otani.

This menu integration might have been a sensible way to draw you further into this universe, but no amount of immersion would have been enough to veil the system's grave deficiencies. Pulling up so much as a simple galactic map requires a ridiculous number of keystrokes, with each submenu buffered by just enough input lag and unnecessary animation to cause impatience. Furthermore, the menu doesn't always take up a sensible portion of the screen, making it hard to read intricate mission objectives--and even harder to read them when a particularly garish spacescape shines from behind the Skunk's menu screen.

For a near-vacuum, it sure is busy in space!

Garish spacescapes are common in X Rebirth, though there are sights of real beauty. Ships feature a remarkable amount of detail, and space stations and capital ships catch the eye with their intricate industrial designs. Rushing between systems via the game's space highways can be a visual delight, particularly as you watch ships and structures approach and then race by. When the color scheme embraces tranquil blues and developer Egosoft exercises visual restraint, the hazy background nebulae and tumbling asteroids are a treat. All too often, however, the view erupts with harsh orange and turquoise hues, making you wonder if you shouldn't stock the Albion Skunk with sunscreen. A vibrant vision of space is typically pleasing enough, but X Rebirth's depiction occasionally surpasses "meticulous" and surges straight into "gaudy."

Buy low and sell high. It's a solid economic policy, and it forms the backbone of X Rebirth's explore-fight-collect-build gameplay loop. It's an inviting loop, and I found myself pushing onward to collect enough funds, hiring enough ships to join my squad, and building enough structures in the hope of calling the result a true empire.

Sometimes, doing so means shooting spacecraft piloted by members of the slave-trading Plutarch Mining Corporation. Combat is functional, but ship controls are loose, though I never felt as though I wasn't properly directing the action. Regardless, the Skunk is your only ride for the duration, so get used to the way it looks and feels, though you can improve its performance with enhanced weaponry, shields, and so forth. Fortunately, you will build up an entire squad of vessels that perform various vital actions on your behalf, assisting you in combat, erecting structures, and ferrying goods about the sector. Massive battles are visually explosive, momentarily interrupting the slow-paced trading with fiery combat.

This sequel is a galactic collision of unparalleled scale, an interstellar parade of bad ideas badly executed.

Oh God. Just... Oh God.

And boy is trading slow-paced. Buying and selling goods isn't an immediate process, or even an efficient one. Instead, you must wait for many minutes on end as your sluggish trading ship edges ever closer to the trade port, giving you an opportunity to poke around the sector, or more likely, to go grab a glass of wine and peruse the latest issue of Science Magazine from cover to cover. You also must maintain fuel reserves, which can come as a shock the first time a hired pilot informs you of his fuel shortage over the comm and has you scrambling to figure out how to rectify the situation, given how ordering your ship to fuel up is not an option you can find in the game's menus.

Building up a fleet takes time and money, and you don't find capable crew members free-floating in space, but rather within space stations, which you explore on foot after docking. First-person exploration could have been a grand addition, taking the X series that much closer to the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink games developer Derek Smart wanted his Battlecruiser series to be, but never was. It soon becomes obvious, however, that traversing cookie-cutter stations sucks the mystery out of space travel, leaving behind horrifying human visages that spout absolute drivel in the most excruciating tone of voice imaginable. You see the same grotesquely scarred faces over and over again, and engaging one of these unblinking ghouls results in absolute nonsense. Any given conversation is utterly devoid of logic. Characters are routinely rude when you approach them, then become delighted, and then lapse into obnoxiousness again. In the meanwhile, female characters frequently whine "Ew! Slimy green lizard things are everywhere!" in the shrillest possible manner, as if they are 1950s housewives from classic cartoons, crying atop the kitchen table and swatting at pesky mice.

Colorful is one thing, but X Rebirth's artists really should have turned things down a notch.

That line is shrieked in regard to the reptilian Teladi race, whose existence in the X universe is well established. Perhaps Egosoft wanted to use first-person exploration to further develop the game's tone and deepen its lore. Sadly, a universe full of rude, moronic space travelers barely capable of communicating normal thoughts in a logical order is not a compelling place to be.

Instead, having to dock at a station and walk around looking for the right merchants becomes a chore. My first foray into a station delighted me; I could loot lockers and crates for marketable items, leading me to believe that X Rebirth might spill into role-playing territory. Alas, clicking on lockers becomes monotonous busywork, as does roaming the cut-and-paste hallways looking for vendors and crew members for hire. These places are as lifeless as a white dwarf, even in their underpopulated lounges, each living statue stiffly waiting for you to click on it. Characters speak of their own accord only when prompting you to take part in a ridiculous-beyond-measure minigame in which you engage in surreal small talk to earn a few discounts. It wasn't long before I avoided this minigame altogether, however: no matter how deep the discount, I couldn't stomach the stupid dialogue, which made me question how such imbeciles could have devised any form of space travel.

It isn't just in the space stations where you go hunting for discounts. Out in the black beyond, you glimpse icons that urge you to investigate the objects they identify; examine enough of them, and you unlock discounts and side missions. Little lowercase i's are splattered all over the place, but you have to be close enough to see them, and you must have line of sight. And thus your adventure turns into a vapid Easter egg hunt in which you float around satellite arrays seeking icons, and then soar close enough to them to interact with them. It isn't uncommon to briefly see an icon identifying a side mission only to have it flicker away in a flash, forcing you to maneuver carefully around the starbase hoping to catch another glimpse.

According to the theory of special relativity, X Rebirth stinks.

Don't expect those missions to work properly once you graciously accept them from your sneering contacts, however. Each X game has suffered from a certain number of rough edges at launch, and you could be forgiven for assuming that like those games, X Rebirth would be superficially glitchy but eminently playable. Yet no matter how low your expectations might be for the newest X's stability, the game still manages to sink lower. Only a few hours in, and a mission proved impossible to complete, leading me to commiserate with other players suffering from the same game-ending bug in Internet forums. After downloading a saved game file from a helpful comrade, I continued my journey, only to have a side mission task me with destroying a story-critical capital ship, leaving me to wander for hours wondering why I couldn't find my mission objective.

A universe full of rude, moronic space travelers barely capable of communicating normal thoughts in a logical order is not a compelling place to be.

Listing all of the bugs I encountered would take up inordinate amounts of space, and so I offer here a random array. Crashes too numerous to count. Poor frame rates that had me wondering why I'd spent so much money on modern computer hardware. Suddenly unresponsive dialogue that left me stuck mid-conversation. Enemy ships flying around in the middle of space station geometry, keeping me from completing missions. Trading ships that simply wouldn't conduct the assigned transaction. That last one was particularly aggravating, considering how much time you must wait for functional transactions to complete. All too often, X Rebirth had me asking the age-old question: "Is it a bug or a feature?"

The fact that it's too difficult to tell the difference tells you all you must know about X Rebirth. You might assume a bright future for the game, given Egosoft's solid history of supporting its games after release--and given the community's dedication to crafting fixes and modifications that further improve these starry treks. X Rebirth's failings are rooted too deeply to simply be patched away, however. No matter what your level of enthusiasm for the X series is, do your best to escape the pull of Rebirth's gravity. It's only bound to cause a fatal crash.

The Good
Some impressive visual details
The Bad
Frustratingly broken
Nonsensical dialogue, excruciatingly delivered
Monotonous buying and selling
Putrid interface
Irritating icon hunting
2
Terrible
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd is a longtime X series lover, and longingly recalls the days when space games were common. His favorite X game remains X2: The Threat, though his favorite space game of all time is the original Homeworld. He played about 40 hours of X Rebirth for the purposes of this review.

Discussion

155 comments
moc5
moc5

Why is it that after all this time (been MIA for over a year), I still always trust Kevin's reviews?  Because he doesn't lie.

blackbartohio
blackbartohio

I go back to the Commodore Vic 20.  I've written programs (you may have played a few-IF YOU'RE OVER 30). I am a retired Data Acquisition expert that has testified in Federal court.   I LOVED X3 TC.  But this . . . . clusterflux called X REBIRTH is more like X AFTERBIRTH.


There is little (if any) technical support.  FAQS seem to ramble on and complain about customer stupidity (really !) I purchased the boxed version which has a puny useless manual with only basic info that says little and leaves you in the dark.  It could not install on my Windows 7 machine without heavy modification to my initial Windows setup (normal setup).


It barely runs on an I7 4GB RAM Windows 8 machine.  My guess is you'd have to build a custom PC with the latest in video, sound, 8 gb ram, I7 & a specially-stripped out Windows 7 framework to get it to run at a playable rate. 


It's 'fix' history so far shows that it was NEVER tried as a whole program but only run in test-run segments at Egoshaft.  


It is also obvious that they slapped this sloppy product together without bothering to find out if it is something that their customers might like.  the Albion Skunk should have been renamed the ObamaCraft.


Can a search party be sent out to find the geniuses who put X3TC together and maybe add a few mod creaters to come back to Egoshaft and chase away the amateurs that slapped this X REGERGABIRTH mess together.


by the way, someone need to let EGOSHAFT know that programmers with zits need to have some old hats around to give them basic guidance in general programming tips.  A basic 101 course in Quality Control would help also.


THIS IS A TOTAL WASTE OF MY MONEY AND TIME - - - AND YES, I'VE READ THE MANUAL, THE IDIOTIC FAQS AND TRIED 3 LATE MODEL MACHINES.  THANKS FOR NOTHING EGOSHAFT

renerak
renerak

Agree, the game is absolutely miserable.

rebelde01
rebelde01

I really loved X3 TC, the interface and controls were a bit clumsy and the AI and complex building needed still some work but the concept of the game was fantastic. I'm sad to see all the good there was is gone and the only thing left is the X in the name luring old fans to buy this crap. Luckily I'm smart enough to never pre-order or buy anything on day one so I won't waste any money on this because to me it's beyond salvaging, the base concept that made previous game incredible is gone and can't be fixed with patches. It's just sad to see a good franchise take this path.

Gruug
Gruug

While much of what was reviewed at the time it true, there has been much improvement with the patches (now up to 1.22) that EgoSoft has provided. Also, while XR is not as deep nor as complex as previous X games, it is a good introduction to the X universe. If anything, it should tempt people to go back and try (if they haven't previously) older games in the X series....especially X2 and X3. I will also say that many of the mods that have come out for the game have made some vast improvements. Don't count it out even though it was a mess at launch. If I were to rate it at launch it would get a 2. After all the patches and being able to finally play through the campaign, I would have to say maybe a 6.

Vambran
Vambran

The last great space sim was Free space 2. 

Zevvion
Zevvion

Early GOTY contender.

meatz666
meatz666

Thanks for the honest review, VanOrd.

The only moment that I don't envy your job is when you have to put 40 hours on a shitty game... 

Caldrin
Caldrin

Well I am glad I never bothered picking this up.. I was never going to pay the stupid £39 price they where asking anyway..

I quite enjoyed the other x games but other than the price there was something the put me off getting excited about this..


So guess I made the right choice :)

proudtiger
proudtiger

The X series on the whole is designed for extremely patient gamers.


I ground away for 20 hours in Terran Conflict and found myself falling asleep.


combat is pretty awful in all X series games.It's basically Wall Street with a space theme attached.


The most overrated series in the history of gaming.

jer_1
jer_1

Quite an NPC model you've got there.

Rat_King
Rat_King

I cannot emphasize enough how disappointing this is.

klonoa53
klonoa53

My right ear feels lonely... :c

CitizenSwift
CitizenSwift

Thank you, sir, for enduring 40 hours of this game to bring us this review.

hitomo
hitomo

'I'm more in the crowd in believing that this game had been in development for far too long (7 years) with a lot of different changes over all those years, lots of different ideas and it shows it........  where it suffers from just simply far too long in development where idea's have been put to the wall and the visual impressions of the game changing many times over'


its called rip-off ... if you fail to develop a game over 7 years you shouldnt top that by puplishing the crap you ended up with for Money, to not only destroy your Reputation as a creative Person but also among your most loyal fans

RC-Sev
RC-Sev

That picture of the human in yellow suit terrified me.

billzihang
billzihang

It does rather seem that the walking sections were shoved in at the last minute-- the character models actually look like something from 2002; which is in striking contrast to space gameplay which at times looks epic.


Despite that though I really think with some heavy patching and modding there is potential in this game.

rogerpenna
rogerpenna

I must disagree with Kevin VanOrd regarding his first sentences in the review: "X Rebirth depicts an unrealistically vibrant universe bursting with color and texture, and that's as it should be. A near-vacuum makes a dreary backdrop for a video game, at least for a human observer."


If Kevin is a space games fan, he probably played INDEPENDENCE WAR 2: EDGE OF CHAOS.


That was a game that had REALISTIC PLANETARY SIZES AND DISTANCES (millions or billions of kilometers between planets, dozens of giant stations around each planet, and even so, due to distances you can´t see one station from the other, etc).


And EVEN SO, IWAR2:EoC was awesome. And not boring at all.


Also, it had newtonian physics that WERE FUN!!!


Kevin, are you reading this? Have you played IWAR2: EoC???


(btw, sorry for all the caps. I use caps as if they were the "bold" function... to stress the most important parts of my text.

kenundrum7
kenundrum7

Sadly, this review was correct. I have played games in Alpha that were more completed then this was .

ecurl143
ecurl143

How do games like this get published?

I mean seriously, Stevie Wonder could have created better artwork than this trash.

I expect redundancies in the new year at Egosoft.

vackillers
vackillers

This was a very fair review I have to say though.. The game is shockingly terrible, its worst than you could possibly imagine and to make it even worst, the best thing it ever had going for it in the past year leading up to this release was its incredible visuals which, actually are fucking awful, game looks nothing like the trailers or the 100s of screenshots the game had before launch. All the videos/trailers/screenshots of the game have been massively compressed down to make it appear a much better looking game than it actually is. Perhaps most of that should be expect considering its been very well known that X-Rebirth is using DirectX9!!!!!!  which made it even more impressive visually........... or.............so you would think... one you load up into the game and start flying around you quickly start to relize the terribly low quality textures all over the place, even in the cockpit with almost every jagged line you could imagine even at max settings with max AA, its almost quite clear it doesn't even have any AA or FXAA going on... how can it, its DX9, not DX11 after all........


The people and characters in the game are probebly the worst looking characters I've ever seen in any game for at least past 13-14 years... Character models are absolutely terrible as pictured in the review above, so even think they could release a game with this kind of mess and expect it to sell well is quite something let me tell yea and the framerate....  just........WOW..... thats all i can say, there is nothing I could possible say about how bad the game runs, I cant believe the eggosoft would release a game in that condition, that runs at a mere 15-20FPS no matter WHAT hardware you have, and say that was a feature, that it was programed to run at that..... that is an absolute joke, you cannot, and should not, EVER accept a games performance like that, or even make a game that runs that badly and be totally okay with that, There is no way on earth out of all the press release videos that THEIR version of the game was running at 15-20FPS... no way....X3-Reunion has simply been the best game ever out of the X universe, and that'll run at 60FPS no problem and actually looks a lot better with way better game mechanics and fantastic gameplay, you could almost say that X3-Reunion was the ultimate space simulator....


So what on earth happened to X-Rebirth? well at this point its anyones guess, a lot of folks over at the forums think the dev team just simply ran out of money and to release the game in the state it was in to raise the rest to finish it. I'm more in the crowd in believing that this game had been in development for far too long (7 years) with a lot of different changes over all those years, lots of different ideas and it shows it........ To me it has fallen in the massive web that what happened with Aliens: Colonial marines where it suffers from just simply far too long in development where idea's have been put to the wall and the visual impressions of the game changing many times over. This game was in beta for quite some time, I cant believe they never stated to the devs just how fucking terrible the game was on many many levels but most likely than not they were under an NDA agreement and couldn't say anything and probably still are under an NDA.


This games problems are rooted deep into the coding of the game and game engine, don't buy this one, there are plenty of great sci-fi games comming out in the next year that will most certainly be much more woth spending your hard owned cash over than this........... take the review above as a massive warning........ dont buy it.......... just dont

sakaixx
sakaixx

lately gamespot is being so trigger happy with the number 2 and 4

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

I'm not familiar with this game or even the series, but I still found this review thoroughly entertaining to read.

Biklak
Biklak

I spent 39 f****** pounds on this game!!! 

hitomo
hitomo

' Just as the observable universe has no center' ...

I have to disagree, if you where able to observe all 8 aspects of it at once you could see the Center of the Universe

selbie
selbie

HAHAHAHA This game was so overhyped in the space game communities. Great review, Kevin!

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

Good grief Kevin don't let this ruin your holidays!  Time to get back to some good games,  I'm Playing Monaco now, it's pretty great!

HoboKobo
HoboKobo

Sadly, very disappointing game for the moment, gameplay itself is bareable (still believe Egosoft will make improvements), but for the sake of the looks of those women out there, until they change their faces, I'm joining the refugee camp over at Steam's Starpoint Gemini 2 forum.

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

That guy in the woman's body has scarred me

Sonic4545
Sonic4545

This game is just garbage at it's core and cannot be salvaged without complete amputation of 90% of tha game meaning it won't ever be fixed.


Also, that dude with bewbs pic...when they turn their heads the glasses stay the direction they are pointing until the head finishes turning...then they turn and catch up.

SJGSpook
SJGSpook

A generous review I think. The game is utter bilge.

heguain
heguain

Hmmm, Yea I expected that. Great review :)

ACWH
ACWH

32 on Metacritic says it all, regardless of what people think of Van Ord.

Daian
Daian

Poor Kevin, 40 hours he'll never get back.

Doomerang
Doomerang

@Gruug It would still completely deserve a two, because they should not be absolved of releasing such a terrible game and only trying to fix it post-release, especially when they hyped it up so much beforehand and made it seem like it would be the next true sequel to the X series. 


Re-reviewing a game after it improves months after release gives more incentive for developers to release half-assed games, because they know that they won't be permanently held to their original score no matter how bad it is, since they can fix it after-the-fact. In my opinion, a review not only judges the quality of the game but also, in cases like these where the game was all bark and no bite, the integrity of the developers. The 2.0 will make me far more cautious about the developer's future games because of their sloppiness here and that is well-deserved. 

Martin_Hansen
Martin_Hansen

@Gruug 


I would rather jam a sharp object through my eardrum, irreversably scar my retina and have my arms ripped off in an industrial saw, than go back to X-Stillbirth.

vegard1985
vegard1985

@Rat_KingI'm with you there; I waited for this ever since it was TNBT (The Next Big Thing) on the Ego forums. I've played X3: Terran Conflict for about 700 hours; and so far I've managed to squeeze a couple hours out of Rebirth. Every time I try, it throws some new bug or badly implemented mechanic at me, making me quit. Biggest gaming disappointment of the year for me.

HyperXT
HyperXT

@hitomo In comparison is like a Frankenstein's monster with a mess up body part. You try to make a great game but the element for that totally chaotic & bad.

TheOnlyConan
TheOnlyConan

@vackillers There is evidence that it was meant for Xbox 360, but was refused by Microsoft. Which does not make it bad by itself (ports could be good). But in this case, porting it did not help it (mini games that make no sense, UI that does not work well, dx9, etc).

They also did not listen to their fans. Or even beta test it (I feel it is in alpha right now, aka after release). We are the alpha testers. Too bad we paid full price for it. This is the first and last time I ever preorder a game, lol.

kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@vackillers I think the game looks good, but it does play bad. And I know a lot of people are having low FPS issues, and even though mine are higher 20s, it is a bad game. I know they are working on patches to make it playable, but I don't know if they will fix the bad decisions, like the ugly models of people, and terrible dialogue, and cut and paste stations, ect...

ACWH
ACWH

@vackillers I wonder if they will compensate anyone that bought this game? I mean they've lost their credibility for any future releases and no-one will now look at them again, especially with newer IP on the horizon. I personally think that they've done a hit and run and hope no-one will remember this game when they release another one in a few years time.

kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@sakaixx If you played it you probably would understand this one being a 2.

Shehi
Shehi

@hitomo  (Astro)Physics knowledge of people rocks as always...

billzihang
billzihang

@selbieThat's because the previous X games were very good - albiet after a whole lot of patching.


Why is it funny to you that the game is a letdown?

HyperXT
HyperXT

@Martin_Hansen@Gruug No, for me the score spot on. Because with many patches, this game performance still bad with high PC system. The interface menu is so broken makes me don't want to play it anymore. Not like X3, that game is a space game masterpiece.   

X Rebirth More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    X Rebirth is a space simulation game from Egosoft and Deep Silver.
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    Developed by:
    Egosoft
    Published by:
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    Genres:
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    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
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    Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes