Oh my god!
I could leave this review at those three short words and they say everything that you need to know about this game. Three word reviews however are not allowed so I shall continue.
If you have been living under a rock for the past few decades you will not have heard of the X series of games and honestly, you need to deliver some serious self chastisement into the nearest mirror. The X series is notoriously unfriendly to newcomers with a learning curve as steep as Everest, but hello! take the time, learn the ropes and you are rewarded with an expansive and immersive space sim like no other. If not careful you may head for a much needed toilet break to discover that your spouse up and moved back to her mothers a week ago. You get the picture.
Fast forward to 2014 and the much anticipated 'X The Rebirth' leaps.... err! limps out of the Egosoft womb and into the grubby little mits of the expectant, salivating masses. Now to digress just a moment, I am not, no way no how going to hammer this game into the ground by mentioning the hundreds if not thousands of bugs and other assorted problems that it brings along as excess baggage right out of the gate.... damn! okay, I will not mention them again. Instead I will focus on the game's design. I am also not going to spend all evening writing a long, drawn out review because the game has wasted enough of my time as it is. So here are the essentials.
If you are a fan of the X series and are exited about this title, don't be. Rebirth is to the X universe what an ugly wart is to an otherwise pretty nose, a blemish to be cut away and banished to the nearest incinerator with the rest of the medical detritus. It does have one thing in common with it's much more illustrious cousins though, the tutorial. What little of it there is may as well not be there at all for all the good it does. But that is unimportant. What is important is that Egosoft in their infinite wisdom 'or lack of it', have taken everything that made the X series great and thrown it in the trash. Space is no longer expansive and immersive with breathtaking visuals, but claustrophobic and packed to the gills with brightly coloured clutter so that half the time it looks like you have been sneezed on by a harlequin, and amongst all that the place is criss-crossed with space highways that you can pop into in order to travel across the system. Or if you are inclined there are blue ones to travel to another system. As if that wasn't bad enough we are informed that we can go even faster if we get into the slipstream of another ship..... wtf! there is no air in space ffs, why the *^&%$%$ would we need to slipstream? Excuse the rant but just thinking about the sheer stupidity of that design feature makes my toes curl in anguish. This leads to tailgating. I'll let that sink in for a moment. Stopped laughing yet? But yes you heard it right, tailgating like a bad driver on the motorway. if it wasn't so tragic it would be laughable.
But what about the basics I hear you cry. Graphics, cartoony ( no doubt so that consoles can handle them ) and to be honest awful. Coupled with the over-indulgence with bright colours you have a recipe for bleeding eyeballs. Character models. Ok so X has never been great in this department but it's 2014 for gods sake, at least make the effort. They are worse than awful but we will stay with awful to keep things tidy. Sound, adequate at best although why we can still hear the pew pew of lasers in space is beyond me. Must be the same reason that we need to slipstream. Character acting. Don't go there, please, just don't. You will have bleeding ears to keep your eyeballs company. The acting is bad, Combat system, awful. Game mechanics, awful. controls, awful. In fact everything about this game is awful and they even removed the auto-pilot so travelling across this mess is now as boring as hell. Do yourselves a favour and avoid it like the plague.
To Egosoft I simply say shame on you, I just hope that giant howitzer you shot yourselves in the foot with hasn't delivered a fatal blow. It should be all the false information and promises you handed out that finally hammers that last nail.
Last year SI released FM 2013 to much anger and annoyance from the players, and rightly so. The bugs were many and the match engine, a major component of the game was truly awful. A few patches were thrown at it to make the thing at least playable and we were promised that all those issues would be sorted for the next years version. So here we are. SI have just released FM 2014 and a quick glance at the forums will tell you all you need to know. The game as a whole has more bugs than FM 2013 had on release and the much anticipated match engine is worse than last year. The players are far from happy. It would take too long to catalogue all the problems but at the moment the game is only playable if you are the kind of person that doesn't mind pain and suffering.
From players that simply haven't got much of a clue what a football is ( minutes into the match your players will be struggling to get scores above 6.2 ) to defenders that are so bad it's funny to watch, and I am being serious. Defenders that run into the post, go walkabout, stand and watch the ball roll calmly past them or at the other extreme attempt to break legs on a regular basis. Then we have red cards aplenty being handed out like they are going out of fashion, offside decisions that defy logic and goalkeepers who have no idea where the box ends, resulting in them getting one of those red cards for running out of it while carrying the ball. Not to mention the throw-ins that get taken from inside the field of play. I could go on and on but you get the message.
I am however starting to understand SI. You see, it would not be in their best interests to produce a brilliant game. If they did then where would the incentive be for anyone to buy next years cash cow? Instead it makes much more sense to release a far from perfect game and shroud it in promises for next year. Well we are onto you SI & Sega. You have been very clever, throwing a final patch each year that almost fixes everything, almost but not quite so that the punters scramble for the new version and beg you to take their money. You have been very clever with the marketing, ensuring high scores from official reviews but again, we all know that they are worth about as much as the reviews of beauty products that offer to make you twenty years younger, in other words worthless. And as more and more people realise these facts your products will become less and less desirable.
So what can you do about it?
You need a radical change of focus. Throw out the old way of working and sort it out. Instead of releasing a new version every year put the game on a four year cycle. Make it as perfect as you are able and rely on DLC's for further income over the course of the games life. DLC's like new leagues etc. People will pay for them I assure you. Then as technology improves and four years along release the new and very much updated version, again on a four year cycle with DLC's. Because if you continue to produce rubbish then sooner or later your ever so loyal fanbase will walk away.
So what advice can I give to anyone thinking of buying this game? simple. Wait six months and pick it up at a budget price at a time when it's playable.