Don't be turned off so quickly by all of the other bad reviews – I would say that some of these people are stuck on "beauty is skin deep." I can agree with the other reviewers in some aspects; if you have big standards for shiny polish on games, you might want to avoid this one. The graphics are dated, the controls take some getting used to (I keep having to look at the configuration to figure out what I pressed by accident, even after 15 hours). There are bugs and CTD's. You can’t dock with T-gates sometimes or steer. The camera gets stuck at odd angles on occasion and you have to change sectors to fix it. The music selection leaves a bit to be desired. The radio chatter is repeatable.
One guy complained the tutorial was too long! I found it was just right for the complexity of the game and it got the basics down quite quickly. You just have to wait patiently for them to read all the text on the screen out (there is no “click to skip”). As for graphics, the sector backdrops are a bit washed out for my liking, I love the colorful and crisp sector graphics in X3. The music, though quite good, has a very limited number of tracks and is quite repeatable.
HOWEVER, this game has engaged me happily for over 20 hours now, and I’m only halfway through the campaign with very little extra exploration. The campaign can be challenging at some times, but I found it was a bit too easy to make money and afford a dreadnaught. It seems you need to do this in order to make good progress in the campaign. At one stage in the campaign you lose your ship, however you keep all of your equipment and cash. No problem, at that time I had enough to buy three new dreadnaughts. So yes, the campaign is a bit out of balance sometimes.
In the campaign, there is a lot of "fly to this sector, blow up this ship, then fly to that sector." But it's all wrapped up in a package that keeps it enjoyable, as you search for derelict ships to loot, Rogue containers to crack open and steal goodies from, and fight off pirates that randomly attack you. You can speed up monotonous travel by getting a T-Drive, but then you miss out a lot of the sightseeing opportunities along the way, and also chances to dock at stations to find better equipment than what you already have.
If you are excited by the prospect of boarding and capturing ships, this game does it nicely! If you love to customize ship equipment (weapon slots, shield slots, engine slots), you'll enjoy this game. If you want to play with over 50 different ships, each having different special abilities, you'll enjoy this game. If you like RPG-style characters, where you can focus on specific weapon types (beam vs. plasma) and improve your skills as you level up, you'll enjoy this game. You can even hire different officers, each which will add to your perks or boost one or more of your ship stats. The game gives you the possibility to line up your stats and perks to make an ultra-powerful beam-equipped ship destroys everything easily, until you hit an enemy who has shields and equipment specifically set up to resist beam weapons. Then you’re screwed. What fun!!!
The game has many aspects familiar to Freelancer - faction names and how they're handled, station names, station designs, radio chatter, jump gates. It also shares common control mechanisms with Eve Online, including 2D controls, ship configurations and character skill leveling. I wouldn't call it a "rip off" of any other game; rather it combines many of the great elements from other games, while setting up a solid new story and universe to enjoy them in. It's all tied together quite well in an engaging way, and I am continuously reminded of fond times I had playing Freelancer and Eve in years past.
I have been looking awhile now for a good new space game to enjoy. After playing SG1, I am even more excited now for the release of SG2. Well done, Little Green Men!