This is game is praised for finally being involved with the Earth race since I waited 10 years back in X-BTF for the "Return to Earth" storyline and flying on new Earth built ships. The GFX and quality is truly amazing and the controls are not bad.
Despite trying to climb up the steep learning curve, this game should be awarded and listed as the best unoffical successor to Elite or Frontier: Elite II, due to the high similarities.
Also, my retail version of this game had some bugs since I first bought it when it was on the market since it's debut. Bare in mind it isn't uncommon that most Modern games around in this decade, can have a dodgy headstart. So please make sure you report any important bugs to EgoSoft Forums provided. They cannot help you if you cannot explain the bug assertively and clearly to them.
And if you do decide to play a game like this, don't get committed to start a space campaign that you want to keep in the long term. Because EgoSoft made some changes back in X-Tension v1.4 near 2000 when my saves needed replaced for the TL class for X-Tension v2. And I won't be surprised that happened for X3TC when the patch reached to v3 onwards.
One very important note, if you use Money Cheat, Reputation Cheat or use Script Editor, you will no longer unlock achievements, so DON'T use any Cheats or Mods. Personally I use Money Cheat on this game predecessor as I really didn't want to waste time rebuilding my Space Empire and Reputation as that will take months - years even to complete this game. But this game is the best of all of the X-Series game so far, and it is more enhanced and easy-to-use in comparsion to X3: Reunion.
So my simple final advice is: No Money Cheat, no modifications and use the spoilers at your own risk for when you are totally stuck!