Summed up in a single word, X3: The Reunion is massive. It's like the Grand Theft Auto of space. Some 100+ different sectors exist for you to slowly make your way through, each offering something different than the last. With such a massive world to traverse, one could quite easily get lost in the excitement of X3's dynamic universe, and wind up putting in more time than most players would like to admit, even well before one delves into the story of piracy, mystery, and a disappearing spaceship. If preferred, however, an option is even available to play a completely customizable, plotless game in which goals are set by the player.
What I found to be the most interesting feature of X3: The Reunion is a player's ability to alter so much in the universe. Each action affects the future. Engage in warfare, and the economy will change accordingly; increase supply of a single item, the price is driven down; continue trade with a specific race, and amicability between the player and the race increases. Your reputation with a given race increases in various ways including trade and protection from pirates, and consequently, the player moves up the chain, acquiring some exclusive items that are sold only to friends of that race.
The economy and black markets are what give X3: The Reunion its appeal. Piracy sounds like fun? It did to me; and the black market is something I came to know quite well. Perhaps it was more difficult to attack ships, since there was always law enforcement or, in some of the more lawless sectors, pirates trying to hinder my success, but I'll be damned if it wasn't infinitely times more fun than setting up factory systems to create a cash flow. Piracy as the game begins is far more trouble than its worth; a juggernaut is almost necessary to pull off the profession with considerable ease, and proper weapons and ship modifications aren't so readily available, but it's something worth looking into for the future. Hell, beats earning a license to work as part of the Argon police force.
With all of that said, don't get too excited. I've never played a game with such a steep learning curve, and after some three or so weeks, I still feel as though I don't know what I'm doing. It took a good week just to get the controls memorized, and yet another to figured out what all the options were in place for. Combine that with trying to understand the world and all of its quirks, and you'll wind up more confused than a blind man at a silent movie as the game begins. Some commands are nested so deep, that it takes considerable time just to find them and their use. And then you find out they're worthless.
X3 is beautiful and the amount of detail that Egosoft put into it is staggering. Every one of the many races seemed entirely original, every sector seemed distinguished from the last, and ship models were cleverly designed. But, and we know that there's always a but, that detail doesn't come without a price. I have, what I consider to be, a fairly capable machine, and even on half settings the game crawled to a snail's pace at times. An occasional game and/or system crash wasn't out of the question, and the overall toll on my system was far too excessive in my opinion.
When it comes down to it, I recommend X3: The Reunion only to those who are willing to put in the time, and by time I mean lots of it., to learn the world of X3 and all of its nuances. It will be difficult. It will be time straining. It will come with its fair share of aggravations, and possibly it will come with some horrible slowdown and crashing. But trust me when I say this: It will come. The story isn't much to entertain, but there are so many places you can take both the game and your character that it's worth all of the time you put into it to learn it.
X3: The Reunion is one of those games that as the further you progress, the more you come to enjoy yourself, be it in the form of piracy, in the form of entrepreneurialism, or perhaps in the form a lowly trader, but enjoyment is definitely here to be had. It's just a matter of whether or not you're willing to put in the time and effort to achieve it. Think of it as watching 24 or Lost; you watch and you watch, every week you become aggravated by the cliffhangers, but by the end, you just sit back and think of how amazing the show you just watched was. So if you've got the time to kill, go buy this game.