Any gamer who, like me, spent hours and hours in front of Elite will love this game. This is finally a worthy successor, much more in the spirit of Elite than, say, Freelancer – where you are pretty much bound into the storyline if you want to get access to equipment and new areas of the game universe. In X-3 you are given complete freedom. There is a two or three stage training mission to kick the game off, and after that it's up for you to decide if you want to keep following the storyline, or turn into a merchant prince, a bounty hunter, a pirate … you can even build you own space factories and complexes of factories.
The universe is gorgeous, the flight model is pretty good – somewhere between inertia-less and Asteroids-like friction-less.
There is a certain role playing element in that you have standing with the different peoples in the game universe and to begin with some will hardly let you dock at their space station until you impress them, with trade (difficult if they won't let you dock, eh!) and by killing pirates or Alien Invaders in their sectors. Once they like you enough, you can even purchase(!) a law enforcement license, and you get paid for killing baddies.
The interface takes a little getting used to, and it's not really obvious that [enter] gives you a menu for the ship you're in, [,] a universe map and [.] a sector map and between these you can check prices, give commands to ships and play the whole game really. I bought the game off Steam when it wasn't available locally – and dodged the whole issue of starforce protection, but I got no documentation whatsoever, and the x-3 handbook (downloadable) really saved my bacon.