Space simulations have done so poorly commercially over the past five years that the genre has almost completely vanished. The trend began when large publishers EA and LucasArts abandoned their respective Wing Commander and Star Wars space sim franchises, and it accelerated when even acclaimed titles, like FreeSpace 2, were unable to attract a significant commercial market. During the past year, Microsoft released Freelancer, which a hybrid action space sim with a storied and protracted development. Aside from this offering, the genre has essentially been handed over to small, mostly European, developers. X2: The Threat is the latest space sim to be developed by a small European developer, and like its recent peers, it’s an extremely ambitious but not very accessible game. It starts very slowly and has a steep learning curve, but if you’re patient enough to stick with it, you’ll probably find that X2 is a diamond in the rough.