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3dVelocity


X Plane version 6 & Worldwide Scenery Expansion

Published by Sniper Publishing
Developed by Laminar Research
Platform: PC CD-ROM & MAC
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99 (X Plane) £29.99 (Worldwide Scenery)

Top-notch flight simulators are rare beasts. Over the years the big one has always been the current version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. However it would be wrong to assume that this is the only quality flight simulator available. One of the alternative flight simulators is X Plane. X Plane is perhaps best described as a flight engine as it's modular design allows, potentially, for any flight model to be created. It's not short of high praise either with it carrying F.A.A. approval for training toward Airline Transport Certificate. This review looks at X Plane version 6 (6.26 to be exact) and the Worldwide Scenery Expansion pack.

X Plane certainly is not wanting for features. There are over 40 aircraft included which include Concorde, gliders, helicopters, fantasy aircraft and much more. You can even fly in outer space and there is even a Mars environment should you want to get away from Earth for a while. X Plane can even simulate the launch and landing of the Space Shuttle. The physics engine within the simulator seems excellent. As well as the plethora of features that come with the game there are also many additional features, such as extra aircraft, that can be downloaded from the internet. There are even a suite of editors included to create your own aircraft and terrain.

X Plane is not for the casual gamer. This is for flight enthusiasts only, and only patient ones at that. One thing that hits you straight from the off with X Plane is that the product as a whole lacks polish. Installation is quite simply strange. Instead of an autorun installation menu appearing when you insert the CD, like in almost every game since the advent of Windows 95, you have to extract the program to a chosen location on your hard drive. This is quite simply an archaic way of doing things. It gives you the impression that you won't need the CD in the drive to run but should you attempt this, the program will run in demo mode only and many of the airports and aircraft will be unavailable.

The difficulties do not end there either. You have to set your joysticks up manually. Every axis and button has to be bound to a control that again is quite simply archaic and way out of touch with modern software. The Microsoft Force Feedback 2 joystick would not set up correctly with the problem being that the throttle acted in reverse to what it should have. There was no way of correcting it either. The amount of menus that you have to navigate through to set up the simulator is overwhelming and not for the faint hearted.

The Worldwide Scenery Expansion pack is also user-unfriendly when it comes to installation. You have to extract the files to your hard drive and then insert them into the correct folder taking care not to copy over the one crucial folder otherwise you'll have to reinstall the game again. Awkwardness aside though you do get a whole lot of scenery for the small price of £29.99 and it's certainly great value for money.

Graphically X Plane is very impressive and unlike Flight Simulator 2002 it actually has a framerate that flies too. The Worldwide Scenery Expansion pack adds a lot more detail to the terrain and covers virtually every location on the globe. Without the expansion, the terrain looks rather bland. This is not a criticism though as you only have to look at the Flight Simulator series without expansions to realise that it's pretty much the same story.

X Plane isn't really recommended for deaf virtual pilots. There is text for the air traffic control messages but there is none for the numerous verbal warnings that are given out. There is a lot of verbal radio chatter too which is not shown in text. Obviously it's not going to be impossible for deaf gamers to enjoy X Plane but there is so much going on audibly, which is not shown in text, that really detracts from the whole experience.

It's rather difficult to give a verdict on X Plane. Those with the patience to setup the program and persevere with its odd little quirks will find a very impressive flight simulator with massive potential for customisation. Those who are looking for ease of use though ought to steer clear as it will prove a frustrating experience to be sure.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10 (X Plane)
8.8/10 (Worldwide Scenery Expansin)

Needs a moden installation program and a less complicated front end. In it's current state it is simply prohibitive to all but the most dedicated. There is a very good simulation underneath though if you persevere with it. The Worldwide Scenery Expansion is certainly very impressive and is great value for money. It's still awkward to install though.

Deaf Gamers comment:
It could be a lot more friendly for deaf gamers. There are too many audible warnings that are not shown to the deaf gamers.


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