This week has been insane. From a standing stop last weekend, somehow I managed to go blasting into this week full-tilt, arms flailing, teeth bared. Banzai!!! When the holidays are over, brother, they are over. Fortunately for FS fans, our hobby seems poised to do likewise, cruising into the new decade with a vengeance. So, what’s new this week?
Far from resting on their laurels, Sean and Rob over at RealAir have been working to make their great offerings just that much better. This week, they released a version 1.5 patch for their Beech Duke, which is already one of my favorite planes for FSX. What’s new, you ask? Here’s the list of improvements they publicized on their site:
- Optimised LOD (Level Of Detail) models.
- Optional medium and low polygon exterior models.
- Optional mip-mapped textures.
- Animated rain-drops on the windscreen glass.
- Improved GPS HSI integration (using Reality-XP or default GPS).
- HSI Auto or Manual DTK.
- Improved ‘Cold and Dark’ function.
- Improved engine starting.
- More realistic generator gauges.
If there’s a better example of customer support after the sale, I have yet to see it. If you have the Duke, you’ll want this patch for sure. Don’t have the Duke yet? Good grief, go get it!
New Winged Shoot-Em-Up
Hardcore ‘sim lovers will undoubtedly cry foul, but I saw some screenshots this week for a new, er, “flying game” that knocked my socks off. Wings of Prey is the latest offering from the developers of IL2 Sturmovik (unless the rumor mill got the attribution wrong), and given that pedigree, you can figure it’ll be a winner. Early reports are that it’s more of an arcade-style shooter than a bonafide flight simulator, but I can live with that. One of my dirty little secrets is that I’m absolute crap at aerial combat anyway. I saw a report over on Sim-Outhouse by a pilot who said he was able to blow the wings off an He111 with a single squirt of his machine guns… I’m thinking to myself, finally! maybe I actually stand a chance in this one.
Forgetting the flight modeling and weapons simulation for a moment, what simply blew me away were the images of the game environment. I just downloaded the demo and played a quick mission, and it seems the screenshots weren’t lying. It doesn’t look or feel anything like FSX (or IL2, for that matter), but it has its own reality that seems about as close to perfect as anything I’ve seen yet. Granted, you don’t have a lot of time to study the landscape when the Germans are bearing down on you with guns blazing, but it was mightily impressive at first glance. One thing I noticed they added was motion blur: whip your head from side to side, and the view blurs while you’re in mid-motion. That’s one of those little things you never even knew you were missing in sims until you see it in action.
I don’t want to get into a full-blown review of Wings of Prey, but my first impression was very positive. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to put in a little more stick time soon.
Speaking of Reviews…
Here’s another product that I’m bullish on: the PBY Catalina from Aerosoft. I mentioned it before, but this bird has one of the highest quality VCs to ever grace a simulation. If you’re still not sold, Nick Churchill just posted a new review of the Cat on his site. Actually, it’s the second in what will hopefully be an ongoing series of video reviews by Mark Hurst, who previously gave us an intro to the A2A Piper Cub. I like Mark’s style. He’s casual yet thorough, mellow and very easy to listen to. The PBY review could quite nearly be classified as a tutorial, since he goes into a fair bit of depth about flying this particular beast. Even if you’ve already got the Cat, you might want to check out this review, as it’s a good brush-up on proper flying technique.
From there, bounce over to SimFlight, and catch up on the first review of FSAddon’s Lysander “Special Operations” package. Peter Hayes has become a regular reviewer for SimFlight, and this is another of his thoughtful pieces. He’s covered all aspects of the product, and illustrated it well. If you have any interest in the “Lizzie” at all, this might well sway you.
Lest you think I’ve spent the week coming up with this drivel, here’s what’s been occupying me lately — finishing up the last bits of Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark for ORBX. I really wanted to pull out all the stops for this one, so I’ve been working overtime to add details the likes of which have never been seen in one of my projects before. Some of them include a flock of alpacas who are mowing the grass near the runway, a couple of planes that have been torn down for their annual inspections, and a whole bunch of rusting junk that was tucked ’round behind the hangar in the hopes that nobody would notice.
The package is nearly done, we just need to put it through a round of testing. From there, keep your fingers crossed that the FTX Pacific Northwest package is done soon, because this project will be released simultaneously with it.
Okay, it’s back to work for me. As Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Keep the blue side up!