Review: Sea King FSX From Virtavia
By Nigel Martin
December 10, 2011
- Eleven model variations with twelve detailed texture sets:
- Westland HAR Mk.5, Royal Navy
- Westland HAR Mk.3, Royal Navy
- Westland AEW Mk.2A, Royal Navy
- Westland Mk.48, Belgian Air Force
- Westland HC.4 Commando, Royal Navy
- Westland HC.4 Commando, Royal Navy (IFOR scheme)
- Westland HAS Mk.1, Royal Navy
- Sikorsky SH-3A, US Navy, USS Essex
- Sikorsky SH-3D, US Navy, USS Hornet
- Sikorsky SH-3H, US Navy, USS Hornet
- Sikorsky CH-124B, Canadian Forces
- Sikorsky VH-3D, US Marines, Presidential Flight
- Textures are extremely detailed, with individual rivet lines
- Dipping sonar buoy and moving AEW2A radome (uses tailhook function)
- New soundset includes startup and shutdown sounds
- Detailed 2D panel based on close-up photos of real Sea King
- Basic virtual cockpit with animations and mousable controls
- Working windscreen wipers (toggle on general lights or panel lights switch)
- VC rain effects
- 'Winchman' sideways viewpoint out of hold area on hatswitch back (or arrow key down)
- Animated opening crew entry and side door
- 2 crew figures, animated pilot's head, VH-3D has custom figures
- Authentic undercarriage structure and animations
- Navigation, interior and landing lights
I make no excuses, I love the helicopter, I guess due to the seemingly fragility of some of them, and wonderment that they stay in the air at all. I have spent many an hour in the noisy, hot surroundings of an RAF Rescue Westland Sea King, and various RN Sea Kings, so, when this offering has become available, it was a must have.
The usual simple process of visiting the Pilot Shop, making the purchase, and saying yes to the download was easily accomplished. It was a massive file, some 130 MB, and it took 10 minutes to download at approximately 200 Kb/sec. Quick word here, you will find a PDF manual in your documents file, post download, not on your desktop, so seek it out. It is a very comprehensive and an informative 21 pages long.
All of the promotional shots look superb, and very much the beast I remember, albeit somewhat cleaner than the offering I flew in a fair amount, which had a lot more exhaust staining on the fuselage sides. Once downloaded, I found the file, upended it up (via WinZip) and sent it the correct path, as instructed, i.e. FSX.
I must say at this juncture I have a new computer with a clean install of FSX, onto a SSD Digital Drive, so no 'gremlins'.
Selected FSX, a few seconds later, (yup folks a few seconds! Oh how I love my new set-up!) FSX was on the monitor, so without further ado, selected RNAS Yeovilton (the tidiest air station in history! Even the blades of grass ask for permission to grow!) in my aircraft menu I noted there was only one RN Sea King on offer. Please remember to select all options, I did not! After selecting all options in the aircraft menu, I realised I had half the world's aircraft in the list! But there were the Sea Kings I was originally expecting. I selected the RN Rescue version, already based at RNAS Yeovilton, hit the select button, and there she was, engine hot and ready for the skies.
This takes your breath away, the detail is really incredible at every level, traversing around the helo, the detail was accurate, and very well defined. The pilots both looked very convincing, despite being graphically a little basic, with the co-pilots head only annotated, in a realistic way. The fuselage exterior 'plumbing' looked amazingly accurate, and visible.
I 'zoomed-in' on the cockpit, and was amazed to able to almost read the text on the fire extinguisher mounted on the bulkhead behind the co-pilot's seat! Now that was impressive.
All of the color schemes offered are, well, excellent, The Royal Navy color scheme I selected looked superb, and the reflections in the windows were equally impressive.
Hitting Shift-E, I watched the crew access ladder lower, with the upper door open in an upwards direction. I noted from the manual, you should use the following to access both the doors: Shift+E+1 will operate the crew door and Shift+E+2 will operate the side door.
I have to say, this did not work for me, I used the Shift+E to operate the crew door (open/close). But I reverted back to the default button settings, i.e., CTRL+U and the crew door opened, and hitting the J lowered the cable and K raised it...
One thing I remember very well, on start up there can be a lot of sooty smoke from the turbine as they start, so, I decided to hit the smoke command, Shift-I, and watched in horror, as flame started to leap from the underside of the fuselage with bellowing black smoke. NOT a trait I remember. Shame. It was emanating around the fuel dump tube, but obviously this was just a coincidence...
One thing the Sea King is renowned for is the ability to fold its rotors and the tail for carrier storage. These effects are not included, a bit of a shame really, but I would imagine there would have been a lot of extra work required.
But before we leave the exterior I must say the sound file is quite honestly superb! Taking a 'tour' around the exterior, the sounds changed in a subtle and convincing way.
On the starboard side, you will see the winch and the main crew door. Wanting to open both, I followed the manual commands. They did not have the desired effect, but default options list was followed, and both doors opened, and I was able to lower and raise the winch.
I am assured that if you hold down the shift key and then tap the 'E' key once release the shift key and tap the '2' key once (but do not delay) this will have the desired effect. Before moving to the interior, I have to mention the night lighting, well it's all there, and works.
Customary with the quality found on the exterior the interior is presented in an excellent way. Moving the cursor around the cockpit space, it is evident that some of the switches are pro-active, but I had to be careful to accurately 'hover' the curser over these switches to get a text definition of the action. But I must say, I tended to zoom in and read the description printed on the panel, such is the quality, and everything you see in the cockpit is 'pin-sharp' and can be disseminated easily.
You have the choice to select a number of views from within the cockpit. It is well worth seeking these out, please refer to the manual. There is some lovely detail in the cabin, looking forward to thecockpit. In flight, the instruments seemed to work perfectly. I tried to adjust the coms 1 and squawk but could not change the settings, so I selected coms panel from the options, and I could then select the settings I required. Once selected, these appeared in the cockpit displays.
In this offering the developers have included new Hover Control, CDI and GVI (Drift) gauges. TACNAV Screen, with working NAV radio COMS1&2 units on the central console.
One feature now on offer is a windscreen wiper switch, which, guess what? Switches on the wipers, and they look very realistic in operation.
In the night mode, all the instruments are shown in high-definition, which are crisp in appearance. Perhaps a little more interior light would have been preferred, as the light positioned above the central console, pointing down, would have illuminated the general cockpit area a little more than that shown. I have no negative comment at all about the cockpit, excellent offering.
With a new finely tuned fight dynamics package in situ, it is time to take to skies... This is what it is all about. With everything running, I lifted the cyclic, the Sea King went into a hover with predictable effect, as I placed the nose forward, and added some cyclic, the bird' gained height, I decided to hover, which I was able to do without any drama.
At the hover I applied the rudder full port, the aircraft turned to approximately 90 degrees, and stopped. I attempted the same manoeuvre to starboard, and the same effect was apparent. I really am not sure if this is a feature or a limitation of my system, but I experienced it never the less.
I flew some circuits, and was happy with the results. I felt perhaps, with some pretty major nose up manoeuvres selected, to bleed off the forward speed, was less effective than I would have assumed. OK you do come to a stop, but not in humble view at the rate I predicted at times.
I could 'taxi' in a controlled way, and hover-taxi, which is pretty fundamental to any helo. In flight I detected some odd 'twitches' but nothing of consequence. I did detect the odd 'twitch' in general flight, but again nothing that would point out as an issue.
I have to admit, my first thought was is it just the Alphasim offering, tweaked... NO IT IS NOT, this is an entirely new offering, both in model range, graphic detail, to the interior, and exteriors, and the all important flight dynamics. And special mention to the all new sound files, now they are superb.
The exterior are essentially the AlphaSim offering which was an excellent starting point. The cockpit internals and pilots are all new, flight dynamics all re-worked providing an accurate controllable feel at slow speeds, and in the cruse.
The sound (again...) STUNNING! It is a real joy to hear inside and out. I did not experience the shut down and start sequence for some reason, even when the fuel shut-off levers were selected, also the generator switches moved to the off position the engines remained running. I have a feeling the engine sound could be that of the APU. When I selected engine start, I did detect a puff of smoke, and a more defined engine sound running-up... But I am certain the Sea King does not have APU's (Auxiliary Power Unit; small separate turbine generating power). Oh well...
The Sea King versions you are provided with will cater for almost any country actively using the bulwark of the helicopter world, that is the Sea King, and being presented in stunning quality.
Couple of odd experiences, when in the cockpit, I could see the strobe, anti-collision beacon flashing, at my 'feet'. (I also noted the nav lights detached from the fuselage, BUT this is due to some issues with the FSX engine, and cannot be rectified, so I must stress this is a minor and insignificant point).
To add the final layer of 'icing on the cake' for me would have been the ability to 'fold' the main rotors, and tail section for storage. Once the commands sorted, the ability to the lower and raise the winch was convincing, (no harness, just the winch wire) It would be nice to see the rotors bending upwards, i.e., showing some strain. I really am not sure if is possible, but adding the 'wop' of the blades in a tight turn, or selecting a nose up forced stop, would have made it for me, BUT as I hope I have alluded, the sounds offered are some of the best around.
For the future, how about offering some rescue missions for this Sea King? A feature I think is excellent there is 24/7 product support by the Virtavia tech support team, needless to say, only available to legitimate customers. This is available at: email@example.com.
I love this aircraft, the detail is quite superb, and a very convincing graphics at every level Indeed this package is a facsimile of the real thing. If you are a 'rotor-head' this is a must have, and if do not normally like helicopters, you will love this one!
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
8 meg RAM
X2 sli GTX 460 Graphic Cards
Onwards and upwards...