Phoenix Simulation's Boeing 777 - A Follow-up Report
By FlightSim.Com Staff (24 July 2000)
|What a magnificient sight! Almost perfect in every regard. Click in for a closer look at those massive engines with titanium blades rendered in all their glory. Note the 3D landing light lenses. 777 heaven?|
As of July 24th, a patch was released to improve some flight modeling errors, especially centering around the fuel flow. Due to this release, I have just modified the original review posted a few days ago. Thanks to the fast response from the PSS team, and the only major flaw being fixed, my scoring has been greatly increased on this product, making it the best airliner add-on I have ever come across. Please read along.
Phoenix Simulation Software is based in the U.K. and has recently become quite famous among heavy-jet flightsimmers. I too, confess my obsession whereas someone has finally built a perfect or near-perfect looking and flying 777-200 for FS2000. I didn't think it could be done, as no one had even come close - in my mind. Now however, we have such an aircraft. My purpose in this additional review is not to cover any of the aspects Andrew Herd had already done, but to address some issues that are bothering me about this product, despite my love for it.
Before I nit-pick, it is a great aircraft. Worthy of the $15 USD by far. A perfect replacement for the ugly default 777. However, its beauty comes at a price. That is the price of pausing. When viewing the aircraft from the exterior, you can expect long delays while the entire lot of textures loads up. This process has to be repeated each and every time you view the airplane from the outside. It is due to the large and now unrestricted number of textures that can be used in design. The Phoenix group has placed eye popping detail into this aircraft, but it will take you a while to view it in its glory each and every time you go to spot plane view. I just wanted to warn you. I currently have a PIII500 with 128 megs of ram and an ATI Rage Fury Maxx card with 64 meg. I get about 5 to 10 second pauses each time I view the aircraft from the outside, which is very tempting! I have to simply limit myself to the outside view, while taxiing, to not interrupt flight time as often as is required. Others have not had this long delay. Maybe my card is not treating me well.
|Details! Details! A close in look will reveal the most detailed landing gear structure I've ever seen for an airliner. Sadly, when pulling slightly farther away in spot plane view, the aircraft gets fuzzy. Still, it's a marvel for the eyes!|
I have an ugly problem at night, where the landing lights are connected to some far away place in space! These beams protrude from the lenses and join a million light years away! I have tried everything to remedy this (shut off mip-mapping, etc.) but nothing works. This is the only airplane for FS2000 I have ever seen this happen to. I have written the Phoenix team, but not heard back regarding this. I can't believe I am the only one with this problem.I have found the panel for the 777 quite nice indeed. However, I have had a few odd fatal exception errors when using this panel, and never to this day have ever had this happen before. In all fairness, I hope it is my machine, but really have never had one fatal exception error before trying this product. Also, frame rates with this panel are slightly reduced over default panels - which is to be expected. There are many new gauges and CRT graphics being drawn here, such as speed trend lines, wind barbs and other "true to the 777" pieces. However, the autopilot is far too big for my taste. I would have rather had a slightly smaller scale autopilot to make the entire panel experience a little more to scale. It just is too large for my liking. I found I could really speed up frame rates by using Windows Paint to "blacken" out the overhead .bmp panel graphic on the main, forward facing panel. Using black, I just drew over the overhead panel piece and saved the .bmp. Then, I edited the panel.cfg to reflect the missing overhead panel. This way, when running FS2000, I have a non-obstructed viewpoint of the scenery outside, thus speeding up frame rates by up to 3 or 4! Whenever you have any .bmp artwork in the way of the outside view, you will loose some framerates.
Another sticking point with me has always been virtual cockpits. I am not going to chastise this group for making some really nice internal art. It's far better than the default, and loads slightly faster, if not the same. Still, I am upset the body of the airplane cannot be seen by hitting the [W] key and clearing the artwork away. What a shame, to have nice wings with animated slats and flight controls and not be able to look back and see them from inside! Sadly, the fact that you are loading a big .bmp, and looking at a magnified full screen view, there will be another pause when loading the other viewpoints from inside the cockpit. Personally, I clear the view first [W], then look around. You could easily edit out the cockpit art, by editing the panel.cfg file yourself. Everytime I do that however, I just argue with myself, "to have, or not to have?". That is the question. So far, I have left the artwork intact.
The flight modeling is great. Perhaps outstanding. I find it very accurate and won't go into much here except to say that it's the best 777 flight model I've used for FS2000 so far. The autopilot is solid, will enable smooth level-offs and great
|On my ATI Rage Fury Maxx card, I get these annoying lights in the sky, connecting to the landing lights. Uck! I have asked about this, but seems it's a limited problem. Well, for me, it's terrible.|
Do yourself a favor. Purchase the optional sound pack from Mike Hambly (on the Phoenix site). This is the first time I can say the 777 internal engine sound was really well captured. I remember my 777 Flight Safety flight, and this is a great sound set! I did end up replacing my reverser sounds again, with just a dull rumbling (rumblp.wav) from FS98. To me, that still sounded more like the 777 reverse than Mike's. In the real 777, the reverser is heard with a rumble from the rear, as the rpms spool up. Fortunately, the PSS 777 engines do wind up the full rpm range well, enhancing the effect (unlike most 3rd party converted aircraft that only allow '3 clicks' of the reverse key before hitting maximum rpm).
ConclusionWhile it may look like I am coming down hard on the PSS 777, I really have to. That's my job The slight visual impurities are noticeable but don't detract from a model that far exceeds anything created to date. Simply, it makes me happy. If I am happy, you should be too. Flight modeling is the best, bar none. The fuel flow error is fixed as of July 24th. The extra sound set is a "must have" $5 purchase. I would highly recommend you fully support PSS in their future lineup. At least at the time of this writing, they are a top contender in creating the best airliner environment for FS2000. Well, I can't forget AETI's 747-200 for FS2000. However, that visual model doesn't contain the super detail of this one, especially in the visual animation. Some may prefer the "old texturing" method, as you don't have to wait for textures to load. That's up to you. Many folks don't have the long delays I do, in texture loading, it could be my card.
I'd give the PSS 777-200 for FS2000 a 95 out of 100. Without a few minor flaws, and future development, I would bet the next version will score even closer to 100. In any event, the value for your money spent supporting PSS, is a 100%. I look forward to their next fleet of heavies for FS2000, and personally thank them for starting with my favorite jetliner!
Read Andrew Herd's PSS 777 Review
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