SAM Follow Me
When looking to review an add-on forX-Plane 11, I must confess that using something to help me find my wayto an airport gate, would probably be way down on my list of potentialadd-ons. However, as it so happens, this is what I have recently foundmyself testing out, and strangely, it's slightly nostalgic, as itreminds me of my FS2004 days and Aerosoft's Enhancement Services, orAES for short. This add-on is an interesting one, which while I fullyenjoyed using it, did have a few small issues which I will discusslater in the review.
Before I begin though, I must mention that I don't at present havethe entire X-Plane world installed on my laptop, due to the fact I amstuck on an Air Force Base without Wi-Fi, and that my main full-blownPC is over 1500nm away. So, with that said, I must apologize inadvance for not being able to explore the European, Asian, SouthAmerican, or African selection of cars, if they are modeled.
The installation of the add-on was pretty simple, although I had abit of fun trying to get my key pasted into the installer, as youcan't type anything in, and for some reason, whatever I had copieddown, had some phantom text somewhere and wouldn't take the key. Afterfiddling around for a good ten minutes, I managed to get it to acceptthe key and it installed properly.
Located in the Plugins menu under SAM (Scenery Animation Manager),the add-on works quite easily, using a departure and arrival ICAO. Youcan also choose to import your flight plan from Simbrief, making it avery simple process to get all the required info into the add-on. Theease of choosing a runway and getting a car is painless and easy tofollow, and I had no issues figuring out the process even with noincluded manual. The add-on not only includes the follow me caritself, but also a marshaller to align you with your gate, a veryhelpful and nice touch.
The only complaint I have with this feature however, is the factthat at some airports, the follow me car drives straight into thebuilding, along with the marshaller, rendering himself useless to yourparking efforts. Perhaps Aerosoft can address this problem and keepthe marshaller outdoors, so as to be more visible. Apart from thisissue, when you can see him, he works quite well, and I enjoy having alittle bit of help getting parked at my gate.
Textures and Modeling
Aerosoft are well known in the simming community for their highlydetailed models, and I think this add-on holds up reasonably well tothat standard. I really like the overall look and feel of thevehicles, and they look quite nice from the cockpit. In the region Iwas testing, the United States, there appears to be two vehiclemodels, one of an SUV, and the other of a pickup. My knowledge of carsis quite limited, so I can't say what make and model the vehicles are,but they are still reasonably detailed and have all the basicanimations expected. The movement of the vehicles look quite fluid andnatural, and I have only one complaint with the model itself, thatbeing the light feature on top of the car. It can be seen from theback, but not from the front, slightly concerning considering they arerotating lights. Again, perhaps Aerosoft could use a modified beaconlight effect to make the light a bit nicer to the eye, but it is asmall gripe.
Texture wise, and I think both the vehicles and marshaller lookquite acceptable, though a little low resolution, relative to mostadd-ons I have seen recently. I think a small improvement in theoverall look of the textures could greatly improve their appearanceand would make the add-on look a little better when viewed closeup. It is not however to the point where I would purposely try toavoid having them in a screen shot, and I think for their purpose,they are quite decent.
There is really not much to mention in terms of lighting, so I willleave the photos to speak for themselves. They are lit like any othercar and that is quite sufficient in my opinion.
So, the big question, is it worth it? Well at $19.99 USD itcertainly isn't a cheap add-on for what you get, so it would have tobe up to the user to decide this one. Personally, I really can't sayif I would buy this add-on or not. I do like the marshaller, and thevehicle helping you to your gate is quite nice in some cases, but Ihave charts I can use to find my way, and there is a high chance thatthe path the vehicle takes could be different than what ATC gives youif flying online with VATSIM or IVAO.
That being said, if you are into taking screen shots and want tosnag that super cool photo from head on with a little car being chasedby a massive airliner, then I do recommend this add-on, as it allowsyou to take some very cool screen shots.
At the end of the day, it comes down to your own personalpreference, and whether or not you'll find it useful. For myself, Iwill most certainly use it in future flights, but it won't be forevery flight, rather just for occasional use./images/reviews/followme/title3.jpg
Purchase Aerosoft - SAM Follow Me for X-Plane 11
Also available: SAM Airport Vehicles
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