• Review: VMAX 777 Worldliner Professional Extended Pack

    Review: VMAX 777 Worldliner Professional Extended Pack

    By Rohan Nair

    VMAX 777

    As one walks through the aviation hall of fame, one can't help but be marveled by how man-made technology is a significant enabler in aviation. Reminiscing about the era of jets, marvel gives away to the somber thought that the once undisputed kings of long-haul flights, the mighty four engine airliners now face the beginning of their end. Their league now witnesses dwindling demand for passenger service and hence, they by and large earn their keep and count their days as freighters. Nonetheless, the show must go on. An unforeseen turn of events involving a tense dance between economics and technological revolution culminated in the birth of a new class of two engine airliners that would eventually become the monarchs of non-stop long-haul flights. With more than two decades of proven success, they have found their places in the aviation hall of fame. Amongst them, up there, right at the top, is the undisputed king of the long haul: the Boeing 777.

    The largest twinjet in existence, the 777 first flew in 1994 and went on to become the most successful widebody airliner in terms of orders. It was Boeing's first fly by wire airliner and also the first aircraft to be designed entirely using computers. The needs and wants of the airline industry led the base model 777-200 to evolve into the extended range 777-200ER, the stretched -300, the stretched extended range -300ER, and the ultra-long range -200LR. Freight makes money, no doubt. Which is probably why the 777 freighter was born at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The -200, -200ER, and -300 can be powered by different three powerplants: General Electric's GE90, Rolls Royce's Trent 800 or Pratt and Whitney's PW4000. The rest, namely the -200LR, -200F, and -300ER are powered by the GE90 powerplant. Triple bogey main landing gear, a circular fuselage cross section, a blade shaped tail cone, raked wingtips and a glass cockpit with an advanced EFIS, fly-by-wire and automation are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the 777 family.

    VMAX 777     VMAX 777

    The 777 has been a significant part of the flight simulation story since the days of the PSS 777 for FS2000. FS2002 and FS2004 featured the 777-300 as a default aircraft. Since the 777 didn't feature in FSX by default, Wilco brought out their 777 add-on to fill in that void. Popular demand led PMDG to churn out their high fidelity 777 simulation for the FSX and P3D universe. It goes without saying that the 777 is as popular in the virtual aviation world as it is in real life. X-Plane too has its own 777 add-on and that is what this review is going to be about.

    VMAX 777, FlightFactor 777 or Ramzzess & Philipp 777 are some of the names the sole payware 777 add-on for X-Plane goes by. VMAX produces the add-on developed by FlightFactor whose core team members are two gentlemen named Roman, a.k.a. Ramzzess, and Philipp Munzel. The same team is behind the well-known FlightFactor 757, 767 and A320 add-ons too. The 777 add-on was first released for X-Plane 10 and initially featured the -200LR only. Later, an expansion pack was released adding the -200ER, -300ER and -200F variants. Over the course of time, the add-on has been improved and updated. The current version of the product, v1.9.13 supports X-Plane 11 and currently VR is not supported out of the box. One may elect to purchase the 777 Worldliner Professional which features the -200LR only. And then perhaps the expansion to add the other variants. Or one may choose to get everything in one package called the 777 Worldliner Professional Extended Pack albeit the buyer will be set back $85 as opposed to $60 in case of the base pack. In this review, we'll look at the extended pack.

    VMAX 777     VMAX 777

    The VMAX 777 supports both X-Plane 10 and 11. I've reviewed the add-on with X-Plane 11.26 at the time of writing this and there are no version specific compatibility issues. To run the add-on, you'll need any version of Windows from 7 and up and for you Macintosh folks, anything above 10.10 is fine. There's something for the Linux community too as the add-on supports Ubuntu version 14.04 LTS. Whatever your choice of operating system may be, you'll still need 4 GB of RAM and 512 MB of VRAM at the least. I did the review on a 3.6 GHz 4th generation i7 with 16 GB of RAM and a 4 GB GTX 960M running Windows 10 64 bit. Time to enter the virtual cockpit and see what's there.

    Other offerings from FlightFactor such as the 757, 767 and A320 are impressive in terms of visual quality and fidelity. Now one would be inclined to believe the same is true for the 777 given that the add-on has been around for well over five years and the presence of the 777 is greatly yearned for in the simulation world. Yet as I look at VMAX's rendition of it, I found myself repeatedly thinking to myself that this model needs a bit of touch up on the inside. Contours and dimensions are top-notch but texturing isn't quite up to contemporary standards. The definition of "high definition", in a strictly non-technical context, has changed significantly as the capabilities of hardware and software have sky-rocketed.

    VMAX 777     VMAX 777

    The quality of colors that adorn the virtual cockpit, in particular, bothers me. A shade too different no doubt. The displays don't feel bright or vivid enough. The PFD, in particular, doesn't sport the right tones of colors. That doesn't get in the way of the displays being quite readable due to large and clear text. Even so, a peculiar dearth of sharpness in the cockpit is something that I can't help but feel. Despite all that, the cockpit is quite realistic in terms of general appearance, layout and operability of controls. What's supposed to be there is there and nothing is broken or missing. That includes a full virtual cabin too! At night, the cockpit looks quite good with the green text backlighting and the subtle flood lighting. Although a pedantic may be quick to observe that some of the lighting controls don't do exactly what they're supposed to do, functionality isn't impacted as you'll get the lighting you need. There are reflections of the cockpit night lighting on the windows but I really dislike the effect. It is quite distracting. What's nice about the windows is the precipitation and windshield wiper effect.

    1. Rohan_Nair's Avatar
      Rohan_Nair -
      Folks, there's no terrain radar but the add on readily integrates with DrGluck's terrain radar plug-in. No taxi cameras for the -300ER but that's understandable. It's probably difficult to simulate.
    1. Brikkie's Avatar
      Brikkie -
      If pmdg , makeing it i,m buying it.
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