• Review: xVision for X-Plane 11

    Review: xVision for X-Plane 11

    By Rohan Nair

    xVision for X-Plane 11     xVision for X-Plane 11

    They say that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. No doubt that there's a great deal of truth in that saying. Yet despite of that, and this being the 21st century, we often form lasting impressions from the first one. Though select sections of the worldly populace have started to adopt a school of thought that differs, I'm still of the opinion that a large lot of us think in a manner otherwise. If we deliberate further on this, we'll digress onto a contextually irrelevant tangent. Let's park this discussion for the day you and I meet in a coffee shop somewhere.

    De facto standards, with respect to visuals, have skyrocketed in recent years in the arena of flight simulation. It won't take long for us to despise what we see right out of the box. A ten minute trip to YouTube or the screen shot forum here is enough to arouse feelings of inadequacy in terms of visual quality. There are options, freeware and payware, to satiate your appetite for alluring visuals. Xvision is one such payware offering for X-Plane 11. That is what this review is going to be about.

    xVision for X-Plane 11     xVision for X-Plane 11

    The virtual environment you see on your monitor is the culmination of a waltz between textures, shaders and code. If the developer of a flight simulator allows third party developers to alter the tune to which the aforementioned three waltz, the results can be astounding. This is precisely what xVision claims to do.

    Version 1.26 is the latest version of xVision at the time of writing this review. It will support any release of X-Plane 11 from version 11.30 upwards. At any point of time, the latest beta will be supported too (11.40B1 at the time of writing this). MacOS and Linux aren't supported. You'll need a 64 bit OS at or north of Windows 7, 300 MB of disk space, 1.6 GB of RAM and an active internet connection. I've reviewed xVision 1.26 on X-Plane 11.35r1 on a 3.6 GHz 4th generation i7 with 16 GB of RAM and a 4 GB GTX960M running Windows 10 64 bit. A noteworthy point is that xVision fully supports VR and works well with weather engines such as Active Sky. It can even work with other visual enhancement products such as Ultra Weather XP.

    Like many X-Plane add-ons, xVision doesn't sport an installer. It runs right out of an uncompressed zip file. An internet connection is needed not just the first time you launch xVision but even every time you launch the application hence. You'll be presented with an informative and functional user interface in order to make the product do its magic. Before we proceed any further, it's important to understand how xVision does its magic.

    xVision for X-Plane 11     xVision for X-Plane 11

    Remember the waltz between the trio that renders the virtual world? Xvision leverages on these to do its magic: textures, shaders and Lua scripts. A combination of the three is called a 'solution' or 'preset' in xVision parlance. You'll be transforming your simulation world by applying these solutions or presets to X-Plane 11. xVision ships with three types of presets and each one is fully and highly customizable. If you're up to the challenge, you can even go about creating your own preset from scratch. There are a lot of presets created by the community too available in the file library. The eagle eyed would've noticed the statement of 'Lua scripts'. Yes, this does imply that the freeware FlyWithLua plugin is required to make the most of what xVision is capable of. If you've got your reasons for not using that plugin, xVision can work without it too...provided you've selected the 'non-Lua script' version of a preset.

    Xvision is a tool that will replace some files in your X-Plane 11 folder. This is always something that unnerves me. Thankfully, the tool will backup all of your original files the first time you start it. The rollback process is easy and works absolutely fine. Equally easy it is to apply a solution to X-Plane 11. That last sentence sounded like something Yoda from Star Wars would say. Out of the box, there are three types of solutions that can be applied: Impressive, Nordic and Classic. We'll take a good look at them in a bit. When a preset is applied, here's a rundown of what governs what: shaders alter colors, textures alter sky, water and clouds, and Lua scripts add extra effects.

    xVision for X-Plane 11     xVision for X-Plane 11

    Hoping to be impressed, I started off with the 'Impressive' solution. Sure enough, something was different. But not quite as different as I hoped it to be. Had I been deceived by screen shots? Thankfully, no. A chance look at the solution's notes in the xVision UI revealed that for post processing effects, a minimum AA setting of FXAA is required. Post this correction, I was impressed. Right off the bat, my eyes were greeted with a colorful, vivid and sharp X-Plane world. The screen shots will probably speak for themselves. Certain 'feels' can't quite be verbally quantified. The dull washed away look of X-Plane is done away with completely. The new shaders, colors and sharpness make the virtual cockpit a more lively place to be. The skies looked a little better too, as did the water and the clouds.

    Tags: xvision

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