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Reviewer name

Sam Needs

 

Review Date:

October 2005

 

Product Information

 

Distribution - Payware
Type: Aircraft Package
Author Flight1
Website www.flight1.com

Buy here www.flight1.com/products.asp?product=FL1-ATR-001

Price: $34.95

 

Test System

AMD 64 3200+
Asus KN8-E Deluxe
Sapphire X800 XT 256mb
1GB Geil PC3200
Hyundai ImageQuest Q770 17in

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Flight1 have been around since 1997. This time they have created and published one of the most innovative add-ons to grace the flight simulation skies. Their team consist of many dedicated staff who worked together with external developers to create some of the most realistic simulations of real world aircraft.

 

ATR desired a PC based simulation of the 72-500 and went about looking for a team that could offer what they needed. Flight1 were selected as the team to work with ATR on this development. The deal was struck, and over 15,000 man hours later, the product brings to us the most accurate and visually delightful rendition of this aircraft to simmers screens.

 

Whats in the box?

 

When you first open the box you are greeted by some Flight1 postcards, instructions regarding installing the software from the CD and some leaflets which are basically mini-brochures of products available from ITVV and Flight1. However at first glance I couldnt see a manual (which youd expect to be part of the package in a boxed version) but after further investigation it came to my attention that there is a perfectly adequate reason for this, the manual itself weighs in at a massive 481 pages. This is due to the massive amount of detail that incorporates the operation of this aircraft.

 

The box wasnt mega packed, but had what it needed to interest the simmer. The brochure gave details to titles currently on sale, with the postcards being a nice touch, as well as instructions for installing the package itself.

 

Installation and Documentation

 

As this was boxed, there was no download to contend with. Instead the CD enclosed in the package was placed in the drive and the auto run feature automatically brought up the prompt to install, to which I gladly accepted. It first registers the product by a module which was installed on the hard drive. Once registration is complete, the actual installation of the product continues. No problem here, straight forward and easy to deal with.

 

The documentation which is included in the CD Rom is in Adobe Reader PDF format. Now I hear you say Why not a solid manual or a book of some sort? Well, its 481 pages long! You can figure out why it may have caused a slight problem shipping it as a solid manual! Still, the PDF manual goes into extreme detail, covering every part of the product, top to bottom, front to back. Nothing is missed. As I said, its very long, and extensive. It pairs up with the product very well, given its a complex aircraft, which of course needs an extensive manual to ensure realistic and correct operation to which the manual gladly obliges to offer in the masses!

 

 

The Configuration of the ATR

 

Accompany the package is a very nice configuration manager which configures various parts of the aircraft and its systems. It is able to configure the gauge refresh rates, the instrument panel, weights and balance of the aircraft and the actual model itself (whether youd like it to include a wing view, the virtual cabin, the VC and so on). The ATR Configuration Manager was extremely easy to use and posed no problems. It gave me the option to show the instrument panel in either the blue or brown colour configuration, what colour Id like the cabin to be fitted with, whether Id like a wing view or cabin and so forth. Overall the variety of things that could be configured to suit the user and his or her system was great. I found this to be a nice addition to the product, which made an already great add-on even better as I could customise it to suit my needs or system.

 

The layout of the Configuration Manager contains a very nice graphically-driven, well laid-out interface, which any user would not have a problem operating.

 

 

 

Flight Dynamics

 

The flight dynamics dont really have anything negative to report in this review. As I am not an FDE editor, I am in no position to take it apart and analyse everything about it. But I can say that based on information and articles I have read about it, the Flight1 ATR performs exactly how youd expect it to. No complaints here.

 

Model

 

The model exterior has been developed to perfection. Obviously it would take years to model it down to absolute 100% perfection, modelling absolutely ever nook and cranny of the aircraft, but as is its very well done. It is perfect from every angle. The shape of the wing box is perfect, the nose and cockpit windows are great, and overall the model is an accurate representation of the aircraft. The animations are also very smooth and accurate. The aircraft is visually appealing and extremely accurate. The job undertaken on the modelling in this package is a-star.

 

Textures

 

The textures and liveries far exceed a standard that is merely just acceptable. Both the textures inside and out are completed in meticulous fashion. Every part of the fuselage has been textured to a quality which you will be more than happy with. While the liveries are very nice, some details like fuselage lines and rivets in the texture slightly put the overall quality down as they stand out and dont blend with the colour of the fuselage, as they are slightly pale. On the inside, the textures are equally as good. The user also has the option to run either high resolution textures (for higher end systems) or normal textures (for the lower end system) in the virtual cockpit. This can be configured in the configuration manager at the users convenience. Additionally the user can specify whether the textures on the fuselage are 32bit or DXT3 with mip maps enabled or disabled. The ability to configure the textures to ensure the package runs well on all systems in fantastic. Flight1 take their customers experiences/use of their products into account and insure that they get the most out of the product they purchase. This is great as they value the experience their customers provide from both the visual point of view (the quality of the textures) and the performance of the textures.

 

The paint kit, which is available on the actual CD and the Flight1 ATR website, is very easy to use. The template consists of 1 canvas with the various parts of the fuselage. From experience, this makes the whole painting process a lot easier, depending upon how you prefer to paint. No complaints there! The ease of use is very high regardless of whether you are an experienced, or rookie painter. Very nice and easy. The actual importing of repaints takes place under the Text-o-Matic application, which also has its own PDF to explain how its used. Basically you finish your repaint, and import it via the Text-o-Matic application where you specify formats, names, and so on. Very nice. Ive found it very easy to use and visually appealing. They certainly have it down to a T when it comes to configuration/repaint configurations. The paint kit is very user friendly, which is always good because some payware aircraft dont even have a paint kit included in their packages.

 

Overall, a very nice job has been done here, top notch. No complaints, very much one of the pros of this product.

 

 

 

 

Sounds

 

The sounds have been completed to a very professional standard. The whine of the ATR Turbo-Prop engines is very evident. You wont be fooled, while flying inside or outside, that this is anything else other than an ATR! They are really awesome.

 

Panel and Virtual Cockpit/Cabin

 

The systems within the actual panel portion of the aircraft are realistic representations down to the smallest part of a procedure. Many aspects of this realism would often be overlooked by the average simmer in a normal aircraft (such as a fire detection system which needs to be tested before anything else can be done), but they are included into the model. The systems are very complex, a true and proper representation of the real thing. Each of the panels contains a high quality bitmap which does the flight deck on this aircraft proud. A complex aircraft needs extensive and substantial explanation for beginners and pros alike to attune to the aircrafts systems and procedures.

 

There are several sub panels that cover the FMC, EFIS, Autopilot, Throttle, Radios and Overhead panels. Nothing has been left out. It goes for the whole package. A banner with the words Attention to Detail was surely pasted above all of the developers desks, for sure. It really does show, and by far, this part of the aircraft is my favourite part. From start-up, to programming of the FMC, and to landing of the magnificent aircraftits all a pleasure to carry out. The smoothness of the gauges is outstanding! They are fluid in every sense. In fact, they are so smooth it required Flight1 to incorporate an option to slow them down...Obviously for performance reasons. Every digital gauge such as the EICAS, PFD and FMC have vectored graphics and fonts, so they can be resized to be smaller or to fit the screen of a second monitor without any degradation in quality. The gauges are truly a masterpiece.

Now onto the virtual cockpit. The overall quality of it is amazing. As Flight1 notes on the back of the box, A virtual cockpit, including never before seen cockpit animation, which will leave you believing youre sitting the actual aircraft, is not an untruth! There are many little parts that move correctly and smoothly, such as the compass, and various others, which are often over looked. The gauges in this part of the product stutter and arent as smooth or fluid as of those in the 2d panel however. It would have been so much better and to an extent, a breakthrough for add-on design if the gauges moved as smoothly as they did in the 2d cockpit, but unfortunately they dont.

 

The cabin has been replicated in meticulous fashion. The seats actually look leather-like, and arent textured with a solid colour, but more photoreal textures which combine with the hand painted parts to produce a very nice looking cabin. The overall immersion factor is very high throughout the cabin, which follows on straight from the VC (if you specify it to). Also, everything has been modelled to a standard which is by far an extremely acceptable standard to which users will often have to sit back and say This isnt real, its simulation. Needless to say, it is hard while standing in the lavatory of the Flight1 ATR (which actually works) to convince yourself that it is a sim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animations

 

Within the model are out of this world animations which combine to make you believe you are in the real thing. The array of items that are animated is quite staggering. Everything from the windscreen to the tail that can be animatedis. The amount of attention to each and every part of the aircraft is amazing. I really have to applaud Flight1 for putting this many interactive parts into the inside, and outside of this aircraft.

 

 

 

 

Performance

 

Performance wise, the package runs surprisingly well. I say surprisingly because of the amount of high resolution, 32-bit textures on the out and inside of the model. The outside model only consists of 28000 polygons which could account for the good performance on the exterior. Panning never presented me with any stutters while rotating around and the general flying of the model gave me fluid game play. I have no complaints with the package at all. The overall experience wasnt ruined by time lapse style game play and the amount of features that are incorporated as well as the detail shown, are quite awesome when you get to experience them with an extremely acceptable amount of FPS.

 

Conclusion

 

Overall, the package is an all round well done package. Everything from the model, to the flight dynamics to the configuration capabilities, make this aircraft a must buy for all simmers. I was quite impressed by the amount of detail in the model, virtual cockpit, textures and sound, and how all of them could be experienced with a solid amount of FPS to give a nice fluid game play.

 

What I like about the Flight1 ATR-72-500

 

What I dont like about the Flight1 ATR-72-500

 

NOTE: The version of the software used at the time of this review was 2.1 which shipped with the boxed version.

Score: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)

 

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