Captain Sim 757-200 Review
There are two types of simmer in this world. One who enjoy the eye candy, the visual effects, and the stunning animations. Then there are those who prefer a more smooth, and realistic experience of simulated flying. Depending on which of those you are, you may very much enjoy the Captain Sim Boeing 757 package.
Now myself, with a fairly low spec computer (Intel Celeron 2.4ghz processor, 1.5GB RAM and a nVidia FX5600 128mb graphics card), am used to getting dismal framerates when it comes to highly detailed aircraft and scenic addons. So, I knew that when I installed this B757 package, rumored to be the most complex model of its type on the payware market, I wouldn't be getting a stunningly smooth flight when I took it up for a test.
The route I had chosen to fly, was from RNZAF Base Ohakea (NZOH) to Avalon (YMAV) in the Rolls Royce powered -200 series, with the Royal New Zealand Airforce paint scheme.
Now first things first, before I even loaded up the sim, I used Captainsim's ACE Tool (Aircraft Configuration Editor) to adjust the aircraft model to my personal specifications. With this, I was able to choose whether or not to include a virtual cockpit and winglets, whether to have a cabin view or a winglet view, and the amount of passengers and cargo I was to load up.
I choose to have the wing view in the VC mode, because as impressive as the entire virtual cockpit is with its cockpit, galleys, lavatories, and first class seating, my poor old processor would display it like a slideshow, so I picked the mode with fewer polygons. Next I loaded up a limited cargo, and a small handful of passengers (Some representatives from Boeing and the Airforce to answer any questions I had in flight), then it was time to rev up the sim and get airborne.
Sitting on the tarmac at Ohakea, I received my IFR clearance from the controller, taxied into position and slid the throttles forward. The custom 757 sound pack roared to life, giving me a nice surprise, and making it feel quite exhilarating to be rolling down the runway- something no other addon has accomplished for me previously. I reached V1 and rotated, switching from spot view to the 2D panel view- a little more complexed than the default fs2004 B737 one that I am used to when I fly with instrument flight rules.
When I was instructed to climb up to 12,000 feet, I found myself having quite a bit of trouble turning the animated dials to increase my airspeed, altitude and heading on the autopilot panel due to the lag that produced a few seconds pause before taking affect after clicking my mouse buttom. Because of this, my rather simple departure climb into cruise was all over the place and left me feeling annoyed as I am usually able to accomplish this maneuver perfectly with my other installed heavies.
Eventually, I leveled out at 34,000 feet over the Tasman Sea, and experimented swapping between a few different views to see which I preferred the most. The VC was fun, with a clickable cabin door that swung open giving way to the wing views, yet even with 0% AI, limited status clouds overhead a huge empty ocean (no autogen in sight), and no other applications running in the background, my computer could only achieve 5-7FPS, which made flying unbearable. This was replicated in both the 2D panel and exterior views as well, due to the fact that so many custom animations were on display in the highly detailed model.
You must also bear in mind that this was in the "lighter' version of the two VC modes available. I could have turned the VC off completely, but doing so only gains one or two extra FPS at max, and wasn't worth it in this test flight.
If I had a higher spec system, I would have definitely used the full cabin mode, so I could actually sit down in a first class seat, and watch out of the window of the cabin like a real passenger. This would have been fun, but now I think about it, as I have never traveled in first class in my life, I would have preferred to take a seat in the economy section for a more realistic experience, yet the cabin ceases to exist after the first class partition.
This made me wonder by Captain Sim only included the first class cabin, and why not build the whole thing right down to the tail section. Sure, it would cause a big lag on lower end machines, but it seems pointless only going half way and having lag anyway!
I couldn't bear cruising for the next two and a half hours with the constant stutters, so, for the first time in many years, I opened up the fs2004 map window, and placed my aircraft a good 1000km away, just above off coast of Victoria, Australia, so I could get straight onto the descent and approach into Avalon.
ATC cleared me down to FL200, then 12,000ft, 6000ft and eventually 2000ft as I crossed the city of Melbourne, and banked to 177 degrees to make my ILS approach into runway 18. The stutters were bearable at this point, and I was able to set the aircraft up for a pretty good landing (although not dead on the centreline thanks to a slight crosswind), using a combination of autopilot and manual controls.
I flew the final few hundred feet just with the five ciruclar Cessna-style gauges on my screen (accessed in the 2D panel mode by "CTRL+W' pressed two times) which gave me better visibility and more frames back when I was on finals. I found it very easy to control the power on this aircraft, after having a lot of practice on the POSKY 737 and 767 models, making it easy for me to idle the throttles over the threshold, and slow down to a halt in plenty of time.
During an instant replay of the final few seconds of my flight in spot view, the animations from the wing flex, engine reversers, flaps and spoilers that I had missed from the panel view because apparent and really pleased me. I guess the saying "you get what you pay for"Â is true, because I have never seen this level of quality in the exterior views of any of the freeware heavy airliners that I have installed.
Once I taxied to the ramp and switched off all my systems, I had a play around with the animations control panel, which allows you to activate or deactivate certain exterior moving parts, rather than have to remember the thousands of key combinations. (273 custom 3D animations in the VC, 97 custom model animations, 40+ 2D systems pop-up panels)
Finally, I opened up the first class cabin doors for my VIP passengers to disembark, but as there was no jetways at Avalon, my passengers had no way to leave the aircraft. I thought this odd that Captain Sim had refrained from including some animated, or even static, air stair animations that many other models on the market have.
I then shut down the sim and had a scroll through the screenshots which I had taken during the flight, only to confirm my worst fears. The RNZAF textures appeared over sharpened in flight, with the windows, vinyl's and textures appearing grainy in spot view, unless completely zoomed in. I don't know if this is a Captain Sim issue, or if it is just my old graphics card, but the unwanted effect had been captured with my printscreen key as you can see above and below.
Another thing that I had noticed on my screenshots, just as I have seen in real life, is that the nose shape of the B757 reminds me of an airbus. Most of Boeing's fleet tend to have a more pointy nose and stocky body, yet this aircraft looks like a half American- half European hybrid, which Captain Sim's modelers had captured perfectly, giving it a very graceful look in the virtual skies.
Now after I have finished writing this article, I am able to summarize my opinions of the Captain Sim Boeing 757, from the viewpoint of a low-end computer user.What I did like:
â€¢ ACE Tool to tailor settings for your own system
â€¢ Awesome Sound Package
â€¢ Amazing visual animations, both in the exterior and interior
â€¢ Huge range of liveries included in download
â€¢ Great wing flex effect
â€¢ Easy to control switchboard for animations
â€¢ Fuselage shape looks exactly right
â€¢ RNZAF textures were just the right color (compared to other models which have it wrong)What I disliked:
â€¢ Awful performance with low FPS
â€¢ RNZAF textures appear over sharpened
â€¢ Cabin VC did not extend for entire length of fuselageWhat I would like to see improved:
â€¢ Addition of air stairs
â€¢ A low performance model for low spec computers
â€¢ A 10 trial version made available so that you can test it on your machine
Of course I am biased, but lets face it, in the world of increasingly cheapening technology, most people can afford to run a better rig than me, so the points I have highlighted are properly not as valid as a year or so ago when my system was top of the line.
My final verdict would be to score this aircraft 2.5 stars out of 5
, purely because it is so very detailed, but runs so poorly on my system. I am sure that to a good 90% of you with decent computers, this product will please your socks off. No matter what sort of simmer you are, the eye candy lover or the smoother realistic experience sort of person, this aircraft has the potential to satisfy you in both ways.
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