Worth Jumping to X-Plane?

Actually, the title should say …”is it worth to leaving Microsoft Flight Simulator X behind you, and start a new life with X-Plane 10?” To answer this question, I can only speak for myself and anyway, how have you configured FSX and what kind of addons do you like?

Although I’ve had X-Plane 9, for some reason I couldn’t make much of it. Not because it wasn't any good, but simply because I didn’t know where to start. All X-Plane 9 keyboard and/or shortcut commands are different from FSX and, by the way, X-Plane 10 commands are still different. So, that was my first struggle. I never did anything with X-Plane 9 till X-Plane 10 saw daylight, and when that happened I saw a different daylight and challenge.

That said, it still wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. Via Aerosoft, I got the opportunity to test X-Plane 10 and still it wasn’t easy to figure out all the different commands and how to calibrate my Saitek Pro Flight hardware. Was I the reason that I couldn’t calibrate all that hardware? And was I the reason that I didn’t understand how X-Plane works or was it just like ….. home sweet home with FSX!

While taking care of the daily news as ASN’s Chief Editor, I came in contact with many X-Plane developers and an X-plane expert. He taught me many things and before I knew it, I got more and more of a grip on X-Plane. More importantly, I started to like X-Plane 10. The only issue I had on my iMac, and I'm sure along with many Mac users, was the OOM (Out Of Memory) issue. This is a known problem under Mac OS X because of the limited amount of addressable memory for the 32 bit X-Plane 10.11. While writing this column, the problem for Mac users has been solved, since X-Plane is now also 64 bits.

With the increasing amount of hi-quality sceneries and aircraft, I start to love X-Plane more and more. And yes, I must admit that there’s much more on the market for FSX when it comes to sceneries, airports, aircraft etc. but be honest, FSX has been on the market for some years now while X-Plane 10 started around November 2011. So, there’s a lot of hi-quality freeware and payware, dedicated to X-Plane 10 and only some on the market right now for version 10.20 and then in particular when it comes to 64 bit airplanes.

Let me give you some examples of what I like (and that I've tested or reviewed) and what’s worth the money:
- JRollon CRJ200 and Jetstream 32,
- 777 Worldliner Professional,
- TruScenery Helsinki-Malmi,
- Aerosoft Schiphol Amsterdam,
- JARDesign A320neo,
- x737Project,
- X-FMC or UFMC,
- QPAC Airbus A320,
- Peters Aircraft A380,
- Carenado C337H, PA28, C208B,
- Alabeo Pitts S-2S,
- MAXX XP Urbanmaxx Extreme v2 3D,
- SSG Embraer 170/190 Series,
- Sceneries from Chris K and ISDG,
- alpilotX.net New Zealand Pro.

This list is only a tip of the iceberg. Believe me, there’s much more freeware and payware available, but the above list is what I have tested, just installed or reviewed.

Ramzzess, who works with Philipp on their 777 Worldliner Professional, created many other great looking models, but I don’t have them, so difficult to judge about these aorplanes. What I ‘ve seen so far is absolutely worth changing to X-Plane and yes, I still have Windows 7 plus Microsoft Flight Simulator X on my iMac via Bootcamp. Not because I like to swap, but sometimes I need to test something for Aerosoft Sim News. To be honest, if you compare the default FSX with default X-Plane 10, X-Plane is much further ahead. That's not so strange if you consider that X-Plane 10 is pretty new and FSX is already many years old. When you make comparisons, the default X-Plane scenery, including some airports, look definitely good, no doubt about that!
Even the default X-plane aircraft aren’t that bad. For sure, better then the default FSX scenery and airplanes and because of what I've seen, that's what I think. Although I’m not a programmer, I suspect that the X-Plane “core engine” is much more advanced then that of FSX.

Do we miss something for X-Plane?
Probably, but this will change in the near future. Yes, wouldn’t it be great if, for example, PMDG and Aerosoft joined the X-Plane market with their MD11, 777, 737 NGX and the Airbus X Extended? Or what do you think of Orbx with their awesome airports and other developments? Many questions and so little answers. I can’t read their minds so I’ve got no idea if they are already busy with X-Plane developments.

Then there’s another question.
Do you need a lighter or powerful PC/Mac?
What implies for FSX is not much different for X-Plane 10, so a powerful PC for FSX is the same for X-Plane. One of the X-Plane advantages I can think of is that it not only checks the CPU, but also the GPU or perhaps better said, the overall PC/Mac hardware. This should result in a better performance.

I don’t want to go too deeply into this. First of all because I still need to understand a bit more before I write. Second, I’m not an X-Plane expert. I’m just an enthusiastic X-Plane user who is now spending more hours with X-plane and less with FSX. By doing so many X-plane reviews and learning day by day, I’ll pick up many things about how to control and love X-Plane more then ever before. And yes, I know that certain scenery and aircraft packages are missing, but I think this will change. I think that since Microsoft stopped any Flight Simulator development, X-Plane can move on and take their chances. There’s only one thing that could keep FSX users from jumping to X-Plane. You need to forget all FSX keyboard commands and start all over again with X-Plane. That’s perhaps the only issue I could bring up.

And suppose, even after reading this column, you have your doubts or you want to have it, then give it a try and download the free demo version of X-Plane 10. When you’re a Mac user, use this link, for Linux you’re better use this one and finally, for Windows this link.

The X-Plane 10 demo is nearly identical to the full version of X-Plane 10 Global. It has the same aircrafts, with the same world-class flight model and beautifully realistic rendering technology, but it only comes with scenery for the Seattle area - instead of the whole world - and it will ignore joystick input after 15 minutes.

Overall, this free demo includes:
- Over 40 aircraft,
- The ability to shoot IFR and VFR approaches,
- Immersive scenery for Seattle-Tacoma Airport with surrounding area.

Last but not least; the screenshots in this column are clean X-plane 10.20 64 bits. They are not photoshopped or whatever to enhance the quality. You can say what you want, but the default 747-400, although not perfect, doesn't look bad at all! The only thing I added, are the two British Airways One and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines liveries, but besides that, clean default XP10. And, judge for yourself when you see the default ground texture quality. Not bad either! See you the next time with another “Worth Jumping to X-Plane?” column.

With Greetings,

Angelique van Campen
February 20th, 2013