X-Plane 9

X-Plane 9 is an incredibly realistic flight simulator that you might recognize by some of the inert adverts strewn about this site. With simple thrust and flap control, tilting to maneuver and a full set of words that end in “-ometer” to aid your simulated flight, this game promises to test your mettle and precision.

There isn’t much in regards to training when it comes to playing this game– just an immediate thrust into the action of lift-off. Simple instructions explain the basic process of lifting off and landing, but once that message is gone you’ll be tossed to the wolves (so to say). Not to say that this game isn’t entertaining; by any means, it’s quite the contrary. The challenge of figuring out how to control the aeroplane and battling against the elements can make for plenty of time investments, or, as I like to call them, ‘learning experiences’.

The graphics are, for lack of a better term, awful. While the aeroplane is well-rendered (flashing lights, lowered gears and all), that is about as far as the design team seems to have gone. The lack of true scenery kept me wanting, where the only change in view was when I aimed straight toward the sky or zipped over a mountain.

There’s something to be said about the versatility of this game, however. You can create full climate settings in the menu and begin the entire flight anew whenever you would like. From the sunny coasts of Hawai’i to the brusque chill of Alaska, you will be able to climb and dive through cloudy skies and starry nights. Wind and turbulence are also adjustable, as well as the type and weight of your aeroplane. I used to work for a private airport and got the opportunity to ride and even pilot a couple Cessnas while I was there, and I can say without a doubt that this is the most realistic flight simulator I have ever used, barring the ‘real deal’ simulators used by professionals.

Multiplayer is kind of a drag, to be honest. Michael and myself tried testing it out at the office but only succeeded at getting frustrated and playing by ourselves. We tried finding tutorials online, but to no avail.

As a post-script, I should mention that during play my screen dimmed, and I assume it would have locked if I didn’t touch it sooner. I’m not quite sure whether this is an exception or if there’s actually a bug in the software, but it definitely occurred during one of my longer flights. Performance overall is decent, with only a few very minor bits of lag.

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