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Publisher: Laminar Research    Genre: Flight Sim
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: 601 @ 400 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 250 MB    Graphics: 800x600

X-Plane 6
May 29, 2002 | Tim Morgan

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The high-performance F-16.
Your typical gun toting, gib-happy gamer may scratch his or her head when confronted with the paradox of general-aviation flight sims. These games lack purpose or climax: they simply strive to simulate real-world civilian aviation as accurately as possible. There are no weapons, no glorious victories, and no spectacular explosions in mid-air, simply a fleet of aircraft and a world to see.

This is exactly the appeal that draws afternoon aviators to these computer games. Patiently waiting for air traffic control to give you clearance to land, soaring over beautiful west-coast terrain, fiddling with the mixture and prop to get the best endurance — all of these help create character in what would otherwise seem like a hopeless genre. General aviation simulators bring the sheer exhilaration of flying — of being up in the air, soaring blissfully over the gravity-shackled world below — to your desktop computer.

It is this mentality to which Laminar Research’s X-Plane strives to appeal. X-Plane attempts to satiate demands for a game with the same longevity as real-life aviation, a different flying experience each time. X-Plane does this by offering gamers a world to explore and a potentially endless number of craft in which to explore it.

Hopping into the left seat
The first thing buyers will notice is that X-Plane takes a surprisingly long amount of time to load. X-Plane loads an array of textures, aircraft, and models before allowing the player to begin his or her flight. While recent versions of X-Plane have shortened this load time, it is still worth mentioning.

After all the relevant data files are loaded, the player is shown a setup screen where he or she can choose an aircraft and an airport to start from, as well as specify a number of settings relating to weather conditions and the like. Because X-Plane is fully modular, the number of aircraft or airports the player will be able to choose from will vary from system to system.

Once the player has set up his or her flying environment, the game spends some more time loading data, and then sticks the player into the pilot’s seat.


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