When we reviewed SSGs first few files, their original 748 and E-jets, we were impressed with their systems programming – yet a little less than impressed with some of the modeling we saw. Well, that was then, and this is, as they say, now. And while we’re still impressed with their systems integration, the modeling evident in this latest iteration of the Embraer E-195 is getting very close to top-shelf.
There are a lot of panels in X-plane that still have sort of a, well, a cartoonish look about them. We’re not going to name names, but we all know who they are because we all run into them from time to time. Most often in a freeware file, but still too often in supposed payware-quality files, you’ll find a flat looking panel with monotone texturing and flat, I mean FLAT instruments. There’s no depth, no subtle shading, on these files. Flight Factor was one of the first to bust out of this mold, yet even their earliest versions of the 777 still had a bit of that effect, primarily a lack of depth – then the IXEG 733 came along and those guys really shook the foundations. They showed just how much XP was capable of rendering when artists took their time and get it right the first time.
Well, some people have taken that lesson to heart while, predictably, others haven’t. And it all boils down to a simple division of labor. Many developers put almost their effort into developing a flawless exterior – then have almost nothing left and rush the file into release – with a half-assed cockpit in place.
Well, X-plane is a flight simulator, and “flight” takes place in the cockpit. Yes, it’s super nice to have a faithfully reproduced exterior (and it’s necessary where wings are concerned), but spending all your time “outside” – at the expense of a super well-executed cockpit – seems an exercise in misplaced priorities.
That said, it’s nice to see that this SSG E-jet looks as good inside the cockpit as it does out on the ramps.
Yes, the exterior details, the ones that count, are all here. The leading edge of the engine nacelle is curved, not a razor sharp edge, and strakes appear to be placed correctly. Pylon details are there too, and the leading edge looks decent.
The slotted “Fowler-flaps” on the wing are nice to see now, too.
Landing gear details were always good, even back on the early files, and that remains.
And we appreciate the landing stairs that started showing up a few versions back. The transparent covering is spot on, too.
And having airline specific markings on the stairs is a nice touch.
Other ground details? The opening Captain’s and FO’s windows…yeah, nice, and ambient noises changes when they open & close.
And, how does all this work at night?
If you have HDR rendering active and at MAX you’re in for a treat.
No bleed-through on the tail and lots of reflections and light scatter, everywhere you look. Subtle gradations in light fall-off are evident and appreciated.
Below, most cockpit lights are off – and it’s dark out. What gives?
Well, all that light on the ramps at KIDA, that’s what. We told you they’re bright! Operating “cold and dark” won’t be a huge issue here…
Pull away from the ramps and this is what you’ll see!
Actually, I had trouble with the panel brightness manipulator. It just did nothing, but dialing up the overhead dome/storm lighting “just a little” kept things looking correct.
All in all, clarity of all gauges and displays was good, much better than other recently reviewed files that reproduce a similar display system. However, when you click on these displays they do not enlarge.
So, initial impressions of the flight model? (and oh, sorry for the interruption, but note the irrigation equipment in the field below…from the KIDA file…just fantastic!).
Acceleration on takeoff feels good, not like another E-jet out on the market – which accelerates like a Mig-29 on afterburners. Flying the pattern in the low 200s, we had no problem adjusting or holding speed, but pitch trim was sluggish.
At approach speeds: no wallowing noted, very good pitch and roll authority, rudder a little sluggish.
Reverse thrust really slows this beast down in a hurry. My guess? You’ll only need it at airports with super short runways (Alaska, anyone?).
Taxiing? Precise, no problems noted. Braking responsive. All in all, excellent low-speed control accept out on your takeoff roll, where a little more rudder might come in handy.
Oh, here’s something I hope more people adopt as they struggle with how to best implement ground services. (below) This little display is just ingenious and, as indicated by the green arrow, there are two pages. Page 1 handles a lot of ground control issues, from getting a GPU hooked up to calling for a push-back. Further, you can set Field of View, open doors and get that airstair into place. Go to page two and you have all relevant weight & balance parameters right there, and you can get fuel (no credit card required, too), all right there in the cockpit. Like I said, ingenious.
So, where do we stand on this file?
Well, SSG has always been a sentimental favorite, underdogs struggling against the big boys. With the continued evolution of their 748, I’d say they’ve dispelled a lot of the naysayers out there – yet I’d also say that with this -195 they’re getting real close to the big boys now. In other words, they’re no longer what many would consider a second-tier developer.
Work remains. The overhead panel still looks a little “off” and the throttle quadrant could use some love, but the main panel on this file simply works now, setting aside the panel lighting not working as it should. Rudder control, pitch trim and cockpit lighting would seem to be the last items keeping this file from a perfect 10 out of 10; as is we’ll call it a 9/10.
One last word, and this concerns liveries. Why were Air Canada and American omitted? USAir is gone, so why include that one? Why no Air France, or Austrian? No Finnair, no TAPexpress? I hope there are plans to add these, with implementation including airstairs, because these would be truly useful to have. As it stands, only two included liveries seem even remotely interesting, but that’s a subjective opinion. Hopefully, this situation will change soon.
So, this concludes our first walk-around of the SSG E-195. After we work with the file over the next week or so we’ll post an update if we find anything new worth passing along. That said, thanks for coming along. See you next time. – A