This is going to sound a little self-defeating, but there’s hardly any point reviewing an aircraft file as pristine as IXEG’s 733 Classic. In the last version, I read a few reviews that pointed out this or that quirk in the flight model and I just couldn’t duplicate what had been mentioned. Put it off to something in hardware settings, perhaps?
And to make matters a little more delicate, as a reviewer you’re supposed to be brutally honest in your assessment…and I get that. I also know that this last version was, quite literally, as close to perfect as anything I’d experienced in X-plane. When I first opened the last version ( a few months ago ) I flew a pattern then fired off a half dozen screenies to Simon, then it was onto Facetime, where I raved non-stop about the file for what must have seemed, to him, like seventy or so hours. Objective? Yeah, sure, I guess. Like…Amy Adams is walking towards you on the sidewalk and you’re not going to stare, right?
So, when I fired up the latest revision earlier today I was scared. I mean, I had the jitters.
Well, I was terrified that somehow, someway, someone at IXEG tried to go fancy on us and tweaked a critical setting – and so totally screwed up the feel of the best .acf in Xp. What would we, all of us in X-plane, do? Cry? Drink a keg of beer? Try to find Amy Adams and pull a Trump on her? Yeah…I was THAT scared…
Well, whatever (or whoever) else the guys at IXEG may be, before they formed the current team most were working at the X-plane Freeware Project. They cranked out the best 757 anyone had ever seen, too, but they also put out two remarkable files: a DC9 that was hard as hell to get your hands on and a 733 that was decent, but unfinished. You can look at old images of the XPFWP 733 and see the integrity of their first models was only a kind of teaser, and a lot of us got our hands on the 733 and thought we were previewing what we hoped to find in IXEG’s handiwork.
And, as you can imagine, nothing could have prepared us – or anyone, for that matter – with IXEG’s finished product. I wrote then and I’ll re-affirm now: there’s not one .acf in X-plane (so far) that comes close. I say that with zero time in the FF A320 Ultimate (so far), yet I’ve felt confident the IXEG would remain at the top of the mountain.
After using this latest, v1.3 revision, I feel that confidence has not been misplaced.
You won’t see the difference…or FEEL it, until you open this cockpit on a hi-def screen, but everything pops now. Colors especially, but even shaped seem more defined, and I supposed that had a lot to do with PBR materials rendering. Even the flaps setting gauge seems more readable from a distance now, and from anywhere in the ‘pit. Yet, while no specific changes were made to the basic textures in the cockpit, Cameron at X-Aviation advised the more reflective glass employed adds depth. I’d agree, too. The difference, to me, isn’t subtle…it’s a nice improvement, one I think you’ll appreciate, and it’s impossible to miss.
Routine operation seems little changed – if at all, but in the image above check out the two reflections on the vertical stabilizer. More PBR? Another tweak, perhaps…wheel well lighting seems brighter, especially at the nose. Or…I could be just full of it and totally impartial now. What I do know? It’s been weeks since I’ve spent a few hours in this cockpit, and man, does it feel GOOD to be back. There’s just nothing else like it in Xp
Even the cockpit (above), as seen from the ramp, seems better defined now. Taxiing felt different, too, as in more intolerant of sloppy handling and/or going too fast. Oh, while most of my hardware settings were fine, I needed to re-check the nosewheel steering option. If you have issues on this front, check these settings first.
Ah, the airport in these images is the latest revision to KPHL Philadelphia International, which came out a couple of days ago (I would assume a few minutes after the Super Bowl…). A few tweaks to the main terminal area are included here, but I gather most of the work was on the downtown area, with several new buildings reported added to the city file. There are a few heliports down there, too.
One area where the flight model was tweaked concerns the low altitude, low-speed regime. You can read about it in the changelog, but you’ll notice the change, and I think you’ll like this, too, once you’re used to it.
I flew to KPIT, or, I should say, to the latest freeware KPIT that came out a few days ago, just my usual VOR to VOR thing, and landing this aircraft is still just about my favorite thing in X-plane. Predictable and smooth are the two words that come to mind; polished…is another. Hyper-realistic? Is that going too far? Jack’s new 732 has a little low-speed porpoising, but you won’t find anything like that here.
The 733 is in the center of the image (below), and here it’s seen by zooming out (using the comma key) then zooming back in with the “+” key. Note the windows are still visible; more importantly, the side of the fuselage is still nicely defined. With the FF752, zooming out and in like this reveals an overblown texture that looks like crumpled tin-foil under a bright light. The 733s texturing job is perfect.
This KPIT file is another matter entirely. Lots of lights missing, some areas with no lighting at all, I’d consider this a WIP file, with quite a way to go, too. Still, lots of promise here.
Below, at PADU Unalaska, and this is one of the most interesting files in the western Alaska region you’ll find. Sandwiched on a little isthmus about halfway out the Aleutian Island chain, this airport is virtually surrounded by water…and at 4100 feet, the runway here is really too short for any kind of routine 737 ops. PenAir flies Saabs to Anchorage from PADU, but the developer of the scenery has seen fit to load up the ramps with Alaskan 738s (and one 340A), so if you’re up for a little challenge, do try to fly the 733 in or out of here. If you miss the TDZ by much, you’d better hope the 733 sprouts water-skis for landing gear, and fast.
The last place I checked out today (in the 733, anyway) was NAPS/Fred’s latest revision to PHLI, Lihue, Hawaii. Some very nice custom terminal work sets this file apart, and I wanted to check a few of Fred’s Hawaiian files out with the 733 – as it’s the perfect inter-island RJ. More soon!
Oh…the option to use either steam-gauges or digital tapes is still available for engine instruments on the 733s panel. Steam lives!
If you’re a previous owner of the IXEG 733 this is a free-update from X-Aviation; you should have received an email notification from X-Aviation (assuming you checked “keep me updated!” when you purchased???); if not, check in with Cameron and I’m sure he’ll get you sorted out. X-Aviation has top-notch customer service…they always have, so don’t sweat it.
If you don’t have the IXEG 733 for X-plane, I’m sure you’ve got your reasons. I hope you think they’re good ones, because I can see no reason for anyone even halfway interested in airline ops to not have this file. I’d take it a step farther, however. Let’s play: “If you could only have one aircraft file to use in X-plane, what would it be?”
No question. This is the one…the Big Kahuna.
And it just got better.
Here’s the second NAPS file we looked at today, PHOH, Kahului, Hawaii. If you’re into flutterbugs (aka helicopters) you’ll want this one.
The two hangers immediately above are just packed with solar panels, and don’t take my word for it; get up close and take a look at these things. Very cool, Fred.
Lots of detail here around the radar arrays. I’ll not ramble on, but the main attraction is the island, though this airport scenery file is a must have, too.
This airport is sweet, with good GA ramps, a massive helicopter area, and even some decent RJ ramps. Something for everyone…in other words.
Okay, we’re off like a herd of turtles. Seeya next time. – A