Review: X-Plane 9 for iPhone and iPod touch

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
X-Plane 9 by Laminar Media ($9.99, App store), "the most flexible and realistic flight simulator on the market for desktop computers" is now available on the App Store, allowing you to control an aircraft with the iPhone's accelerometer and touchscreen, all with the power of the mysterious "blade theory".



After a long loading screen, X-Plane 9 suffers no hesitation and places you directly on the runway. With no introduction or explanation, you are left to muck about with the controls and hope everything will be O.K.



Trusting my natural desire to put the throttle as high as possible, it was not long before I discovered how to take off from the runway and into the sky. The graphics are spartan but they get the point across, and for something as small as the iPhone it's pretty impressive.



The controls are very responsive, and really make you believe that you may be able to fly a plane when the situation arises (don't be so naive). Soon I was doing barrel rolls, attempting loop-de-loops, and seeing how far I could fly downwards before having to pull the plane up again. While doing this, I could observe my plane from several different angles.



It'll be a couple minutes into your first flight that you'll realise you're not totally sure what happens next. Supposedly you should go find somewhere to land, but there's no indication of where a runway might be, or a map of any kind. I found a runway eventually, but I had a suspicion it was the one that I took off from.



So it seems like there is not much to do but fly around at this point. But to inject a little spice into things, X-Plane offers you 4 planes to choose from, a multitude of skies, and times of day. You can also adjust all sorts of parameters like wind and turbulence, if you decide to dive in that deep. Yet curiously, you can only fly around Innsbruck, Austria. Hmm.



Technically, X-plane 9 is very impressive, with great controls, options and graphics (for the platform). However, it's clear that this is a simulator more than a game, with no mission structure in place, and no clear direction for someone who isn't already a flight simulator fan. So at $9.99, you might not be getting what you expect - though if a clearer structure is offered in a future version, X-Plane 9 will be a game to look out for.





Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    You cannot review an iPhone app successfully without a video, you need a video.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    You cannot review an iPhone app successfully without a video, you need a video.



    Actually, how can I even do this? People keep saying this to me and I feel as if I'm missing something obvious
  • Reply 3 of 10
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gwilym View Post


    Actually, how can I even do this? People keep saying this to me and I feel as if I'm missing something obvious



    You don't know what video means?
  • Reply 4 of 10
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    You don't know what video means?



    He's asking by what means... holding a video camera over the unit as he plays, or capturing the gameplay through some utility (which likely doesn't exist).



    Best,



    K
  • Reply 5 of 10
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    He's asking by what means... holding a video camera over the unit as he plays, or capturing the gameplay through some utility (which likely doesn't exist).



    Best,



    K



    If he is asking that, though I think you asked it better; yeah holding a video camera over the iPhone. Or embedding one of the several videos of the app from YouTube.
  • Reply 6 of 10
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    For better quality recording, you can use TV out on the iphone and put it into a video recorder. DVD recorders are pretty cheap and Leopard now reads the ones with DVD-Ram directly. For evidence that it's playing on an iphone, you'd use a camera or a youtube vid like this one:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO7CnNY3AK4



    I always found X-Plane to be incredibly boring. The crashes were the only interesting feature but then they had really lame explosions.



    I'm surprised that it works so well on the iphone though. X-Plane doesn't play well at all on integrated graphics. This kind of goes to show that Apple's phones are more powerful graphically than their low end computers.
  • Reply 7 of 10
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    I always found X-Plane to be incredibly boring. The crashes were the only interesting feature but then they had really lame explosions.



    As the article says, it's a flight simulator, not a game. If it were a game, then the boring parts would be cut out, maybe the geography would be compressed, flying at faster than correct speeds and such like that to get to the action and not dwell on the tedium. And of course, spice up the crashes with more dramatic explosions.



    Many flight sims are very close in terms of accuracy of plane dynamics, some time spent with some off-the-shelf sims you see in a store can even count as training hours.



    The reasons I think real flying is at all interesting are the takeoff, the scenery and the landing, and frankly, simulated scenery really doesn't cut it in comparison, and that's most of the flight. I'm not even all that interested in the real thing myself, I go along when my dad wants some aerial photography done, he flies, I shoot, which I do take some pretty decent photos. His family and friends really seem to like those shots.
  • Reply 8 of 10
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    For better quality recording, you can use TV out on the iphone and put it into a video recorder.



    Are you sure that works Marvin? I *think* the TV out only sends video from a few specific Apple apps and is not available to everyone's apps. I wish it was. Does anyone here know for sure if the TV out will work with 3rd party apps like X-Plane?



    (I want to know bc Im finishing a iPhone/iPodTouch game and would like a way to do some video capture - although I have a workaround currently - directly recording video would be even better.) Thanks, Codemattic.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Codemattic View Post


    Are you sure that works Marvin? I *think* the TV out only sends video from a few specific Apple apps and is not available to everyone's apps. I wish it was. Does anyone here know for sure if the TV out will work with 3rd party apps like X-Plane?



    (I want to know bc Im finishing a iPhone/iPodTouch game and would like a way to do some video capture - although I have a workaround currently - directly recording video would be even better.) Thanks, Codemattic.



    I know that with the PSP you have to use component cables for games as they output RGB and composite cables for video playback. Apple sell both so I guess it's the same situation:



    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1454



    They don't mention limitations per app but there could be limitations on the recording device. Not all video will come out properly and you might get wavy lines or black & white instead of color.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    Thanks Marvin - I didnt know that about the PSP - Ill have to ask someone at the Apple store about which cable, if any, to get for my iPod Touch.
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