I had this add-on passed to me courtesy of PC Pilot's Jane
Whittaker and I'll be honest, I'd not heard of Addictive
Simulations prior to being asked to review their add-on. The
developers David Chester and Daniel Dunn have previously
developed add-ons for FS in the form of the First Class
Simulations Lancaster and Flight 1 Islander. The Pitts S1 is a
totally different aircraft compared to the Lancaster and
Islander, and I've not flown an aerobatic aircraft for a long
time so I was looking forward to testing this one out.
Download & Installation
This add-on is available as a 161mb download from the Addictive Simulations website (http://www.vc10.com/Pitts/default.asp) at a cost of £19.95. Both an FS9 and FSX version are included in the package, but it is worth noting that it has been designed exclusively for FSX (as opposed to an FS9 model made to work in FSX). Installation is very simple, just run the installer and make sure it is pointing to your FSX folder.
Because the S1 has been designed for FSX, it takes advantage of the FSX only special effects and eye candy that just aren't possible in FS9, along with lots of extras:
• The FSX model features full bump mapping and specular lighting bringing every joint and rivet to life in vivid detail
• An integral configuration manager that allows you to change animations on the fly without having to reload the aircraft
• Custom high-poly, low frame rate modelling techniques that bring the aircraft to life without impacting your performance
• Six custom liveries
• Custom smoke trails
• Detailed performance charts and check-lists (Yes it does fly by the book)
Once you are in the cockpit you'll notice that there aren't any fancy gauges or glass panels; this is an old aircraft with old gauges. There is a 2D cockpit included for those who don't like flying from within the VC, the quality of the 2D cockpit compared to the VC is very crude, but this is due to the VC being fantastic. The visibility from the 2D cockpit is also very poor compared to the VC; you only see the panel and the sky, whereas from within the VC you can see a little more of the landscape.
The manual, check-lists and performance charts come in the form of 2 9-page documents, which is all that is needed. The aircraft is fairly simple to fly so there is no need for long and complex manuals. It would have been nice for a manual to be included detailing how to perform the various acrobatic manoeuvres, although looking for a video on youtube will be just as good as reading a manual.
I have not flown many aerobatic aircraft in FSX, so probably made up some of my own new manoeuvres during the process of writing this review, but all the usual tricks and demonstrations you would see at an airshow are easily performed. I even managed to get her to hang on the propeller – rudder pedals are a great help here. I found that using Track IR was a massive help when flying from the VC, more so than with any other aircraft I've flown in FSX. Having the ability to quickly look around the skies before performing a loop, roll etc... was a lot easier because I could just move my head to where I wanted to look. Using the hat switch on my joystick took far too long. Some of the gauges in the VC are a little tricky to read, but you can make them 'pop out' by clicking on them which makes things easier. And it doesn't impact on frame rates either. A feature that runs throughout this add-on.
Not only is the S1 a great aerobatic aircraft, I found it to be a brilliant tourer too. It was fun to fly VFR cross country and perform mini airshows along the way. With a cruise speed of 150 knots it makes a great alternative to the Cessna's and Piper's I normally use, with the added bonus of being able to throw the aircraft around a lot more. The range isn't great at only 277nm, but you can have a lot of fun in that time. Load up your favourite VFR scenery and follow the roads to see where you end up. The high service ceiling of 20,000ft allows for plenty of room for error when you are practising your moves, or at least it does if you were as incompetent as I was when I first started!
I found landing the hardest part of the flight as your vision is very restricted because you are sat so far back in the fuselage. Making a steep final approach with the throttles at idle allowed me to keep a good fix on the runway to make the landing. It took plenty of practice to get the landings right, if you come in too fast be ready for a big bounce down the runway and maybe even a go around. As with all tail draggers, in order to taxi around the airfield you will need to do so making S-Turns to see where you are going.
It's excellent, what more can I say? Even though it is only a simulation, the feeling of flying an aerobatic aircraft is transferred fantastically through to you. It feels like you just need to think about what you want to do, move the stick slightly at the S1 will oblige. It is a very stable aircraft during normal flight procedures, and then quickly turns into a brilliant aerobatic aircraft. The Addictive Simulations website advertises: 'We promise you everything but the G-Forces' – they got that right!
This has to be seen to be believed, it's awesome; not one jagged edge and everything in proportion. You can switch between a male and female pilot and add wheel chocks, an oil pan, tie downs and tags when parked on the ground. The models look even better with the liveries, they seem to compliment the lines of the S1 perfectly. You will probably spend more time in spot view oggling the aircraft than you will inside the cockpit.
For a long time developers over-looked the impact of sound on the end user. Addictive Simulations haven't done so here. With a cough and a splutter the S1 fires into life and the burbles along nicely when at idle. Apply full throttle and the engine spits out a throaty roar as she accelerates down the runway. If anyone has ever heard a Pitts S1 at an airshow you won't be disappointed with the sound package here.
I started this review with an open mind. I'd not flown many aerobatic aircraft in FSX because they aren't my thing. But the enjoyment I have taken from the Pitts S1 has changed the way I think. If I only have 20-30 minutes free to fly I've found myself heading more and more towards the S1 to have some fun.
She is a great touring and aerobatic aircraft and has a jaw dropping external model. It goes to show that with a good flight model and sound package you can become immersed in the aircraft. The development team have promised to keep the aircraft up to date with free updates, and for the price of £19.95 you cannot go wrong. The only draw backs were that I would have liked to have seen more liveries included (although there is a paint-kit available) and a manual detailing how to perform some aerobatics.
I'm pleased to award the Addictive Simulations Pitts S1 Special a score of 8.5/10.
Review machine Spec: Intel Core2 Quad 2.40ghz | 4gb DDR2 RAM |Nvidia GForce 880GTX |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium