The intricate and realistic flight simulator finally comes to Android
It's been many months since we saw the X-Plane flight simulator for Android demoed at Google IO -- long enough that we wondered if we'd ever actually see it. But it's here, folks. And it's got all the airborne goodness you could have hoped for (and that we saw in our demo).
But at $9.99, this isn't a cheap app. Is it worth the 10-spot? Let's take a look after the break.
The premise is simple fly one of seven airplanes -- Cessna 172, Columbia 400, Piper Malibu, Cirrus Vision, Piaggio Avanti, Beech King-Air and Eclipse-Jet 500 -- through a half-dozen regions -- Innsbruck, Austria; Australia; Boswell Bay, Alaska; Southern California; San Francisco; and Desert Sky, Calif.
I'm no pilot, but I've enjoyed a flight sim or two in my day. (Chuck Yeager's AFT FTW!) And X-Plane is as realistic as anything I've ever used. You have control over the flaps, throttle, all axes of motion (tilt the phone to control bank, roll and pitch) and even get a recreation of the instrument panel to flip switches. (You can tune the radio, we kid you not.) The heads-up display shows all the pertinent information -- altitude, speed, rate of climb/descent, fuel, artificial horizon, compass -- like we said, it's intricate.
You get a few camera angles and replay angles from which to watch your flight, though keeping your head in the cockpit is recommended. You can check your position on the map as well, and have the app set you up for final approach on a runway. For example, if you're in the San Francisco map, you can choose takeoff and landing on runway 10L or 28R, Oakland's airport, if you wish.
The sound effects are pretty good, too. You almost feel the engines, which start to scream if you go into a dive. Start weaving all over the runway, and the tires squeal.
Want customizable settings? You can change the weight of the aircraft, to the expense or benefit of performance. Or change the center of gravity. See how lift is affecting different parts of the aircraft. Yes, this is hard-core nerd flying stuff here. Change the time of day or cloud cover and visibility. Or change the weather to 40 knots of wind, turbulence, storms -- the works. And if you've got a friend nearby, you can fly together via Wifi.
Yes, folks. This is a $10 app. And it's a flight simulator, not combat, so you're not going to be blowing anybody up (unless you screw the pooch and splatter yourself all over the countryside). But if you're looking for a fairly realistic flight experience to pass the time, it's well worth the price.