Captain Sim 777 Exterior reviewed

While we’re waiting for a detailed 777 simulation for FSX, Captain Sim went ahead and released their exterior only model in advance to the full 777 Captain product. Let’s take a look…

The real Boeing 777 is a long range, high capacity jetliner. The triple-seven, as it’s usually called, is the world’s largest twin engine jetliner, and has the largest diameter turbofan engines of any aircraft. It’s also Boeings first airliner with Fly-By-Wire controls. The original aircraft of the 777 family is the 777-200, which took its maiden-flight on June 12, 1994. The -200 was first delivered to United Airlines in 1995. Boeing went on to design and manufacture the 777-200ER (first delivery 1997), 777-300 (1998), 777-300ER (2004), 777-200LR (2006) and finally a dedicated freighter variant, the 777F, which was first delivered to Air France in 2009. With over 950 airframes built and over 300 more on order, the triple-seven is a major success for Boeing.
The current exterior only product from Captain Sim covers the 777-200 and 777-200ER (which are identical in exterior appearance). I’ve mentioned it 2 times already: this product is exterior only. More on that later in the review, but just keep in mind you just get a 777 exterior at this time.

Installation:

The 777 exterior product doesn’t change anything to the tried and tested Captain Sim installation system. Obviously, you have to buy the product first. After that, you download the installer from a link you got in your confirmation email. The installer is just under 37MB large, so downloading this shouldn’t be a problem.
When you run the installer, it asks you whether your want to activate instantly via the internet, or want to use a manual (offline) method that requires you to use a second pc with an internet connection. I haven’t tested the offline method yet, but the online instant activation works perfectly. When you choose that option, the installers asks you for your serial, and checks that over the internet. Upon activation, the installer installs the 777 on your pc. You get 1 external model, with 7 different liveries.

Exterior:

Captain Sim is certainly known for the visual quality of their add-ons. And the 777 shows us once again why that is. This exterior only product comes with all the exterior whistles and bells any other Captain Sim product has. It starts with an accurate and very detailed model. The overall shape looks good, and all curves are smooth. But it goes further than that. Captain Sims great modeling goes into the smallest details: dozens of vortex generators on the wing leading edges, individual fanblades modeled in the engines (while they’re not, or only slowly, spinning) angle of attack vanes and pitot tubes on the nose, brake lines on the landing gear… You see, the small details are there as well. Another small touch, but one I blike, is that all exterior lights are also modeled in 3D. Both the transparent fairing, and the actual light unit (although simplified, as it’s very small) can be seen in 3D. Very nice addition. The last feature of the actual model (the 3D part) I want to mention are the cabin windows. The cabin windows on this 777-200 are also modeled in 3D, and are actually ‘holes’ in the fuselage. This means you can see into the cabin. It’s a nice feature, although the downside is that the windows configuration is not always correct. If modeled like this, there’s only one possible window configuration, and you’ll have to do with that.
The exterior model is of course covered in textures. The base texture layer is good. High resolution, so the painted rivets look like rivets, and not tennis-ball-sized dots. Also, you can zoom in a lot before losing sharpness. The textures are quite detailed: panel lines, rivets, realistic dirt and wear… good job from CS once again. I’m not so entirely impressed with the repaints though (the colors and logos put on the basic textures). In general it looks good, colors are good, and generally, the repaints look realistic. However, when looking closer you can notice that some details aren’t very accurate. Logos and flags are sometimes positioned and sized incorrectly, and the same with registration markings. Although it looks good, the accuracy could be better at times. But I have to admit, to notice this, you need to know the livery inside and out, or have a picture of the real thing next to it, to notice. Also, I noticed it’s not an overall problem. Some liveries are very good, while other have more of these small inaccuracies.
The final thing to mention here are the animations. There are a lot of them. Firstly, you get the animations that are active during a normal flight: retracting landing gear, rolling wheels, moving control surfaces, spinning fan blades… The best looking animation that fits into this segment though, is the wingflex animation. The 777 has very long wings that are relatively flexible. This results in a noticeable bending motion when the wings create lift. This is very well represented in the CS 777-200.

Another series of animations aren’t usually encountered during flight, but have to be consciously activated by the virtual pilot. To do this, Captain Sim included their usual 2D animations panel. There are heaps of animations controlled from that panel: doors opening (no less than 8 in total), cargo doors (3), emergency slides, wheel chocks, engine covers and opening cowlings, as well as the APU cowling, a bunch of access panels on the aircrafts lower fuselage, and the list goes on. Very nice looking, and it makes for great screenshots on the ground, although it’s useless in the air.
In conclusion, a very good exterior representation, although I would like some more accuracy when it comes to the actual airline repaints.

The other stuff (everything but the exterior):

I’m going to be blunt but honest here: if you really want to ‘fly’ a 777, and not just look at it, don’t expect that this product, at this time, will fill your needs. It’s clearly stated, the current Captain Sim 777 Captain is an exterior only product. The sounds, the panels and the virtual cockpit are aliased to (copied from) the default FSX 747. The only addition to this is the custom animations panel. Except for that, it’s 747 on the inside, through your speakers and even in flight dynamics. Only the exterior is 777. The flight dynamics are altered just to the bare minimum (2 engines instead of 4, for example) and aren’t very impressive to say the least.
It’s clearly stated on the Captain Sim product page that this is an exterior only product, and all other things are still in development. However, I want to stress the meaning of this: if you’re looking for a 777 simulation, this is not (yet) for you. However, if you want a nice looking 777 exterior for screenshots or filming, this will do the job.

Conclusion:

Because you are guaranteed a €9,99 price reduction when buying the eventual full version of the product, which is in fact the price of this external model, I see the way Captain Sim releases their exteriors first, and the full simulation later, as a kind of prepaying. Now, I like this way of prepaying (getting something at least) better than the usual ‘you-pay-and-wait-with-empty-hands-until-we-give-you-something’ prepaying method. However, it’s still not my cup-of-tea. I clearly stated in this review what you get, and what you don’t get. But if you’re already certain you will be buying the full Captain Sim 777 experience when it’s released, then I see no downside in already paying a part of it now. It’s €10 that you pay now, and don’t have to pay later. If, however, you’re not entirely sure whether you want that 777 simulation, and also don’t need this exterior for some screenshots or whatever, I’d advise you to wait and see. You’re probably wondering when we can expect the full 777 package. So did I, and I asked Captain Sim. The answer I got is: ‘not tomorrow, but also not in a couple of years’. Doesn’t make you much wiser, but I figure we’ll be waiting a couple more months for it. Now for the  conclusion on this actual package. It’s a good looking exterior only product, so it succeeds in the goal it set out to do: deliver a visual representation of the Boeing 777-200 in FSX. Whether you want to spend your €9.99 on this, is of course entirely up to you.
The CS 777 is exclusively available through the Captain Sim website, although all other (full systems) Captain Sim  products are also available through SimMarket.

Like:

  • Detailed exterior model
  • Good looking and detailed textures

Don’t like:

  • Some less accurate details in the airline repaints

Links:

Captain Sim Product Page

Captain Sim on SimMarket

0 0 votes
Article Rating
4 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
colin ware
Sunday, November 6, 2011 04:35

Hope the fms works in this one…just once it would be nice for CS to deliver a plane where everything actually works…

Terrence
Saturday, November 5, 2011 06:06

Great piece Lars. Wasn’t United launch customer by the way?

Clayton Scott
Saturday, November 5, 2011 04:06

Thanks for the heads up. Just one thing, I think United was the launch carrier for the 777 not American.