As I write this my 13th flight simulator based on the original Flight Simulator developed by Bruce Artwick is downloading. It’s hard to fathom that a piece of software has been in development for well over 30 years. When Microsoft abandoned the product in 2009 it came as a pleasant surprise that Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor and military aircraft manufacturer, wanted to create a Phoenix from the ashes of the longest running game franchise in history.
Now, the marketing of the new sim from Lockheed Martin has been subtle to say the least. It might be a sign of the times, as the general interest in flight simulators arguably isn’t what it once was. Also there seem to be a lot of confusion around the EULA and who can purchase and use Prepar3D. All I can say about that is: How American! It is after all a country with a political and legal system one step away from that of a banana republic, so it’s understandable that some people are a little paranoid. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things about the good old US of A, but for a country and culture so obsessed with freedom, there seems to be a lot of people living in fear of being dragged to court and sued into bankruptcy for the faintest reasons.
While the first version of Preapr3D could hardly be described as a new version of FS, it was a step in the right direction. In many ways it was the missing third service pack that Microsoft never released as they were too busy developing FS11 and TS2. We all know how that went, so kudos to Lockheed Martin for picking up where Microsoft left off. After four upgrades of P3D, Lockheed Martin went silent until they broke the news of Prepar3D 2.0 being in beta. This time a lot of major addon developers had been included in the beta, and as new features were revealed, from both official and unofficial sources, it was clear that Lockheed Martin took feedback from the flight sim community quite seriously.
While Prepar3d 2.0 doesn’t promise revolutionary improvements, it does boost some major upgrades. Rebuilding the graphics engine to DX11 standards is probably the most important change. The current platforms dependency on DX9, which dates back to 2002, was never a perfect fit for FSX/ESP/P3D. DX11 promises offloading a lot of CPU bound resources to the GPU, hence creating a more stable and smooth overall experience.
I do lament that we’re losing the gaming element of FSX with its mission and reward system, but I will fully embrace this new simulator for what it is – a professional tool for learning to fly. While Lockheed Martin might boost it’s ability to use Preapr3D as a simulator for other types of vehicles, I am unable to see past the dreaded graphics at ground level. Even the best addon sceneries aren’t able to mask the fact that the world in FSX/P3D is still too flat and lack scalable ground terrain to replace the dreaded photo textures and lack of micromesh and micro vegetation. Take a look at Outerra, and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, time to buckle up and launch the installer. Happy simming to all fellow P3D pilots!