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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PMDG enters a new era, 16 Sept. 2009
This review is from: PMDG MD 11 Add-On for FS 2004 (PC CD) (CD-ROM)
After years in the making, PMDG have finally entered the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 into service for Flight Simulator 2004 and Flight Simulator X, available either as a download or as a boxed CD. PMDG released the MD-11 for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight (PC CD) in response to a high level of requests from fans. Unfortunately, the FS2004 version ended up on numerous torrent websites, resulting in a considerable drop in sales compared to the Microsoft Flight Simulator X (PC) version. It must be stressed however, that all of the illegal versions are incomplete with missing textures and sounds and nothing compared to the real, legitimate thing. Essentially, the PMDG MD-11 for FS2004 is the same as the PMDG MD 11X (PC) so this review will apply to both versions.

First impressions of the aircraft were very good indeed. The fine bump mapping produced dazzling reflections off the 3D StudioMax model as I panned around the exterior of the aircraft. Unlike previous PMDG products, the list of loadable panel states included a short and long turn around state which starts the aircraft with systems running and the APU and engines shut down. This is far more realistic since pilots rarely step into a `cold and dark' cockpit.

Upon inspection of the flight deck I was welcomed with crisp, high resolution textures, bursting with detail. The background hum of the electrical systems completed the facade of being inside the real thing. Since the MD-11 was one of the pioneers of the glass cockpit (along with the A320), many of the old-style switches have been replaced with a plethora of soft buttons, all of which are modeled in this simulation. I found myself rewarded with a unique sound for every button, switch or lever I operated. The overall detail is fantastic.

Systems-wise, the engine indicating system comes with all the respective synoptic displays showing crucial information such as fuel consumption, electrical information and a page listing diagnoses and their respective consequences. It was clear from the outset that PMDG have modeled just about every aspect of the MD-11's systems. What I also found useful was when scrolling through the system display pages the respective part of the overhead panel is displayed. The system detail in the PMDG MD-11 is very substantial. The developers have managed to recreate the intricacies of each system to the smallest detail. For example, when aligning the IRS the cargo fire protection system performs a self test.

Programming the test flight was fairly straight forward as the FMC has aspects of both the Boeing and Airbus-style FMCs. During takeoff for first officer called out "Thrust set" as the throttles clicked into auto mode and fell under the wings of the AFS (auto flight system). The `clitter clatter' of the flight deck was audible as the aircraft hurtled towards Vr. Other callouts are heard throughout the flight which adds to the experience. Flying the aircraft manually is a truly unique experience. PMDG have simulated the LSAS to work according to its real life counterpart. Notorious for rewarding the gentle pilot and punishing the heavy-handed pilot, I experienced how the MD-11 can be terribly unforgiving.

Despite PMDG's exemplary work on this add-on, there were a couple of minor issues that caught my attention. Unlike other add-ons, the PMDG MD-11's highly complex systems have to load after the flight is started, which takes around twenty seconds. In response to some peoples' comments that the MD-11 is a `frame rate killer', as long as certain display setting are tuned down most people shouldn't have any problems at all. I have found the display options most damaging to frame rates to be traffic and weather.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the PMDG MD-11 as it is of the highest standard of flight simulator add-ons. It is quite expensive, but a worthwhile investment if you wish to have the definitive MD-11 experience!
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Location: Sheffield, SY UK

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