I am personally a fan of doing flight plans, checking the weather, and setting up for a long trip with ATC watching my every move. Being a commercial airline pilot in the sim world involves, almost, as much work to fly as real world pilots’ face. I was looking to have fun with faster aircraft that have teeth to bite with. A fully loaded F/A-18E super Hornet seemed to foot my bill which is why this product caught my eye.
It’s a neat FS add-on for FS 2004 and FSX and may be purchased from Abacus via download or ordered in disc form. It is the newest release in the Flight_Deck series with 4 and 5 being the older generations. This release includes the T-34 turbo Mentor, T-45 Goshawk™, F/A-18C Hornet™, F/A-18E Super Hornet™, EA-6B Prowler, C-2A Greyhound, E-2C Hawkeye, SH-60B Seahawk, and the USS Harry S. Truman CVN-75. It also includes great Naval Air Station custom scenery.
Screenshots courtesy of Abacus
It will allow you to be anything from a pilot in training to a FA/18 throttle jockey. You can fly missions, on-line with your buddies, or just fly the missions that Abacus includes in the download/Disc. You will also have a new carrier to experiment with. So….this is what I found……..
Installation and Documentation
After downloading the software I started by turning off the User Account Control, as instructed by Abacus, and then began to install by choosing the FSX installation executable.
The selection here will be important if you have any accelerator aircraft that you want to use. Since I have the MS Accelerator that was the option I choose. After clicking the “show me the readme file” box the install went directly to the set-up page. The readme file then popped up. This is a 13 page document (yes I did print it out) and is a must read. It seemed to be the operating manual for Flight_Deck 6. After reading the file I continued the install which was pretty much straight forward.
The Documentation is a bit confusing. The manual is really a history of aircraft carriers and the aircraft that operate from their decks. It is nicely done with color pictures included in the narrative. The install manual is exactly as listed and the Readme file actually contains the operating manual. There are no aircraft operating manuals in the package.
The aircraft carrier is nicely done especially with the animation of the crew. From truck to keel and stem to stern it is a great ship to look at.
The graphics for the aircraft are what you would expect from a gaming package. The cockpits are equipped with just the right amount of avionics and controls to do the job but are lacking in the virtual cockpit arena. The 2D panels are acceptable for their purposes and operate in a manor that coincides with what the aircraft, or system, is doing. The flight missions, especially the training missions, need some work. They could have done a little better here but I found the missions to be fun and challenging.
There are a couple of extras that really caught my eye. The package has a Landing Safety Officer (LSO) which I found to be a nice touch. They call you far enough out to correct your altitude and direction, right down to “call the ball”.
The panels are functional only to a degree. Many of the controls (switches) are not accessible (I.E. switch is there but does nothing when you click it). The arrangement of the panels causes a situation wherein you must jockey back and forth from the keyboard, to the main panel, to the sub panel, and back to the main panel. Many of the tasks can be simplified by programming switches on your joystick. Flight Deck 6 comes with instructions to accomplish this task.
The sounds seem to be a little generic. They are, at times, inconsistent with the aircraft’s actions. You must consider, however, how many Naval Bases are going to let you in to record sounds. The sounds heard on an aircraft carrier are the same way. I would volunteer to get the actual sounds if someone would get naval operations to approve it.
Summary / Closing Remarks
The carrier graphics are a little above average and pleasing to the eye. The aircraft cockpits are pretty much what you would expect from a gaming package and seem to be the same graphics used in Flight_Deck 5. The virtual cockpits need a bit of work and the 2D panels are acceptable within reason.
The whole package is pretty good if you take it for what it is. If you like bombing missions or even head to head aerial combat then this is the game for you. If you are looking for precision, functionality, and “as real as it gets” then you probably will not find what you are looking for here. The controls and switches are just enough to get the job done.
As stated at the beginning of this evaluation my preferences are flying commercial airliners. I ask that you take my comments with that point in mind. As of the completion of this review I have not received answers to some of the problems I have had while operating Flight_Deck 6. I will not list them here since I am waiting on a response from Abacus.
It is enough to say that I did experience some problems of one type or another. It should be noted that not all people have experienced the same level of operation from the product that I have. Some will be better and some will be worse.
What I Like About Flight Deck 6
What I Don't Like About Flight Deck 6
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