It’s been ten years since FSX came out. In that ten years uncountable numbers of addons have been released. Some good, some bad. One thing that’s really interesting about aviation is that it’s a constantly changing field. No two flights are ever the same, no two aircraft fly the same. Even Aircraft of the same make and model, that were built at the same time can be completely different. But in the simulator world things are often static. Imagine Simulations for example. They make Scenery for Atlanta International. I swear it’s been rebooted about 3 times now. Because of improvements made to the airport in real life that they wanted to make to their scenery. Add to this the fact that there’s always new people coming into the hobby. Plus with a lot of addons being made backwards compatible with Prepar3D this means that the addons we’ve grown accustomed to over the past decade will still be around for the foreseeable future. So it might be helpful to take a look back at those old addons and see how they measure up today.
With this series of articles I plan to do just that. Does it hold up! With this series I want to look at Flight Simulator addons that have been around for quite awhile. Addons that are still available for purchase. Do they hold up today? Are they worth buying now in today’s environment? No addon is safe (except the new ones) i’m including things that were made for FS9, but ported for FSX. My first victim is going to be an aircraft that a lot of people looked forward to, an aircraft that was marketed as a game changer to flight simmers. Not only that, but it wasn’t a classic, it wasn’t an airliner, It wasn’t even a GA airplane. It was a Modern Fighter Jet. The Aerosoft F16!
The Aerosoft F16 was released in 2008 as one of the first major aircraft addons fully developed for FSX. Before this one most addons were ports from FS9, and some were even from FS8. This however was designed and built for FSX. Not only one of the first to do so, but it was a fighter. Military aviation being something that’s sadly not utilized in the civil Flight Sim world. Despite them having a full globe modeled (compared to the 2 big combat flight sims only being smaller areas), And they chose to do an F16. The F16 Falcon is a Iconic multirole fighter. Capable of flying a wide range of missions. Its fast, agile and carries some pretty impressive avionics. So it was nice to see this aircraft chosen to be the first fighter jet to be made specifically for FSX by a good payware developer.
Before I get started I just need to say one thing. I’ll only say this once in this series so don’t worry you won’t see this every time. Im looking at this addon through modern eyes. In this review I don’t really care much for how things were when this addon came out. This is 2016, not 2008.
Aerosoft did a fantastic job on the model of this bird. Everything looks fantastic. Fine details are captured and even the actual depth of the cockpit itself is there. Lots of animations to play with to. Texturing however leaves a lot to be desired. Infact I honestly have to zoom in on some of the textures to read them. This is due in part to how cluttered a F16 cockpit is. Especially the Aerosoft one, they chose to model an F16C which is multirole with a single pilot. There’s a lot of switches because there’s only one pilot to handle things. As opposed to something like the F16D or F15E where you can split some of the stuff between the front and the back. But the low texture resolution is also due to just that, low texture resolution. At the time the addon was made that was the best. But now it just doesn’t cut it. Especially considering how cluttered an F16 cockpit is. You want labels to be easy to read without the pilot having to zoom in alot.
Now the systems. To sum it up when i’m flying this aircraft I honestly keep asking myself. What did they model on this? All too often I come across a switch that can’t be used. Or a button that can’t be pressed. For example. RWR. There isn’t one. The RWR is not functional. Now in Aerosoft’s defence, it’s not functional on any FS aircraft i’ve seen. Even the F15E which I love so much. Probably because it’s just not possible to model an RWR for FSX, at least not one true to life. And at the time it wasn’t applicable because things like VRS tacpack were only the dreams of Military flight simmers. But it would have been nice to have the switches there, and at least appear to do something. Compare and contrast my preferred FSX fighter aircraft, the IRIS F15E Mudhen. Things like the targeting Laser are not functional in FSX. But in the F15. I can power up the targeting pods, I can switch on the laser. I can even turn on the emission limiter. And they work to some extent. In the case of the laser it shows a warning in the cockpit and displays that the laser is armed. With the pods I can actually get a targeting pod display. And in the case of the Emissions limiter I lose Radar.
So while it’s not really possible to model it true to life, it is possible to make it appear as though its working. And the RWR is just one thing. There are numerous other things you find when you get to them on the checklist you just Say “Omit” because it’s not replicated. Every time I fly this bird I ask myself. What did they model? Engine control was off as well. I had a devil of a time getting the engine running. Even following the checklist. I found out you have to press CTRL-SHIFT-F3 a few times to get fuel going to the engine. This happens if your default flight is set with the mixture turned off. But this is a jet and should not be an issue. And is not an issue on most other aircraft including defaults. But with this payware F16, it is.
I probably don’t even have to mention the fact that the weapons don’t work. This plane came out well before addons like VRS Tacpack, and CS Weapon. So while it is possible to lock targets with the F16 (at least the promotional material suggest this, but I never got it to work). You can’t actually fire them. Nor can you jettison fuel tanks. Or even change your Flight category.
Now let’s give credit where credit is do. When this plane came out, it was probably fantastic. And through this article i’m sure you’ve been thinking “CountryFlyboy. That’s not fair, the plane came out in 2008. Of course not everything stacks up against more recent releases”. Well you’re right. But the point of this series is to point that out. If the addon is still for sale, then it’s open for review. And people may still be looking to buy it. A more recent review of the addon is something they will want to have. Knowing that if I take this addon as is. And consider everything that is the way it is today. Going beyond not just the quality of the addon, but the practices of the developers, the price of the addon, quality of competing addons (or even other programs). Considering all of that, is this addon still worth buying.
For the Aerosoft F16. No! I do not think this aircraft is worth purchasing anymore. Now it’s only $22 for the download version. Which is not a bad price, not for addon aircraft anyway. But, you can get Falcon 4.0 on steam for $6. Download the BMS mod and you will have yourself a very good combat flight simulator. And that thing simulates the entire F16, weapon systems and all. Everything this one has, but more, and better. It’s also cheaper. There’s no contest here in my eyes. The aerosoft F16 does not withstand the test of time. The Only draw back with Falcon BMS is the outdated graphics, and limited player area. But even those aren’t deal breakers when you consider the fact that your get a very well made F16 sim and several other aircraft (although the other aircraft are not up to quite the same level of detail). Honestly, That’s a better deal.
Click here to view an Imgur Album of Screenshots of this bird. The Screenshots are unedited taken right from FSX on my PC. They point out several minor problems to the aircraft that did not warrant mentioning here.
BMS mod(requires Falcon 4.0)
This is an original article written for FSElite by Timothy Thomas.