The ATX 72 has been out for a while, too long perhaps to cram in a review for it and ,i’ll be honest, I’ve been putting this off.
I find this plane confusing, Like my ex-boyfreind it both excites and disappoints me. It has features in it that should set a base line standard for all future Airliners from any SL Aviation builder and I would like to leave it at that and say this is a good plane but rather sadly I now have to face facts that this plane has a Fault List longer than most planes I genuinely hate.
“Oh Boy” says no-one “can’t wait to hear you’re opinion Mal” screams the terrifying voice of sarcasm expressed by no-one specific as they mash their hands into the keyboard itching to have their say in the comments box as if shunning my opinion makes their opinion any more valid. Well pay attention you tormented little angels because guess what people I like Erick Gregan. I like him as a person, I know mad isn’t it.
What I don’t like is this plane.
You know those random fail photo’s you get that show someone trying and failing to do something very simple with the caption “You had ONE Job” that is how I feel about the ATX 72 and all the little Fuck up Faeries which inhabit it.
Every little idea and feature that makes up this plane is fantastic at it’s base but the execution of those idea’s leave a lot to be desired, to give you an example the best feature of this plane is the “hard mode” start up sequence. Rather than just sit there in the cockpit like a lemon and say “start” there is a panel above the pilots chair which invites you to perform an actual aircraft start-up procedure, from switching on the main battery and connecting the fuel pipes right up to de-icing the windows and turning on the Seatbelt warning lights. It’s an awesome feature and I spent most of my time in this plane just turning the panel on and off again. However there is a problem, you cannot turn on the flow of oxygen to the compartments until after you’ve de-iced the windows, you can’t de-ice the windows till you’ve locked the doors and you can’t lock the doors till you’ve started the engine.
This makes it less of a realistic start-up sequence and more of an Erick Gregan puzzle adventure game which MUST BE DONE IN THE ORDER ERIC TELLS YOU TOO but you only need to complete the first half to start the plane and nothing else you really do on that panel makes the slightest difference. It would have been cool to see the windows slowly cover with ice if the de-icier was inactive, the engines cease up or even the emergency gas-masks drop down for the passengers if the oxygen wasn’t flowing but alas no such luck. This feature is more or less button porn for people who like that sort of thing, people like me, so more of this please but perhaps a little more loose on which order things need to be done.
For my next disappointment let us talk about the most important feature of this plane, it’s flight capabilities. I like how the amount of fuel effects the weight and drag of the aircraft, I also like how Erick knows what flaps on an aircraft do (hint: they are not just for slowing down) however the auto-level is constantly on and to date I have yet to find how to turn this off, meaning in order to complete a 90 degree turn you either have to overbank or slowly shimmy the plane in the right direction.
The flight also had several bugs, most notably one where the plane got stuck on Taxi mode and, even when going at full speed, refused to take off and instead smashed through the wall at the end of the runway and hurtled into the drink where by it sank slowly in embarrassment.
The “stall” physics also leave a lot to be desired. It might just be me but the first time I took this plane out I had it at 20% throttle, upside down and about 4ft off the ground it it refused to stall, the second time I was coming into land at 40% throttle and it stalled 6ft off the runway so I’m not entirely sure what the parameters for this plane to stall actually are but that sense of unknown and that almost randomness that there wasn’t just a magic number to hit before the plane stalls. I liked it and it increased the realism along with the planes apparent Hydrophobia with just one major drawback which was what happened when the plane itself actually stalled.
I once had a go at Aeon Voom for this 109’s stall physics which put the plane into an over-dramatic performance loop that you had to wait to finish before you could start flying again, but even this was a dam site better than the ATX 72’s which stopped in mid-air, slowly nose downed then plummeted like a brick directly downwards. Speed and control was re-gained by means of revving up the engine as the plane did not seem to pick up speed despite hurtling towards the ground and it instead it continued wallowing around at a pace Tomahawk pilots would describe as “slow”.
The Third great disappointment of this aircraft is something I’ve never reviewed before, passenger comfort. I like the boarding pass feature that prevents passengers accidentally clicking on the plane and sitting in the co-pilots seat. The chairs are spacious and there is enough headroom for even the tiniest cocks with just two major drawbacks, firstly there is the noise inside the Cabin. I know soundproofing doesn’t exist in SL and builders just have to do their best but the ATX 72 has got to be one of the LOUDEST planes I’ve ever flown, it’s so loud it drowned out the 10 minite long safety announcement as well as the other passengers I was flying with.
The second was the foot high gap between the aisle and the seats.
And then finally I suppose we have to talk about the greatest one of them all, the LOD factor. Don’t get me wrong, I love how this plane looks, I like the little details like the tiny LCD screens, the name sown onto the seats, the working dials on the cockpit and even the tiny soap dispenser in the bathroom, only I would if I could see it.
Erick has recently updated the plane which slightly improves on the LOD issue and I’ve placed the two comparison shots below.
It still has the problem where you cannot see the front of the plane from the back and any distance over 100m and the plane starts to crumple, the doors are not visible till about 80m and are glitchy as all hell and the landing gears aren’t visible till about 10m.
Both Amok and THI have offered Erick help with fixing his LOD issue but he has refused them both, in a conversation with me earlier he insisted that what Aeon and Karl did to provide solid LOD’s was cheating and it was up to Linden Labs to fix the system not himself. So pretty much a big “fuck you” to the customer right there.
To try and find some conclusion in this mess, which began with such high expectations, this plane is not “bad” in the sense that if you just wanna fly and don’t care about the LOD issues or are even willing to make the adjustments to your viewer settings so at least you can see the aircraft correctly (but no-one else can, so you still get the occasional IM’s from people insisting your cargo door is open) it flies realistically enough and had it not been for the auto-level issue I would be happy to take this plane out of the shed more often.
at L$ 3,500 with a prim count of 151 and a script count that fluctuates between [33/33] running scripts, 685 KB allowed memory size limit, 0.309975 ms of CPU time consumed and [33/33] running scripts, 685 KB allowed memory size limit, 0.253309 ms of CPU time consumed. It is a big plane with a lot of issues. It is however a labour of love, in the time I’ve been writing this Article Erick Gregan has posted four major updates.
If this proves anything it proves that Erick is trying hard to improve this aircraft and is fully aware of it’s flaws and while I could be snarky and proclaim that he really should have done more beta testing but I could say the same for a lot of people. Like many builders ,unless you have a free platform above your wives house, Erick has rent to pay and to pay that rent projects need to be completed and put on the market as quickly as possible and after spending half a year in construction and scripting the last thing anyone wants is to wait a further three mouths while it’s in testing.
On that note I can clearly state that any problems highlighted in this review will probably be fixed at some point, however being familiar with Erick’s usual standard of work all of what I’ve seen thus far on the ATX, the LOD issues, the non-interactive interactive control panel, the high script time, the flight bugs etc etc is what we would consider the typical hallmarks of Erick Gregan and I have yet to see a plane he has had on sale to this date where any of these problems have been fixed. So it is an investment and a risky one, these issues for me ruined the experience of the plane, other people don’t seem to care. These issues might be fixed, they might not. I cannot tell.