FlightFactor/StepToSky 757v2 Review

So you may remember a few months back I reviewed the FlightFactor 757. While I gave it a massive thumbs up, it did feel like it was nearing the end of its life span, and the boys at FF had much the same sentiment. So, with the knowledge and experience gained from the 767 project they undertook, they have come back to the 757 to give it a proper facelift and a new lease on life. The fruits of their effort were released in an entirely new product, the revamped and rejuvenated 757v2. Let’s take a deeper dive into the differences between this and the original 757.

Before we get started with this, I highly recommend you read the original 757 review, as this article mainly highlights the differences that have changed since that plane. This article won’t give you all the info you need if you do not first read the original review article (which can be found under “All posts: Old and New”)

THE MAIN DIFFERENCES

The main differences marketed were redone textures and modeling for the entirety of the plane, inside and out. They used many of the same style textures that they put on the 767, and it really shows. Textures that felt jagged or rough in the previous version have been completely changed and replaced by crisp, flowing textures overlaying the precise geometry that makes up the cockpit model. Things like the glare shield insert now look clean and sharp, whereas in the old model it came out in stark contrast against the rest of the background. Another main thing that I like about the redone interior is the smoothing of buttons, a welcome touch that is not noticed immediately, but will be greatly appreciated as the standard resolution for monitors goes up, and these elements will begin to be examined with more scrutiny than before.

They’ve also taken a brand new lick of paint to the outside of the airplane, with new reflection maps meaning that the airplane looks pretty in its XP11 form (something FF promise they will continue support for.) The textures have also been reworked to allow the model to really stand out suited in a fantastic livery. I noticed that FF did the same kind of smoothing and future proofing of the resolution of things on the outside of the plane as well, things like small text warnings are now readable where they weren’t before.

It’s all fine and good to make a revamped model, but this plane also got some new guts to back up its fresh looks. One main feature I found myself appreciating was the iPad style tablet that allows you to control doors, PA announcements, aircraft settings, aircraft config, ground controls, and a host of other features on the airplane. The list of things you can turn on and off is enough that you can truly make your 757 your own. The plane also came with reworked sound and fuel burn, to ever heighten the realism.

(Inserted below is the original review of the systems of the plane, since that portion has been left largely unchanged)

 

FLIGHT MODEL

Being pretty is enough for the casual simmer, but a model of this price is expected to get all the nitty-gritty details completely right. We’ll start with the flight model, which is awesome! The airplane feels its size, no smaller, no bigger. The engines take a while to spool up, and losing control of your speed can snowball into a catastrophic failure. Hand flying this plane is an absolute pleasure, and I rarely turned on the autopilot before breaking through the cloud layer.

 

SYSTEMS MODELING

The Systems Modeling in this airplane is by far its biggest selling point. The product is officially licensed by Boeing, and advertises itself as a study-level simulation. Here’s the feature list from the product page.

  • Dual air-data computers with custom failure modes and source switching
  • Three independent nav/ils receivers
  • Realistic inertial and radio position updating – this plane has no GPS ,so you can see the individual inaccuracies of those systems
  • Triple-channel autopilot with realistic dependencies
  • Fail operational and fail passive auto land with mode degradations based on system failures
  • Load company routes generated by Professional FlightPlanner X (or other compatible programs) directly into the FMC
  • FMC can be used on external touchscreen or tablet, optimized for the Retina iPad

Advanced 3D modeling and features

  • On-screen Menus
  • Accurate dimensions based on drawings provided by Boeing
  • Very detailed exterior modelling with extensive use of normal maps
  • Super high resolution 3D cockpit with every switch functional
  • Multilayer dynamic reflections on all glass objects
  • Spatial rain simulation with lots of details
  • Very detailed passenger cabin graphics, including galleys and lavatories
  • Real working oxygen masks both in cockpit and cabin, dynamic window shaders
  • Custom programmed particle system to visualize failures: generates smoke, fire and sparks

Custom systems, failures and sounds

  • Detailed and deep simulation of almost every system in the real aircraft
  • Custom air and pressure system
  • Electrical system with all AC and DC busses modelled
  • Multistage custom failure system – over 150 more failures than X-Plane
  • Ability to fix failure by following proper procedure
  • 200 Mb of custom sounds – In-cockpit custom sounds -3D stereo engine sounds

 

Physical Systems Modeling

The Physical Systems are modeled to an excruciating level of detail. From start-up to shutdown, this airplane is meant to perform exactly as the real aircraft would. From things like cabin temperature to fire detector testing, this airplane truly has it all. Another unique feature is that systems can deteriorate over time if neglected, similar to the likes of A2A’s Accufeel products. To give you an example of this, while learning the airplane, I managed to explode the Right Starter Valve.., twice. I also experienced a left wheel-well fire upon landing at KSFO en-route from KDEN. I still haven’t found out what caused the spontaneous combustion of my wheels, but it was an interesting experience non the less.

Another example of this airplanes uncanny likeness to it’s real world brother is that it ships with the 757 FCOM (albeit slightly shortened to not include things like on ground maintenance) This is honestly one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. I understand FlightFactor weren’t the only ones to do this, but it’s still amazing to see a company produce a product so comprehensive that they can just ship it with real-world instructions.

Virtual Systems Modeling

The Virtual Systems on this airplane are just as impressive as their physical counterparts. The main Virtual System you will be concerned with during flight is the FMS (Including the FMC, MCP, and A/T) The FMS in this airplane is extremely comprehensive, so comprehensive in fact that I need to cover the parts separately. The MCP and A/T both perform as expected. The only gripes I had are that the clickspots could be a little dodgy, which may frustrate some people.

FMC: The FMC is the main interface for flight planning and manipulating. The FMC is so similar to the real FMC that I’m not even sure where to start. When it first receives power, you are presented with a screen, where you can choose to enter the FMC simulation, or modify settings. The settings menu is pretty barren, only allowing for one option to be changed, the style of F/D. If you back out, you can continue on to the FMC proper, where you’re greeted with the IDENT page. One thing to note here is that the AIRAC cycle is ancient From February to March of 2012.

You then continue to the POS INIT page, where you input information to help align the airplanes IRS systems. From there, you may navigate to the ROUTE page, which should be a familiar sight to almost any Flightsimmer. Here, you manage your route, as well as input some other basic info pertaining to navigation. for SIDs and STARs, you must go to the DEP/APP page, which will get you started on that process. Once you’re done inputting your route, you will continue to the PERF INIT page, where you put in your weights and cruise altitude among other things. You then proceed to the TAKEOFF page, where you can input departure flaps to get your appropriate V-Speeds. The entire FMC experience was smooth, and made sense to anyone who has used a Boeing FMC before.

On top of the aforementioned basic FMC operation, the FMC is also capable of holding at a waypoint on your route, a waypoint off of your route, as well as holding at the aircraft’s present position. There is also a fully functional FIX page, for determining distances.

 

IS IT WORTH BUYING

I wanted to keep this entire package short and sweet so that you can see mainly what has changed since the airplane left v1. As someone who has reviewed both, and extensively flown both, I have to say that the 757v2 blew me away in terms of redone textures, and easily surpassed the original 757 in almost every regard. It feels like a new plane, and for those of you looking for a new plane to fly, or who are planning to upgrade to XP11, this plane is absolutely for you.

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