Greatest Airliners Special Edition 737-400
by Flight One Software/Just Flight
The previous expansions we have looked at have been, for the most part, scenery improvements to Flight Simulator 2000/2002. What we have here though is something completely different. If you thought that the aircraft in Flight Simulator had depth then wait until you see what this expansion pack has to offer. Concentrating on just the 737-400, the detail that has been included makes the original 737-400 found in Flight Sim, just look plain silly. Let's have a look at what this expansion pack has to offer.
The package includes the CD-ROM, the manual, a booklet containing updated information to that found in the manual and a 90 minute video. Installing is very simple and gave me no problems at all. On the box it says that you have 80 airline liveries, which includes the likes of Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, British Airways and Lufthansa, but these must be installed using one of the additional programs that comes with the set.
The video that comes in the pack features Captain John Mahon and First Officer Joe Wholihan and shows them on a round trip from London to Lisbon. During the flight the Captain demonstrates how some of the instruments are used but the real importance of the video is to give you a flavour of what it's like on a real 737-400 and also how similar this expansion pack is to the real thing. The problem here is that there are no subtitles and of course you can't knock them on if there are no closed captions on the video. From a deaf gamers point of view the importance of the video will be severely diluted which is a shame because it's a useful part of the package. I suppose the only remedy would have been to provide the 90 minute episode on DVD but as everybody doesn't have a DVD player then this wouldn't be sensible from a business point of view.
The manual is very useful and explains all the new instruments and features that this expansion pack has. On page 58 there is a section from Marcos Arranz, a first officer on a 737, who explains the procedures of operating the aeroplane. This section is ten pages long and is essential to the deaf gamer especially as the usefulness of the video is lost because of the lack of subtitles.
We mentioned earlier that there are 80 airline liveries that can be installed and imported. Initially there is only one livery on offer when you install the expansion pack. To access the other liveries you have to use a program called Text-o-Matic. To import the liveries is a very simple task, full instructions on how to use the program are in the manual, and the only moan that I would make is that they have to be installed one at a time which is going to take a while if you want all 80, but I suppose people will have their favourites and install them only. Incidentally the liveries, I've looked at most but not all, look stunning. You can even download over 100 from the Internet if your favourite hasn't been included.
There are two other programs apart from Text-o-Matic that are installed when you install the expansion. There's the Load Manager and the Flight Management Computer. The Load Manager enables you to select different weight loads, either passenger or cargo and import them into Flight Simulator. Flight Management Computer is a program to get you used to the Flight Management Computer (FMC) that is present on the 737-400. This is a great idea but the tutorials are not subtitled and therefore the deaf gamer does not benefit from this tutorial, which is a shame.
One feature that will be lost on deaf gamers is that of the AFAS panel. Pressing the shift + 7 keys opens the AFAS panel. This panel has buttons that enables captain announcements to be made such as depart, descent signs and final approach announcements. All announcements are verbal only and there is no text to indicate that these announcements are being made.
Greatest Airliners Special Edition 737-400 is quite simply a stunning piece of work, the extra instruments and panels will overwhelm you at first but once you are used to them you will not want to return to the lesser aeroplane models that are included with Flight Simulator. To give this product a mark is complicated. Had this review been for hearing gamers then I wouldn't hesitate to give the expansion pack at least 9/10. However the video is of little use without subtitles. The FMC tutorials are also unsubtitled and there is verbal content in the game which is also unsubtitled and the mark has to reflect this. Problems aside this is definitely one of the greatest expansion packs for Flight Simulator ever made.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10 A showpiece expansion pack but there are some problems for deaf gamers.
Deaf Gamers comment: The pack has a substantial portion of vocal content with the video and some in game speech. On the whole though there are not too many problems.