Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prepar3D v2 Academic Preview - First Look

I promised to get back with the first impression after installing Prepar3D, but this took longer than I expected due to a lot of activities and projects I had started lately. Also it took me a while to the simulator up to speed and get familiar with its ropes, how to install addons, different paths and so on.

As there is a lot to tell I will start presenting Prepar3D v2 in a mini series of posts, starting with installation, interface and first look.

1) Purchase, download and install.
Purchasing prepare 3D went as smoothly as it could have went. I accessed the store, chosen the license, added to cart, accepted a list of terms and conditions and payed with a credit card online. I also had to register for an account on the site before doing all of this. All in all I don't think the purchase took longer than 10 minutes. After payment I received my license at the email address I registered my account with and received some instructions on the website on how I can download the installation files.
There are two ways of downloading Prepar3D v2, in a single 10GB archive, or multiple smaller archives. I choose to download the big archive. Download took around 8 hours for me (@ 300kb/s average speed), but this is probably because of my location, and also the fact that I purchased it in the very first day and the servers were loaded more than usually.
After the download ended I had to extract the 10GB archive to start the installation (so in total you need 20GB of space even before installing it). And you also need a couple more GB on the system partition since I noticed the installer also extracts some temporary files that are a couple of GB in size. I didn't had that space on C: drive so the installation failed first time and had to spend another 30 minutes cleaning up my partition. In my opinion the installation process can be somehow improved, like having a very small launcher downloaded from the site which then downloads the application directly to the installation folder (to avoid all of the archive extraction on the local machine). Then 10 or so minutes later Prepar3D v2 was installed an ready to be launched.

2) Ready to launch
At first launch you are asked to activate the product, this was quite easy to do on my end sine I went for the online activation. I just had to enter the license details I received by email at the moment of the purchase and hit the Activate button. After this the application started.

First thing you are seeing when starting Prepar3D is this nicely design splash screen:

Then the simulation loads directly and you are placed in an F22 raptor at Langley AFB that is aligned with the runway and ready for takeoff.


You can choose from the settings not to start directly on the runway, but to have the Training Scenario setup screen showing up on launch if you miss that from FSX. I personally like starting with the Training Scenario setup screen since I like to setup all the parameters of the flight and just wait one time for the simulation to load. Unfortunately I am still missing a couple of the settings that FSX had on that screen, most importantly fuel and weight and flight plan. The second downside I encountered is that it seems there is a bug on some video cards and the Prepar3D freezes after a flight is loaded from that screen. I was one of the unlucky ones to be affected by this bug, so until Lockheed Martin rolls out a fix I need to setup my flight after the default flight loads up. However I see the team is already working on an update to fix this bug.


As you can already see the interface has changed a lot from FSX and also there are some changes from Prepar3D v1. What I like is that all settings are now grouped in same window and it takes less time to change them or just go trough them and review. There are new sliders and check boxes to control the new features (HDR lighting, shadows, tessellation, etc.), however they are well place, keeping the whole interface intuitive and familiar to someone that  used either FSX or Prepar3D V1. The menu bar values are also very similar to what FSX / Prepar3D v1. 


Although redesigned from FSX the Vehicle Selection, Airport selection and Flight Planner are having similar options.



You can now search for a vehicle in the list and also mark some as favorites.

Kneeboard and flight log have nice looks:



I did not had Prepar3D v1, so I am not sure how the Scenery Library looked in that version, but I was happy to see it working well on Prepar3D v2 and also I was glad all the changes made there were applied immediately and without the need of the simulator to be restarted.

Also everything seems to be much faster than it used to be, simulator starts faster, terrain/scenery loads faster, frame-rate is better and so on.

I hope this gives you a quick preview in the interface and I hope to be back in the next week with a more in depth presentation of the aircraft and features of the new Prepar3D v2.

1 comment:

Allrounder XD said...

Hi!

What are the differences between the Professional and the Academic License? The Proce Difference is quite large...

Thank you