Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LeX Firefly Flight Simulator @ Empire Shopping Gallery

Okay this isn't exactly a game review, but it comes the closest to a game review so far on this blog! So I shall declare this the first game review that Drops has done. =P

Empire Shopping Gallery has been open for awhile now. I think it's been open for about a year and a half, perhaps? In that time, neither Wendy nor myself had been there before. But not for lack of trying - in the early days when the place first opened Wendy would nag me now and then to take her, but I wasn't interested because it was in the other direction compared to our usual hangout places a.k.a. 1Utama or Mid Valley. (Mid Valley is still our (Wendy: No, it's his -_-") favourite weekend hangout place btw. Simply because it's just down the road from my house. =p)

But 2 weekends ago we were just at a loss for something to do. We even nearly ended up going to the PIKOM Fair at KLCC! But then suddenly I remembered we hadn't been to Empire yet, and when I suggested it, you could almost see the gloom of PC fair lifting from Wendy's eyes, to be replaced with the shiny glint of anticipation of exploring a new shopping mall!

First impression of Empire? There's a LOT to eat there! Rest assured we will be covering some of the eateries in time to come. But for now I want to introduce this unique little setup that I guarantee no other shopping mall in KL currently has:-

A Flight Simulator.

Yes, on the top floor of Empire Shopping Gallery is a place called Lifestyle Electronics eXperiential Centre (LeX), and inside LeX, tucked away in the corner but raised on a separate platform, is the LeX Firefly Flight Simulator.

The simulator on the platform. View from the bottom.

But wait! Before I start rambling on about the simulator experience, let me talk a bit about LeX itself.

View of LeX from the platform of the simulator

Very very cozy place with big windows.. Ideal for a hangout spot!

A snack bar to order some food and drinks

As you can see from the pictures, it's definitely NOT your average electronic gadget store. There's even a few  private rooms where you can get a few friends together and rent an Xbox or PS3 for a few hours of playtime while the gang of girlfriends can go out and do their hunter-gatherer thing in the shops. 

Private game pods to play games. Doesn't block out spies from outside though!

Unfortunately I didn't remember to ask how much it cost per hour, so I'll have to find that out next time I go back.

But anyway...on to the simulator!

Theres a laminated picture of the offer at the counter.

If you have foursquare and you check in at the simulator, you'll only need to pay RM25 for 15 minutes, which is about 20% discount. This includes the short tutorial on what you need to know to play, and for the actual experience. I have to say that this was the first time I actually made use of a foursquare special. I don't know about you, but I find it really hard to find specials, and be at the right place to use them!

Instructor telling me what's what! Me trying to digest ASAP.
That's me on the left, and my instructor on the right. I think his name is Hidayat? Sorry if I got it wrong.

Hidayat (?) showing me the replay of my perfect landing!

The first 2-3 minutes is spent introducing the basic controls, like the yoke (that steering wheel thing) and the pedals for the rudder (thats the thing that points straight up at the back of the plane). Thankfully, I've played a few arcade games in my lifetime, so I wasn't totally new to such things. All those little buttons on the top aren't real; it's just stickers to give you the feel of a real cockpit. =)

Another replay of my approach to the runway

One cool thing about the simulator is you actually get a headset that lets you communicate with your instructor (or co-pilot, if you have good imagination!). It's a big help because even though he's sitting right next to you, it's easier to hear him give instructions when his voice is directly in your ear, instead of having to fight over the drone of people outside. And the little boys who will run up, take a look, then shout da-ddyyyy!!! DA-DYY!!! I WANT TO TRY!!!!!

The simulated dashboard with all the instruments

Besides the yoke and pedals, the instructor will also give a quick introduction to some of the instrument panels on the dashboard. I say some, because there is no way he can finish talking about all the little dials and numbers. And even if he did, it would be no point anyway because we average humans just can't absorb so much in such a short time!

Most importantly, the instructor will show you what is the Artificial Horizon (the instrument on the far left). Basically for the whole experience all you need to remember is that one instrument which tells you whether your plane is going up or down, or whether you're tilting left or right. Of course there are plenty of other instruments that you can ask about if you aren't already overwhelmed, like the Altimeter (that tells you your height above sea level), Airspeed Indicator (tells your speed. Duh.), or Turn Indicator (telling you direction and rate of turn).

I think he's going through my last touchdown with me..=p

I say the Artificial Horizon is all you need, because your experience will start when the plane is already up in the air. All you have to do is land the plane as well as you can at an airport of your liking. Of course I started with Bayan Lepas, and then moved to Phuket airport. The surrounding environment tries to simulate as close as possible to the real deal, including the structure of the airport and runway, so everything does actually look different, not just for namesake.

(Wendy: According to them, a lot of the simulator graphics were modelled with the help of Google Earth, which explains the authenticity of the runway surroundings.)

Also, the instructor will take care of the speed, so you don't have to worry about going too fast or too slow. All you have to do is point the plane towards the runway, make a gentle descent, touchdown nicely on the runway and come to a complete stop. 

All that sounds pretty simple, but it's really harder than it looks. A plane is not a car; overturning can't be simply corrected with a jerk of the wheel the other way. And when you're not used to flying, it's hard to gauge the distance and height of things in the distance. Combine all that and you have quite a taxing experience, especially if you don't want to disappoint your poor patient instructor next to you. :P

(Wendy: In Bayan Lepas, our dear pilot practically nosedived at 45 degrees whilst trying to make a landing and then jerked up again before hitting the ground, making a sort of 'U'. Apparently, that's called 'ballooning' which is obviously very dangerous. Tsk, Captain! By the way, if the aircraft had hit the ground and gone back up again, that would be called 'bouncing' instead.)

Please try not to disappoint the poor flight instructors too much. =D

All in all, I will have to say that this is not something that everyone will enjoy. If you like your arcade games that are nothing like real life (think: Initial D, Daytona), then you are not going to like this simulator experience. But if you are the kind that likes everything to be as life-like as possible (think: Grand Turismo 5), then you'll want to check this out! According to one of the instructors, it's almost 100% like the real thing, only that it cuts out the motion. So, aspiring pilots, this is definitely one you should try out. 

(Wendy: I was told that since their opening on 31 December 2010, most of their simulator pilots have been surprisingly children! Apparently, they get so into it that they start sweating, hee.)

In case you're wondering just who those instructors are, rest assured they know what they are talking about because they are also flight instructors at Firefly's academy. This just happens to be some initiative started by Firefly and the instructors do some part-time "charity" on weekends. Kudos to Firefly for giving us something new to jot down on our weekend to-do list. =))

Psst - while I was happily engrossed in my flying, Wendy was behind me serving drinks like a stewardess taking pics while listening to another instructor give a running commentary of what I was doing. She ended up picking up more technical terms than me, and that's why she shares some of that above :p)

Lex Firefly Flight Simulator | Facebook link
Level 2, Empire Shopping Gallery
SS16/1 Subang Jaya
47500 Selangor Darul Ehsan

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