Promoted as ‘a first of its kind’ product, REX is a complete photo-realistic, professional graphics package for Microsoft's Flight Simulator X, fashioned from state-of-the-art photography.
This high definition texture utility was created mostly from high resolution film as opposed to digital photography. Source material was laser drum-scanned and then the artwork and textures were maintained in high definition format to allow the detail and clarity to become evident within FSX.
Two years of research & development culminated in REX, and now the developer brings us its latest incarnation, REX2.
Make no mistake, REX2 is an ambitious product. Ultra realistic high definition clouds, sky colour enhancements and realistic water environments are just the begging. Add to the mix photo realistic asphalt, concrete runway textures, realistic taxi-way markings and airport signage and you get some appreciation for the scope of the product.
But REX isn’t finished yet; multiple variations of sun and lens flare are available, and new lightning bolt algorithms promise a spectacular experience in thunderstorms.
You could be forgiven for thinking that is the extent of the products impressive feature list, but no, REX also includes a built in Weather Engine and Flight Planner.
Download and Installation
REX is available from ‘The Flightsim Store’. The purchaser is presented with no less than eleven downloads. But don’t panic, the uppermost is the FSS2Go Download Tool designed to download all eight files in one go. It is important to remember that the download tool does not install the latest update. After installation it’s necessary to download the 2.0 update manually. The bottom download contains an information text file that explains this.
It’s a pity that this information isn’t more easily accessible, I’m sure some, in a rush, will have downloaded and installed the files with the download tool only to be surprised to find REX 1.0 on their hard drives rather than REX 2.0
The files took two hours and forty minutes to download on my connection. I must say I was a little surprised; I haven’t waited that long for an add-on to download in a long time.
Installation was relatively straightforward, and took approximately 20 minutes. Installation of the patch however did require that it was pointed in the direction of REX.
REX in Action
Initial configuration: After the splash screen the user is taken to the configuration manager in preparation for the initial set up. REX finds your FSX CFG file and FSX folder and takes you through the various options that can be configured, enabled, or disabled.
The main panel is where the action starts. From here you can access key areas of REX with quick jumps.
The main panel is composed of the menu bar at the top and three large buttons.
The buttons are labelled, I just want to fly, I like to create and I want to follow a flight plan.
‘I just want to fly’ enables the user to load specific textures based on the prevailing weather conditions at departure and arrival airports. With this option chosen, I found installation time for the textures to be protracted, as long as 12 minutes on occasions. [The wait was worth it]
‘I like to create’ here your creativity can run wild. This option takes you directly to the theme creation tool. Enabling the user to create various texture themes and load them into FSX.
‘I want to follow a flight plan’ this button will take you directly to the built in flight planner, where you can create flight plans, modify them and also export them to FSX.
The flight planner is a welcome addition in REX2, and now, considerably enhanced from the previous version. After the user sets the chosen weather option, either real time weather, REX generated random weather or archived weather a number of flight planning options become available. Waypoints can be added or deleted, and in addition very realistic navigation, weather, and flight planning forms can be printed.
Weather Engine: The new REX2 weather engine now incorporates the facility to generate random weather scenarios. After entering the chosen airport it’s possible to select the season and severity of the randomly generated weather. The developer claims to have completely rewritten the code with an emphasis on ‘realism’.
The product comes with a 34 page PDF manual, available on your hard drive after installation. I found it to be adequately written and very easy to follow.
So far, on my system, I have found no reduction in performance when using REX. This was after selecting the mid range system option during the REX initial set up. In fact, at times I got the distinct impression that performance had actually improved. However, in heavy weather scenario’s, performance will suffer, just as it always has in FSX. You can’t escape the fact that when REX installs weather based textures it does take time, as long as twelve minutes on my system. However, I didn’t find this to be an issue. When time permits the weather based texture option can be chosen, however, simply installing REX real world weather will reduce waiting time to a few minutes. Textures installed from the last flight are still available within FSX, so as long as the user is happy with those textures, installing fresh textures becomes optional rather than necessary. Furthermore, weather based textures can be installed more rapidly by simple deselecting the ocean, inland and tropical texture options. The water textures take the longest to download and so deselecting these options speeds things up significantly.
Positive aspects of REX
• Easy to use, pleasing to the eye and well designed graphical user interface.
• Stunning skies, with horizon and visibility smoothing.
• Useful Flight Planning utility.
• Realistic high definition three dimensional clouds.
• Excellent runway textures, photorealistic asphalt and concrete. Realistic taxiway markings and airport signage
• Enhanced lighting environments.
• Powerful weather engine, built on real life meteorological algorithms.
Negative aspects of REX
• I did experience some sudden wind shifts, so it seems that this is one issue still to be resolved.
• Only a minor quibble, but I’m not sure I need to see a green bar repetitively appear and disappear at the top of the screen as I wait for REX to do its thing, informing me proudly that textures are loading and that weather is being gradually loaded into FSX. I’m not sure I need all that information; a simple countdown would suffice.
• Occasional sudden wind shifts [See below]
* Sudden wind shifts are a Flight Simulator X issue, with real world weather that developers and simmers all struggle with from time to time. However, in no way can this be regarded as an REX issue.
According to the developer REX is not just technically advanced but artistically advanced too. You know what, I believe them! At times I found the multitude of chromatic renditions to be quite beautiful and the clouds very impressive. It brings quite a smile to your face when you materialize at your chosen location, ready to fly, and after waiting a few minutes for the REX weather engine to do its thing, you find yourself confronted by rain, wind, and skies like you’ve never seen in FSX before. Couple that atmospheric scenario with far more realistic visibility and eminently more believable haze depiction than provided by the default weather engine and you’re in line for a very pleasant experience.
At times, you get the impression that FSX has been transformed into an entirely new simulation. Deep blue skies, clouds like you’ve never seen before, tyre marks on runways and the sun depicted beautifully.
The only request I would make of the developer, is that the WASys [weather avoidance system] utility be available from within FSX, via the add-on menu, as it’s inconvenient to access in the background.
I find myself with the distinct impression that REX could well be one of those additions to flight simulator that rapidly becomes indispensable. The more you use it, the less you can do without it.
A fine addition to Flight Simulator X and if the developer had made available the WASys via the add-on menu, I would be tempted to rate this fine product even higher.
Late breaking news! There is a beautifully written full manual completed by Bill Barrett, now available here
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