The Netherlands 2000
Freeware by The Netherlands 2000 Design Team for FS2004
Reviewed by Rob Scott
This is the first in a series of articles where I plan to take a look at some of the better freeware add-ons available for FS2004. The aim being the show people that just because the payware developers may not be focussing their attention on FS9 any more, that doesn’t mean to say that you have to lose any enjoyment from FS9 as there are literally thousands of freeware add-ons available for you to download. I will aim to keep the reviews short and to the point and illustrate them with lots of pictures to show you what you can expect from the add-on once it is installed. If you think you might like the add-on, go ahead and download it you have got nothing to lose.
Created by The Netherlands 2000 Design Team, this package (Version 2.91) has been around since 2004 and is one of the most popular downloads on AVSIM with over 75,000 so far. The download size is quite large at 222mb, so expect a bit of wait whilst you download it. Once downloaded all you need to do is run the installer and everything is done for you. It is worth pointing out however that you will need to run the configuration tool before you fly in the area otherwise the scenery will not be represented properly and AI aircraft will appear below the aprons at the airports. This tool can be found in Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\Addon Scenery\nl2000_V2_91\feature_panel. There are several options you have, which are all pretty self explanatory. Just remember not to select the winter textures if you are not flying in winter. Once you have finished flying over the Netherlands make sure that you run the tool again and uncheck everything which you have selected so that FS9 reverts back to its old self.
I will make it clear right now that this scenery is FREE so do not expect to be greeted with fantastic VFR scenery which is comparable with the scenery developers like Just Flight and Aerosoft develop. What you can expect to find is a vast improvement on the default FS scenery (as I hope the pictures will confirm) along with several airports which have all been upgraded, the best of which is Amsterdam Schiphol which has been updated to be like it’s real world counterpart. All the runways are now included (I believe that a new runway was not included in FS9) and the terminal buildings look great. The taxiways now have much more realistic signs and ground markings too. There are several other airports which all come with static aircraft, military and GA AI. These smaller airports might not be on your normal list of stop-offs but they are very atmospheric and some have tree lined taxiways which really help the overall experience.
The Netherlands is a very flat and featureless landscape, which has been depicted well in this scenery. Although this might sound a bit boring, the scenery is nicely made up and is very colourful. There are lots of buildings included around the major cities, some of which have chimneys with smoke coming out of them. These buildings do affect frame rates slightly when approaching a large airport, but once you are out into the countryside performance is good. The Netherlands is famous for its windmills, and on your travels you will come across many of these, all of which have rotating sails, I didn’t expect to see this in a free add-on!
The good thing about the Netherlands is that it is a relatively small country, but it has many airports/airfields in it, with the large majority being air bases. This means that it won’t take you too long to explore the region and find your favourite airport. I enjoyed exploring the smaller airfields after landing to see what I could find.
When in the air the scenery does look very simple, but it’s this simplicity which makes the package so good (75,000+ downloads can’t be wrong). No matter if you are flying a fast jet or a slow GA aircraft the scenery loads without delay or blurred textures. There is something for everyone in this package, even if you like gliding as thermals are included.
When flying over the countryside I was using FSMap with a VFR chart of the Netherlands to see how close the roads and railways had been placed. Whilst not every single road and railway was 100% correct, they were pretty close to it, so if you are familiar with this region of the world flying VFR without the use of a GPS or map would be certainly possible.
To sum up, I think this download is definitely worth looking into if you like flying GA aircraft, using a fast jet would led you to cover the area too quickly. The download size is quite large, but is it more than worth it once everything is installed. Not only do you get some nice looking scenery, but you are also given lots of upgraded airports, with Schiphol being the pick of the bunch, and also GA and military AI aircraft flying around the area to really make you feel at home. Go and download it, all you will lose if you decide to uninstall the scenery afterwards is a little bit of time.