Another product from the ‘Flight One’ stable to enhance your flying visuals comes in the form of Flight Environment X for FSX. This is an addition to the already popular version for FS2004. It promises to be a truly customisable tool to make your flight environment come alive with its super high definition textures.
Upon opening the DVD case you get the DVD, a well documented informative 28 page manual and product guide.
The Manual is quite sufficient to get you flying with extremely good cloud and water textures but, if you want to delve deeper into the FEX engine then I suggest you read the 99 page PDF that is installed with the software. Yes! 99 pages but every one of them is packed with invaluable information for the FS pilots that like to tinker. Flight Environment X is available in two formats at the time of release. They are the fully boxed DVD or by download. Bear in mind though that the download version is 1.73Gb in size. So be sure to have space available on your hard drive.
What you get
• A large selection of realistic themes for water, sky and clouds
• Surrealistic themes to create amazing screen shots
• Instant community access to a free library of other users themes
• Individual themes for weather conditions such as storms and pollution
Installation was a breeze. Insert the DVD and follow the on screen instructions.
Flight1 recommend that FEX is installed into the default directory. Normally this would be C:\Program Files (x86)\Flight One Software\Flight Environment X. The installer unpacks the files into a storage folder outside the main FSX location then, as the files are required by FSX they are automatically installed.
The Flight Environment X interface runs automatically after installation is complete.
Flight1 suggest that you allow Flight Environment X to have access to the internet, through your firewall. This is needed to allow Flight Environment X to download updates and to allow you to download other users themes. I also recommend this action. (There are a great deal of users that are producing some excellent themes, to which you will have access).
Launching Flight Environment X
After the initial flash screen (a split second), you will be taken to the main configuration panel, where you have the opportunity to either fly with a default theme or delve deeper and design your very own set of themes. The choice is yours.
You have to run the interface, select your chosen themes and install them to FSX before you will see any new textures. Once you have installed your theme choice, you then have to close FEX before running FSX. Once you have done this, FSX will always use the themes whenever you fly until you change them.
Choosing themes is very simple and once I was flying, I was very surprised at the level of detail in the textures.
Having said that, it did take anywhere between 4-6 minutes to install the themes into FSX, on my system. This could very well be a lot less on a more superior system than I have at present.
On my system, there was no depreciation in frame rates whilst using Flight Environment X. In my opinion this has to be one of FEX’s selling points. After all, we are all looking for more FPS, every time we fly.
Here you can see just how self explanatory the Main Interface really is. If you get lost though, just click on the ‘Help’ button and this will take you to the PDF document. I seriously doubt though, that once you have read the manual and explored the interface, that you will need the PDF document. This software really is that easy to use.
Once you have taken a look at the main
tools that make up the FEX engine, you will be amazed at the
vast amount of combinations you can create for different
themes. There is an enormous range of clouds, sky and water
combinations to be had for your themes.
Customisation will allow you an incredible depth of control, from adjusting the transparency of clouds and the colour of the bottom of clouds, right through to adjusting how the water colour scales in depth. Intuitive tools allow even the novice to be able to achieve stunning results from the beginning. The included Cloud, Sky and Water editors will make it nearly impossible to see the same Cloud, Sky or Water formation twice.
|I think you will agree, just this tiny selection above is enough to whet your appetite!|
The main interface of FEX is really quite easy to master. Selecting the various components for your theme is a mere matter of browsing the selections, clicking the ones you feel mostly match the type of clouds, sky and water you are looking for and simply installing the theme into FSX.
The fun really starts though, once you click on the ‘Designer’ Tab.
|Clicking this tab takes you into the realms of the cloud,
sky and water designer.
This allows you to configure any aspect of the Clouds, Sky or Water.
For example, you may want a wispier edge to your clouds or a darker base to them.
You may want your sky to be a deep blue haze or a citrus orange. You can do it all here and do it extremely easy too.
The four tabs (1, 2, 3, 4) at the top of the display depict the four choices of, cloud, water, sky and animation themes respectively.
5, Is the Master Themes selection area. 6, Is where you put the description of your newly made theme. 7, Is where you add your details, before saving your theme.
Once you have designed your new clouds, sky or water, you simply save it under a name of your choice.
You can then choose to publish your theme to the internet via Flight Environments ‘Publish Theme’ tab within the designer section.
Once you publish your theme, it will be uploaded to the FEX users database. From this database others can then use your theme and likewise you can download other users themes.
This is quite useful if, for example you are flying with friends and want to see the same environment, you all simply download and install to FSX, the same theme from the database.
I found that by playing around with all the variables within FEX, it is possible to come up with some very interesting themes of your own making.
The only limit to making themes in FEX is your own imagination.
... and Water
No adverse effects on system resources or frame rates.
Massive collection of Clouds, Sky & Water themes. Virtually limitless.
Massive variations possible through the ‘Designer’ Tab.
Ability to Publish your own themes and download other users themes.
Easy to use intuitive Interface.
99 page pdf user guide.
Pricing - debatable. Personally I think it is worth the price tag considering the amount of work that has gone into it.
Cost - £32.65 Boxed DVD
Having had the opportunity to explore this superb utility I can quite honestly say that it would be a very good addition to your utility library. Not only are you getting the chance to make your flying more realistic in terms of the visual experience, but you also get the chance to experience other users’ themes via the online database.
With no added strain on your system resources, this has to be a utility to own.
Flight Environment X is the first to market such high definition textures with cloud textures mastered up to a whopping 4096x4096 pixel size. The proof is there to see when you install this software.
A massive variation of clouds, sky and water will keep you busy for years, whilst building your own database full of flight environmental themes.
Flight Environment X is NOT a weather engine so don’t expect all manner of wind, precipitation etc.
Having said that, Flight Environment X, will work in tandem with other weather generating software such as REX, ASE etc. But remember that these are system resource hungry.
An excellent addition to your flying experience and the fact that it will work in tandem with some of the weather engine utilities on the market, I am giving Flight Environment X a Mutley’s Hangar score of 9/10
Footnote: If Flight Environment X had a weather engine incorporated into it, it would definitely have got a 10/10.
Mutley's Hangar score of 9/10
Review machine Spec: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 @ 3.15 Ghz | 4Gb 800Mhz DDR2 Ram |GTX285 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit