Bookmark and Share

VFR Photographic Scenery - Generation X - Vol. 6
For FSX Published by Playsims Publishing
Reviewed by Brian Buckley
October 2012

Introduction

It is my view, that this volume from Playsims Publishing and Horizon Simulation needs no introduction at all. If you have already bought volumes 4: The Western Isles, 5: Orkney and Shetland Isles and 8: Scotland South, you will know that you are in for a treat.

Here is an introduction from the Flightstore website.
'VFR Generation X: V6 -Scotland North is the 4th volume (actually named Volume 6), in a series of five ultra-high definition photographic sceneries, that will ultimately cover the whole of mainland Scotland and outlying islands. This title covers almost 30,000 sq.Km.  As a result this one title alone requires 54Gb of hard drive space coming on 4 DVD's. Working with some of the best imagery ever produced Horizon have managed to capture the essence of flying in one of the most stunning areas of the UK'.

Area Covered by Vol. 6

Volume 6 covers a huge 30,000-ish square kilometres and it all starts from just above the 57th Parallel, which is just above Aberdeen in Scotland. The nearest airport/field you will find to this parallel is Insch/Garioch Airfield located at N57°18.68Lat -W002°38.80Lon.

More info here: http://www.gmfc-insch.co.uk/home.asp?txtPage=info Then to the west you will find Plockton Airfield, which you will find at N57°20.12Lat W005° 40.32Lon.

The coverage continues from this parallel to the north coast of the Scottish mainland. It also covers the north section of the Isle of Skye. (This was a particularly pleasant surprise for me, as I was under the assumption that volume 6 was only covering the north Scottish  mainland). Thank you Playsims and Horizon.
 
Here is the map showing what you get in volume 6.
  Area covered
Area covered

Level of Detail:

As with all the previous volumes from Playsims Publishing, volume 6 will blend seamlessly into your FSX scenery. 'Scotland North' packs a punch with a 5m terrain mesh and a 0.60cm resolution throughout the whole 30,000 sq km area. This gives you outstanding clarity of detail and gives every VFR flight over the north of Scotland real impact and believability. Because Generation X VFR Scenery is composed of actual aerial photography, you will see every lump and bump on the ground, every ripple on the water surface and great detail under the waters surface also.

Having lived in the Highlands for quite a while now, I can vouch for the superb accuracy of the stunning detail in this volume and it really is a joy to be able at last, to fly over accurate and detailed scenery.

Having set my sliders in FSX to the recommended settings, I was blown away by the detail. Even in some murky weather conditions it is possible to make out the land textures.

Here are a few screenshots taken by me to give you an idea of what to expect should you add volume 8 to your scenery library.

FSX Garioch Aero Club
FSX Plockton
RW Garioch Aero Club
RW Garioch Aero Club
FSX Plockton
FSX Plockton
RW Plockton
 RW Plockton
EGPE Inverness
EGPE Inverness
RW EGPE Inverness
 RW EGPE Inverness

There are quite a few airfields scattered about the Highlands and half the fun is finding them. You won't be disappointed.
 
I also have Scotflight for FSX Photo installed which does make a great deal of difference to the airfields dotted around. In fact the screenshots of the FSX airports above are actually from Scotflight and not FSX default scenery. I strongly urge you to install Scotflight Scotland scenery in tandem with volume 6 as it will place some great 3D objects around where you least expect them. Please see links at the foot of this review for adding Scotflight Scotland Scenery to your library.

Unparalleled Terrain detail

With a 5m terrain mesh data from Getmapping's latest aerial surveys, VFR Generation X gives users minute topographic detail that shows every lump and bump - all fully correlated to provide the perfect fit with the aerial photography, adding dramatically to the immersion that this synthetic environment provides.
An Teallach
An Teallach
Ultra High-Definition Photographic Scenery

With this volume you can expect ultra-high definition resolution for the entire area. The resolution has been set 0.60cm throughout. The end result is smooth frame rates with exacting detail for your VFR flights.
  Cape Wrath
Cape Wrath
Spectacular Water Effects

The water bodies have been designed to retain the natural water colours shown by the aerial photography as far as possible, again adding to the scenery's immersion. In addition, they will provide a moving, reflective surface that will allow float aircraft operations, and will even let you see through to sub-surface features like sand bars and underwater channels.
  The beaches in Gairloch
The beaches in Gairloch

Compatibility with ScotFlight

To ensure compatibility with other content for Scotland, Horizon has been coordinating efforts with the talented scenery designers from ScotFlight , who have made all of the airfields and airports for the same area in stunning 3D with blends for this scenery for a seamless transition.

3D EGPE1 3D EGPE2
3D EGPE3
Scotflight - EGPE - Inverness showing 3D Objects

Enhanced Performance

Smooth frame rates with crisp, sharp photographic scenery -VFR Generation X has been specifically designed to optimise performance and reduce the effects of blurry scenery textures, even on lower spec. systems.

On my system, I found that by starting with the Scenery Complexity slider set at Very Sparse and the Autogen Density slider at None, I could get frame rates of mid 50's to mid 60's and an extremely smooth flight. Although, there were obviously no 3D objects showing.

With both sliders set at Normal, I was getting frame rates of between 34 and 40fps and with both sliders set to Extremely Dense, I could still get frame rates of between 30 and 40fps. Which goes to prove that changing the settings of just these two sliders you should be quite able to get a smooth flight with decent frame rates. Even with a lower spec' system.

Here are pictures of Glasgow airport showing the different settings and frame rates in the
top left of the picture.

Scenery Complexity (Very Sparse) -(Normal) -(Extremely Dense) ; Autogen Density (None) -(Normal) -(Extremely Dense)
Glasgow at Very Sparse and None
Glasgow at Very Sparse and None
Glasgow at Normal settings
Glasgow at Normal settings
Glasgow at Extremly Dense settings
Glasgow at Extremely Dense settings

Weather performance

Although at the time of doing this review, I didn't have any weather engines installed such as REX or ASE, I still managed to get decent frame rates using the weather from default FSX. As you can see from the pictures below, I had frame rates of between 20 and 55fps.

I can't comment on what effects other software might have on the frame rates but I would recommend again, adjusting the sliders to get the most stable flight that suits you.

Bad weather1
 Bad weather1
River Conon & Rich farm lands
River Conon & Rich farm lands
Bad weather2
 Bad weather2
Ben Wyvis
Ben Wyvis

Additional Software Installed

Treescapes


Whilst doing this review I also had Volume 6 TreeScapes for Scotland North installed. Although this is not a review of TreeScapes, I would mightily recommend you install TreeScapes as an accompaniment, as I truly believe the trees really do bring the scenery to life in a dramatic way. The foliage in TreeScapes changes colour with the seasons which very subtly enhances your view of the countryside.

21. Treescapes1 Treescapes2
Treescapes3 Treescapes4
TrreeScapes selection
Scotflight

There were some anomalies I found, whilst flying around the area covered but I am aware that Scotflight are working towards solutions for them.

One of the problems was the coastal regions were in conflict with other software. However, Scotflight have posted an interim fix for this and you can download it from the link at the end of this review.
 
No patch applied  With patch applied
Wick Harbour without Coastal Patch
Wick Harbour without Coastal Patch
Wick Harbour with Coastal patch
Wick Harbour with Coastal patch
Hole in the ground
Hole in the ground
Hole with the coastal patch
Hole with the coastal patch

Once I had downloaded and installed the interim patch, the coastal and water areas looked fine. As you can see from the before and after pictures above.

I also found one of the inland lochs with what appears to be a scenery flatten problem. These have been reported on the forums and as I stated above, Scotflight are working hard to sort these issues out. I am sure they  will provide a patch soon.

Documentation
  As with all the Generation X, VFR Scenery from Playsims Publishing and Horizon, volume 6 comes complete with a 33 page user manual. This covers all aspects of this scenery add-on including installation and how best to set up your system, to get the most enjoyment and benefit from the scenery.

I'm not going to attempt a review of TreeScapes because it has already been done by my friend David Williams. You can check out his thorough review from the link at the end of this review.

Conclusion


Having waited with eagerness for this volume to arrive, as I live in the Highlands, I was not disappointed.

Playsims publishing have once again delivered the goods. The level of detail and area coverage is absolutely phenomenal. Adding to the Scottish library of Volumes 4: The Western Isles, 5: Orkney and Shetland Isles, 8: Scotland South and now Volume 6: Scotland North, this adds up to a whopping 133Gb of very high quality scenery for FSX.

Once again, as with the previous Generation X VFR Volumes covering parts of Scotland, I highly recommend Volume 6 Scotland North to you. The level of detail and clarity of the Generation X series is without compromise and will definitely enhance your scenery collection.



Verdict


    • Level of detail:
    • Performance:
    • Quality of buildings (if applicable)
    • Documentation:
    • Value for money:
8.0/10
9.0/10
na/10
9.0/10
10.0/10





Final Mutley's Hangar score of: 9/10

Volume 6 is an enormously immersive scenery area to fly around and given that, I would not hesitate in recommending you add this to your scenery library.

The price you pay for such quality is, in my opinion, nothing less than great value for money. Well done yet again, to all the production and design team at Playsims Publishing.


Brian Buckley
Review machine Spec:
Core i7 -2600 CPU @ 3.40GHz | 8Gb DDR3 Ram |GTX 570SC 1280Mb |Windows 7 64bit


Links

You can get Scotflight here:
 http://www.scotflightscenery.com/Products.htm


Scotflight Interim Patch here:
http://www.scotflightscenery.com/index.htm

TreeScapes for volume 6 here:
TreeScapes link

TreeScapes Review by David Williams - Mutley's Hangar:
http://mutleyshangar.com/reviews/dai/tree/tree.htm