Located no more than 12 miles from each other in deep Washington state, Concrete Municipal airport and Israel's Farm is hardly known outside the local area and it's this unknowing and air of mystery that I believe draws Orbx into developing scenery for such an alien area for an Australian Flight Sim Company.
It wasn't until 2009 that Orbx really came into the spot light with their range of jaw dropping scenery for Microsoft Flight Simulator X and since then they have continued to develop outstanding scenery for FSX. In this review I will be putting their latest releases, Concrete Municipal airport and Israel's farm under my microscope too see whether Orbx are still number one in developing scenery for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. As I am reviewing two products, I will look at them separately so I am able to provide a more detailed look at both products starting with Concrete Muni.
Documentation and Install
Concrete Muni is available to download from the Flight Sim Store and priced at £17.85 it seems a relatively cheap airport. The download is a pint size 589.77mb which translates into quick download times even a peak times of the day and with a download manager (which I use) it practically halves the download time.
Just as the download was, the install was brisk and simple. All you have to do is run the installer program, provide registration details and you are away and it is done in a matter of minutes which is great considering how eager I am two explore this little unknown corner on Washington state.
Just like every add on for Flight Sim you buy now, Orbx have included a very detailed manual which shows you what they have included, the best settings for different specifications of PC, scenery coverage and general tips for using the add-on and a brief history of the local area. The manual comes in .pdf format so you will need Adobe Acrobat to view it. Personally I would have to say that this is possibly one of the best laid out manuals I have seen, with some spectacular screenshots included to liven up what usually the dullest part of a Flight Sim add on. The manual itself consists of twenty three pages and is a very easy read.
|Just like every Orbx product on the market today it
includes a very nifty control panel which allows which
allows the user to dictate everything from the aerodrome
clutter to the audio that you hear as you move around
I adore this feature as it allows you tailor your FTX experience to the smallest detail.
Let's have a look at what you actually get for your £17.85. At the airport you receive an amazing 30cm per pixel scenery, which translates into some incredible detail in the immediate vacinity of the airport but as you travel into the surrounding town and valley you get a very acceptable 60cm per pixel which isn't as good as the airport but still it's above and beyond what most scenery developers will attempt.
First of all I will be looking at the centre piece of this scenery add-on, Concrete Municipal Airport (3W5). Unlike most scenery add-ons Orbx's Concrete Muni allows you to alter the specifications of the taxiways and runways to suite your computer so for example if you have a machine that is more than capable running FSX with settings maxed out, FTX Aero allows you to have the highest quality taxiways and runways; but in stark contrast, if you have a weaker machine, FTX Aero allows you to dim down the settings so you can obtain respectable frame rates.
Unlike most airports, Concrete Muni has some very unusual buildings on the aerodrome site which include a school and a American football stadium complete with running track as well as the usual hangers you would expect to find! As you can see, the school and wind sock have been modelled to perfection just like the other buildings on the aerodrome site. Even the A.I Traffic looks adorable!
The thing I love about reviewing is that you
begin to see the detail in add-ons more than you would if you
just brought it and had a fly around.
The textures and detail here are probably the best I have seen, I love how the developers have included smudge marks and general wear and tear which just adds to the realism and at the end of the day we want scenery that sucks us from out desktop PC's into the real world. Just like the spectacular runway textures, the taxiways don't disappoint either. I adore the fact that on either side of the taxiway there are signs of stress which are a vast improvement on the bland and dull default taxiways included in FSX. The all important taxi way markings are a vast improvement on the default ones and they are done with some amazing details like minor cracks. The smudge marks on the runways and the crumbling taxiways make this add on one of the best for textures I have seen.
The airport and
Just like most Orbx add-ons the coverage doesn't stop at the airport gate; the scenery continues into the town/village/ city. This adds an extra dimension to any scenery add on and gives the user an excuse to take things slow! Since I have finished with the delightful airport I think I could use a drink so let's venture into town. Now, I will be unable to show you every house, office and shop Orbx have included in this product so I will have to randomly pick a few and comment.
Concrete has two areas of interest first is the main residential area which is located to the west of the airport, filled with mainly houses and the occasional corner shop and the east is the main commercial area filled with bars, restaurants and shops. Personally I prefer the commercial area, this is purely because it has a greater diversity of architecture then the residential area. For example in the commercial side of town (although just one fraction of the street that runs through the little village) we can see log buildings, buildings designed in the stereotypical western way and all the way through to the modern day and all have been modelled to look as realistic as possible. For example, it isn't difficult to pick out the individual logs and the curtain creases in the shop windows. However, it doesn't mean I dislike the residential area of town. Again with the homes the detail Orbx have put in make exploring the neighbourhood a pleasant experience even garages and street lamps are included, which may be overlooked in other scenery add-ons.
Now before I close this review, I just want to touch up on another feature which is the river which flows around Concrete , the effects of water are just remarkable, and I didn't even think a developer would try and develop water so realistic.
An revolutionary feature Orbx have included in this add on is audio (something usually reserved for aircraft developers). The sound they have put into this add on isn't just a random assortment, but cleverly selected noises to put you into the environment. For example you can hear birds tweet away while on the runway and cars driving while you are on the high street. Personally I adore this feature and believe it really gives the add on the X factor.
Let me say what an absolute pleasure it has been to review this add on, it is spectacular in every possible way and has incorporated some revolutionary features for our viewing pleasure.
The team at Orbx must be extremely talented to consistently produce add on after add on and continually amaze the FS Community time and time again. Unlike most Scenery developers, Orbx put time, dedication and care into all their products produce some of the most jaw dropping scenery out there today and Concrete Muni is nothing different!
This has to be my favourite scenery add on and fully worth the price tag. Overall I have to rate this add on 9.5/10, for it to obtain the full 10 marks I would have liked to see some animated people walking around the airfield, but this would probably have a negative impact on the all important frame rates.
Mutley's Hangar score of 9.5/10
Review machine Spec: Core i7 920 @ 3.6 Ghz | 6Gb 1600Mhz DDR3 Ram |Radeon 5700 Graphics |Windows 7