I was a very happy man when I got the chance
to review this product. Having seen some stunning screenshots of
previous ORBX scenery, but still having none of their products
in my FSX add-on library, I installed the package with high
expectations. But did it live up to what we have come to expect
from this developer? Read on, and I’ll give you my opinion.
What the developers promise
The product description from Full Terrain's webpage sets the bar high. ”Superb ground textures”, ”Hand-crafted landclass covers every mile” and ”20m Holgermesh for crisp definition” are just a few of their selling points. Available to you as a customer, even before purchase, is the user guide plus a Google earth .KMZ file that includes the area covered plus the position of all airports, sea plane bases, helipads, unlisted airstrips and modelled landmarks included in the package.
Parked at Smithers
According to the .KMZ file, the scenery covers an impressive
305.000 square kilometres, or 120,000 square miles, of land in
British Columbia and the southern parts of Alaska. The southern
parts of the scenery adjoin to the first of ORBX sceneries in
the area (FTX Pacific Northwest) and the northern parts borders
to Aerosoft's/Holger Sandmann's Tongass Fjords scenery. In the
east ORBX have just released their next scenery package
(Northern Rocky Mountains). As for airports and other points of
interest the scenery, according to the KMZ, includes 25 Listed
airports, 20 unlisted airstrips, 35 Sea Plane Bases and 11
Helipads. There’s also 45 landmarks included ranging from Fjords
and Glaciers to Military Antenna Arrays and even a crash site
for a US Air Force B-36.
There are also a few custom weather themes included, and two of them add weather that should be typical in this area. Use them with care, and have your charts or GPS handy and the MSA memorised or you will get lost in the clouds with some unwanted close contact with the ground.
All this should add up to some interesting flying with lots and lots of areas to discover.
US Forest Service Cabin at Manzanita Lake
Download and installation
With the download weighing in at 1.6 Gb be prepared to wait for a while for it to complete, especially if you’re on a slow connection.
Since the installation process and FTX Central has been covered in Joe’s reviews of both the FTX NA PNW and the FTX AU Gold scenery I will leave that part since nothing new has been added to this tool as far as I understand.
What you get
Time to see if FTX deliver on their promises and marketing.
The first flight I made was a quick VFR hop in the Cessna 208 over the large Island complex in the western most parts of the package. Starting at Sandspit (CYZP) and heading north to the village of Masset (CZMT). My first impression was a nicely modelled airport right on the waterfront.
After takeoff I was at first not as awed as I had hoped I’d be, but after a short while something important dawned on me. This scenery isn’t photoreal, it’s a landclass/texture scenery. Yet, there is virtually no repetition visible on the ground. That’s an impressive feat. Sure, much of the ground in this part (and in large parts of the rest of the scenery) are forest areas covered with lots and lots of trees that cover up the ground textures, but still. Also, as a side note, this part of the scenery is fairly flat compared to the rest of the coverage, so the mesh didn’t have a lot to work with.
With Google Earth open on one screen for reference and FSX on the other it was time to get my bearings and try to find my way to Masset.
Prince Rupert Port
Fjords - South of Port Edward
Judging by Google Earth it should be a rather simple
task. Head west-north-west to a large lake, and then follow it’s
outlet as it wound its way north. Sure enough, after a short
time on a heading of roughly 330 the lake started to show behind
some high hills just as expected and from there, the outlet put
me right where I wanted to go. Along the way I also flew over
some smaller settlements that looked like they corresponded well
with reality according to Google Earth (although, as some Nicaraguan
generals have learned recently, even Google Earth can get it
Comparing scenery to their real-life counterparts is something I tend to do whenever I get my hands on something new for the library. After all a simulator add-on should, in my mind, try to mimic reality as close as possible. In the cases where the scenery in question is located a long way from where I live and cover a place I’ve never visited, Google Earth usually provides me with what I need to put my mind at ease. But in this case the fairly low resolution of the area in the imagery available to me made such comparisons hard, especially when it came to the airports. In most cases it was hard to even make out if there was a structure present at an airport. In a few cases there were also photos available on Google Earth, and judging by those FTX has done a good job of putting in the correct buildings where they should be. Coastlines, roads and the few populated areas in the region also correspond well with real life.
The port area south of CZST
Leaving the western islands and heading in over the mainland the
scenery really kicks into gear. The terrain is rugged, with
fjords and valleys in between high mountain peaks and the
terrain mesh does an outstanding job at displaying the dramatic
landscape on the screen. Compared to the terrain mesh from FS
Global the FTX mesh by Holger Sandmann provides much more
detail, with a much more definition and detail, even though both the
meshes are of the same resolution.
The ground textures used outside the refurbished airports might not be of a super quality. Compared with for example FScene X textures, there’s not much of a difference (compared with default textures the visual improvement is a totally different thing), but pair these textures with the improved landclass and the use of high class autogen and the result is most pleasing to my eyes, particularly in mountainous regions where the default landclass fails on many levels.
Edges of the Soule Glacier
Climbing out from Terrace (CYXT)
The included airports and airstrips are somewhat on the small
side of the spectrum as far as airports go, with only two having
more than 1 runway. Some of them are actually no more than a
small grass strip in the middle of nowhere with nothing more
than the strip itself modelled. But they still make a big
improvement over the default versions, since FTX at least have
gone to the trouble of removing any high trees from the approach
path. The textures used are of higher detail than those used
outside of the airports, and looks fairly good even when viewed
If you are a flightsimmer with a preference for low and slow bush flying this could be your mecca with lots and lots to discover, and stunning views all around you and few disappointments. Going low and fast is also an option. Trying to navigate your way through the narrow valleys and fjords will be a challenge even in good weather. For those among us that favour the big jets, it will give you an enhanced ground beneath you, but given the few large airports available you will most likely miss out on most of the beauty.
CZST - Stewart Airport
A very good looking scenery that will be given many revisits after this review is done.
Combine it with skies, clouds and water enhancements from REX and you will have a hard time leaving the windows to monitor your instruments.
The only minor let down are the textures on the glaciers as described above. Had those lived up to my expectations this would have been a sure contender for full points, but I feel that they warrant a slight deduction in points. Let’s make it half a point to end up with a Mutley's Hangar score of 9.5 out of 10. Well done!
Review machine Spec: Intel Core i7 860 @ 2.8GGhz | 4 Gb DDR III 1600 |XFX ATI Radeon HD57701GB |Windows 7 64bit Pro