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AFM M20 Collection Updated

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AFM (Advanced Flight Modeling) has released version 3.0.0 of their M20 Collection. With this update, the plane has officially left its early access state. The devs make clear that they will still bring updates to the aircraft, but feel confident enough to not consider it as early access anymore. The 3.0.0 update is mainly focussed on immersion, according to the developers, and comes with several changes to do so.

This update requires a complete reinstall of the product. A quick guide to do so can be found in their announcement post. The M20 Collection requires X-Plane 11.20 or later, and can be bought from the AFM Store.

 
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Orbx Release CityScene Barcelona

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After the announcement just a little over a week ago, Orbx has released CityScene Barcelona. This scenery features a realistic, high quality and detailed rendition of Barcelona and its surrounding area. Using a lot of custom and handmade objects, buildings and vegetation Orbx is trying to capture the look and feel of the city. CityScene is a relatively new technology
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Digital Design St. Petersburg Released

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Digital Design has released St. Petersburg (ULLI). The release hardly came as a surprise, as Digital Design announced the release just last week. Nevertheless, we're still happy with it! This addon is an update of the previous version and comes with some improvements and new features. Most notably, there are new landmarks and buildings as well as SODE jetways. Furthermore,
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QualityWings Ultimate 787 Update Preview

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It looks like the team over at QualityWings has been listening to our feedback for their next 787 update. After the release of this plane, one of the most common points of feedback from the community was definitely the lack of a good payload and fuel manager. One of the top concerns was a lack of ZFW indication anywhere, neither
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29Palms Nuremberg Release Schedule

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It has taken the team over at 29Palms Scenery Design more than 2,5 years. But, at last, the team was able to announce that Nuremberg (EDDN) will release this month. The addon is currently going through the last stages of beta testing, after some last features have been added. Some of these features are the animated tower elevator, as well
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Orbx Netherlands TrueEarth: The FSElite Review

ONL Review
7.5
PRODUCT INFORMATION
Developer
Orbx
Purchase From
Orbx
Price
$54.95 AUD
BUY HERE
Version Reviewed
1.0
Press Copy Provided By
Orbx
SimMarket
FSElite's preferred Flight Sim vendor is SimMarket. (Why?)

As per our Community Charter, all of our reviews are free from bias, prejudice and favouritism. Don't forget, each reviewer has their own style and thoughts, although they all abide by the Review Guidelines - something I suggest you read.

Orbx, too, has ventured into the area of photoreal regions. Undoubtedly inspired by the popular ‘Ortho’ addons for X-Plane, Orbx’ first photoreal area is Netherlands TrueEarth. So what is ‘TrueEarth’, what does it mean for Orbx Regions and of course, how good is this addon?

 

Presentation

Let’s start at the beginning: what is TrueEarth? For a few years now, Orbx has made phenomenal region addons, with the most recent one being FTX Germany (North and South). These regions are tremendously detailed areas with accurate, hand placed landclass, custom autogen textures, custom models and more. However, and without a doubt inspired by the popularity of ‘photoreal’ addons such as Ortho for X-Plane or photoreal textures for airports, Orbx has decided to up their game. Combine all of the above with (heavily edited) photoreal ground textures, new technologies such as GIS (Geographic Information System) and ‘CityScene’, along with even more hand placed objects, and TrueEarth is born.

Orbx addons are, as always, really easy to install through FTX Central. The same goes for Netherlands TrueEarth. There is, however, one slight caveat here. Netherlands TrueEarth is a little bit bigger than Orbx regions usually are. The download size of the addon alone is close to 80 GB. Due to this, you’ll need a lot of bandwidth for the download. Another obvious requirement is a lot of empty disk space.

Performance

As always, this is an important point of attention, even more so with extensive regions. Orbx has done a lot to make the performance as good as possible. There is a control panel in FTX Central to toggle many details to help you optimise performance. Think about static and animated boats, harbour buildings, electricity masts, tv towers, antennae, windmills, water towers and more like this.

Regardless of all these options, performance is a bit of an issue. Most of the country is generally performance friendly with smooth frames and few to no stutters. But unfortunately, the closer you get to the West of the country and the densely packed cities, the more of an issue performance becomes. My frames started to drop a bit and stutters became more and more frequent. Especially when turning on all of the details, such as ships and harbour buildings, in the Rotterdam and Amsterdam area my performance suffered massively.

If you recall my review of Orbx FTX Germany South, you may remember a bit of a similar issue with that region when it came to performance. Generally, the performance of these two addons is roughly on par, with Netherlands TrueEarth performing slightly worse on occasion. Regardless, this is still a massive feat, if you consider that TrueEarth Netherlands is completely comprised of photoreal textures rather than landclass.

Features

There are a few distinct features I want to highlight about this addon. First of all, there are the photoreal textures. These are of very high quality, really detailed and very crisp. The colours are very vibrant, and there is support for five different seasons (including ‘hard winter’), most of which look great and accurate. For some reason, hard winter does not cover the entire country in snow.
The textures look great both when you’re flying low and slow and when you’re flying high up in the sky. There is definitely a visible improvement over Orbx OpenLC, particularly when it comes to texture variation. Also very nice is that the quality of the textures is so good, you can actually recognise the cities, landmarks and particular areas of the country such as national parks, lakes, canals and rivers and the like.
Unfortunately, the textures will on occasion blur. Particularly when you’re flying (low and) fast this is a common occurrence. And, as with all Orbx regions, it’s a little noticeable when you’re leaving the region, due to the change in textures. This is not a real deal-breaker though.

One of the biggest features that makes TrueEarth what it is, are probably the CityScene buildings. These are good, but not great. The textures are a bit boring: not very accurate and rather repetitive. Furthermore, the textures are coloured blandly, and lighting doesn’t seem to affect them in the same way as autogen textures are affected, so they stand out a bit – both during night and day. The custom modelling of buildings is something that is done very well, but that’s about it.
It doesn’t help that only the city centres are made out of these CityScene buildings. Anything outside of that will turn back to regular autogen. Depending on your settings, these areas may suddenly be rather sparsely populated in contrast to the densely packed CityScene areas.
It’s also kind of weird that some big landmarks are missing. Sure, a lot of them are there. But there are also a lot of them missing. Most notably, railway stations. But also some stadia, churches, concert buildings and the like are missing. This becomes particularly noticeable when you’re familiar with the area.

Orbx is also using a new technique for night lighting. Although I do notice a slight difference, particularly in the density and colour of night lights in cities and on roads, it’s not that much different from regular FTX Vector lights.

Last but not least, Orbx has, much like in their FTX regions, given the default airports a bit of an overhaul. These also look rather nice. They’re not too accurate, and certainly no replacement for airport addons by other parties. But for many of these airports there are no other options available, and that makes the Orbx touched airports that bit nicer.
Talking about third party airports, you’re probably also interested to know how compatible Netherlands TrueEarth is with FlyTampa’s Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Provided you have your addons ordered correctly (more information on this can be found on the Orbx forums), FlyTampa’s Amsterdam Schiphol blends perfectly with Netherlands TrueEarth and will override the airport and its surrounding area.

Value

Netherlands TrueEarth is without a doubt aimed at Dutchies and GA pilots. Sure, there is something there for everyone, and even if you’re not a GA flyer (or Dutch) you will enjoy this scenery, but the drawbacks on performance may not be entirely worth it. Netherlands TrueEarth is at its best when you’re doing GA flying, so you can take in all the beautiful nature, buildings and landmarks. Furthermore, that is the only real way to appreciate all of the detailed textures and admire the great job Orbx has done here.
Though it’s not too expensive, it’s still a bit hard to justify buying it if you’re only flying big airlines, as you’re likely to miss out on almost all unique features that this addon has to offer.

It should not be forgotten that there is some great freeware available for the Netherlands. The team over at NL2000 has been delivering photoreal scenery of the country for years now, as well as more detailed custom airports. Depending on your requirements, as well as your budget, this is a serious alternative to look in to. Depending on your preferences, I sometimes found myself liking one over the other a bit more in certain areas of the country.

 
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MK-Studios Lanzarote And Tenerife Updates

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MK-Studios seem to be hard at work supporting both some "older" products as well as a recently released one. Both Tenerife, which was released back in December, and Lanzarote, released just last week, received an update. The update for Tenerife is an update for the 'Volume 1' package. Both updates can be downloaded from your SimMarket account, or from the
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Flight One Releases FS Stall Effects

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Flight One Software has found an apparent gap in the market, and developed an addon to make your flying experience more realistic. FS Stall Effects tries to do by adding pre-stall effects to your simulator, something that is currently missing from simulators. Adding pre-stall and high speed buffeting simulations to you sim allows you to take corrective measures when approaching
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Lockheed Martin Release Prepar3D v4.3

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Lockheed Martin has just released Prepar3D v4.3. This update comes with a few new features and a number of fixes and enhancements to make your Prepar3D experience even better. For instance, you'll probably be happy to know Lockheed Martin has worked on even more fixes regarding dynamic lighting, with clustering grouped dynamic lights and adding in more distance-based checks. Furthermore,
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