The quest for more immersion and realism within our simulators never ends. With so many utilities released this year, it’s fair to say that there has been a lot of success as developers look to improve our experiences and keep us engaged with our hobby. To release a unique addon is no easy feat but FSReborn has done just that with the release of their AI traffic lights package, AI Lights Reborn Pro Edition for Prepar3D v4+.
This utility aims to bring more realism to our sims’ AI traffic by changing and improving the way the aircraft’s navigation lighting looks up close and from a distance. With a customisable tool, the user has full control of the configuration and management of AI traffic navigation lights giving you the options to pursue ultimate realism.
A freeware version of AI Lights is currently available from the FSReborn website with basic functionality. What the free version offers is several fixes and improvements to the Prepar3D v4 AI traffic aswell your own installed AI traffic programs. In Prepar3D, the default traffic strobe lights are invisible at long distances and this has been fixed along with improvements to the overall look of all navigation lights to achieve more realism. With realism in mind, your own installed traffic programs will receive improvements to your overall simulator experience. The strobe lights will have dynamic lighting effects which illuminate the ground and the aircraft body. The red and green navigation lights will be dimmed as the aircraft get further away. The beacon lights have effects included which will become visible when the aircraft is on short final, with it bringing dynamic reflections on the ground and the underside of the fuselage. All of these features are daylight sensitive which means that during daylight hours the lights will become less reflective. However, it’s worth noting that this package will not give you the customisation parameters of the Pro (paid) version. This is a fixed preset meaning all of your AI aircraft will have the same effects regardless of the aircraft type.
For the purpose of this review, I will be using Flight1 Software’s Ultimate Traffic Live for my AI traffic along with Prepar3D V4.5 with Hotfix 1 (Recommended) along with the paid Pro Edition of AI Lights Reborn.
Installation of AI Lights Reborn is an easy, pain-free process simply asking for a serial number and email address to register the product online and onto your computer’s registry. This ensures that any future updates or re-installation of the product are easily installed without the need to re-register.
Once the package is installed and up and running you are greeted with a sleek looking client in (the optional) dark mode with three clickable main headers, Dashboard, AI Lights Settings and Configuration. By default, the client opens on the dashboard page. This is the most important page to get started. Intuitively, the client is laid out sensibly with each clickable button presented in an order of process to get you up and running. Along the bottom of the client are three more clickable buttons, Scan and Configure AI Airplanes, Change AI Lights Settings and Change Application Settings. The AI Lights settings and Change Application buttons are quick access icons to the main header categories.
I am going to review this product in two separate parts. The first part will be focusing on the product outside of the simulator including setup and options, the second part I will be reviewing the product with its live preview function from within the simulator.
Firstly, I need to tell the client to search my computer for all AI traffic models currently installed. As mentioned earlier I use only Ultimate Traffic Live but it’s worth noting that this package is compatible with AIG/AIGM-OCI, FLAI/BVAI, Just Flight Traffic 360 and any freeware models from Alpha India Group. All you need to do at this point is click on the Scan and Configure AI Airplanes button and once complete, you can relax and enjoy the features AI Lights Reborn has to offer.
Upon scanning your computer for AI aircraft, you will notice that some statistics will become visible on the dashboard screen. This will provide you with compatibility information such as; the number of aircraft models detected, how many are fully supported, how many are partially supported and how many are not supported. To clarify, your AI fleet must be P3D/FSX SDK compliant for the features to work correctly. For more information about this, the client has a very detailed and useful clickable View Details option which will further explain which aircraft are not supported and why within the AI Aircraft Model Stats Report. These can all be filtered out by airline variation, aircraft type and your AI addon model manufacturer but more impressively there is a little icon on every header allowing you to filter out each section by alphabetical order or by a searchable text filter.
The AI Lights stats shows you more detailed information about how the light effects are working alongside your AI traffic programs. This breaks down how many AI aircraft are using fallback (default) effects, how many are using generated effects, how many are using GA effects, and how many are using airliners effects. Again, a View Details option is available similar to what is mentioned earlier providing the details of how many aircraft are/are not using the AI lights technology. These important details are a very clever way of understanding why certain aircraft are not utilising the AI Lights technology. This must also be a relief for the developer as this will prevent so many troubleshooting requests from the user. Basically, if your lights don’t work, check your details. It’s all there for you.
The configuration setting presents you with a host of convenient graphics settings options based on personal experience or level of ability or ease of use for quick application. The AI Lights Configuration Interface Level gives you three options to choose your preferred level of graphics detail for the client, basic (default), advanced and expert. In the next subsection, the FSReborn Lights Engine offers three more options including, taxi lights illuminating the ground during the live preview, using synchronised strobe lights when possible and enable landing and taxi lights during multiplayer sessions. Finally, the Prepar3D Effects Scaling Technique allows you to choose your lighting effects resolution dependant on your own personal set up. If you have a 4K setup then this section has you covered.
For convenience, the client has clickable options to return your AI lighting back to their original settings and you can also reset the client to default settings should you wish to start over.
Now it’s time to make things look pretty by getting stuck in with the graphics settings and custom options to make your AI aircraft look how you want them to look.
I currently have the client set at expert level for the best experience and to open up the whole list of available settings and options within the AI lights settings section. First of all the graphics settings are listed into four straight forward sections each comprising their own options presented with slider bars. This, at first, may look a little daunting to users that do not fully understand what each section means but not to worry as this utility has something very impressive to offer you to better understand. I will come to this shortly. On the right-hand side there are two options for navigation lights and landing lights. Once you click on either of these you are presented with very intuitive full-screen images showing you exactly how each preset affects your AI aircraft. You will also get a very useful description of each preset explaining everything you need to know relevant to those lights including Kelvin values and which aircraft types use these particular lights. It truly is a fantastic way of getting your AI aircraft looking realistic very quickly especially if you are unsure which preset to choose. If you prefer the older Xenon lighting then you can choose this, and of course, if you prefer newer LED type lighting then this is also available for you to choose. With the landing lights textures, different shades of lighting are optional, with warmer intensity or brighter intensity along with the descriptions which will also give you Kelvin values indicating how bright the lights are.
On the expert level, you also have the option to individually set presets for all of your AI aircraft which provides variety and even more realism to your AI aircraft. You can also group aircraft together, so for example, if you want your Airbus to look different to your Boeing then you can do this very easily by using the sort box on the right-hand side. All of your compatible AI aircraft are customisable and you can export your presets to a file which you can keep safe for the future.
Inside the simulator (Live preview mode)
This particular section of the review covers the rather impressive feature which will help you understand what each graphics setting achieves for your AI aircraft. In order for this feature to work, you will need to have Prepar3D running and on the home scenario screen. It would have been nice at this point to have your sim automatically load in from the client. On your client, you need to click on preview settings which will then inform you in green text that you are connected to Prepar3D. In your sim, simply spawn into a random airport and you will automatically be presented with the FSReborn scenario at night, at a random airport with different AI aircraft all around you. If we could have this feature and choose our own favourite airport this would have even more impact on realism. This is where the user could better compare real-world situations and adjust the utility accordingly. Once loaded in, the sim will be in a paused like state showing aircraft on approach and aircraft on the ground. The lighting on the aircraft are not in a paused state meaning you can now use your client to its best effect. With the slide bars on your client, you can test what each value achieves on the AI aircraft on the fly. This is a fool-proof way of getting your aircraft how you like them. A pro-tip, set your landing lights to 100% for the best effect.
What you will notice are two aircraft on approach that gives you valuable information of what the landing lights you choose look like from a distance as well as close up. The closer the aircraft, the brighter the lights. You will also notice that faint bluish tint on distant aircraft which adds immensely to the realism. Instantly, my sim world looks better and more realistic. One thing I did notice which I am really impressed with is that the strobe lighting is aircraft type-specific. The Boeing and Airbus aircraft have separate strobe patterns which have been simulated.
Rather than going into how each and every slider bar works and turning my review into a user guide, my advice is to max everything out one at a time and reduce to your preferred setting. You will see how increasing and decreasing light size, colours, intensity and dynamic effects impact your sim. It’s a great way to learn and find the perfect balance of realism. Everything becomes self-explanatory after only a few minutes and that suits me perfectly as I can be a little impatient with spending too long on settings.
Once you are happy with how your sim looks, simply click on apply settings and you are good to go until the next time you want to tweak a few things. You will be asked for a restart of Prepar3D for your settings to take effect.
The best way to see your results after you are happy with your previewed settings is to spawn into a busy airport. I chose Heathrow as my testbed with instant satisfaction as my new look AI traffic taxied around the airside. The dynamic lighting from the strobe lights was the first thing that made me smile. The reflections of the bright white lights flashing and reflecting against the ground and along the body of the aircraft look so very realistic. If you get your settings just right, you will actually wince at the brightness like you would in the real world. The Navigation lights, now brightened to my preference, look fantastic and authentic and nothing like the over-exaggerated default setting I get with my AI traffic program. Then, you take a look at the skies and watch in bliss as the aircraft approaches the runway. Like I mentioned before, set your landing lights to 100% and you will get the amazing realism of those strong, bright lights we so often see around our airports in the evenings. Truly wonderful.
All of this eye candy and putting our GPU’s under strain for the never-ending quest for realistic glory usually takes its toll with our frame rates dropping as compensation. I am delighted to say that after extensive testing that I have not noticed any performance impact from this utility. I am totally convinced that this is a zero-impact utility which pleasantly surprises me and adds to the quality of this addon. At heavy performance addon airports, again, I haven’t noticed anything other than how gorgeous and more realistic my simulator now looks in a night environment especially. This is a job very well done by the developer.
For £20.00 (Excl.VAT), AI Lights Reborn changes and fixes your AI aircraft’s lighting, and with it, your night time simming environment brilliantly. However, I fully understand and respect that this amount of money isn’t a cheap investment as you can, for example, buy feature-rich high-end addon airports for this kind of money. I have put a lot of thought into whether the price is correct or not. For me personally, I love this product and I was happy paying this price. For the wider community, I am not convinced that this price point is correct. I have to bear in mind that this utility changes how your aircraft’s lighting looks and that is pretty much it. This is a utility for serious simmers who will, at any cost, buy products to perfect their simulation realism. Will this product attract the consumer? Yes, I think it will, it looks great. Will it attract someone with £20 to spend on their simulator? Sure, lots of people but I am not convinced cash-conscious consumers will part with their money so easily. A price revision is all that is needed to make this product almost perfect.
AI Lights Reborn has tapped into something that is unique, unrivalled and extremely useful with gorgeous end results. Using this utility alongside Flight1’s UTLive has changed my simulator experience in the most extraordinary way. If you want a utility to enhance your AI night environment then this is a must buy. Your AI aircraft will never look as good in Prepar3D and you have a big say in how that happens. The client itself is sleek, intuitive, detailed and very well thought out. It’s the addon you never even knew you wanted.
- Live in-sim previews whilst changing your settings
- The realism of the aircraft after settings are applied to the simulator
- Aircraft specific strobe lighting patterns
- Easy to use interface
- The amount of customisation options
- Not able to start your sim from the client
- Not able to choose your own airport scenario for in-sim previews