As part of our Community Charter, we provide full disclosure at FSElite.
Orbx Catalina was provided free of charge to FSElite for the purpose of reviewing for the community.
|PUBLISHER||Orbx Direct||BUY FROM||Orbx Direct|
When Orbx announced that they would be bringing Catalina Airport and the entirety of Catalina Island, I think I heard the entire aviation community in California jumping in excitement. Why? This is one of the most popular general aviation airports in the state. Maybe it’s thanks to its lush green forestation or its challenging airport due to the high altitude. Whatever the reason may be, Orbx have given Simmers the chance to try out their skills and fly to this beautiful island.
As a standalone product to the Orbx library, it’s a welcome change to not have to rely on other products to get the most from the product. As a result all 22 miles of Santa Catalina are beautifully rendered and full of life, all without any hit on performance. Unsurprising really as it’s a small island in the distance.
For me, it’s all in the detail. Whilst the majority of the scenery is of the usual high standard, there’s elements that seem off. In some of the shots, you can clearly see how clear the signage is. With important instructions on some of the signs, it’s important they’re made clear, which just helps to bring you into the immersion. However, in the same shot, you can see that actually, the ground texturing looks quite blurry. It’s odd, as I have my Sim settings set to what the manual states and my system is set up just fine. It’s actually quite distracting when other areas look really good.Once you take off and fly around, the blurry ground textures become a thing of the past and you’re enjoying the tranquillity of the peaceful island. As with what you’d expect from Tim Harris and Ken Hall, there’s plenty of points of interest to spot. From rooftop bars, to large and small fishing harbours. Inside the manual, you’ll find a map with a few areas to explore. It would have been nice for it to be a little more detailed, but that’s part of the fun – and the charm – to go an explore!
As for the detail in the island, for the most part it looks great. Harbours are detailed, shops are varied and the detail within the little villages are outstanding. The ground textures themselves, however, were more of a mixed bag for me. Some shots clearly show how crisp and realistic the detail is, yet others, show signs of blurriness and bleeding into textures that look out of place. For example, the mountainous areas look great. Sharp ridges, lovely terrain detail and great placement of autogen really bring it to life. Once you head coast-words, things are more mixed. The cliff faces, on the whole look good. Lovely rock texturing and excellent modelling of the mesh make it really stand out. Yet, despite this, the blending between beach and cliff in most areas looks a little lacklustre. Why am I making a big deal of this? Simply because the whole premise of the scenery package is based on VFR flying around Santa Catalina.
Island flying aside, the main feature of the package is of course Catalina Airport itself. Being only suitable for GA aircraft, the airport is small and has the bare essentials. Runway, apron, a few taxiways and somewhere to grab a coffee. The airport is done in immense detail. The American flag flutters in the wind, people are walking around and interacting with the world and aircraft are sitting around waiting to be piloted by someone. It’s a great little environment full of life and this is where Flight Simming is really starting to take off. No longer is the focus on the scenery or the aircraft, but now with Avatar mode in P3D, you can really interact with the world around you. It’s a continuous joy to be a part of these worlds developers are creating for us.
When the sun dips below the crashing waves of Catalina Island, subtle night lighting will take over. The few little villages have a soft glow around them, whilst the forest within the mountains remain dark and eerie. It’s a great approach into the airport during the twilight hours. The runway lights look beautiful and the haze from the nearby lamps on the buildings create a great visual approach. Everything is delicate, but your attention is very much drawn to it.