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Orbx Monument Valley – X-Plane 11: The FSElite Review

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PRODUCT INFORMATION
Developer
Orbx
Purchase From
Orbx
Price
$24.95 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.

Edit: Upon hearing the community and taking a further look into what we have come to expect from the developer, the reviewer has decided to lower both the presentation scores – due to the scenery lacking detail in features such as the airport – and the features score, due to this possible retracting from the overall experience. As a result of this, the value score has also decreased to come more in-line with the changes; this still remains a good aspect of the product, however, due to the vastness of the landscape, as explored in the following review.

 

Introduction

Monument Valley is a natural wonder of a region, located on the Colorado Plateau (on the Arizona-Utah border), covered in a plethora of sandstone buttes. The peaks in the area reach up to 1,000ft above the valley floor and have played home to many Western American movies since the 1930s from directors such as John Ford.

In this scenery, produced by Orbx’s returning developer Frank Dainese and his developing partner Fabio Bellini, the beauty of this landmark location has been excellently translated into X-Plane 11.

Presentation

The most important aspect of any scenery is how it looks, and Orbx’s Monument valley certainly tries to excel in this. The scenery is littered with accurate 3D models depicting the real-life buttes, found in the valley. The feeling of free flight is a truly captured as I flew between these massive monuments; they truly tower the terrain and are an impressive spectacle. There are 21 of these models found within the area, all of which have 4k textures baked into them.

The entire scenery has been developed from satellite elevation data, which is especially important for a scenery of this calibre and there is high-resolution photo-scenery, which I was a big fan of as it ensures there’s always something to look at, even in the sparse areas. Additionally, the region is covered with typical desert vegetation, to add that little bit more life.

Found at various points along the main road are replicas of the small settlements that exist in the valley. I was quite the fan of the clusters of huts for the communities; the highly detailed signs one can read, marking the state boundary between Arizona and Utah and the Tribal Park markers with images of the native people.

On the other hand, I was somewhat disappointed to find that the detail in some of the building models wasn’t up to par with other Orbx sceneries. Many of the buildings have a simple model of the real-world counterpart and have lower-resolution textures, like the View Hotel, for example. I was impressed by the variety, however, as there are many custom buildings like the indigenous huts, caravans and houses.

Luckily, the pilot’s attention will be focused on the peaks for the majority of the time, so this lack of detail in some of the man-made structures won’t be much of an issue.

Installation

Breaking away from the X-Plane scenery installation norm, Orbx decided to make use of their FTX Central 3 software. This software allows one to not only install sceneries, but also buy them. Given that there was no need to go searching through files and dragging them over, etc. – no matter how easy I find doing so – I was pleased by this user-friendly touch, as it increases accessibility for everyone.

Features

Firstly, the scenery itself not only includes the Monument Valley Airport (UT25) but 4 helipads dotted around at the points of interest along the road: Monument Valley Airport Helipad, View Hotel Area, Oljato Area and John Ford Point. Having only recently found an appreciation for rotor-craft, I found myself making good use of these and just having fun, which is all we ask for.

Monument Valley Airport is typically the place where most users would start when first exploring this product, and the airport bears a striking resembling feel to its real-world counterpart. The long, custom runway acting as a gateway into the valley for most, is perched next to the small hangar which houses one of the only two aircraft based at the real airport. I was a little disappointed to find that the hangar was just a default asset supplied with X-Plane, and I would have hoped that the developers could have put a bit of effort into modelling a custom one, as it’s real-world brother is smaller and not as close to the runway. I couldn’t help but feel slightly unnerved passing to the giant of a building so close at 100 knots when this is not the case in reality.

In addition to this, as is not always the case on other sceneries I find, the buttes are entirely solid, giving me a chance to practice my helicopter skills on the highest peaks, or re-enacting those famous STOL videos one finds on youtube.

Unfortunately, the product does not come with a configuration tool, like was have come to expect from Orbx, however, I suspect this is entirely due to the sparseness of the scenery, and I do not feel that this is a negative aspect to the product.

Finally, the famous ‘Man on the Horse’ photo location is modelled, with an imitation of the man and the horse themselves perched majestically upon the rocks. A true gem in this scenery, as it made me appreciate the history behind the location, the people and the film industry which owes its credit to the land.

Performance

This scenery covers a vast area and, as a result, I was expecting some stutters given the amount of vegetation in the area and the highly detailed buttes. I found quite the opposite, and I was, in fact, able to max out my X-Plane 11 settings and maintain a high 40-60fps with no stutters whatsoever. I don’t think any system, which can run X-Plane, will have any problem running it with this scenery installed.

Even on the highest settings, as I was zooming through the sandstone buttes at 300knots, not even a little stutter occurred – which is a first for my system in an area like this.  So I give a solid thumbs up to the Orbx developers in this category.

Value

Priced at $24.95 AUD, I cannot fault the developers at Orbx as I feel this price is justified – if not a little too cheap. I feel this way mainly due to the sheer scale of the coverage area; the scenery covers a vast expanse of land with the impressive terrain and many small details, and costs less than most medium-detailed airports that one can find for X-Plane 11.

 

Review overview

Presentation 7
Features 6.5
Performance 9.5
Value 8

Summary

7.8 A large area to fly in and plenty of challenge presented by the terrain all with a highly respectable price. A recommended product for frequent visitors to the area, or even those just looking to hone their flying skills.

Matthew McColl

The author Matthew McColl

Matthew is from the U.K. and has just finished his last year in college, studying mathematics, chemistry and physics. An avid plane spotter, he often visits Manchester Airport to take as many photographs and he can muster, as well as spending time at his local aerodrome (Manchester Barton). Being an aviation enthusiast, Matthew has been a part of the flight simming community for 7+ years.

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23comments

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Wow, an 8.5 score for an scenery that has stock XML surface for the entire airport. FS98 Port maybe. hahaha.

I am sorry, but this is just few low poly models with blurry photo textures, there are better looking sceneries on the bloody gateway.

Bought it… and yes, it’s below the standards I expect from a payware scenery and from Orbx (and I’ve a lot of other addon sceneries). More like 5/10 to me.

Maxkillers “Maxkillers Gaming”

ohh dear orbx, what happened here? hoepfully it will be solved by one update…

The review says 7.8 but the screenshots say 1.8.

JonV must be broke again publishing this crap.

This has been in ORBX shop for years, the news is that it was converted for XPlane. I got it on a sale and flying over the rock formations is rather interesting, which is why I got it. The rest of the scenery looks best from a safe distance…

Guys, this is the reviewers opinion of the scenery, It doesnt matter to the reviews content what everyone here shouting thinks. If you dont believe its right then diddums, Dont run about giving FSE all this crap and not mention any other reviewer to rate it highly. Id say the score is fair and the product deserves what it has, Nothing more to it.

https://www.helisimmer.com/reviews/frank-dainese-orbx-monument-valley-x-plane/

https://www.thresholdx.net/news/obmonu

I also agree the point system has no useful merit to the review. If the review is subjective, how can there be an objective point system associated with it? As Calum says, it is a good marketing tool when a reviewer gives it high points, and that’s about all the good it serves.

I learned years ago when reading reviews to not look at the points rating. I just skip over it as if it wasn’t there. It should be the reviewer’s comments about what is liked and disliked that allows other simmers to make valid decisions whether the produce should be purchased. This is why a ‘sugar-coated’ review is a total disservice to the community. It leads to product sales that result in dissatisfied customers, and that harms the brand more than it harms the individual product. Companies should consider that before they limit press kits to media that give ‘good’ reviews.

Point system never ever works, it just doen’t, only reason why it’s used so much is because most people are too lazy to even read the tldr.

Calum Martin

@David H

I’ve considered scrapping points for sure. In fact, I surveyed people about a year ago asking for their thoughts and the results were that points should stay. Not only for the community but also developers (it’s a good marketing tool for example). I’m not opposed to re-doing said survey in the future to see where people’s thoughts are. I personally see an argument for and against a point system.

In regards to your comment about reviews not being tough because it was provided for free, I have to disagree there. There have been plenty of times where we’ve been “tough” on products regardless of whether it was supplied or given to us for free. We have been threatened to be removed from press copies multiple times due to a publisher not liking a review, but have never changed or altered a review simply because developer X said to do so.

I honestly feel of all the Sim sites out there, we have done our upmost to be clear about when a product is supplied for free – I don’t see other sites giving that much clarity like what we do (well not until we started doing it).

If you feel up to the challenge of providing these types of reviews (which I wholeheartedly welcome), then I’d be happy to talk about bringing you onto the team (even as a guest reviewer). Just shoot me an email.

Cheers

@Calum: I agree. So why not scrap the points-model. It suggests a scientific approach where it is not possible. No matter how many guidelines you are setting up, two results never will be compareable.

In this special case, Screenshots really are speaking for themselves. To be honest, I saw better FS9 Freeware and I am not sure, if it is a XP or a scenery issue. If I am reading another review about this scenery (linked here in the comments) I know that I certainly can’t trust any reviews, that are provided by the publisher / developer for free. It is just common sense that no reviewer ever will be really tough.

Calum Martin

Thank you all for the feedback. Sometimes our reviews reflect the collective opinion, and other times, it doesn’t. I appreciate the comments of concern and also areas of improvement.

Reviews will always be subjective, especially when it comes to ‘score’. All 100+ of our reviews go through multiple drafts and internal check-overs before we publish. Sometimes we miss things, but we’ll always do what we can do fix them.

In regards to ‘critical’ reviews: our review system is linked to several times on each page. How we rate each product can easily be viewed and read. Admittedly, I think too many products reviewed in this industry fit within the 7-9 bracket. Not just by us, but the community in general. I find scenery the hardest stuff to review. Providing it looks right and accurately reflects the airport, then it’s hard not to say “this is a good product”. However, when it comes to utilities, that’s an -easier- review as there’s actual elements that can be rated outside of “looks nice and is realistic”. I think for the most part, we provide a critical look. Our writing team is located all around the world with varying opinions and views – so sometimes one person may enjoy what someone else may not.

Reviews should be read with it as a guide in mind. The comment section is the perfect place for discussion so the reviewer (Matthew in this case) can reply directly.

Hope that kinda helps

FSXLiveries.com

@Slugfam1998

Following the logic standing behind your comment, the section where we are now talking should be closed. Going further, following it, entire youtube should be cleaned from comments where people do not agree with developer/vendor or review.

Now, try to imagine to have all reviews for any kind of software or hardware in any industry where people can’t comment on it. Would that be healthy for you and entire industry?

Let’s not go to extremes.

Remember that every evaluation/opinion is worth of reading (as long as is substantive) and it should not matter if it’s positive or negative.

You really don’t have to agree with me and all I expect from you is to respect the fact someone has different opinion, same as I do respect opinions coming from other people.

It’s your right same as mine to have different points of view. So don’t try to take it from me or from someone else.

Now, mine criticism wasn’t directed to Matthew but to the product itself.

Tho I believe it’s important to include many points of view in article and in this particular case, the quality of the buildings (both modeling and texturing) should have a big hit on the score. Now, Matthew said:

(…)and the point of the scenery is the terrain and unique landscape, of which I think the developers did a very good job recreating.(…)

The main reason of my negative opinion comes from the quality bar set by ORBX and only by themselves with their other released products.

In case of ORBX, I would expect best quality in every single detail, not just part of the scenery.

This is why I got used to and why I love their products. 🙂

And that is the issue right there, almost all of reviewers for flightsim products are always waaaay too positive. 90% of this scenery can be made in WED using default objects, because that’s how 90% of it was made. And the custom objects are not anything to write home about either, I have seen better textures in freeware FS2002 scenery than what the building in the 4th screenshot has. After seeing the review for the 152 I was hoping that we will see more critical reviews that are more than just longer version of the official product information, sadly I was mistaken.

I am so happy this review exists – I would have felt so cheated on if I´d had bought this. Thanks for “warning” us. Won´t buy for sure!

FSXLiveries.com

Frankly, I have serious doubts about the score given for this product and if it is not highly overrated.

On one side very nice looking, high quality peaks are given, at the other settlements with poor quality building modeling and textures. Plus no shadows for some building or other objects? Yes, I do considered the pics were taken in the middle of the day. But still they just look like they landed there from nowhere.

It stays far behind the ORBX’s quality and touch they give to their sceneries nowadays and I do not agree with Matthew that you will focus on rocks only. OK, I should say, personally I do pay attention to more details than that so if I would pick this addon, I would look at everything and quality of the buildings would disappoint me significantly.

Matthew
Author
Matthew McColl

Thank you for your input, this has now been taken into account as I was perhaps being somewhat generous. An edit has been made.

Matthew
Author
Matthew McColl

The relatively high score came about as a result of the price versus the vastness of the area. I understand that the airport isn’t up to what we’ve come to expect from orbx, and that point is made in the review, however, the airport is simple even IRL, and the point of the scenery is the terrain and unique landscape, of which I think the developers did a very good job recreating. The airports and helipads themselves were a mere extra, given the focus of the product they.

Calum Martin

I’ll get Matthew to comment on this as he reviewed it.

Looks like freeware.

Yeah I am a sucker for ORBX but after this mess and Gold Coast City Scene (major performance issues) for P3D no more impulse purchases from ORBX. At least I got the discount for owning the P3D version which is much nicer.

Yes the models could be much improved and the airport deserved a real ORBX treatment (with good surrounding building models, includint the nearby settlement) but what this scenery is about is the rock formations. I can’t complain on that regard.

I get that it’s about the huge rocks, but the airfield is literally made with default objects and ground polygons. If my local airport looked like that in default XP I would make a better version for the gateway, that is not something I expect from a payware scenery, let alone from ORBX…