Not too long ago the team over at Drzewiecki Designs released their version two of New York Airports X. The previous version has proven immensely popular for covering a big number of airports in the New York region. Although the addon was great, it was due for an upgrade with our new simulators. And that is exactly what Drzewiecki set out to do. But how good exactly is this addon? You can read all about it here!
Welcome to Innsbruck. Capital of the state Tyrol (Tirol) and hidden in the Alps. Historic home to the Olympic Winter Games not once, but twice. A busy hub for many tourists particularly during winter. With challenging terrain, tight turns and forever changing weather, it is arguably the most dangerous airport approach in Europe.
If that sounds familiar: that was the exact opening for my review for Innsbruck by JustSim. But that doesn’t make it less true. Innsbruck is a beautiful place with many famous landmarks. And of course the very famous approach through the mountains. With the review mentioned above I wasn’t too impressed for missing out on the details that make this area so amazing (though the airport itself was very nice), beautiful and unique. But did Orbx manage to capture this feeling?
Short answer: yes. Orbx have done an incredible job with Innsbruck. The area looks amazing. The details and landmarks are all there. The airport itself feels very busy and alive, and so do the towns in the area. If you’re here to get convinced to buy this add-on: you will not regret it. For those that want to dive a little bit deeper into it: let’s read on.
Over the last year we have published a lot of reviews. We try to review every (or almost every) airport, aircraft, tool, etc. that is out there. We do this to the best of our extent to make a review that is as inclusive and comprehensive as possible to give you the best impression of an add-on before you decide to buy it.
However, add-ons were being created long before FSElite existed, and some of those are still out there and being used to this day. There are a whole lot of products that we will probably never get to cover since so much new add-ons are coming out all the time.
FSElite User Reviews
That’s why we decided to leave these reviews up to you! We want to ask you to review your favorite scenery, aircraft or tool. Together with you, we will then turn it into a real and official FSElite Review, in which you’ll work together with one of us to do this. That way, we also want to give you a little bit of “a look into our kitchen” and show you how we do things.
Reviews can be submitted to us using the following Google Docs Form: https://goo.gl/forms/YrDSKRTtia5wkq3l2
Before you start typing away about your favorite add-on, there are a few rules for this:
- User Reviews need to be filled in using the Google Docs link
- We must not have already covered the product in a review, or are planning on doing so
- Try to use no more than 500 words why your add-on should be picked out. Try to cover what you like about it, what its nicest features are, etc. Yet be comprehensive.
- You need to be open and willing to work together with one of us to turn your review into a FSElite Review.
Winner(s) will be picked on April 30th. We’re also throwing in some prizes for a lucky few, so make sure to enter your review!
Need some help writing a review? No problem! Just send us a message on Facebook. Or take a look at our reviews! We recently covered PacSims KSLC (Salt Lake City), JustFlights PA-28R Arrow, Aerosofts Menorca X Evolution, Vidan Designs Billund X and many more!
On 7 km from the city of Milan lies an airport officially named Airport Enrico Forlanini, more commonly known as Milano Linate (LIML). Developer Jetstream Designs have recently released their rendition of this relatively small airport. So let’s take a look at it with this FSElite review.
It hasn’t been too long ago since UK2000, known for making amazing British scenery packages, released their Manchester addon. This addon is a complete overhaul from the previous version and is thus appropriately named version 2. So was this the overhaul Manchester deserved? And does it stack up to its competitors? Let’s find out!
|DEVELOPER||TFDi Design||PRICE||$59.99 USD|
|PUBLISHER||TFDi Design||BUY FROM||TFDi Design Store|
The TFDi Design 717 has been one of the most highly anticipated addons for FSX and P3D for a couple of years now. It has seemed as if there may be a new kid on the block ready to bring us high fidelity aircraft simulations. The TFDi 717 has had its fair amount of hype, and after releasing on December 22 for $59.99 USD, it seemed as if everybody had this addon as quickly as the overloaded servers would allow.
TFDi said earlier in the year that 2016 would be “the year of the 717”. They did what most developers don’t by giving a release date. It seemed as if this added to the excitement of the 717. Developing anything is often a fluid process that can take two steps forward and one step back. As such, developers don’t like giving release dates because it puts them in a situation where they have to either release a product that isn’t finished, or deal with the angry customers. TFDi stayed true to their word by releasing the 717 in 2016, but does it hold up to the hype though?
As part of our Community Charter, we provide full disclosure at FSElite.
Orbx Hammerfest was provided free of charge to FSElite for the purpose of reviewing for the community.
|PUBLISHER||Orbx Direct||BUY FROM||Orbx Direct|
Hammerfest. You can’t go more north before you start going south again. Okay, that isn’t completely true but Hammerfest is often considered to be one of the most northern cities. The small town got a water airport in 1933 and thus Hammerfest airport was ‘born’, even though consisting of nothing more than buoy where passengers were carried to by boat. Nowadays the airport is a lot bigger and not on the water anymore, too. And who’d have guessed: the small airport of Hammerfest is actually the third busiest airport in Norway.
Now it hasn’t been too long ago since Orbx (and developer Finni Hansen in particular) decided to treat us with this small, yet beautiful airport. So lets get into the details with this FSElite review!
Hammerfest has a very short runway with a curve in it, making for a challenging but very fun approach. Due to technical issues most developers stay away from making curved runways, but I’ll get back on that in a bit. Other than that, ENHF comes with a lot of details and features. The airport features full interior modeling, the entire cityscape of Hammerfest, automatic seasonal textures, HD textures of the surrounding area, custom effects, custom AI vehicles and the Orbx Flow technologies. These features all sound very cool and I assure you that they are and look great, but they are what we have come to expect from Orbx by now. No bonus points there, but definitely worth mentioning!
The installation of Hammerfest couldn’t be any more straight forward. Simply purchase the product from Orbx Direct and start downloading it. Did that go too fast for you? Buy it, download it. That’s all there is to it. Hammerfest comes with a Control Panel but there aren’t too many options. You can opt to disable or enable the people flow and choose to disable or enable the custom effects coming from chimneys. Nothing too fancy, but it’s nice to have at least these two options. Oh and when you love Orbx’ Norway region as much as I do and you might just so happen to run the Airports of Norway package (not by Orbx), make sure to disable Hammerfest. I was a dummy and forgot about this the first time, running into all kinds of elevation issues.
Amazing. What can I say more? Orbx Hammerfest just simply performs amazing. Now that may be partially due to its size and the simple lack of anything in the region other than the town itself. But even so, Finni Hansen has spend a lot of work creating the entire town and region with a lot of detail, buildings and objects and my FPS is through the roof while VAS usage remains low.
I already mentioned them above, but I’m gonna dive into some of them a little deeper. The features that make Hammerfest so special. Starting off with the full interior modelling. Wanna wait in the departure hall while enjoying a coffee? Check. Wanna join the ATC controller in guiding in other airplanes? Check. And while you’re at it, join a fireman maintaining his equipment or have a chat with the guys over in the Bristow hangar maintaining the helicopters there. Or get on a computer in an empty office. All possible. Although I personally don’t spend too much time looking at interiors, it is definitely a nice to have and even better when you can keep the performance this friendly.
The curved runway works like a charm, too! I’ve not had any issues with landing on it or departing from it. I did notice some small bumps when leaving or entering the runway, but nothing really bad and it didn’t cause me major issues. Now the issue with curved runways has often been that AI can’t land any planes on it. This issue still persists and the runway will swallow these planes without mercy. But depending on your AI package you won’t even get any AI aircraft here, so I wouldn’t say it’s too much of an issue.
One more feature I’d like to touch upon is the night lighting. Hammerfest is so far up north that the sun never rises during winter times, so good lighting is of the essence. Hammerfest looks amazing by night. The runway and terminal building lighting is on point, you can see street lights in the city and there are beautiful effects on the oil refinery where a big flame and smoke come from the flare stack.
So far all seems fine with this airport and definitely worth your money, right? Well, nothing is perfect and neither is Hammerfest. Although two very minor issues, I’ll still mention them. First of all, the runway markings are white. According to all data I could find these should be yellow. And I am not sure who chose the font for the runway signage, but I’m willing to take a bet and say that these shouldn’t be with the Comic Sans font (Finni, if I’m wrong about this then please let me know). Is the airport now worth your money? Well… yes and no. Orbx puts this airport under their ‘Gold Tier’, making the price $32.95AUD. And although everything works and looks absolutely great, Hammerfest is rather small. Now the developers have spared no expense at putting in as much details as possible and making it seem as big as they can, but there is no denying it. Within 5 minutes of flying you already can’t see Hammerfest anymore. And flying around the entire area to take a look at all the details can be done in about the same time. There just isn’t very much here. It doesn’t matter that it’s small, but I am not sure if the price is completely justifiable for this product. The fact that FTX Norway is a requirement for this product doesn’t make this a better deal either.
Update: Finni contacted us about the two small issues with the scenery. Turns out that all airports in Norway are using white runway markings as of recent. As for the taxiway signage: using Comic Sans was the closest he could get to replicating the actual font.
|DEVELOPER||Orbx Simulation Systems||PRICE||$40.00 AUD|
|PUBLISHER||Orbx Simulation Systems||BUY FROM||Orbx Direct|
As part of our Community Charter, we provide full disclosure at FSElite.
Orbx Valdex Pioneer Field was provided free of charge to FSElite for the purpose of reviewing for the community.
One of the newest Orbx sceneries is Valdez Pioneer Field, located in Valdez, Alaska. We’ve become accustomed to a certain high quality in Orbx releases, so have they done it again? Join me in this journey around the area to find out in the FSElite review!
A little background on Valdez before we begin. Valdez is an interesting quaint little town that is located in South Central Alaska on the northeast tip of Prince William Sound. Despite its small size, Valdez is an important part of the Alaskan economy as it sits at the southern end of the Alaskan pipeline. Oil is loaded on to ships at the Valdez Marine terminal and shipped all over the world. Additionally, a large amount of freight moves through Valdez destined to the interior of Alaska. Tourist often flock to Valdez to experience the nearby glaciers and marine wildlife, as well as those looking for a deep-sea fishing experience or heli skiing on the nearby mountains.
Now onto the review starting with the installation. The installer file was a Flight Sim Store installer that extracts the files required for installation into a temporary directory and then deletes them once you’re finished. It’s a slightly different than normal approach because the FSS installers remains open after launching the product installer. It doesn’t present any difficulties or challenges, but it is different from what I am use to. Installation was fairly easy to do. I should point out that I also installed the recommended Southern Alaska region for this review and that I am running Prepar3d version 3.4, so those of you with FSX, FSX:SE, P3D V1.x or P3D 2.x may have some slightly different results in the performance portion of this review.
After installation I left the scenery configured “as is” in FTX Central with the exception of the frozen lakes. I turned that feature off simply because of P3D compatibility issues. I loaded up my sim and verified the scenery was in my scenery library. Everything looked good so it is time to fly!
I decided for this review I wanted to fly something modest so that I could take in the beautiful surrounding area. I opted for the A36, Beechcraft Bonanza, for this flight. As I loaded into the Valdez scenery the first thing I noticed was the obviously high texture quality. Since it is fall, which means winter in Alaska, the airport was covered in snow and the surfaces were frosted over, a very nice and immersive detail. I did a quick look around I noticed birds flying in the distance and the people moving in the distance which only increased the immersion. But enough of the looking around, I need to get up and fly!
I started the engine and began a taxi out to runway 24 for a departure out over Port Valdez. On the climb up to 1,500 feet and took in the view of the port as the sun rose, yeah it was absolutely stunning! I started my left hand turn in the pattern and observed the detailed buildings and trees below. Orbx has spared no detail in this scenery and you can tell. As I turned to final for runway 24 I decided that after this touch and go I’d go out and explore more of the town, the port, and try to find the end of the Valdez Marine Terminal.
I once again started to climb out from the main airport and flew runway heading. It wasn’t long before I was over the small town of Valdez, modeled to perfection, covered in snow and frost. As I began to make my way south to fly along the other side of the port and stumbled upon some large white tanks. As I got closer I realized this was the Valdez Marine Terminal and where the oil was being sent by the Alaskan pipeline. It seemed as if Orbx spared no detail on this either as it looked very realistic and even included what appeared to be a flare stack where the gases are burnt off. This was fun to see but it was time to make my way back to the airport, so I began a turn to the east to follow the port in. I noticed the frozen river flowing off into the steep mountains which I thought was pretty cool. The port would look better if it was frozen, however I have the P3D limitation to account for here. I landed the aircraft and taxied in to park nearby some other aircraft, but the review doesn’t end here!
Because I am using P3D I have the unique ability to go into “avatar” mode and freely walk around the field to observe some of the finer details you won’t notice from within the aircraft. I began on the western part of the airport and started walking along the frozen ramp. My first stop was a couple having a nice discussion in front of a small hangar. While people flow is a neat feature of Orbx scenery, they can be a bit awkward to walk up and see closely. I got a good chuckle out of it and moved along to other parts of the ramp including an aircraft that was parked and being worked on by a mechanic (with a British registration), a ramp full of parked aircraft and people, a gate with security and even a dog, the passenger terminal with a parked Era Alaska Dash 8 (should be Ravn Alaska as Era rebranded to Ravn a while ago), and finally an Era Alaska hangar with another Dash 8 parked inside. As I walked around I couldn’t help but noticed the immense amount of detail Orbx has put into this scenery, staying to true themselves and detailing even the smallest of things on the field.
Orbx did leave some weird things in though, I noticed a few as I walked around the airport. An interesting oddity I noticed, the aircraft on the ramp getting repaired was a Cessna with a British registration number. Maybe I need a better imagination, but Valdez, Alaska seems like a long journey to make in a Cessna 172 and I felt as it that took away from things a little bit. Furthermore, this same aircraft is spotted again later on at the airport parked by other aircraft. So we have an aircraft with a British registration, FAR away from home, spotted in two different locations, I’m not a fan of that. Another oddity I spotted as I continued my walk was a random gentlemen in a suit all alone in front of the fire station. He felt very out of place for me. I felt as if somebody like this should be near the terminal or by a business jet and not way over in front of the fire station all alone (especially when it is cold out, he’s going to catch a cold). Lastly, and not an oddity or anything negative, but Orbx included a fat ramper standing by the Era plane. I got a good laugh out of that (#stereotypes).
So we know it looks great, we know the scenery creates a high level of immersion, but how does it perform? Well, before I dive into this I want to reiterate that I am running P3D 3.4 and the recommended Southern Alaska region. FSX users may get some slightly different results. As I did my flight in the Bonanza my VAS stayed steady at just slightly over 2GB and never went above that. It did very well actually. I think FSX users can expect 2-3GB (depending on other installed addons) to be a starting point, but the VAS will increase. My FPS stayed steady at 30 were I have it set and never dropped at all. Overall it was a very enjoyable and smooth performance. I did want to try this out with another aircraft so I loaded the Flight1 Cessna Citation Mustang to see how it compared. Out of the gate my VAS was at 2.3 GB and my FPS was again smooth at 30fps. The VAS never really changed despite flying much longer and the FPS was only getting an average of 2-3FPS dropped at the most. All in all, the scenery performed fantastic for me, but again I caution the FSX user that VAS will be different for you. The installed scenery takes up 3.36GB of space on the hard drive, which is a lot in my opinion. For reference, my entire FlightBeam folder is only just over 2GB and includes all of their products.
In conclusion I think the Valdez Pioneer Field by Orbx is a fantastic addon that stays true to the high level of detail and quality we’ve come to expect from them. My biggests issues with this scenery are the out of place guy by the fire station and the two British registered C172’s on the ramp. The size of the scenery is a bit much for me as well. This is all very little to be upset about though. For $40 AUD/ $29.67 USD this isn’t too shabby if you are looking for a fun small field that isn’t too far away from bigger airports such as Anchorage, Fairbanks or Ketchikan. Valdez will prove to be a perfect combination for flying between any of the other Orbx airports in Alaska. I recommend the product to anybody looking for just that. Last but not least, I want to thank Orbx for giving FSElite the opportunity to review this product.
Rio Rio Rio! Rio Rio Rio!
Yes, in the light of the ongoing 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, we thought it would be proper to check out TropicalSim’s Rio de Janeiro airport scenery. The scenery covers Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport (SBGL) airport, which is the main international airport in Rio where all of the competitors fly in to, as well as most of the surrounding cities and mountains in Rio. And I have to say, they did a beautiful job with this.
Lets start with the surrounding scenery. This product covers an enormous area in Rio, and accurately depicts the city and mountainous areas with extreme detail. I found myself flying low in my 172 and being able to see soccer stadiums, multiple types of houses, hotels, and special features of the terrain. Southeast ish of the airport is where a tram is setup to take people across two mountain tops, and both stations are modeled very nicely. Also, the world famous Christ the Redeemer’ statue is also modeled nicely and is set atop his mountain with a little train running down. If we head west of the airport, more photoreal ground textures show us all of the industrial complexes and vast population in Rio, and where there is some marsh / open land where the ocean meets terrafirma. There isn’t too much on the east side of the airport on the small island it lays on, just more populous regions and a few more small mountains.