• Photoreal American By Sim Savvy

    Photoreal America By Sim Savvy

    By Walker Grant (30 March 2011)

    I ordered Sim Savvy's 'Photoreal America' from FS Pilot Shop last week. The release of a single, low cost scenery package containing MILLIONS of square miles of photoscenery is revolutionary to say the least. Being a photoscenery fan, I have been anticipating products like this since my first megascenery title for FS2004. I expected large-scale photoscenery to undoubtedly be the way of the future, but it took us longer to get here than I expected. The reality is that the world of flight simulation appears cleanly split between upgraded autogen sceneries such as those released by FTX/ORBX, and photoscenery. This immense offering has the potential to steeply tip the scales.


    The product comes to you (mail deliveries only, no downloads) pre-loaded onto a Western Digital 1 terabyte external hard drive. I checked a number of online retailers for prices on the hard drive and you can get it for about 100 dollars. It's as if you're buying the scenery for half of the 200 dollar purchase price, or any number of ways you wish to look at it. The scenery only takes up 360 GB, so the rest of the space can be used for back ups, storage or even saved as room for your free updates from Sim Savvy in the future. I honestly can't think of a better way to offer scenery this massive. I've bought entire states from other vendors before and had to download countless files two at a time. When you are forced to download large-scale photoscenery, it's almost like building an elaborate model, one which clearly and openly displays when you've misplaced a single file or installed it incorrectly. In contrast, this product appears well planned and thought out.

    Installing Photoreal America is very easy. The only thing you need to do is plug in the power and USB cables (preferably into a USB 2.0 port) and then activate the scenery. I don't think it's much of a venture to assume that 90% of you understand how to activate scenery within FSX, but if you don't, there are detailed instructions making everything crystal clear. If you are a beginner, installing this product will actually teach you more about FSX and how it works than most payware. Further, you have the option (state by state) of what to install. If you don't want certain states, then you just don't activate them.


    My initial operations with Photoreal America have me floored. The quality and clarity of the images presented is high, easily exceeding that of competing payware photoreal products in the areas I've been so far. The average photoscenery user is accustomed to the occasional 'washed out' looking textures, but this doesn't seem to be a problem. I've never seen photo scenery this vivid. Remember the scale on which we speak; there is always a possibility of imperfections here and there; I just have yet to find them. Most of the images used seem recent as well in comparison to tileproxy, which can and will leave you wondering how an image so old can still be found.

    The performance hit and texture loading times are low, enabling wide area photoreal jet flying. It's finally time for that 600 KIAS run from one end of the Grand Canyon clear to the other. If your computer can keep up, this hard drive will flat out ram textures into the firebox. Better yet, you can use your Quality Wings 757 for astoundingly beautiful cross country flights that honestly look EXACTLY the way they are supposed to. Your girlfriend or wife is going to get very frustrated at the amount of times you'll call her over to show her how impressive the Rocky Mountains look from 32,000 feet. This is the fastest I've seen photoreal textures load on a large scale. One of my first flights was in an SR-71. From a top-down view, I could clearly see the area of high detail load beneath me at 2,000 MPH.


    The bonus? If you read the fine print, you will discover that Sim Savvy has given you scenery for Canada and Alaska with your purchase at no cost! Why is such a staggeringly substantial offering free? The latest standard for photoreal scenery is high-resolution aerial in the 1 to 2 meter range, while the Canada and Alaska offerings are based on Landsat 38 meter images. The owner and developer, Larry Woodson, prefers his scenery of Canada and Alaska over the default scenery, but others may not. The choice is yours. The aftermarket development community has largely overlooked Canada in the past, but now you have all of it in one go. I think Sim Savvy will soon develop a strong Canadian following.

    There are a few downsides. Sim Savvy is constantly expanding and upgrading their offering. Right now, you don't get water masking, and some of your airports may not line up with the scenery. This is old news to photoscenery fans, and it's no fault of Sim Savvy's. Many default airports are in the wrong place; some are even thousands of feet away from where they should be. You do have the option of deleting the default runways, leaving you only the image below with far lower resolution. Free upgrades to higher resolutions are promised as they come, and I believe they will. This company has been rapidly expanding in the last year and only has one focus. Photoreal America itself is an upgrade from a previous scenery with only the west and east coasts.

    In conclusion, there was no way I could be unhappy. No other product offers a value even remotely close to this; this purchasing an entire continent of scenery for only 200 dollars (and getting a 1TB external drive with it). If this product was a download only offering, it would still be worth it. The quality of the product only builds more value. I wholly anticipate a mass migration from tileproxy users wanting to upgrade to this software. Perhaps users will hand place objects and autogen near points of interest to them, such as their hometown, leading to a worldwide collective. I look forward to countless hours of enriched simulation, because the possibilities are endless with Sim Savvy's Photoreal America.

    Walker Grant
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here

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