• Review: Orbx FTX Global

    Review: Orbx FTX Global

    By Michael Hayward

    Orbx - FTX Global

    One add-on seen as a must-have by much of the flight simulator community for FSX and P3D is Orbx's "FTX Global". What FTX Global does is it change all of the default sceneries within FSX and P3D to produce a much more realistic representation of the world, without the need for VFR scenery, which would be almost impossible to do on a global scale.

    Having released in July 2013, this add-on has been out for quite some time now. In this review, I will be taking an in-depth look at what this add-on does, and if it still stands with today's high standards when it comes to flight simulation in general.

    Installation

    Installation of Orbx add-ons is now as easy as it gets since the release of FTX Central 3.

    Once you have an unlock code or purchase the add-on from the Orbx Store, all you need to do is install FSX Central - the hub for all things Orbx on both FSX/P3D and X-Plane.

    Orbx - FTX Global     Orbx - FTX Global

    Next, you head over to the 'FTX Global Range' sub-header where you will find FTX Global BASE Pack unlocked. Click on that and click 'Install'. The add-on will then automatically configure onto your simulator.

    You are also given a 16-page configuration PDF which also goes into brief detail on exactly what is included with this add-on, and how to set up your simulator for the best results.

    What Does It Do?

    Orbx FTX Global changes ALL of your default FSX ground and autogen textures, landclass and in some cases ground mesh into their own high-definition images and higher Level of Detail (LOD) mesh. This aims to ultimately re-invent your flight simulator experience with ground detailing that rivals VFR scenery, while only using a fraction of the hard drive space.

    Orbx have expertly done the bordering of the land class images. When you fly at both low and high altitude, the ground images fit into one another seamlessly. One issue the default ground textures had is that when the ground type changes it didn't matter what was there, it would just be cut and a border made. That means sometimes you would have the odd building cut in half or a road layout that didn't quite fit. While it would be impossible to have it 100% perfect, the Orbx ground texture layout comes close to ensuring that everything matches up where it should, without looking terrible.

    Orbx - FTX Global     Orbx - FTX Global

    One thing that the default FSX and P3D textures suffer from is checkerboarding. This is where the textures are so few and used so much, you can see them repeat over and over again. This makes the simulator look bad and, especially for those that fly VFR, much less appealing. As Orbx includes many more textures (that differ depending on your region, I might add) and spread them out much further, this problem is essentially removed entirely and the issue of checkerboarding is no more.

    Speaking of regions, they also have their own set of textures. While the default simulator just had 'Africa' and 'Europe' textures per se, the new Orbx set breaks it down into smaller areas for example 'Central Africa' and 'Continental Europe'. This means there is a lot more variety depending on where you fly, and the environment itself is a lot more suited and recognisable - again both a benefit for VFR pilots low to the ground and IFR pilots who may have just flown half the way around the world! Imagine flying all the way from Beijing to Boston, just to see that everything looks the same!

    Orbx - FTX Global     Orbx - FTX Global

    New autogen buildings and vegetation textures also replace the default ones. This means ground buildings from a neutral worldwide perspective are much better and won't appear out of place no matter what continent you are in, they fit the environment well. The default buildings are very American, meaning when you fly in populated African and Asian cities, things start to look...off...

    Textures are also of a much higher resolution meaning you can see a lot more detail in buildings while on the ground - perfect especially when flying out of smaller airfields and regional airports where housing and buildings may only be a stone's throw away.


    4 Comments
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Nice review Michael.

      For newcomers just starting out with MSFS, FTX Global is a definite must have. I myself have used it since day one and wouldn't be without it.

      It really does help bring the MSFS/P3D world to life.
    1. mlam's Avatar
      mlam -
      So I just purchased FTX Global, as well as the vector and US packs, and am really impressed. I knew part of what I was getting since FTX Global was the base scenery for FSW but the combo of all three really makes a major difference. Highly recommended! I got mine on sale a few weeks ago too which saved a TON of money.
    1. CRJ_simpilot's Avatar
      CRJ_simpilot -
      I just have global and it really is a step up. I realized that after being so used to using it then one day I reinstalled my OS and FSX and I went into the Sim prior to adding back global and I couldn't believe how drab FSX was by default without global. It really is a must have.
    1. oldcrusty's Avatar
      oldcrusty -
      Good review. This is a wonderful product well worth the outlay it does transform FSX default LC in a way that is quite stunning. When you add in Global Vector which fixes a lot of other different issues with FSX it will change your sim experience for good. Big files to download and install but 'indispensible' is my view, certainly could never revert to standard FSX again.
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