• Review: Orbx TrueEarth Great Britain South

    Orbx TrueEarth Great Britain South
    &
    Southampton Airport

    By Stuart McGregor

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    This review is quite unusual for me, in that, this is the first time I have had the pleasure of reviewing two different products at the same time. In this case Southampton Airport (EGHI) and also TrueEarth Great Britain South, both from Orbx Simulation Systems. If you are one of those folks that like to keep a close eye on the third party add-on market, I am sure you will have been encouraged to see a steady trickle of releases coming out from the Orbx team for X-Plane 11. This is particularly the case if you are regularly flying around the UK, where there is a rising number of high-quality airports now available. But the even better news is the long-anticipated release of the first of their TrueEarth Great Britain series. Currently the South and Central areas are available (Central just released as I write this), and hopefully the North will follow soon to provide full coverage of Great Britain. For anyone who has experienced Orbx add-ons on other platforms, they will have a pretty good idea of what to expect, but for those who perhaps have yet to take the plunge in X-Plane, hopefully this review will give you some insight into what you should expect.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    Southampton the city, with approximately 250,000 inhabitants, is the largest in the county of Hampshire in England and can be found about 70 miles southwest of London, and only a stone's throw from the south coast port of Portsmouth. The airport handles somewhere in the region of around two million passengers each year, with the airport servicing flights to a number of cities across the UK and Europe. Airlines such as FlyBe, Aer Lingus, Aurigny and KLM, run scheduled flights to various locations, with companies such as TUI, Inghams, Prestige, EasyJet, Volotea and First Choice also flying chartered services to far flung holiday destinations both hot and cold. During the winter, you can also take the kids (big and small) to Lapland to see Santa and all his reindeer. One famous landmark to watch out for at the airport is the near full-scale model of a Supermarine Spitfire prototype which has been carefully recreated near the entrance.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    TrueEarth Great Britain South covers a whopping 107,349 square km or 42,000 square miles of the southern part of Great Britain, from Land's End at the most southerly tip of the mainland, right up to Nottingham and Derby in the Midlands. The product is marketed as having autogen technology specially designed for X-Plane 11 and Great Britain, with region specific housing and numerous landmarks and points of interest. In the user guide that accompanies the scenery package, you will also find information from the development team with respect to other features included in the scenery, such as over 100 million accurately place trees, more than 13 million correctly placed UK styled buildings, wind farms, light houses, churches, power lines; I really could go on and on! Basically, pretty much every VFR landmark you could wish for, along with many hand crafted custom models of real places of interest, such as sports stadiums and many other famous landmarks of note, have been included.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    The guide provided is short and sweet and nicely laid out, providing an overview of the product along with information on the authoring team, installation guidelines, compatibility information, and where to get help if required. This is the same of the EGHI package, where you will also find airport information and an airport chart, in fact, all Orbx products come with a well laid out and simple users guide. One additional feature that is described in the TrueEarth guide is the FTX Control Panel where a choice can be made between using the default road textures or having transparent ones. This was a feature I was intrigued to try out for myself. If you are a Windows user you can use this to install and control the features of your chosen scenery as described in a little more detail later.

    EGHI Southampton currently retails at just over US $25, or AUS $32.95, and is pretty much in line with many of the other airport scenery packages developed by Orbx; although their TrueEarth package is currently retailing at 54.95 AUD or approximately 40 USD. When you take into account the actual size and level of detail provided by the package, an uplift in the selling price does not seem unreasonable, but I guess everyone has their own threshold on what they are willing to spend on add-ons like this.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    As with all Orbx sceneries, you will need an account to be able to purchase their material, but this is a two-minute job to set up if you already do not have one. If you already have an account, I am sure you will know what to do, it is just so easy. Being a Windows user, I was able to take advantage of their FTX Central installer to download and install the scenery which is a fabulous way to do things in my opinion, however, if you are using one of the other platforms such as Linux or MacOS, for now, you will have to manually download and install the scenery. To be honest, this shouldn't really be any different to most other scenery packages out there, so not a major showstopper in my opinion.


    5 Comments
    1. kalizzi's Avatar
      kalizzi -
      Its a lovely review Nels, thorough and informative, well done. For those of us who are not using X-plane, this package is as good as the runway behind you or the altitude above you. I feel betrayed by ORBX for buying EU England package (and the rest of the UK as well) but its not half as good as this one they release for X-plane.
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great review Stuart, thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Cheers

      Dom
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      Quote Originally Posted by kalizzi View Post
      Its a lovely review Nels, thorough and informative, well done. For those of us who are not using X-plane, this package is as good as the runway behind you or the altitude above you. I feel betrayed by ORBX for buying EU England package (and the rest of the UK as well) but its not half as good as this one they release for X-plane.
      Hey kalizzi. I'm no fan of ORBX, believe me, and have also bought EU England for FSX/P3D. But unlike you, I don't feel betrayed . I may be wrong about this, but I believe EU England was developed by a company called SIM720, whereas the TrueEarth products for X-Plane was either done by another developer altogether or by ORBX in-house. X-Plane also has other "toys" for the developers to work with and it has been several years since the release of EU England. One can therefore assume that some advances in technology and design techniques have been made, resulting in a better-looking product.

      I've been watching the TrueEarth products for X-Plane with interest, but haven't bought yet. The one thing that really puts me off is the enormous disk space requirements. If you install GB North, Central and South, you're going to need around 60GB of hard disk space. Plus I'm hoping that in a few years' time, they're going to bundle them in a single more affordable package and shave off some of the disk space requirements at the same time.
    1. kalizzi's Avatar
      kalizzi -
      Quote Originally Posted by rooitou View Post
      Hey kalizzi. I'm no fan of ORBX, believe me, and have also bought EU England for FSX/P3D. But unlike you, I don't feel betrayed . I may be wrong about this, but I believe EU England was developed by a company called SIM720, whereas the TrueEarth products for X-Plane was either done by another developer altogether or by ORBX in-house. X-Plane also has other "toys" for the developers to work with and it has been several years since the release of EU England. One can therefore assume that some advances in technology and design techniques have been made, resulting in a better-looking product.

      I've been watching the TrueEarth products for X-Plane with interest, but haven't bought yet. The one thing that really puts me off is the enormous disk space requirements. If you install GB North, Central and South, you're going to need around 60GB of hard disk space. Plus I'm hoping that in a few years' time, they're going to bundle them in a single more affordable package and shave off some of the disk space requirements at the same time.
      Thank you for the insight, rooitou, maybe it was an over-expression but the gap between the two products is immense. One would expect that ORBX would release, in parallel an FSX / P3d version. Given the constrains and the technical advantage built into XP11 I agree with you in not seeing how this can be done.
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      We're in luck kalizzi, I got an e-mail from ORBX this morning saying that TrueEarth GB South is now also available for P3D v4. Same price as the XP11 version, so you'll have to buy it twice if you want it for both platforms. But the P3D4 version weighs in at 57GB, vs 26GB for the XP11 version, so that may influence my decision.

      No doubt the other TrueEarth products will follow, so we'll soon have the whole glorious GB in P3D4 as well, exactly as you wished for. Interestingly, it will make a few other London VFR products redundant overnight, such as Aerosoft London VFR, Prealsoft HD Cities London and even the old +new JustFlight VFR Real Scenery products, which have always been overpriced in my opinion.
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