• Review: Orbx TrueEarth Great Britain South

    The EGHI download is quoted as being about 220 MB in size, however the TrueEarth South is a whopping 26 GB, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. You will also require the Orbx object library to run the EGHI scenery and this can be found at their web site. At first, I hadn't noticed this was a requirement, and therefore was getting a few scenery errors, however after posting a quick question the forum (all support requests go via this route) I got a very quick reply and was able to fix the issue. Since then, no concerns. As far as the library goes, the good news is that it is free of charge, and from what I can see, is updated quite regularly, although it does add another 118 MB to your hard drive. It is important to note that the Southampton scenery will run independently of TrueEarth Great Britain South, however, it is highly recommended by the Orbx team, and as you will see, I tend to agree with them.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    Once done, you will end up with additional folders in your Custom Scenery folder, with everything you need in there. FTX Central will give you access to the User Guide and a means of uninstalling the scenery if you so wish, however a copy of the 10-page User Guide can also be found within the main scenery folder if you don't want to run the tool every time. One thing to remember is that you may need to re-order your scenery.ini file depending on how you have it organised to ensure the scenery shows up correctly. If you have any issues with scenery not appearing, this is always one of the first things to check in my experience.

    My assessment of the two scenery packages was done using X-Plane 11.26 and the default Cessna 172. My current system consists of an Intel i7 5820K 3.3 GHz CPU (overclocked to 4.0 GHz), GTX1080Ti 11 GB GPU and 32 GB of Kingston RAM at its core. My system settings are at the high end of the range with objects on max, HDR on, although shadows switched off. I also use SkymaxxPro and I manually selected the weather to be fine with clear skies, a smattering of clouds and visibility of 15 miles or so. Throughout the series of test flights, frame rates were generally in the high 20's to mid to low 40's, and basically my system was able to cope well with the scenery and the details provided. I had no issues throughout.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    It is always difficult to really predict how sceneries will impact the myriad of end user systems, so all I can say is that I didn't see any significant change in performance when using these sceneries. In my tests, I experimented with a few areas such as the areas around Southampton (obviously), Norwich and Cardiff just to get a feel for what was on offer. With such a vast area to cover, it was not possible to explore every nook and cranny of the southern part of Great Britain, however I believe the areas covered give a pretty good indication of what to expect.

    So here we go...

    Starting from Southampton airport itself, the first thing I noticed when sitting on the ramp was the sheer volume of traffic (both road and rail), zooming past in front of me. Straight away I got the feeling that the scenery was alive. At first glance, the textures of the objects outside my cockpit window had that 'real' feel about them and I was therefore already feeling good about what I was about to experience.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    I pushed back from the ramp to be met by a couple of animated vehicles going about their business, and for me, this is the sort of detail that really sets scenery packages apart. Going the extra mile to make an airfield feel as real as possible through the use of animation and detail, is one of the tick box items I look for, particularly when paying for scenery. With so much excellent freeware material available these days, commercial designers really have to be on their 'A' game at all times to get us to part with our hard-earned cash, and I think it is safe to say the Orbx team certainly have the skills in their locker to challenge the best.

    As I taxied around the airfield, the vegetation provided along with the ground textures are just fabulous and again give you that sense of reality. I should also mention that I was using World Traffic 3 during my tests, and EGHI sync'd well, with aircraft on the stands, to supplementing the static objects already provided. It also worked with the coming and going of aircraft. The airport buildings are well presented (good textures used throughout) and one of the other features I really enjoy with Orbx sceneries, is the inclusion of people at various locations around the airfield. For me, an airport with no people just doesn't work, and leaves a place feeling hollow and empty, so it was good to see this.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    There are a number of buildings provided at the airfield, including hangars, the terminal, carpark, train station, warehouses, hotels and various other odds and sods. As I mentioned at the very start of this review, there is also a very nicely modelled Spitfire provided at the entrance to the airfield, so it is really worth taking your time to check out the entire airfield when you can. Most of my tests we carried out during daylight hours, however I did check out after dark just to get a feel for the lighting at the airfield and again I wasn't disappointed. The building illuminations are warm and convincing, although perhaps a little dark in places. What is fantastic is the surrounding area at night, with so many buildings, roads and vehicles being lit up, again Laminar and Orbx coming together to give the end user a truly wonderful experience after dark.

    Orbx Southampton     Orbx Southampton

    The use of aerial images is another feature that makes the EGHI scenery stand out (even if you just purchase the airport), and this is where I believe Orbx have now taken X-Plane 11 to the next level. When you take an already excellent product in the form of EGHI and their other airfield sceneries for that matter, and combine this with their TrueEarth series, this is where I now believe the X-Plane 11 bar has been raised to Olympic levels. X-Plane, for many years, has been on the verge of something very special in my opinion, and with players like Orbx now committed to developing products for the platform, I fully expect more and more users to make the switch over to X-Plane, or at the very least, to come and have a look and see what all the fuss is all about.


    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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