• Flight Environment X

    Review: Flight 1 Flight Environment X

    By Alexander Czarnecki (29 October 2010)

    Introduction

    Welcome to Flight Environment X for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Flight Environment X is quite a unique program in that it offers you unlimited possibilities for new cloudscapes and water. It is not just a texture switcher, it is a design tool that allows you to create millions of different cloud types, water types, and more.

    With hundreds of texture sets that cover cloud, sky and water, and a very powerful interface, Flight 1's Flight Environment X is a worthy addition to FSX. Peter Wilding's Flight Environment was a landmark FS2004 add-on and was one of the first add-ons I bought for FS2004. It completely replaced the boring/repetitious default textures with completely new user customizable textures and could look stunning! Peter Wilding and Flight 1 have redone Flight Environment for FSX and it is now available under the Flight Environment X (FEX) name.

    According to Flight 1

    "All the artwork used in Flight Environment X has been wholly originated from high definition photography taken by Peter Wilding using state of the art camera equipment. Many flying trips have been undertaken to photograph clouds from every angle along with water photography, sunrises and sunsets.

    This has enabled us to master all textures at a very high definition and resolution (ten megapixels) which is then scaled to your requirements in FEX. We have gone to exhaustive lengths to quality check every piece of artwork found in FEX."

    Along with brand-new textures, Flight Environment X takes full advantage of FSX's capabilities by offering ultra high definition textures in 4096x4096 resolution. All this with little frame rate loss! Oh well, enough intro, let's get on with it! But this is going to be a hard review, so I will provide plenty of screen shots for you to decide.

    Installation/Description

    Flight Environment X comes on a single DVD in a really nice DVD case (which also includes a printed manual that includes all you need to know).

    Required specs are given as:

    Microsoft Flight Simulator X
    Windows 7, Vista or XP with SP2
    2.8 GHz processor
    512 MB RAM
    128 MB Graphics
    4 GB Hard Drive

    To be honest, these specs are ridiculous! I would never think of running FSX on these specs but would recommend at least 2 GB RAM and a 512 MB graphics card. Actually, these specs are much the same as the original Flight Environment for FS2004! I tested FEX on a Dell Studio 1555 laptop with a 2 GHz Dual Core processor, 3 GB RAM and a 512 MB ATI Graphics card. With this, I found no noticeable frame rate loss.

    Installation is easy but looong! Just stick the DVD in your DVD drive; and if you have autorun enabled, the installation screen should appear. Then all you need to do is sit around... When you have 4 GB of textures transferring and decompressing, it takes a long time. Once that is finished, Flight Environment X will then backup your default textures. Very handy, but again, that takes time. It took over an hour on my system to install FEX and back up the default textures, and in that time I thrashed a team with Alexander's XI on Brian Lara International Cricket 2005. When all that copying is done, defrag! All this copying will leave your hard drive in a mess, so I repeat, defrag! After all this finished, the main FEX interface screen will appear (which also can be launched from the Start Menu and desktop).

       

    The interface is reminiscent of the old FE one and is just as easy to use. All the tabs down the side provide access to all you need. The options button opens the option screen, which needs setting up first. The manual explains all of this in easy-to-read fashion. The textures are chosen from the Theme tabs.

           

    Once you have made your selections, a click of the "Install Selected Themes" button will add those textures to FSX. You may want to defrag again! Then click "Launch FSX" to fly and check out your new environment!

    FEX is a very powerful program, which provides hundreds of options that I am sure you will spend a lot of time playing around with! The included manual is very comprehensive and covers all you would need to know.

    The Flight 1 Description

    "Flight Environment X is a product for Microsoft Flight Simulator X that provides nearly unlimited environments for you to fly in, all in an easy to use interface that will be a dream for both advanced and novice users.

    "You can literally click and go! With one click you will experience the vast difference our textures make to bring your simulator to life.

    "Asides from selecting from one of the many stunning themes using the same principles as Flight Environment for FS2004, you can allow FEX to intelligently select themes for you, varying your experience every time you fly. Or if you are an advanced users, get ready for some customization tools that will allow you endless creations.

    "Here is what you get:

    • A large selection of realistic themes for water, sky and clouds
    • Surrealistic themes to create amazing screen shots
    • Instant community access to a free library of other users themes
    • Individual themes for weather conditions such as storms and pollution"

    And that is what you get!

    Screen shots: All right, I guess seeing is believing, so here you go!

                                                                           

    As you can see, the combinations are really endless and can look so good. FEX also includes a custom cloud/water/sky maker, which the manual explains in full detail. I did not use it, because, frankly, there are enough included textures to keep me happy. My favorite theme, as used in most of the screen shots, is Extreme Realistics for clouds, Kosher Sky, Dark for water and Medium Persian as the water animation theme.

    FEX also includes an online mode. The manual describes it thus: "Flight Environment X is "themed" based, so you can share your creations with others simply by sharing your theme online, not in a big upload of textures. The theme is then rebuilt on the users system, with all resulting textures installed. You can also use themes created by others through the online mode. When online, you can download new themes and install them."

    Bugs/Conclusion

    No bugs that I can find, and I am very happy with the program! The texture replacements add a depth to FSX that has to be seen. The only nitpick is that I would have liked to see more sky textures, but I guess I am just being picky... The tropical water with visible coral adds a big sense of realism. The Super High Definition (SHD) textures are amazing, and best of all, they hardly affect the frame rates, which is all-important with FSX. Flight Environment X for FSX is every bit as good as Flight Environment for FS2004 and even better. A fantastic and highly recommended program; and, like its predecessor, FEX will go down in history as one of the great FS add-ons.

       

    Test system:

    Dell Studio 1555
    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T6400 @ 2.00 GHz
    3.00 GB RAM
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 512 MB Graphics

    Alexander Czarnecki
    [email protected]
    aussiefs.webstarts.com
    http://aussiefs.freeforums.org

    Learn More Here


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