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(18.10.2006)

FSX and Estonia - Part 1

Preface

Finally FSX (or FS10) has arrived, the long-awaited new version of Microsofts flight simulator, that has raised more expectation than any other version before. Breathtaking graphics were promised, higher texture resolutions, reflective water surfaces, better weather effects, a world animated with moving cars, ships and animals, detailed default airplanes, a beginner-friendly mission system and much more. During the last months, anticipation grew with each new screenshot and preview.

Since it is available, lots of positive as well as negative feedback is written in the internet forums. The general statement is as follows: Sure, the promised features are there and everything could look fantastic in theory, if only the framerate would be acceptable for flying (>20 fps) on today's average hardware. Unfortunately, it isn't, at least not until all sliders are moved to the far left, so that almost nothing is left of the looked-for graphic splendor. The FSX was clearly programmed with tomorrow's hardware in mind. Not less than a current high-end system is necessary for flying without visible stutters at middle-high settings. If this isn't available, as for the most of us, it could be worthwile to search through your favourite flightsim forums, as there are already offered patches, cfg-tweaks and replacement textures, that might increase the performance significantly.

But the performance issues of FSX shall not be the topic here. According to the name of this website, FS-Estonia, we will focus instead on examining the default scenery of FSX in Estonia and address the question about the compatibility of existing Estonian scenery add-ons with FSX.


FSX default scenery in Estonia

The installation of FSX on the harddrive occupies 15 GByte, which is much higher than the 2 GByte used by FS2004. According to the developers, this is mainly due to the much more detailed world model that is integrated in FSX. Indeed this is clearly visible in many countries, e.g. the USA and numerous European countries, where the virtual FSX pilot enjoys detailed roads, coastlines and elevation data, which was previously only possible by using various add-ons. However, the scenery of many other countries was not improved. On the contrary, there are screenshots from countries like Canada or Greece appearing in the forums, that show a significant step backwards in comparison to default FS2004. In Estonia, no improvements are visible as well, when comparing the coastlines and landclasses.

Click to enlarge
(Comparison between the default scenery of FSX and FS2004 in Tallinn)

The comparison shows that the coasts in FSX are even less smooth than in FS2004, using more straight lines. The landclass data (surface types like woods, city, farmland) is as coarse as already in FS2004, which is clearly visible in the screenshots of Tartu and the monotony of Saaremaa's surface below. Vector data like roads and railroads seem to have slightly improved, as e.g. the wrong bridge across the lake Ülemiste in Tallinn is not there anymore. However, the example of Kuressaare below shows, how much is still missing from a satisfactory result.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
(left: Tartu, right: Saaremaa island)

So, in FSX, the Estonian Landscape scenery will still be necessary to get a nice landscape representation capable for VFR flying. (Yes, I admit, I am a bit happy about that, as I already feared, the scenery would be unnecessary with FSX. And that would be somehow sad considering all the work that went into this... ;-))

But how is the situation with the default estonian airfields in FSX? Well, included are Ämari (EEEI), Kärdla (EEKA), Kihnu (EEKU), Kuressaare (EEKE), Narva (EENA), Pärnu (EEPU), Rapla (EERA), Ridali (EERI), Ruhnu (EERU), Tallinn (EETN), Tapa (EETA), Tartu (EETU) and Viljandi (EEVI). So the three fields Ämari, Rapla and Narva have been added, which is good news, since none of them received an addon scenery so far.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
(left: Tallinn airport, right: Kuressaare)

The included airfields are of the standard default quality, which means there are none or only simple buildings. Howere, the bigger ones now feature moving service vehicles, and especially Tallinn has slightly improved since FS2004 (see screenshot above).

Conclusion FSX default scenery: In Estonia, there are no real improvements in comparison to FS2004. So it is even more interesting, if the existing add-ons are working in FSX, or, if not, how laborious the necessary modifications will be. This question will be examined in part two of this article.

Go to Part 2



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