London is a modern city that has been shaped by it’s past. War, nature and man have played a part in making London the city it is today. London City is the capital of Great Britain, the home of the English government and is the economic power house for the British economy.
London City is a small area inside the larger greater London area, this is an historic area which the rest of London has grown around. Most people will be familiar with the landmarks of London, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and the London Bridge, and more recent landmarks such as the London Eye.
Aerosoft released London VFR X as a download first and a DVD second. If you bought the download when it was released you did not get the London City airport, which is included in the later downloads. You can download the airport for free through your account on the Aerosoft website; also you will find the v1.20 update, which I have used in this review. The area covered by this release is approximately 120 km2 based around the River Thames that cuts through the middle of London.
Installation and Documentation
Once you have used a small chunk of your broadband to download (I would not recommend downloading on Dial Up, 1.3 GB took well over an hour on my super fast broadband!!). Open and extract the VFRlondonx_v100.exe or VFRlondonx_v110.exe (depending on when you brought the program).
Double click on the file to start the installation program. Once the program is running it will ask you for the usual things like location to install London VFR X, and FSX directory, It will also ask you for your email and serial number before continuing with the installation.
One word of advice, I found that if I typed in the serial number it would not accept it, for some reason, I double checked and could not find where I had made an error, so the best thing I can suggest is that you cut and paste your serial number in and that will avoid any problems you may have.
Once you have entered the required information, the installer then asks you a couple of questions as to how you would like the installation to proceed. These cover whether you would like to have London City Airport installed, or if you want to keep the default, also it asks what photo texture detail you want to install and if you want the night lighting installed as well.
You can choose from having the default 2.4mtr texture, 1.2mtr texture or 60cm texture installed. I went for the 60cm texture as I want the best looking textures I can get; the only real hit I can see on my system was disk space and that is not really a problem for me. You must have the 1.2mtr and the 2.4mtr photo textures installed for the 60cm photo textures to work correctly. If you don’t, you can get some strange results, you have been warned!!!
Once installation has been completed, I would recommend defragging the hard drive to help with performance, which is something the manual doesn’t mention.
Speaking of the manual, it is well written, explaining the area, the settings in flight sim and a little bit of history about the developer. Some of the advise included in the manual is handy, but if you have your Flight Simulator running well, I would suggest that the tips in the manual may not help. If anything they may reduce your performance as it seems that if you have FSX running well before you install London VFR X you will not have any problems running this add-on. Now let’s go and look around London.
A Scenic Flight Around London
London is, by its very nature, a lovely city to look at with its old world buildings combining with the modern day architecture. It makes for an interesting mix, and looking down from the air, it seems to all fit together well. Today we will jump in to our ultra light, break all the rules and take off from EGLC for a nice scenic flight down the Thames and back again.
London City Airport (EGLC) is crammed into London downtown itself. This creates some interesting operational issues as only certain types of aircraft can operate out of the airport. The only aircraft permitted to operate out of London City are aircraft that can fly a 5.5 degree or steeper approach, and as the runway length is only 1508 meters long, this limits aircraft to private jets, ATR42, DHC Dash 8, BAe 146, Dornier 328, Embraer 135, Embraer E-Jets, Fokker70, Fokker 50 and Saab 2000. The Airbus A318 has just completed suitability trials and will be flying out of London City. Before we hop in to our trusty little micro light, lets have a quick look around the airport itself.
The airport is crammed into a small space beside the Thames. As such, it is a longer skinny building. If you don’t like to get wet when boarding aircraft you are out of luck here as there are no jetways. There is airport traffic that zips around quite happily and will service your aircraft at your request.
The airport layout airside is an operational challenge to say the least; there is a main taxiway that has one entry point onto the runway, and aircraft have to back track down the runway to depart. This did cause issues until a holding point was added at the end of the runway, which allows aircraft to taxi down the runway and hold off to the side to allow aircraft to land. This won’t be a problem for us as there is no traffic to speak of and we have the skies to ourselves.
Taking off, you appreciate how little space the airport takes up but therein lies one of its advantages. It is right in the middle of the city, so it takes you only a matter of minutes to arrive where you need to be for your meeting. As we depart, we are not following departure procedures to fly up the Thames but you will get to see some of London’s famous landmarks.
As we fly around London, all the major landmarks and smaller buildings are accurately placed, as are all of the roads and railways. Unfortunately, this also brings some issues. I have noticed that almost all buildings on the Thames sit above the ground. This is very noticeable if you are flying at wave top level. It is not something that is noticeable from a height.
Also, some of the landmarks, like the London Eye, have issues with clouds behind it. The clouds are coming in over the top of the Eye and this hides almost all of the structure, but doesn’t seem to affect the pods. A very weird effect and it also affects the warship on the Thames as well. Now I am not sure if it is my setup or not, as I cannot find anyone else having the same problem mentioned in the forums. Either that, or no one else has noticed. There are some minor river level issues, again these are not noticeable unless you are at wavetop height.
These are really the only two major issues that I have found. All of the textures on the buildings are crisp and well done, and the ground scenery from a height looks fantastic.
Some of the bridges don’t quite mesh correctly with the shores, and some of the bridges stand out as the road color and textures don’t match the river banks and this makes the bridges stick out rather than blend in. There are issues where the scenery ends and the default scenery takes over.
There is an overlap of the photoreal ground texture and as such, there is limited or no autogen where the photoreal ground texture overlaps. This makes for a highly detailed city rather then a barren wasteland where there is nothing represented. Maybe a better option would have been to crop the photoreal area into the area that has been fully detailed.
Flying at night opens a whole new world. The buildings and lights look very, very realistic, and there is not too much glare from them at all. It is a very nice scene and I can honestly say that flying around London at night is far more enjoyable than during the day, as at night it hides some of the issues mentioned earlier.
I hope you have enjoyed your flight around London.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Overall, this package enhances the area so much it is definitely worth the money. If you fly in or out of EGLC, this will benefit you greatly as the airport itself is very well reproduced.
The city is well reproduced and looks fantastic from a height, but if you get down and dirty you will notice some issues with ground textures and such, and maybe even what I have noticed above. I have had great performance out of the product, and the frame rates are running about 20fps throughout all aspects of flight in multiple aircraft.
I did have a small issue with my frame rates, which were fixed by disabling Ultimate Terrain Europe X. I have not tested DirectX 10 as I am running Windows XP. I had far to many issues with Vista.
When you install the 1.20 patch it recommends that you do not use the DirectX 10 Preview, but if you want to, you can use the included program to change the textures for the DirectX 10 Preview.
So would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It is worth the price and for what it covers, it represents good value for money.
What I Like About London X
What I Don't Like About London X
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