Flying the skies of Microsoft Flight Simulator can be a crowded place and with a plethora of Commercial and Freeware AI programs available, it is hard to choose one or the other. At least it was for me. I have gone full circle as I started with the original My Traffic, then onto FS Live Traffic, Ultimate Traffic, then Traffic 2005 and finally the last version of My Traffic for FS9.
Prior to FSX coming out I decided to start new with a new computer, so when it came time to install my personal choice of an AI Program, I initially chose Ultimate Traffic for FS9 and Traffic 2005 for FSX; well then the folks at Just Flight threw me a curve ball and released their military AI package. Having really enjoyed what I had seen in Traffic 2005, I opted to uninstall Ultimate Traffic and reinstall Traffic 2005 into my FS9 installation, and after following the installation instructions carefully about installing the product into two simulations, I was on my way with the Commuter and Military packages from Just Flight!
Installation and Documentation
Installation into FS9 is simple. All you have to do is download the product and install it. Although, if you are running a dual installation then you need to follow the directions posted at the Just Flight website.
Traffic 2005 or Just Plane Traffic
With the advent and release of FSX, we have seen a lot of add-on titles get re-released with the FSX logo on them. With this release, Just Flight has chosen to rename their AI package to just Traffic, rather than Traffic 2005. Is there any difference between the two? I doubt it. The only thing I noticed was the ability to install both products without a complex installation process.
Traffic 2005 has to be one my favorites for FS9 and it was only fitting that it found a home on FSX after it was released. Now a lot can be said about which program to use, whether it be payware or freeware. For many the obvious would be freeware, but for me I simply do not have the time to look for aircraft and then try and get them compiled into a Traffic.BGL file. I want it now and I simply want to install and go.
Now, I am not saying the freeware stuff isn’t any good as I have seen some of it and sometimes it does knock the payware releases to their knees. But, again I am looking for simplicity, a quick and easy solution for a lot of AI aircraft and for me Traffic 2005 from Just Flight delivers just that.
Traffic 2005 was released last year for FS9 and it offers an easy to use AI manager as well as some pretty cool utilities for adding aircraft and new airports. After using all of the above titles, I found that I really liked this one the best. It was easy to use and understand when it came to setting it up.
Military Aircraft 1
One of the biggest disappointments for me when going from MyTraffic to Traffic 2005, was the lack of military AI. I thoroughly enjoy as much AI traffic as I can get.
Prior to the release of the Military 1 package, I was able to find freeware AI, but I was limited to the region it was designed for and I lacked the time to figure out how it was put into the sim. So, needless to say, when Military 1 was released by Just Flight I was on top of it and ready to turn both my FSX and FS9 worlds into an overly crowded AI mess with Traffic 2005.
The Military Aircraft package comes with 10 new military aircraft all with different variations and they represent whatever country's flag they are flying for. Included in this package are the Blackhawk Helicopter, KC135, C130J Hercules, E3 AWACS, F117A, F18C Hornet, T45 Goshawk, BAE Hawk 51/64/65, BAE Hawk with the Aden Canon, Mig29, Mirage 2000 and the Tornado GR4 ECR/GR4A/IDS.
With these 10 aircraft, they will fly their correct flags in over 34 worldwide nations all with their own squadron markings and registrations. Just Flight has also included military variations for existing aircraft that came with Traffic 2005 and those are the AS350 Helicopter, BN2 Islander, A319, A340, DC9, Fokker F50 and the Boeing 737-800, thus giving you traffic at existing military posts all over the world.
Commuter Aircraft 1
After spending a great deal of time with Traffic 2005, I noticed that there weren’t really a lot of commuter type aircraft in the core program, mainly bigger jets and a wide array of GA aircraft. So, this is where this little add-on comes in handy as it offers up a nice selection of new aircraft to add to your AI lineup.
Once the add-on is installed you will find the following aircraft added to your collection of AI aircraft: BAE 146-100, BAE Jetstream 41, Beech 1900 D, Canadair CRJ-700, Dash 8 100 and 400, EMB 120, EMB ERJ 135/140, SAAB 340 and the Saab 2000. Along with these 10 extra aircraft you will also get liveries for over 49 different airlines with a combined total of more than 100 aircraft.
This product also extends the AI coverage to smaller airports that weren’t covered in the original release of Traffic 2005. Thus giving the user a more realistic representation of aircraft services all over the world rather than just major airports.
Both Titles Were Created Alike!
Both aircraft packages were created using GMAX, thus giving the user frame rate friendly aircraft. The one thing you will notice, especially with some of the earlier aircraft that were released with the core Traffic 2005 product, is that some of the individual aircraft can be on the basic side as far as design goes. This, in some cases, is almost a necessity as flying around in our crowded virtual skies can be a little taxing on our systems resources and having complex models flying around is almost a recipe for disaster with older computers. What I like about these planes is that they are designed with a little more detail in mind, especially the military aircraft! But, not so bad that they don’t slow anything down.
You will also notice that the designers went out of their way to produce real world liveries from different parts of the world. This gives the user a true sense of feeling that the aircraft belong in the skies they are flying, rather than seeing a plane that might only fly on the west coast of the United States flying around in Africa, especially when it comes to commuter aircraft! I am not saying this won’t happen, as I did find a fleet of German Airforce Jets sitting at Nellis AFB. Maybe they train there?
Included with both packages are updated airport config files that offer much more coverage than that of the original Traffic core product. Smaller airports, as well as military airbases throughout the world, now offer some sort of AI traffic. Don’t get me wrong, you will still find airports without any AI, but traffic can be easily added using the core Traffic 2005 editor or traffic compiler of your choice.
Out of all the areas that I chose to explore for this review I found that the skies over London was most impressive, as I had a large array of aircraft all over that region. Everything from Commuters, Military, Commercial Jet, Helicopters and General Aviation were there and the best part, I didn’t have to go looking for it.
What is really nice about these two traffic packages is that you don’t need Traffic 2004, 2005 or Traffic to use them. These planes can be added manually and compiled into your existing Flight Simulator environment without them. The overall cost is a nice addition and these packages can be had for just under $14.00 and are well worth the cost in my honest opinion.
FS-9 and FS-X
Setting up and getting Traffic to work in both installations can be kind of tricky. Fortunately, Just Flight has offered an in depth and easy to understand "how to" read-me on the Just Flight website. Initially the biggest problem I had with Traffic was being able to reinstall it into my fresh installation of FS9 after I had installed it in FSX. This had to do with the copy protection on the disk and the install program would only allow one installation on one computer.
So, my solution was to uninstall all of it and start anew with FS9 and then move onto FSX. The entire process relies on you fooling the installer that Traffic was no longer installed by simply renaming directories in your Documents and Settings folders. Once you install it into FS9, you simply need to rename those folders and then reinstall Traffic into FSX. Then rename the folders so that you can distinguish between the two when editing whatever version of FS you choose to use.
As for the AI Packages, they will install into either without any problems. Although, if you bought the package prior to October 2006 you will need to use the provided update for the Commuter Package and again follow the directions there as well.
Settings and where to set your AI sliders is crucial for these add-ons to work at their best. If you are using FS9 on a newer computer, you should be able to set your slider to 100% without any problems, but if you are like me and find overly crowded airports hubs, set it at about 70% just to keep the amount of AI down at the major airports.
If you are using FSX, you will find that if the slider is not cranked to at least 50% or better, many of the military planes are not visible as are some the commuter planes. My solution to this little problem was to turn off any and all vehicle traffic and turn my AI slider up to about 55 percent, this gave me a relatively good amount of AI and evened the playing field as far as performance goes.
An interesting note, as I have been spending more time with FSX; with some of the user created missions, I have found that it is necessary to turn off the AI. Otherwise, any mission that involves other aircraft will have planes parked over planes or worse yet, you will get mowed down by a fellow AI pilot.
In The End
Military Aircraft 1 and Commuter Aircraft 1 are very nice add-ons and offer a lot to the AI world of both simulations. Cost is not a big issue and it really is nice to have Military AI with Traffic 2005! I know that there are other titles out there and everyone has their own personal tastes and it is a matter of personal choice, but after having used all the top commercial contenders, I have to say that I personally like what Just Flight has done and will probably keep this as my AI package of choice.
|What I Like About The Military and Commuter PlusPaks|
|What I Don't Like About The Military and Commuter PlusPaks|
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