Ah… KCVG. Famed moonwalker Neil Armstrong once referred to the ICAO code of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky as meaning “Cincinnati Very Good”. There must be something very good about this place too. It has consistently rated quite highly in numerous independent customer surveys over the years, serves as Delta Airlines second largest hub, and currently runs better than 500 flights per day.
Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Int’l Airport is the latest focus of ImagineSim, well known throughout the flight sim community for such airport sceneries as KMSY, KCLT, and MYNN. It is also their first foray into the scenery world of FSX. In this dual review, we’ll see how well both the FS9 and FSX versions of their KCVG package hold up to scrutiny.
Installation and Documentation
Very little has changed in the Installation & Documentation realm for ImagineSim. The software is still downloaded directly from their website, consisting of the standard two choices - the Flight 1 Wrapper version, or the Sim Market variety. Either is excellent in its own regard, although the version used in this review was more akin to the Sim Market version.
As with all previously released ImagineSim sceneries, the installer is fairly automatic; taking care of all items with minimal input. Files are sent to the appropriate places on your hard drive, and the scenery even autoconfigs itself into the appropriate MSFS scenery library. Fire up the sim and KCVG initializes and is ready to go.
Also provided is the standard flair documentation, in this case a 14-page manual that provides the usual insight, details and tips & tricks pertaining to your new scenery purchase. Little has changed over the last few years, but trust me - that’s a good thing.
An important question that brewed in my mind, and probably yours as well, was how KCVG would impact both FS9 and FSX respectively. After all, a major point of the package is that it is compatible for both versions of MSFS. However, I have learned through the course of this review that the basic texture sets for both FS9 and FSX are essentially identical. Therefore, I’m going to initially concentrate on the basic elements of the package itself.
The airport itself is brought to current standards in both; updated to reflect the appearance of the airport circa late-2006. Three terminals along with three concourses, forming the basic meat and potatoes of the airport, are present; as are the numerous outlying tenant and airport structures and aircraft plots. A close check of these plus all aircraft movement areas in the scenery showed a very close match to the Nov through Dec 2006 FAA airport diagram that was included in the documentation, and as of late, this remains very much the same.
The scenery also includes the basic set of aircraft (big surprise that the majority are in Delta colors), ground equipment, and the occasional ramper hanging out on the tarmac, adding the general populated feel to the field. As always, if any of these elements are not you’re cup of tea (or if they interfere with your own third-party add-on traffic), they may be removed at the user’s discretion. The manual details how.
One of the single biggest improvements to the airport that KCVG brings forth is the updating of the third north-south runway, Rwy 36L-18R. Added in 2005, this strip along with the associated taxiways, was intended to accommodate increased traffic levels that the airport was experiencing. Obviously, FS9 does not reflect this in its default scenery as it didn’t exist at the time. But as you’ll soon find out, FSX also did gain from the modeling of this specific aspect of the rework.
Speaking of aircraft movement areas, the AFCAD works very nicely; no aircraft were noted as having any difficulty using the updated traffic patterns on the ground, and planes were noted merrily using all available runways for takeoffs and landings.
Lastly comes the animations and interactive features specific to KCVG. Standard flair of animated jet bridges, guidance signs, marshallers, and ground traffic are present (the first three at specific locations), either further lending some credence to the operational appearance of the field, or helping the virtual pilot get to where he/she needs to go. Anyone who has experience with ImagineSim’s previous packages will feel right at home with their appearance and workings, although I noticed that they’ve bumped up the volume of moving trucks, vans, and tugs for this airport. It was a nice change too, giving the field a busier aura that does justice for an airport of this caliber.
Is Either One Better?
Okay. Now that the basics are said and done, on to the next question. Which one is better, FS9, or FSX? At first glance, I might’ve said neither; ImagineSim, as previously mentioned in this article, did use the same textures for both renditions, so when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. In many respects, both FS9 and FSX get a badly needed shot in the arm from the installation of KCVG.
A great example is that Rwy 36L-18R thing. We’ve already covered that FS9 didn’t even have it in the first place, so obviously it benefits greatly from what KCVG does for it in this regards. Funny thing is, that while FSX did factor in the new strip, it came with an interesting default quirk. True, the runway did make it into the simulation of the airport for this latter MSFS, but bush planes and helicopters must be the only ones using it; the associated taxiways were not modeled. No, I cannot explain why it is so, and I’m not even going to try. At least ImagineSim saved the day in making it usable with the reworked or outright added taxiways.
Then we can get into the ground traffic. FS9 had no such thing as integrated animated airport ground vehicles skirting the field, so ImagineSim’s add-on definitely gets the blood going in this regard. However, FSX’s enhanced static ground traffic, plus it’s own integrated animated ground traffic, combines with KCVG’s own elements to add a definitive ‘this-is-a-busy-place’ feel. Without a doubt a plus.
So as you can see, be you a die-hard FS9 user, or a hardcore FSX user, KCVG has something in store for you.
However, since we’re on the issue of comparing the relative strengths of KCVG between FS9 & FSX, one obvious downfall does come up when the scenery is used in the more modern MSFS. It’s the much talked about trees in FSX, whose quality and variety were a major topic of interest to the community. ImagineSim stuck to a single type when they populated KCVG with foliage, and in-sim they are easily discerned (putting it mildly) from the default ones. This is the tradeoff of ensuring that the package is usable by both renditions of MSFS; one version’s strength is another’s weakness.
Another is the animated ground traffic. As previously said, KCVG’s moving busybodies are a welcome addition in FS9, and when combined with the default airport vehicle traffic in FSX, really ramps up the servicing activity to more believable levels. However, it was noted that, unlike the AI aircraft, FSX’s default ground traffic had a couple of issues with being in the wrong place, often at the worse times. While taxiing out from RAMP 2 in my Airbus, I came face to face with a pickup truck merrily whizzing down the same south taxi lane that I was using. In a few seconds, I could even hear the engine of the vehicle as it tore right past me, somewhere under my left wing root. Dumping the AI airport ground traffic solved the problem, and to be honest, it didn’t happen enough to where it really proved bothersome. Still, it’s there, so it warrants mention.
Now as to glitches, the only true visual issue I found in KCVG that affects both renditions, is in the accuracy of the taxiways in and around Rwy 36C-18C. As per the manual, there are a total of six such movement areas between Twys A and K between the runway and Twy C, two of which are closed. In their current release, KCVG has five taxiways modeled (C6 is omitted), with four of them closed. I have to assume that at the time of rendering, this was the case at the airport, and with Twys K & D6 thru D9 wide open and active, it really didn’t matter all that much. Consider this all a nitpick in the purest sense.
Okay, time to change gears here. As all of you can see from my PC’s specs, I’m not fully up to snuff in regards of hardware vs. the resource hungry FSX. If I started throwing out FPS figures that I encountered in that version of KCVG, I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors. Therefore, I will change tactics for this review and go with percentage figures.
I’ll knock FS9 out of the way here by mentioning that it ran beautifully, with a mere 10-15% drop with the settings mentioned above. As for FSX, I also found that it was equally easy on the resources, striking down the meter a comparable rate. At most, with all the display options and sliders set where they were, I ran upwards to a 20-25% drop in the frames.
Other than the issue mentioned before about FSX animated airport traffic, no other problems with stability or compatibility were noted for either MSFS version.
When boiled down to its essentials, I found that KCVG performed as advertised. After all, it is a scenery package that was designed to bring its subject to a whole new level of realism, and from what I saw, there’s no question that it did so. The rework of the third north-south runway and its taxiways are more than enough of a reason for fans of the field to look into purchasing this product; everything else it does visual-wise is icing on the cake.
Now I won’t argue the point that it has a couple of issues, but they didn’t impact this reviewer enough to where I could state that they interfered with my experience of virtual simming in and around the field. Given its merits, KCVG stands well on it’s own two feet, both FS9 and FSX.
What I Like About KCVG
What I Don't Like About KCVG
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