AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

7 Titles from France VFR

Product Information
Publisher: France VFR
Description:  Collection of add-on sceneries and aircraft .
Download Size:
71 - 489 MB
Format:
Self Installing
Simulation Type:
FS 2004
Reviewed by: Joe Ellwood AVSIM Staff Reviewer - July 22, 2006

Introduction

Before we get into things – I want to make it very clear that all of these products are purchased and distributed separately. The reason we’re reviewing 6 different scenery products here is to give you a sensation of all the different areas covered, and that the French VFR developers have given us such an awesome variety of products to review.

What Do We Have Here?

Unless you decide to go on a crazy spending spree, you may be only interested in one or two of these products. Here is a list of the featured add-ons, including price and required disk space. All of these were developed by France VFR.

• Flight Corse Base Pack - $32 USD – 390MB
• Flight Corse Autogen - $19 USD – 71MB
• Flight Paris Base Pack - $32 USD – 414MB
• Flight Riviera Base Pack - $32 USD – 489MB
• Mayotte – $19 USD – 96MB
• Reunion - $25 USD – 180MB
• Aircraft Collection - $31 USD – 426MB

Reviewer's Note: I used an online currency converter to determine the product costs from Euro to U.S. Dollars – if these prices are slightly incorrect I apologize.

Installation and Documentation

Each of the featured products are downloaded upon purchase. Warning: some of these files are pretty large (the largest is over 300 meg) and of course they install even more. Before you consider any of these products, insure you are aware of the final file size – after I installed these packages I lost a few gigabytes on my hard drive.

Test System

Intel Pent 4 2.66GHz
512MB RAM PC2700DDR
ASUS A9550
40 GB HD 5400RPM

Flying Time:
20 hours

The installers require a serial number to install, and these are supplied after purchasing. The install will tell you how much disk space is required before going through the process – so again you know exactly how much hard drive space you’ll lose. I recommend closing any other programs and applications before installing, this will allow the process to be much quicker.

Each scenery includes manuals in both French and English in .pdf format. In each scenery folder you will find another .pdf file for charts of the airports that the relative scenery covers. The manuals go into detail on what exactly you’ve purchased, lists the airports and display tips to get the best out of the package.

I’ve included a few screenshots from the Flight Riviera manual – all of the features you see are included with all the other scenery products we’re looking at.

The aircraft manual is also in French and English. It contains the same quality of information as the scenery documentation. That’s up until you surpass the table of contents, copyrights and other miscellaneous sections. All other checklists and panel labeling are in French. Now, I know very little French, and basically I couldn’t understand the manual at all. I opened the French manual and it was in the respective language. Why is there an English version included if 80% of the manual is in French?

The Scenery

All of these scenery packages were developed from quality aerial photographs, and all include custom mesh. Unfortunately, each of these titles only include summer textures – so you won’t get a varied range of colours depending on which season you wish to fly in. All of the airports that are covered have been given new AFCAD’s, but unfortunately only Mayotte contains a whole new look – the remainder of the airports that I visited use default textures, which makes sense, considering this is not an airport scenery add-on.

Flying the Stampe SV4 around LFTF (Flight Riveria) The colours around this area are much more brown than other areas
On final, VC view from the SV4 All opened up

Each and every scenery package is simply astounding. The terrain, mesh and textures simply look beautiful. Any words I say here simply cannot do the products justice. You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Departing Gillot (Reunion) in the TB09 Heading into the mountains (Reunion)

I have to say, this is the most realistic and beautiful scenery I have encountered in the sim (I have not purchased any Mega Scenery titles). Although this scenery is designed for VFR flying, I particularly enjoyed getting out the F-22 and do some high speed ops. If you do plan on doing something similar, watch out – because those peaks can come out of nowhere!

Climbing out of Orly (Flight Paris) Airport textures have also been replicated Paris from the cockpit

There is one airport that has been totally re-worked, Dzaoudzi (don’t ask on the pronunciation on that one!) from the Mayotte package. This airport is roughly 290 miles east of Mozambique – and includes some very nice ultralight and commercial AI traffic. The airport scenery itself is very convincing; however, the terrain textures for the Mayotte package in whole seems less detailed than the other packages.

Dzaoudzi airport (Mayotte) The Beech Twin has nice textures, but overall lacks model quality
The colours around the coasts of Mayotte are very bright The textures seem less detailed compared to the other products

My favourite airport is Corte (LFKT) which is covered in the Flight Corse package. The mountains around here are simply incredible. The airport is squeezed tightly amongst the mountains, and approaches into here can get tricky. Personally, this is my “pick of the lot”. I love the detail, the scenery is incredible – and makes for some awesome flying.

Corte airport overhead The awesome terrain of Corte Flying amongst the mountains

How To Choose

If you’re interested in these products, you may be asking yourself “which one do I choose”? You may opt for the cheapest product – which in this case would be Mayotte. Remember, there is only one airport that this area covers – and it has been completely re-worked. The airport scenery is great, it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect and all the fine details us simmers have come to love. If you are interested in Mayotte, this is a very small island, and I suspect this is why only this airport has been re-created. As I mentioned above, the textures seem less clear and detailed when compared to some of the other titles.

If you prefer a more populated area, you may want to check out Flight Paris, the photo scenery here is awesome. If this is the case, you may want to fork out more for the autogen pack (not reviewed here). From what I’ve seen at the developer’s website, the autogen package will put the icing on the cake; and it looks like it doesn’t interfere with the photo real textures. Some of the more populous areas are the “Flight” titles (Corse and Riviera).

You may base your purchasing decision upon what sort of flying you do.. The best way to fully utilize any of these packages is to grab a nice VFR aircraft from the file library, and spend some time getting to know the area and enjoying the sights and sounds. Another option is to purchase two of these, and do some commercial jetliner flights in and out of these destinations. Reunion is especially good for this as it has a nice sized airport and the approach next to the mountains is lovely, plus it includes some nice AI traffic like Mayotte does.

It’s up to you, but do choose carefully. I am pleased to say each product is worth the price being asked – so you won’t regret any decision you make.

The Aircraft

Aircraft included in this package:

• Socata Rallye
• Socata TB09 Tampico
• Socata TB10 Tobago
• Socata TB20 Trinidad
• Stampe SV4
• APM 20 Lionceau
• Beechcraft Twin Bonanza
• DeHavilland Twin Otter

The TB20 wearing a US paint scheme

I honesty was disappointed by the quality of the aircraft. Mainly because they all contain default gauges and sounds. A big pet peeve for me is commercial aircraft packages which contain default gauges and/or sounds. It shows a lack of detail and effort from the developers. Honestly, I’d stay away from purchasing this Aircraft Collections unless you get one of the scenery add-ons too, even then you’ll want to have a good hard think. I find there are better freeware aircraft that are designed for low ‘n’ slow flying. However, all of these planes are good for VFR flying – despite the lack of detail in and outside the cockpit. The up side of including default gauges and sounds, is that it requires less disk space – which is always handy for those in my situation who do not have monstrous hard drives.

Simply put, these are freeware quality, nothing more, nothing less. The included skins are indeed detailed; it’s surprising how much of a difference this makes. Each model has a visible pilot from the exterior – with a moving head. The head movement isn’t smooth, and gives the illusion one is suffering from poor frame rates.

All of the planes fly nicely – and are well suited for VFR flying. During my test flights, I noticed all of them handled similarly – which makes sense considering they are all of similar size and design, but I would appreciate more distinction from one plane to another. My favourite was the DHC-6 Twin Otter, which includes a few liveries and a float model.

The documentation points out some routes you can fly with this plane – which is handy. A few aircraft contain up to 4 or 5 liveries, from all over the world. So for one plane you can decide if you want a French, Greek, Italian or Australian variation, though not all planes include multiple liveries.

Performance

The only major issue I experienced was the fact that when starting from one of the covered airports, the terrain can take minutes to load once you’ve hit the “Fly Now” button. Instead of watching the progress bar crawl along slowly, go brew another pot of coffee – that way you’re all fueled up for a lovely flight.

I did notice a small decrease in frame rates, not very evident to the eye however. If you’re a simmer (like me) who often checks out the frame rate display, you won’t notice any reduction in performance. I noticed all of the featured scenery add-ons have roughly the same performance. The planes run smoothly, and rightly so, as they do not have any complex systems.

Conclusion

If you’re on the hunt for some visually amazing VFR scenery – then have a look at the publisher’s or developer’s website. Unfortunately, the website is entirely in French; they do have an English version on the horizon but looks to be some time before completion.

In all honesty, I’d stay away from the Aircraft Collection. To be frank, there are better VFR aircraft you can explore this scenery (and other scenery) with for free. These aircraft are different from our usual Cessna’s, Piper’s and Beech’s. The plus side to this package is that it focuses more on quantity over quality – if they were offering two or three planes at this level of detail I would be disappointed. The package includes a nice pick of French planes, and if you are looking for something different, perhaps you should check out this title.

All of the sceneries I’ve reviewed here are amazing. The textures compliment the mesh, and vice versa. No matter which title you choose, you won’t be disappointed. The prices are very reasonable, with the exception of the Corse autogen package which I feel is over priced – considering all you are getting is an autogen set.

Thumbs up for the scenery, thumbs down for the aircraft.

 

What I Like About France VFR
  • Quality mesh
  • Lots of detail in the textures
  • Excellent Documentation
  • Dzaoudzi airport looks wonderful

 
What I Don't Like About France VFR
  • Lack of quality in the cockpit
  • Aircraft models are nothing special
  • “English” version of aircraft manual is in French

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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