When we say AVSIM, we say AI (Artificial Intelligence) traffic reviews. Philip Wilson reviewed not long ago Aerosoft's MyTraffic 2010. Also some months ago Jason McKee reviewed the download version of Flight1 Ultimate Traffic 2 and a little further back Just Flight's Traffic X by Gene Davis. You could ask me; why review the same Flight1 product? As I said before; Jason McKee reviewed this already but with one difference, Jason had a download version and this review deals with the DVD version.
In-between a few things have changed. I can't recall that software version number, but the DVD comes as version 2.04, followed by a major Service Pack and hot fix. This brings the software to release 2.07. That are at least three major differences and the other difference is Jason McKee is a different reviewer.
According to Flight1, Ultimate Traffic II is "redeveloped from the ground up and as a result Ultimate Traffic 2 provides Microsoft Flight Simulator X users the definitive answer to their AI Traffic needs. The project is a culmination of over three years of research and development. Built in cooperation with our friends from Flag Mountain Software, AI Aardvark, and The Fruit Stand, UT2 takes advantage of the latest in AI technology. The goal of UT2 is to provide users with the most complete and realistic real-world airline flights worldwide, offer new levels of AI Traffic design, and revolutionize the FSX skies. Ultimate Traffic exceeds these lofty goals."
offers many product features such as (short version):
Flight1 offers a Power Pack for UT2. Flight1 says about the Power Pack: "The Ultimate Traffic 2 Power Pack is a FREE add-on to Flight1's Ultimate Traffic 2 product for FSX. The Power Pack is an easy to use tool that allows the user to compile and import add-on schedules, create new schedules from scratch, modify or create airport identifiers, plus much more."
Further Flight1 offers a dedicated Ultimate Traffic II website with all AI traffic data as well as a link to a protected forum.
Enough about this AI traffic introduction. It's time to move on.
What's in it for $44.95?
First a quick summary: you get a DVD box with the UT2 DVD and an Ultimate Traffic 2 booklet. Because this is a Flight1 DVD, there's no need to use the Flight1 wrapper. Just insert the DVD and let the installer do her work.
Sorry, hold on, not too quick!!!!! Before using the Flight1 installer to verify that you have installed the required FSX SP2, most likely the case, check that Microsoft .NET 3.5 Service Pack 1 is installed as well.
Time to start the installation process. In a short time Ultimate Traffic 2 is installed and integrated into FSX including some shortcuts, accessible via the Start menu button - All Program - Flight One Software - Ultimate Traffic 2 directory. The UT2 directory offers the Ultimate Traffic 2 control panel program and an uninstaller. By the way, this UT2 control panel is also accessible via a shortcut on your desktop.
Let's first have a quick look at what the DVD box offers; the DVD and an Operations Handbook. I haven't compared every page of this booklet with the software version of the user manual, but most of the menus from the UT2 control panel are discussed in this handy booklet. Referring back to the booklet, you've got two possibilities. Either you go for the integrated software manual in the UT2 control panel or you download the user manual.
The Acrobat User Manual is 44 pages thick and tells you all about the program, how to change items, how to print out time tables and why you should do this. You can of course read the manual on your screen via the integrated software manual in the UT2 control panel. Either choice will give you all the information you need.
What you need to do first is check for UT2 program updates. You do this with the help of the UT2 control panel shortcut found on your desktop. On the left hand side you'll find the option "Update". Clicking this will result in retrieving the necessary information of available Service Packs and/or hot fixes. It turns out UT2 offers a Service Pack 1 (download file size 1.02GB) and a hot fix (4,77MB) available for download.
Just download these two files and install SP1 first, followed by the hot fix. While writing this review - June 2010 - the current UT2 product equals version 2.07. After you've installed the Service Pack and hot fix, the next time you start the UT2 control panel, it should show you in the RH lower corner version 2.07.
What else happened during the UT2 installation? During the installation, it adds under FSX menu Add-ons, sub-menu "Ultimate Traffic 2". This sub-menu offers the following items:
this keyboard combination you can temporarily clear all the
approach traffic for your
a minute or so, the AI traffic
is injected back in FSX. Just
control panel, you
for this "Clear Approach" keyboard "ctrl+shift+S".
Furthermore, you can tick DX10 Preview since UT2 is compatible with it, so no problems with white AI traffic or whatsoever. That doesn't mean I suggest you should use it. Everybody has his or her own reasons to enable or disable it. For now it's important to know that this Flight1 product can be used with DX10 Preview ticked.
Personally I'm faced with DX10 Preview active, flickering runway markings, and some airplane models are simply grey without textures and disappearing aircraft parts or completely distorted models. On the other hand, with DX10 Preview active, you'll see an increase in your FPS but is that al of a sudden so important? That question I can't answer. That's up to you!
Wow, UT2 implementation
The UT2 control panel gives full control of FSX Ultimate Traffic, but personally I would like to know what I need to do with the control panel before I can use UT2 AI traffic? The answer is simple and straight forward .... you don't need it!
Does this mean you can throw away the UT2 control panel? Of course not! You can't forget the control panel, but after the installation, UT2 is ready to go. Ready to go means; start FSX and it’s worth mentioning, during the startup a friendly voice tells you that UT2 has been initialized and UT2 airplanes/airliners are, with a slight delay, shown at every airport in the FSX world.
Important to mention; AI traffic is only injected if available at that airport for that day and time of the week, so "for pleasure" flying traffic is not implemented and to complete the story; this means not only AI commercial traffic but also GA registered traffic! Irrespective of the default FSX AI Airline traffic density and General aviation traffic density slider position, UT2 has become active and no longer are the default FSX airplanes shown.
According to Thomas Main from Flight1 "the installer will disable the default traffic on install, but you can have default traffic at any time you like by renaming the default traffic bgl back to its original name. UT2 is designed to replace the default traffic, hence why we disable it at install time. UT2 is also designed to allow you to use as many other traffic bgl files as you like. We do not step on or disable them in anyway. We have many customers who enjoy using UT2 for their commercial traffic and MyTraffic traffic to handle all military. UT2 will happily run alongside other traffic bgls/programs."
In other words, there's no need to adjust anything. UT2 is from the moment it's installed, configured and automatically injected in FSX. For example, the control panel allows you to make certain airline and aircraft traffic changes, monitoring static as well as dynamic timetables, tweaking utilities like tail numbers, in-sim settings and parking codes. As you can see, with the control panel you can change and/or monitor the outcome of UT2.
AI traffic (airline/airplane combination)
Lets' give you an example of airline/airplane injection at any airport. As said before, my FSX TRAFFIC sliders are at 0% although their position doesn't influence UT2 traffic as explained in the previous section by Thomas Main. I first start FSX, then change the default flight to an airport in Seattle, Washington, USA - KSEA. Depending on the time of the day, UT2 injects the AI traffic.
The UT2 control panel "Status Board" offers you information about arrivals and departures at KSEA. I hope this statement makes sense, but in case you aren't familiar with it or not aware of it, UT2 does it's work without the need of having the control panel available. The control panel, like the status board, can help you identify the activity at a specific time of any day in and around the airport. The following screenshots are randomly taken at different times on a Sunday at KSEA.
Hopping from one airport to another is not a big deal for UT2. Give UT2 some seconds - depending on your PC specifications - and the AI traffic is injected. You want to know more about which airlines arrive or depart at a certain time? Just check the control panel and pick a specific day of the week and choose a local time. By the way, all times shown on the UT2 Status Board are local times and not UTC. Set your FSX time to what you decided within UT2, and all the traffic pops up either parked at the gates, taxiing towards or from the gates, or landing or taking off.
what can I tell you about the overall models? Overall means
for me the airline painting, aircraft models and aircraft lights
(navigation, taxi, runway turn-off, and landing ). To find this
out, join me on a particular day at KLAX or for those not directly
familiar with these codes; Los Angeles International Airport.
The UT2 control panel "Timetable - Status Board" offers not only the airlines with their flight number, but also the aircraft type. In other words, you should be able to recognize any traffic arriving or departing. With this said, it's not a big problem to find the specific AI traffic, but hold on, that's not completely true. It will take some time to figure out which one is which. The reason is that the status board doesn't offer the gate numbers. When no gate numbers are given, I need to hover over the airport to find out where our AI traffic is parked.
Oops, another mistake? I moved to KLAX and it seems that the available flights are endless. The list shows you so much information of each airline/aircraft, but it doesn't show you where they are parked. Although I'm not happy with the following solution, it's the only way to find those AI planes. You tick the different labels (UT2 panel - Traffic Option - AI Labels), tick them in FSX as well and then they will show in FSX. With this traffic activated, you can link the traffic versus their parked position. The reason I'm not enthusiastic about this, is because in real life there's also no label shown around the airplane. Anyway, it's a possible option if you've no idea which traffic in the status board is parked where at the airport.
AI traffic modeling
The AI aircraft all look realistic including the undercarriage ... oops ... landing gear. Blast, I'm mixing up my UK Aviation English with American English! Anyway, you know what I mean. I haven't seen an AI model I didn't recognize, but it's worth showing you that the smaller AI models have a not quite as detailed as possible landing gear. Sometimes that landing gear looks strange. It almost looks like tiny sticks mounted underneath the aircraft.
Is it fair to expect the highest level of detail from these AI traffic models? To a certain extent you may expect a decent looking AI model but at the same time it makes sense that the smaller an AI aircraft becomes, the more difficult it will be to simulate a realistic looking landing gear. Let's have a look at the following screenshots that represent a few of the large aircraft collection.
Is UT2 AI traffic perfect? No product is perfect. Possibly you will not see any problems unless you're specifically looking for a few AI traffic models or you're just at the right spot at the right time. At different airports I saw a few AI models taxiing through each other. Here a wing of one AI aircraft goes through another AI fuselage. Also, a few times, the appearance of AI traffic out of nowhere at the beginning of a runway, where they finally cross other AI models.
These models are waiting for takeoff clearance. This happened at one runway in KJFK and KATL. Moving on, probably not a bug, but for me with real pushback experience, it's strange to see the way AI models get their pushback. Anyway, I collected these possible bugs and added a "temporarily" solution while waiting for the answers from Thomas Main from Flight1.
I'm aware that AI pushbacks can't be done as you and I expect. What do I mean? Let's first have a look to the following screenshots. These six screenshots were taken at EHAM, but you will find similar behavior everywhere. All AI models make a 180° turn during the pushback before taxiing to the runway. Why this is, I've no idea but it's strange to see. It's an unnatural movement since the final taxi direction is known.
Appearance out of nowhere
Another problem is the appearance of approaching AI planes. Not from the sky following the ILS, but out of nowhere low with the ground. What do I mean and how shall I explain it? The best way to start is by showing a set of six screenshots where it all happens in a chronological order. I need to add the following information. The installed programs and thus the overall configuration are:
Ground Environment X North America Version 1.09,
I faced this behavior at different airports including KATL (Atlanta) so let’s stick for the moment to KATL.
First of all; where are those AI approaching models coming from. It seems, after checking this behavior for hours that the approaching AI models land far before the planned touchdown zone. That explains why they are already on the ground before runway 9L and that these models take the first available high speed taxi turnoff. Knowing this, I needed to find out which program causes this problem, assuming it's something odd. What do I mean with this statement?
On my PC I've got a 2nd clean FSX installation. Clean means there's no scenery or sky enhancement program installed except DBS Studio Walk and Follow. Ultimate Traffic 2 behavior while in the same condition with DBS Studio Walk and Follow disabled, seems normal and this means that arriving AI traffic lands on the parallel runway. The moment I enable DBS Studio Walk and Follow, it seems that the above screenshot behavior appears. I checked it for several hours and every time FSX was started with DBS Walk and Follow activated, the problem appears. When I started FSX without DBS, no problems.
Back to my main FSX "PC configuration". With the above, it seems by having all those additional environmental programs installed, those are not causing this problem. As far as I've seen, the problem comes when during startup and when DBS Walk and Follow is used. By the way, for making screenshots, I use Walk and Follow often and because of this, I ran into problems. ..... and what else?
That’s a good question, but I don't know the answer. Don't know the answer means that it could be that UT2 has other hidden problems I haven't seen. That fact that I found these items doesn't say anything about the overall quality. I waited and while sitting on the grass alongside the runway, I monitoring the AI aircraft movements. Back to my statement "..... and what else", I haven't seen any other anomalies than already mentioned and/or explained.
Highlights of the UT2 control panel
It's not my intention to discuss every control panel section in-depth. First, there's a user manual that can be downloaded before you buy the product and second, this review should highlight the good and bad things of this product as well as what you can do with it and what to expect.
Important to know and to remember; once the installation is finished, including the updates, you're ready to go and to enjoy the UT2 AI traffic. There's no need to go in-depth through the control panel. I personally see the control panel as a tool for making changes on how UT2 can and will appear. You can use the control panel as an active database, helping you out with what AI traffic to expect at an airport, where to find the overall AI traffic and other items.
The menu, located on the LH side of the control panel, offers:
Some words about the dedicated Flight1 UT2 website.
This UT2 website looks well-organized, it's user friendly and all information is quickly available. For those interested in UT2 you'll probably first access the Flight1 dedicated UT2 page, and if the available information is not enough, you can jump from here to the previously mentioned dedicated UT2 website. Movies, screenshots, the user manual, all data is available including the available reviews.
directly related to the control panel, but worth telling you
is the Ultimate Traffic 2 Power Pack,
which we briefly discussed earlier in this review.
• Import Download Schedules
UT2 in combination with add-on airports
Let's try to see how UT2 behaves with one of my favorite airports; General Edward Lawrence Logan International (KBOS) airport. The screenshots below are as usual a limited amount of what you can expect. Altogether with the realistic looking Fly Tampa airport and the good looking UT2 AI traffic, it makes it almost perfect.
Not only are all the AI models perfectly parked at their appointed gate, taxiing on the middle line is well done as well as turning on the runway. With that said, it's almost perfect. Does this mean I found something? No, but writing that "it's all perfect" is the same as 100% and that means without failures and other problems.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I believe most UT2 data is covered. The other advantage this time is the presence of the AVSIM UT2 review. Those two reviews should give you enough information what to expect from this product.
Let's start at the beginning. For FSX, many payware AI traffic software programs are available as well as some good freeware packages. I'm not the person to tell you which one is better. At the beginning of this review, I added some links to previous written AVSIM reviews, of which one is of UT2. As usual with Flight1 product, the installation was easy because there's no Flight1 wrapper needed. Finding the necessary updates is easy, quick and before you know, installed.
The program is designed to be active from the beginning without the need for making complicated setting changes. This means you're ready to go and AI traffic is automatically injected into FSX. That the control panel allows you to make additional changes or monitor AI traffic movements is an additional benefit.
The offered AI models look good and even tiny parts of aircraft, like the landing gear, is except for a few aircraft models, well developed and realistic. The way they have - if applicable - their pushback is a little unrealistic. The conflicting AI models performing landings/takeoff is under investigation, and I hope it will be solved. Without Real Environment X installed, is works perfect!
The way the control panel is designed and the look of the dedicated UT2 website, both reflect a well balanced AI environment. Until now, every once in a while, I used the freeware AI package from World of AI. But having UT2, I must admit it works and is for sure worth the price. Oh, by the way, the UT2 DVD version cost you USD 49.95 while the download cost only USD 44.95. I find it a lot of money but it all depends what you can and will spend for FSX software. But looking at the overall functionality, I think it's worth it!
forgotten? I don't think so and if I have, feel
free to contact me.
What I Like About Ultimate Traffic 2
What I Don't Like About Ultimate Traffic 2
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