AVSIM Commercial FSX Scenery Review

MegaSceneryEarth

Oregon

Product Information

Publishers:  PC Aviator Inc.

Description: Photo-real scenery of Western US state Oregon.

Download Size:

Format:
8 DVDs
Simulation Type:
FSX SP1/SP2, Acceleration
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - July 2, 2010

Exploring US State Oregon

It doesn’t sound like a difficult job. Just go to MegaSceneryEarth Oregon, look and fly around in this US state. It’s not difficult to handle this, but is there nothing else to explain? Most of the time you’ve got competitors and if you like it or not, we all compare them easily to each other. Comparing products is not always the right way and not always fair.

With MegaSceneryEarth products I could say that there’s a competitor, although of a different quality, but there’s something. That “other” product was recently reviewed here at for AVSIM, namely “Western USA Photo real Scenery from Sim Savvy”. It could be that some of you say “Come on, that’s not of the same quality!” Ok, I haven’t seen yet anything of MegaSceneryEarth Oregon, but knowing MegaScenery products from the past, I’ll be surprised of the outcome. And no, I don’t have the intention to compare these products with each other.

Let’s start with this MegaSceneryEarth product. While writing this, not too many US states are available. Currently the following complete states are available; California, Arizona, Washington and Massachusetts. The following states are partly finished; Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, southern Florida, states around Lake Michigan, New Jersey and southern New York, That sounds like a lot but for those not directly familiar with the United States of America, I can tell you it’s just the beginning.

You can decide to download a part of a state or the complete state. Or you request them on DVD and for some states they are even available on mini hard disc. For the latter, it’s the same as with Sim Savvy photo real scenery. When you go for a few states, then downloading is not a real problem, but like me with Oregon, I don’t want to think about downloading them.

I can tell you that even receiving the software on DVD, it still takes a long time installing all the Oregon tiles. In that respect a mini hard disc is much easier. Connect the mini hard disk to an available USB 2.0 port, link the sceneries within FSX and you’re done. Let’s now have a closer look at what MegaSceneryEarth Oregon offers.

Now Fly Oregon With MegaSceneryEarth. We're pleased to announce the latest addition to the MegaSceneryEarth range - Oregon State. With this latest addition you get 47,000 square miles (47.8%) of high quality, hi-resolution scenery covering the western region of the state and more of the visually spectacular Pacific Northwest region of the USA.

Coverage expands from Portland all the way down to the California border. Some famous places and landmarks include:
Cities of Portland, Salem, Eugene, Roseburg, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls. Mt Hood and its 11,000 ft peak, Crater Lake, Klamath Lake, numerous National forests and 200 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. There's so much to see, too much to mention here but you're in for nothing short of a spectacular VFR flying experience - day and night! We've given you several ways to purchase Oregon according to your budget and level of interest.

You can purchase via:
- The usual tile-by-tile option
- The entire coverage to date by instant download, or 8 DVD's
Both ordering options are instantly downloadable or available with DVD mastering. You can also get a FREE sample tile download of OR-034.
Enjoy flying western Oregon!

But hold on …. For those flight simmers not familiar with MegaSceneryEarth products from PC Aviator Inc. Aerosoft Australia Pty Ltd. What is MegaSceneryEarth? Let’s first copy and paste what's interesting to know from their website.

Imagine .... being able to pick and choose any areas of the world that you want to fly in photo-real detail with Microsoft Flight Simulator X.
Imagine .... being able order those parts of the world, here and now, for less than 1 cent per square mile.
Imagine .... being able to download that area immediately after purchase, installing it and then flying that scenery within the hour.
Imagine .... that technology being available right here and now....

Well, you no longer need to imagine ... here and now ... and it's MegaSceneryEarth!

Welcome to MegaSceneryEarth!

There's not too many flight simmers in the world that have not heard of or used the MegaScenery brand of photo scenery which has been available for Microsoft Flight Simulator since Flight Simulator 98.

MegaScenery has always been at the forefront of scenery realism and has always brought flight simmers the most realistic scenery possible for the Flight Simulator version at the time. Microsoft Flight Simulator has evolved, scenery technology has evolved, scenery realism has evolved and so too has MegaScenery along with the evolution of the realism of scenery being delivered.

Now, MegaScenery, through MegaSceneryEarth has reached that ultimate pinnacle that today's internet technology has made possible and that pinnacle is pick and choose, instant download of your photo-real scenery areas of choice for flying within minutes with Microsoft Flight Simulator X and beyond.
No more waiting for scenery to arrive on disk (although you can choose DVD masters if you like), no more paying for shipping fees. The world is rapidly becoming an "I want it here and now" world and with MegaSceneryEarth we aim to satisfy that with our instant download delivery of your photo-scenery areas of choice.

You might expect this technology and convenience to cost an arm and a leg... but it doesn't. It's much, much cheaper than many of our customers have stated they would pay.... MegaSceneryEarth is very inexpensively priced – at less than 1 cent per square mile with some areas about 1 cent per 4 square miles. You can't get much better than that for 1.19 meter per pixel photo scenery created from 1 and 2 foot per pixel aerial photos. On a per order basis, each tile is priced at $7.49 per tile for your first 3 areas and then when you add your fourth tile to your shopping cart, each area becomes reduced to $6.99. As you add your 7th tile the price reduces to $5.99 and for 11+ the price is $4.99 per tile - the discounts continue right down to $2.49 per tile - 67% discount.

Analyzing this web extraction tells me that the overall hi-resolution quality equals 1.19 meter per pixel and that’s for Low Low Pricing. Understandable, but I don’t agree with Low Low Pricing. Let’s give you an example; half US Oregon state – 34 tiles - cost you in total on DVD $ 79.95 and what do you think about California?

Overall California – 110 tiles equals 26 DVDs- including MegaSceneryX Southern California, total $ 249,00. When you find this too much money, you can go for the download version with a reduced price of $ 199,00.

I started with Low Low Pricing, honestly, that’s not cheap at all! Don’t forget that these prices are just for one US state either complete or covering a part of a state like Oregon. My personal opinion is that there’s much more available, like Sim Savvy photo real scenery. Ok, with an average of 2.0 meter/pixel quality, it's less then MegaSceneryEarth, but you get a lower price versus value.

It’s time to move on and see what you can except from this software.

Installation and documentation

Installation

Receiving 8 DVD’s for a single program is not nothing. Installing them could take half an hour or even hours. In this case, it took me around 1½ hours and this included DVD change and file installation. Let’s start at the beginning.

The 8 DVD’s offer in total 34 files or tiles of Western Oregon. Each file is around 1GB and thus every DVD holds 4 to 5 files. Each one is an executable file and thus an installer. After this installation, the installer checks or changes the scenery library, scenery settings, effect file installation and the presence of FSX Service Packs. Ok, you’re done, but the next file – tile – is waiting for you until you’ve installed and configured all 34 files. In other words, there’s no overall installer that allows you to swap DVD’s without constantly starting the separate installers.

Although not shocking, let’s show you some screenshots of the installation process and by the way, the default installation folder is C:\megasceneryEarth\. If you want, you can change the name including its location. For the program and all the files it doesn’t harm anything since the Scenery Library points towards the new or created megasceneryEarth folder.

Is it a problem? Not at all, but the overall installation takes a little longer than expected. When you’re familiar with MegaSceneryX product installers, then you won’t be surprised that this MegaSceneryEarth setup is, let’s say, 99% the same.

Documentation

There’s no document file at all. All the necessary information can be found on the website. Wow, that’s a short section! Some background information would be welcome. When I say background, I mean some information about the US state of Oregon; although I must admit that you should know this already since you bought it. Creating all data on the website is much easier including updating it.

Anyway, no documentation available. The only thing that’s created during the installation process – available via the Start button and All Programs – is a MegaSceneryEarth folder. It offers an URL link to the website and there’s an uninstaller folder. In the Uninstaller folder you will find 34 uninstallers, one for each installer.

Oregon with and without MegaSceneryEarth

For me Oregon is not an impressive state like California or Arizona. Nevertheless, I’ll see it as a challenge of exploring western Oregon and see what MegaSceneryEarth can do for you. It’s also worth mentioning that comparing it with Sim Savvy’s western US state package; it’s a limited aerial orientated product. I only have the western half of Oregon, while Sim Savvy offered me the whole western US coast, ranging from Washington State to the south west coast. OK, I promised not to compare with Sim Savvy since this review deals with MegaSceneryEarth, so let’s first see how Oregon looks like without MegaSceneryEarth.

No, I’ve got a better idea; I’ll compare it for you with the help of the same longitude / latitude position, the difference between the default FSX scenery and when MegaSceneryEarth is installed.

The upper set of screenshots show you obviously the default FSX scenery, while the lower screenshots represent when MegaSceneryEarth is installed and added in the scenery library. No more words needed!

And, what do you think? Pretty impressive differences or at least that’s what I found. That the coastline is repositioned, that’s something I could expect but looking at the landscape and coastline itself …… wow! The beach and waves are a part of the photo-real scenery and I must admit they are well blended with the FSX ocean. The road, visible on the upper screenshot RH side is also visible on the MegaSceneryEarth version, but holy cow … all that’s between the road and beach is completely different landscape.

Not strange since that’s the power of photo-real sceneries. They reflect the reality of, in this case summer textures, only one season. I’m honestly surprised at the high quality of the photo-real ground tile(s). With an output resolution of 1.19 meter per pixel you can’t complain, and it reflects a real upper northern Oregon west coast.

It’s time to move on to southern Oregon for another comparison. There are so many spots to compare the default FSX Oregon ground texture tiles with that of MegaSceneryEarth. Every square mile would be a good idea to look at, but what I’ve seen so far tells me enough already and it’s worth your money. Negative stays the price, but I mentioned that earlier.

Let’s forget the price and move on to tile 30, located in the southwest along the coastline. I’m again impressed by the ground colors and in-depth quality. Ok, even I would like to have instead of this 1.19 meter per pixel, a resolution of 50 cm or even lower. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible and not for an area like Oregon or California. This would dramatically increase the file size and on the other hand it’snot always needed.

Anyway, this 1.19 meter per pixel taken at an altitude of roughly 4000 feet is ok for me. I’m happy with it and I can tell you that it's worth flying over the recreated landscape. My goodness, when you disable this MegaSceneryEarth tile 30 and fall back to the default ground textures, you never want to fly without photo-real scenery. The screenshot speaks for itself, but still, wow! The river is missing, the airport is situated and that’s it. The landscape looks bad and when you know how it should look like, than it’s even horrible. No, no more words!

The same idea as the previous screenshots. The upper ones are representing the defualt FSX scenery and the lowers their MegaSceneryEarth counterpart. I marked on the lower LH screenshot an area with different ground texture borders. You can a slight color difference within the red sqaure. Is that a problem? No, I just saw it, but you never get that blended for 100%.

We move on to the southern inlands and to be precise, to Lake Upr. Klamath. South of the lake we’ll see the villages/cities of Pelican, Klamath Falls and Altamont. So, time to fly towards this lake area.

For many reasons I’ve decided to climb to 8000 feet and although high for VFR, it’s still possible and you’re allowed to do it without oxygen. No oxygen? My Cessna 172 doesn’t have oxygen onboard. Whatever, while flying in an eastern direction, I’ll enjoy the external view. I’m aware that this FSX version doesn’t have any add-on installed. Add-on’s like UTX USA and/or GEX.

The main reason of having a clean FSX is that any add-on airport with or without surrounding scenery is as clean as possible. On other words; it's not influenced by add-on scenery enhancers. The same with MegaSceneryEarth images versus default FSX ground textures. When I had installed GEX tiles, screenshots without the MegaScenery weren’t as real as they should be. By the way; having UTX and/or GE installed, photo-real scenery lies as a blanket over the ground and therefore supersedes all of what’s installed.

In the mean time I’ve arrived at my destination and knowing the default FSX ground texture look, I can tell you already that even this area looks wonderful. There are so many differences that you start believing you’re on a different spot, but the reality – longitude / latitude position – wakes me up and tells me that this location is the same spot I’m imaging with my digital camera. Unbelievable!

Time to show you some screenshots of the area and again; some of them represents the default FSX and others when MegaSceneryEarth is added in the FSX scenery library.

Upper shots represent the default FSX scenery, while the lower ones are their MegaSceneryEarth counterparts. Just click the thumbnail and see with your own eyes the MegaSceneryEarth change!

A disadvantage of photo-real scenery is always the quality and color-balance of the original satellite image. Although some manipulation can be done, you’re not always able to get the best of the best. Still fresh in my memory are the not always perfect color balanced tiles from Sim Savvy. Just have a look at the LH upper and lower screenshots. The only "ground parts" that are the same, are the river and road. For the rest, you won’t be able to recognize this same spot in the real world. Not the same location, but to a certain extent it’s also applicable for the RH screenshots.

In-between conclusion.

I know, I've said it before; I’m not happy with the price for just half of Oregon state, but I’m impressed about the quality. That being said, quality prevails over high product pricing!

The overall picture quality of 1.19 meters per pixel is for areas like these, good. No, I don’t use the word excellent, but I pointed out earlier that lower meter per pixel values or xx centimeter per pixel, would increase the ground textures quality to unmanageable sizes of files. For example, OrbX Simulations with their FTX airports and surrounding scenery uses cm per pixel quality. That’s only possible because of the limited area they covered and have used special techniques.

Test System

Intel Core Extreme i7-965 3.2Ghz
6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 1600Mhz
EVGA GTX-285 For the Winner
Triple WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD
Single WD 1TB HDD
Windows 7 Ultimate X64
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
X-Plane 9.50rc3
Saitek Pro Flight System
TrackerIR Pro 4
TrackerClip Pro

Flying Time:
40 hours

Oregon coast VFR flight

Here’s the plan; I’ll depart from Brookings (KBOK) in a southern direction, but after lift-off we turn directly north, otherwise we’re entering California. Passing Carpenterville on our right hand side, we fly over Pistol River. The following a heading for Wedderburn with the airport of Gold Beach. When needed, I’ll move more towards the mountains, but for the moment we'll approach Grassy Knob Wilderness Area and we keep this refuse on our right hand side with the city of Port Orford on the left. We leave Bandon State airport behind us, heading for our final destination Coos Bay. Out final goal is to make a perfect landing at North Bend Municipal (KOTH).

It’s not really a long flight – about 1 hour – but it will give us a good impression of flying along the Oregon coast and thus enjoying the MegaSceneryEarth package. When you want more information about the landscape, where and how to fly and what else is visible on our route, go to the SkyVector.Com website for detailed sectional VFR chart information.

It’s early in the morning with the sun still behind the mountains. Early or not, time for our short VFR flight along the coast in a northern direction. While taxiing from our parking location to the runway, we see some of the MegaSceneryEarth mountains and as expected, I don’t like the way they look like. A typical photo-real scenery problem since at low altitudes, 1000-1500 feet, they look blurry.

No matter what you tweak it doesn’t look good, but you’ll still experience photo-real scenery of the western coast of Oregon. Take off in action and heading in a southern direction, but not for long. At roughly 700-1000 feet AGL, I’ll turn to a heading of 340, which means almost a 180 degree turn towards the north. While climbing to our first leveling off altitude at 3000 feet, the simulated landscape becomes better and better and although it’s a little dark down there – remember, it’s still early in the morning – I’m impressed by the sharpness, colors and overall details.

I’ve said it before; I’m impressed by the coastline and waves. It sounds strange since waves in photo-real scenery don’t exist. As well as applicable for the photo-real ground textures of MegaSceneryEarth, waves when included in ground textures don’t exist, but the way they are blended with the FSX ocean, that’s well done. Those waves aren’t animated as we know from FSX, but they look real. Then we have the color balance of ground textures; I’m not so sure if this problem is related to photo-real scenery textures, but when the lighting conditions aren’t optimum like in the early morning or late afternoon, the colors aren’t that bright or fresh as during a sunny day. Is it strange or is it an FSX color limitation? I don’t think so. In real life farmland, trees, rivers, lakes and mountains have different visual colors depending on the time of the day.

Rays of sunshine become visible while approaching 3000 feet and on those spots, the scenery colors become fresh. It looks like the ground textures become alive. Passing 3000 feet and climbing further to 4000 feet, I look once more backwards in the direction of our departing airport. While doing this, I’ll see by accident two ground texture tiles not having the same base color. Although the screenshot doesn't look too bad, I marked the border as you can see on the lower LH screenshot. That’s something that stays possible, since we’re dealing with different photo-real images. Different images means that even after photoshop’ing, the base colors aren’t always the same, resulting in a different output. On the other hand, I’ve hardly seen any mismatches so far, so I’m still happy.

Because of this intermezzo, I’ve almost missed Pistol River, but almost means I was just in time and I’ve reach our final altitude of nearly 6000 feet. The ground textures look great from this altitude and because of the sun, the landscape looks more or less “as real as it gets”. It’s not the first time I say this, but I really mean it. Ok, I’m using a default FSX Cessna 172 model, but when you forget that glitch, the rest looks magnificent. There are no more words needed so therefore, have a look at the following screenshots.

From this altitude it all looks so sharp and I didn’t do anything with the screenshots. No sharpening with Photoshop, no other picture enhancements or whatever. These JPG files are as real as possible. Keeping in mind that a jpg image is not of the same quality as within FSX.

The reason to bring this up is that all ground textures are so sharp and because of this, there’s not really a need to use a VFR chart or even a road map.
Even with this 1.19 meter per pixel resolution, it’s easy to follow the roads, rivers, cities, airports and what more there is. Because of the sharpness, flying from the south west to the north, is enough. My impression tells me that although the price is high, the quality is worth it and it’s fun and I mean FUN!

Wherever you look; left to the coast or right onshore, it all looks fantastic. Ok, I have to be honest, the overall mountain look isn’t that impressive and snow and ice tops covering the mountains are more attractive. That's not the case here and above all, the supplied ground textures are only showing the summer period. Other seasons of the year are not included, but I'm aware of this.

By the way, when I write not impressive it has nothing to do with the lower quality of the ground textures. It only means that the mountains are all green and they look the same. If I want to I could make hundreds of screenshots or even a movie and upload it to YouTube. I’m aware of that and also aware that others like this too. When I’ve some time left, I’ll try making a movie, however that's no guarantee.

In the mean time I'm heading north, reaching Rogue River and Wedderburn, followed by Port Orford. At the lower LH screenshot, just west of Port Orford you can see again a slight sandy beach color difference between two ground textures (marked with a small red square), but I’ll forgive PC Aviator for this. During this VFR flight I’ve hardly seen color differences between adjacent ground textures. Ok, there are a few, but as far as possible they’re nicely blended.

Airfield Cape Blanco, but what is that? That looks horrible! Airfield Cape Blanco, MegaScenery turned back on

Just north of Port Orford you’ll find the airfield Cape Blanco, but what is that? That looks horrible. Nothing is left of the great photo-real landscape from MegaSceneryEarth. What the heck is this … oh, I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. This particular screenshot is, while paused at the same spot, the default FSX scenery. Oh, I was already afraid MegaSceneryEarth has forgotten to add this ground texture. No, I added this screenshot on purpose, just to show you once more the huge difference between the default- and MegaSceneryEarth ground textures.

I’m so sorry for this, but find here on your right the correct screenshot of the same location. Just some miles to go and ahead of me I can see the city of Coos Bay. From this point the flight takes another 10 minutes before I reach my final area as well as our landing spot.

Remember what I wrote in the beginning; the lower you go the chances of the blurry look increases. As long as you stay above let’s say 2000 feet, it’s a pleasure to look at and that’s what I’ve experienced. Meanwhile we’re approaching Coos Bay and because of the city textures and farmland, it takes some more minutes to load all the textures or at least to get sharp images. When within range the necessary ground textures are loaded, it’s fun flying around here, but not for long. Time to descent and thus finish this VFR flight.

Normally you would expect another cross country flight, but not this time. With what I’ve seen so far, I’m convinced that inland Oregon isn’t different. The overall quality tells to me that the inland ground textures are of the same quality.

This small US state has stolen my heart and I really mean that. Ok, the price could be an obstacle, but on the other hand, that's different for everybody. I had the opportunity to review this US state, but I’d love to review Florida or California. For me, this concludes the MegaSceneryEarth Oregon scenery... WOW!

Summary / Closing Remarks

Where and how shall I start? I mentioned already the high price for this "half" US state. On the other hand I tested not every Oregon corner, but those parts I’ve seen were really stunning. Stunning because of the 1.19 meter per pixel and although there are higher resolution sceneries around, these never include an area like Oregon, Washington or even California.

Not only is the 1.19 resolution is ok, also the ground colors and thus the ground textures, are realistic. During the early morning and late afternoon any refreshing or sprinkling textures disappear. On the other hand, that's my opinion and has nothing to do with these ground textures. With these resolutions and quality, it’s really fun flying around in the USA and even I, not living here, can do this for hours. Unfortunately, I only own Oregon and buying the other states goes even too far for me.

With a review like this one, there’s not so much left to write down here. The installation process via DVD’s takes a long time and that’s something you can expect with 8 DVD’s. That there’s no manual is not really a problem since the website offers enough information, but I prefer when more or additional information was available, like how to tune FSX or directly into the fsx.cfg. It makes a hell of a difference otherwise it could be full of blurries and any fun is gone. On the other hand, it makes you happy and happy means buying more finished US states. Whatever, that’s marketing stuff and not my problem. I’m dealing with the review material.

Another point of interest is the difficulties contacting the developer. I tried to reach MegaSceneryEarth Sales and/or Support via three different ways and never got any reply. I sincerely hope this non reply is not normal and whenever you've got any questions or problems, you should get an answer within 24 hours. With me it took three weeks and even after three weeks, no sign of the developer.

Overall an impressive piece of software that doesn’t have any FPS effect, but if wrongly adjusted you could get too many blurries.

 

What I Like About Oregon

  • High quality photo-real ground textures with a 1.19 meter per pixel resolution.
  • As real as it gets!
  • For low and high VFR flights a great add-on.
  • This software is offered via download, DVD’s or mini hard disk (if applicable).
  • There’s no need to buy a complete US state. You can buy individual “tiles” or parts of the state.

 

What I Don't Like About Oregon

  • For a small state like Oregon and then only half of it, it’s pretty expensive.
  • I missed a manual with additional information of tuning your fsx.cfg. The “automatic performance adjustment” settings are to my feeling not enough to reduce the blurry landscape. While writing this, I’m aware that every Flight Sim PC needs different adjustments.
  • Contacting PC Aviator or MegaSceneryEarth by email without success. I sincerely hope this was just in my case otherwise it's bad marketing!

 

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