Its been 7 years since the reign of FS98- and a lot has changed. The flight simulation community has grown much bigger, FS is now the best selling PC game, and planes are no longer a couple of ill-shaped blocks pieced together, but they are made up of thousands of animations and skillfully crafted shapes and LODs. What used to be the colourful blocks that made up the landscape, and the grey strip in the middle of nowhere that made up the runway, have now been replaced with photoreal elements and airports are full of action, with AI aircraft docking at complex terminals which are replicas of their real life counterparts.
However, one thing has remained the same. Our demand for more realism and eye candy has risen, and with every new version of FS that comes out, our expectations are higher. Thanks to FS Addon developers like PMDG and FlyTampa, Project Opensky and ISD, our demand for realism has been fuelled, and FlyTampa has once again heeded our call for realism with their recent release of FlyTampa Chicago-Midway, an accurate GMAX Scenery rendition of the Windy City’s second carrier airport.
The scenery comes pre-packaged in an installer, which is downloaded directly from FlyTampa’s website. After starting up the installer, you are prompted to key in your name and serial number, which is issued to you after you purchase the scenery. You are then presented with a dialog which allows you to select the elements of the scenery which you want to install- a very handy feature for people with low-end systems. After the installation, you will have to start FS, add the scenery to the scenery database, and reboot FS before the scenery is ready for utilization. A very common procedure which most of us, I believe, are used to.
From Boring to Intriguing
As with all other Flytampa products, this one contains photoreal elements which adds to the realism. A close inspection of the scenery, compared to real life photos, revealed no flaws.
Flytampa put blood, sweat, and their playtime into this, and it is strongly evident. Jetways and apron vehicles are spread out all over the airfield. Gone is the boring, monotonous default scenery, and in with the lively, realistic scenery of Midway. The moving cars and photoreal terrain outside and surrounding the Midway area really brings the Windy City to life!
The airfield hangars and fences are all photoreal, and the goodies such as the PAPIs and runway edge pavements are all included. An excellent ‘fab-five style’ facelift has been given to this airfield.
Unfortunately, the static aircraft and lighting were a disappointment. The textures of the static aircraft were very reminiscent of FS98, and most of the time the Southwest static aircraft looked like the red fire training mock-up at Hong Kong Airport. For one who keeps his AI percentage low, this could be a tad annoying.
However, the lighting of the airport was a major let-down. The runway lights were hardly visible, and the terminal lacked quite a bit of action at night. Lighting seemed to radiate off the apron, and the taxiway lights reminded me of full stops drawn with felt tips. For someone like me who often flies cross-country red-eyes, this was quite a disappointment, and not what you would expect from a first-class scenery developer.
Dynamic Scenery - A Whole New World
From Toyota Siennas to Chevrolet Cobalts- you will most likely find them scooting around the Midway area thanks to the Dynamic Vehicles element incorporated into the scenery by Flytampa.
You can select this feature to be included during the installation, which helps people with lower end systems save a few framerates. Variety comes to mind when one sees the vehicles around the Midway airport, such as the Minivans of the nearby airport hotels, or the standard four-door sedans. You can even expect to see a few of the classic yellow school buses roaming around! Vehicles also stop at traffic lights at regular intervals, adding to the realism.
On the apron, the little vehicles are hard at work, as they scuttle around the terminal getting their work done. It really makes you compare the
scenery to FS98’s scenery, and think of the amazing technological advances that have taken place.
Without a doubt, performance is what turns most people away from payware. They will expect a detailed scenery to have a big frame rate impact, but many people do not know that the frame rate impact is judged by the program used to create the scenery of aircraft.
It is a well known fact that Simflyers FSDS sceneries are not so friendly with lower-end systems, whereas GMAX sceneries such as ISD’S Rome Fiumicino boast the same incredulous amount of detail as Simflyers’ KLAX or EDDF, yet the frame rate impact is approximately 5 frames at the most.
However, with all the good also comes a bit of the bad. One must jack up his scenery settings to the highest in order to see all the animations and goodies. Systems similar to mine will not take much of a frame-rate hit, but people with lower end systems will have to be careful with the elements of the scenery they choose to install.
The scenery did not tax my system too much, as the frame rates were as follows:
The Jury has Reached Its Verdict...
FlyTampa have gained a good reputation for themselves, and their recent release only serves to better that reputation.
From their modest beginning with their FS2002 release of Tampa Intl, to their immensely successful release of Dubai Intl, I believe that this product will become a major part in the lives of those who enjoy flying short flights across the USA, in the comfort of their own homes.
This scenery can be purchased via PayPal or Credit Card from
website. The support forum can be useful in case problems
are encountered with the scenery.
|What I Like About FlyTampa Midway|
|What I Don't Like About FlyTampa Midway|
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