AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

MegasceneryX

Dallas/Fort Worth

Product Information
Publisher: PC Aviator
Description:  Detailed scenery Add-on

Download Size:
NA

Format:
DVD
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Angelique Van Campen AVSIM Staff Reviewer - August 11, 2007

Introduction

Where and how should I start with this massive DVD package? I tell you honestly, I don’t know.

The MegaSceneryX website already gives you so much information about this product, what can I as a reviewer, add to that? Looking around on the website there’s a very good description what this MegaSceneryX can do; "MegaSceneryX - Dallas/Fort Worth puts you in the skies above the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex at a level of realism that you've never seen before in Microsoft Flight Simulator. It's created by taking 1 foot per pixel aerial photographs and placing them into Microsoft Flight Simulator X for display at 1.19 meters per pixel. You're not seeing a synthetic world. No, you're flying over an actual image of the Dallas/Fort Worth area and well, it's so real, you may as well consider that you're actually there."

And what do you think of this sentence; "Every highway, road, interchange, street, house, factory, warehouse, mall, stadium, ball field, golf course, sand trap, playground, river and stream is visible and identifiable from your Flight Simulator skies as if you were actually there flying over the skies above Dallas/Fort Worth."

Yes, there lies the answer!

I will try to give you an impression where and how you can utilize it. I will make some screenshots but different than those you can find on the website. I will take you, our reader, on a VFR flight across this area. For the IFR flight, it won’t take long since the area is limited. Our VFR flight will be a nice and impressive flight with all kinds of detail around you.

Ok, back to the MegaSceneryX package.

You are probably thinking; you know what to except since it’s an upgraded of MegaCity 2005. Forget what you know and jump into the new exiting world of the MegaSceneryX Series. Specially designed for FSX, it offers even more then its FS2004 predecessor. Twice the size of the photographic scenery, and a reality level which is really incredible. Although looking at the MegaCity/MegaSceneryX website, you get the impression it’s just an updated version, no way!

Installation

After receiving the MegaSceneryX package, I thought, that’s a thick package for a small booklet with one DVD! I was wrong since the DVD holder contains two DVD’s but also a 127 page thick booklet with additionally, a terminal sectional chart of Dallas/Fort Worth. So the double thick DVD holder, is really needed to hold all this extra stuff.

The DVD’s look the same, except of course, one is disc 1 and the other disk 2 but there is no sign where the FS2004 version is. Yes, you read it well. You not only get the FSX version, but also – free of charge – MegaCity 2005 Dallas/Fort Worth.

Wow! Although you can’t see on the disc where to find the MegaCity USA 2005 Dallas/Fort Worth, in the booklet on page 15 you can read everything about it, including the differences between the old and new product.

The installation process is more or less straight forward. Once the auto run starts and we have accepted/confirmed some windows as you can see on the right, you can walk away from your PC. The first DVD installation process takes around 15-20 minutes and the progress counter tells you something is happening. Then, you need to insert DVD 2 and another 5-10 minutes can be added to this long installation process.

The reason for this is simple. After the installation of MegaSceneryX Dallas/Fort Worth, it uses no more the 8GB of disk space but we will see that what you get is something you'll never forget and what’s really worth your money!

Comparing the FS2004 version to the FSX version, the user is asked if MegaSceneryX may make the necessary changes in FSX itself. The best advice I can give you is just accept it. Still we are not really finished. Later on you need to make some manual changes in FSX to get the best result. Lucky for us, this information can be found on page 12 of the booklet.

I have to admit, this chapter entitled “Performance Information, tips and tricks” is very helpful, easy to understand and absolutely necessary to get the best out of this scenery.

One small remark, which is in my personal opinion is not very clear. What I mentioned in the previous text block on page 12, explains how to make the necessary manual changes related to the Settings-Display window, tab Scenery but also to tab Graphics. Page 12 assumes it’s all on the Scenery tab. When you’re not familiar with these settings and where they can be found, it takes some time to figure them out. On the right picture, you will find the necessary changes to be made.

Settings – Display Scenery tab

Settings – Display Graphics tab

Special attention - although it’s in the book on page 13 sub-chapter Filtering – the selection of Anisotropic filtering (see red marking on enlarged screenshot). Failure to do so could result in a blurry landscape.

Documentation and Sectional Chart

I’ve seen many things, not only during my AVSIM review period, but what this package offers in relation to manuals and charts is awesome!

Courtesy of AirNav – Charts from KDFW (Dallas/Fort Worth)

You get a detailed booklet on how to use this scenery and how to make final adjustments, but you also get more then 100 pages of official charts from every airport covered in this area. You get airport diagrams, SID and STAR charts, ILS, VOR/DME, and GPS approach charts and last but not least, a full colored Sectional Chart of Dallas/Fort Worth.

When you prefer to have the charts in a bigger size, you will find the appropriate Acrobat files on DVD2. These three chart examples from KDFW are just to give you an idea what‘s all in the MegaSceneryX package.

A Quick Look Into The MegaSceneryX World

Although lots of IFR charts are supplied with the package, primarily MegaSceneryX is great for VFR flights. When flying at an altitude of 3000-4000 feet, you can sit, relax and enjoy the outside view. When you’re not convinced about the extreme high resolution, you’re free to open Google Earth and compare the images for yourself. It’s astonishing!

Every detail is there once airborne and that starts when 500 feet above the ground. Ok, at least 1000 feet, the ground may look blurry but they warn you about that in the booklet as well as on the website.

Surprisingly, there is hardly any frame rate impact in FSX (without any tweaking by the way). When using MegaSceneryX for IFR flights, you also get a great view of this photographic scenery. But before you know it, you’re out of the area and flying above normal default FSX scenery.

The offered Dallas/Fort Worth area just covers 8000 square miles (21.0000 square kilometers), which means in combination with an IFR flight, it's a little limited.

A small collection of photo realistic images from the Dallas/Fort Worth MegaSceneryX 
When sunset arrives, Dallas area becomes a fairy-tale beauty.


Before you know it you’re too high and when flying with real weather, it could result in loss of sight of the ground. For a VFR flight with a Cessna 172, it will take some long time before reaching one of the borders of MegaSceneryX. Here you can see the difference from MegaCity 2005, which was covering 4000 square miles, so half the scenery size of MegaSceneryX.

Cross-country (VFR) flight KGKY - KGKY (Arlington Municipal Airport)

Preparations

Today I’ll take you on a VFR flight at 4000 feet across the scenery. The fact that I’ve got the provided VFR Terminal chart from Dallas/Forth Worth with me, I could also print out a page from the Rand McNally Road Atlas. Why would I do that?

The details of this megascenery are so incredible that you can fly via roads, crossing rivers, lakes, railroads etc. Ok, since you don’t have the provided chart, I’ve collected some charts for you (sectional Dallas/Fort Worth), which covers our route. By the way, you can download those charts for free at www.skyvector.com. During this typical cross-country flight, I’ll use also some NDB and/or VOR radio beacons.

Leg 1 starts at KGKY (Arlington). It lies just south of KDFW. From runway 16 we fly straight on a runway heading course, turning left before the obstacles to NDB (Non Directional Beacon) Redbird (RBD - 287).

Leg 2 runs from NDB RBD via NDB Jecca (JUG - 388) to NDB Mesquito (PQF - 248), which lies at the dam of Lake Ray Hubbard.

leg 1 – KGKY-RBD

leg 2 – RBD-JECCA-PQF

Before starting with the 3rd leg, you can fly around the lake and then we fly in a NNW direction to VOR Cowboy (CVE – 116.2).

From VOR Cowboy we start leg 4 by flying straight in a northern direction to Lake Lewisville. We’re free to fly around this huge lake before stating with our next leg.

leg 3 – PQF-CVE

leg 4 – CVE-Lake Lewisville

After our intermezzo at Lake Lewisville, we continue with leg 5 by flying straight to TACAN Ranger (FUZ – 115.7). Although we have tuned to a Tactical VOR station (TACAN), you can also fly along or following the highways.

Our last leg goes straight in a southern direction to Lake Arlington and finally back to Arlington Municipal Airport (KGKY). If you wish, you're free to fly around Lake Arlington and even beyond of it.

leg 5 – Lake Lewisville-FUZ

leg 6 –FUZ-Lake Arlington-KGKY
  Courtesy of SkyVector.com Aeronautical Charts

This cross-country flight should give you an idea of what is possible and how realistic it will be!

You can imagine what you can do. Most important is that this flight gives you a very good and realistic impression of what you will see during a cross-country flight. Additionally, I will try to provide you with additional information than what's already available on the MegaSceneryX website.
I can tell you already; this improved MegaCity scenery is really great!

Cross-country Flight

All the preparations are done, so let’s go and see if we can find our way across the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Oh yes, prepare yourself a little bit and print out either the above charts or if you have the ability, place them on your second monitor.

Leg 1
Via the ramp, we taxi straight to runway 16 (see page 22 of the supplied booklet). We climb out on runway heading, over flying Joe Pool Lake and before the Cedar Hill TV towers, we turn left to NDB RBD. If you wish, you can also follow highway 67 (I-67).
 
leg 1 – Arlington Municipal Airport (KGKY)- NDB RBD
Leg 2
Leaving NDB RBD behind us, we go straight on a heading of 90° (E) to NDB JUG. A real visual alternative is following the highway just below Redbird and under the red line. When you've passed Hutchins, follow the I-67 and at the crossing with I-175, you also reach NDB JUG.
For flying our last part of this leg, you can either tune NDB PQF or simply follow a straight line along airport Mesquito or river East Fork Trinity.
When reaching the dam on the right hand side, you follow the dam to the left and there’s NDB PQF.
Leg 2A – NDB RBD-NDB JECCA
leg 2B – NDB JECCA-NDB PQF
Leg 3
We have two options to go to the VOR COWBOY. We chose to follow the road towards Dallas-Love Field (KDAL) or you use the VOR beacon itself. With the chart with you, it should be no problem to look around and enjoy the view.
 
leg 3 – NDB PQF-VOR CVE
Leg 4
Via VOR COWBOY we could, if we want, fly straight towards Lake Lewisville. Since we’re flying at 4000 feet, the barrier in front of the lake is easily visible. The second option is to follow the road or river Elm Fork. Which ever you chose, it’s more or less in a northern direction. Once you've arrived at Lake Lewisville, feel free to fly around over the lake. If you have enough fuel with you, you can even make a short stop at Lakeview (K30F).
 
leg 4 – VOR CVE-Lake Lewisville
Leg 5
When we’re finished looking around at Lake Lewisville, we tune for TACAN RANGER. When you really want to fly without navigation, just fly in a straight line south to Grapevine Lake and the drag strip on a heading of 225°. The drag strip is just left of our TACAN station and located adjacent of the road/highway.
 
leg 5 – Lake Lewisville- TACAN FUZ
Last leg
Since there is no NDB or VOR station, we fly in a southern direction following the highway. Before you know it, Lake Arlington is in view. From there it’s easy to find Arlington Municipal Airport by just following the highway.
 
leg 6 –TACAN FUZ-Lake Arlington-Arlington Municipal Airport (KGKY)

I hope I proved to you that with this typical cross-country flight, based solely on charts and the photographic screenshots, how accurate this scenery is. One thing is for sure, I’ve got an excellent impression of the VFR details from MegaSceneryX Dallas/Fort Worth scenery. What I wrote before, I could just fly around, take some pictures and write down how great it is. When taking those pictures during a virtual cross-country flight, with or without the help of radio beacons, it makes MegaSceneryX even more fun and highly realistic!

What About An IFR Impression?

When using MegaSceneryX in combination with an IFR flight, we run into trouble. Not because the scenery can’t handle it but when choosing a Boeing 737, 777, 747 or Airbus A320, the speed of those aircraft is pretty high, including their climb rate.

In other words, in no time flat, the special effects of the Dallas/Forth Worth MegaSceneryX is gone or you’re flying outside the covered area.

But is the above statement completely true? Not at all.

These 737-800 Boeing livery pictures are taken while circling around Dallas city ranging from FL060 to FL200 and even at those altitudes, the ground environment still looks awesome, with highly detailed textures.

When you chose a smaller aircraft like the Cessna C172, C182 or any other, it remains fun since you will probably stay at low altitudes, and are flying with the assistance of radio beacons. Whatever you chose, the photo realistic scenery keeps constantly surprising me.

Daylight ground textures are impressive, but even after sunset it’s still great to fly with the 737-800 over the Dallas landscape. Just have a look at the example in the right hand picture. It’s taken at a low altitude and it seems to be a real picture, but believe me, it isn’t. It’s the magic power of MegaSceneryX!

Where The MegaSceneryX World Ends!

A surprise or smile is waiting for us when reaching one of the borders of MegaSceneryX Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s a shame that the are covered in MegaSceneryX is so small. Or is it? No, it’s still 8000 square miles, and that’s a lot. Don’t even think of walking around this area.

Flying in a southern direction from KDFW where the FSX default scenery starts.

On the other hand, it’s very disappointing that Microsoft is not able/willing to improve the default scenery from Flight Simulator Xsince it’s so unrealistic. Where the default world ends, it’s not always the same. It depends on the MegaSceneryX landscape and where the default FSX starts.

Flying in northern direction from KDFW and surprisingly how Microsoft thinks the internal water color should be!

When flying north, passing some lakes, it’s shocking what Microsoft thinks about inland water color. It’s such a strange blue color while the MegaSceneryX gives you a truer water color, which reflects the reality. Don’t believe me? I confirmed it with Google Earth and the water color/reflection of MegaSceneryX is what is should be.

Test System

Dell Precision 650
Dual Intel Xeon 3.06Ghz
4Gb RAM DDR 533Mhz
nVidia 7800GS+ 512Mb AGP
RAID-0 HDD’s - SCSI 340Gb
Windows XP Professional SP2
FSX with SP1
CH USB Pedals
CH USB Flightsim Yoke

Flying Time:
24 hours

Summary / Closing Remarks

This time I can keep it very short. My first reaction is, after a thorough review related to the question “is this a worthy add-on?” … yes, absolutely! You get an excellent product, extremely highly detailed scenery, a lot of charts and even a VFR Terminal chart. If that’s not enough, you also get the MegaCity Dallas/Forth Worth 2005 product, in case you want to swap between FS9 and FSX. Above all, it’s very frame rate friendly!

There is, however, one thing of note and that’s the level of detail. When you have seen the FSX MegaSceneryX version, you will probably never go back to the old MegaCity Dallas/Fort Worth 2005. This is not a small difference, no, it’s a huge difference and it almost reaches the same depth as Google Earth, some pictures are even as sharp as Google Earth itself.

 

What I Like About Dallas/Fort Worth

  • Highly photo realistic scenery
  • Perfect for VFR cross-country flights
  • Very frame rate friendly

 

What I Don't Like About Dallas/Fort Worth

  • Although lots of airports are included, the level of details from those airports is not what I hoped to.
  • Even large airports like KDFW are not that superior as specialized airport sceneries.

 

Printing

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MegasceneryX - Dallas/Fort Worth

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