AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

US Cities X: Indianapolis

Product Information

Publishers:  Aerosoft

Description: The city of Indianapolis.

Download Size:
265 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Allen Lavigne AVSIM Staff Reviewer - September 1, 2009


Introduction:

This scenery for the city center of Indianapolis is geared mainly towards VFR flyers and will interest our copter pilots in particular. In an IFR heavy metal fast approach situation, you may get a glimpse of the buildings if your path brings you near the city center, but not really enough for an immersive experience. It is a VFR product, smaller and less spectacular (by design) than its predecessor Manhattan X as previously reviewed at AVSIM by staff reviewer Jon Murchison. There are no custom airports but there are some heliports inside the city that can be fun to use.

Installation:

The medium sized 265 MB download installs in the usual Aerosoft fashion which requires a string key and your email address. It expands to 370 MB inside your FSX folder tree and comes with a manual which includes two helicopter VOR charts.

Before going any further and getting all too enamored with this excellent but very demanding product which some of you may consider purchasing, I urge you to seriously evaluate your system and compare it to the published requirements listed below for this product, most notably the high end graphics requirement for at least (if not more) 512 MB of video memory, and the advised installation of a quad core CPU. I would not want to mislead owners of lesser systems with my relentless praise and admiration for this most desirable reproduction.

Test System

Vista64, SP2
FSX Acceleration
quad Q6600@3.2G 6G RAM
BFG GTX260 896MB max
Active Sky Advanced +XG+FEX+GEX / UT2 / FSGenesis Mesh

Flying Time:
7 hours

System requirements:

• Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 CPU (Core 2 Quad advised)
• 1 GB RAM (2 GB advised)
• Direct X 9 compatible Graphics Card with minimal 512 MB
• Microsoft FSX (with SP2 or Acceleration)
• Windows XP, Windows VISTA, Windows 7 (fully updated)

What You Get:

This series "USCitiesX" is a separate endeavor of lesser complexity and size than that of Manhattan X, yet it is still much more than just custom FSX scenery as seen in the many large FSX-customized cities throughout the default FSX world, which in most cases only have scattered customized buildings of interest placed within autogen. Aerosoft's products are "wall-to-wall" enhanced custom design without any autogen at all within its borders. A follow up to the Indianapolis is the separate San Francisco area.

A large amount of custom buildings are centered at the city center which is typical for most US cities, with a large surrounding suburban area (most of it not inside the enhanced scenery area) which is for the most part regular autogen.

Google Earth of area Situating KIND in FSC8
Program Menu

Indianapolis is serviced by the large non-enhanced international airport KIND which is not in the area of enhanced scenery as shown in the second Google map. However, there are 9 heliports within the Indianapolis city enhanced area which should be of great interest to copter pilots.

There are no airports in this package, and KIND lies outside of the photorealistic tile. The reason for this may be explained by a quote I obtained from the Aerosoft Forum by Aerosoft's Forum Administrator, Mathijs Kok: " .... this is just the city not the airports. US airports are nearly impossible because of the security demands imposed at this moment. In fact we hardly even try anymore. We get easier access to US Navy ships at this moment (serious).." Pity, considering the utmost eloquent excellence Aerosoft has consistently modeled into their German airports.

Also, the photorealistic tile underneath the buildings is of lesser detail than could be had. The reason for this, again taken from the same Aerosoft source, may explain it: " The download will already be around a gigabyte, doubling the resolution would increase this to 4 GB, something we did not decide to do. Instead we decided to make the coverage a bit larger."

Personally I prefer the larger coverage and am in agreement with Aerosoft's decision. Even so, coverage is not huge, but I must mention that there is also the question of copyrights and increased costs for higher resolution terrain imagery, and the costs of bandwidth needed to get these products to the buyers quickly in today's impatient cyberworld while allowing full-time developers to make at least a modest profit (no real world private jets for the staff I'm afraid).

default - vs. -USCitiesX Comparing day/night
Chase Tower with UTX Same with USCitiesX
Indy 500 Raceway Textures of a lower resolution Diagonal of USCitiesX/UTX

From the comparison snapshots for the night textures (above) it is dismally obvious that there are no night textures. Again, the moderator mentions the file size increase as a reason for not including them, but with such large HDDs these days it can seem to be a bit over-cautious.

The close-up snapshots for the Indy 500 raceway and the downtown stadium suggest that due to the lower textures resolutions at these distances, that the raceway may not be suitable for trying out a racing car as "type of aircraft".

Heliports:

The expanded Google snapshot (below) shows the heliport locations inside the photorealistic tile for the city of Indianapolis custom scenery and at the same time shows the location of the international KIND airport (lower left, outside of gray tile). The small included manual has a couple of interesting copter charts which are a novelty for me, a fixed wing pilot.

Copter VOR chart
Expanded Google The Indy 500 Heliport

I would guess from what I'm seeing, that the detail for the heliports was reduced significantly for the same reasons mentioned earlier for not including detailing for any local airports. In the snapshot below for the Methodist Hospital upper and lower helipads, you can vividly tell that the surrounding building's textures are of low resolution, and in my opinion reduces this area from a preferred destination (could this be due to my NVidia 260 card?....doubt it) to an area to avoid. Not all nine are like that though, take a look at the snapshot for the downtown heliport, which is a preferred destination.

Downtown Heliport Methodist Hospital helipads Strout Army Helipad

This being a scenery package for a flight simulator, I did find it somewhat narrow in its purpose and in its suitability as a flight plan's destination... yet it was uniquely realistic at altitude and very pretty to fly over.

Summary / Closing Remarks:

Again, a master class "work of art" forms our undeniably brilliantly skilled developers at Aerosoft. That said, there are some limitations consequent from their albeit wise choices that do reduce close-up detailing and the size of the area covered.

What you get is a reproduction of the city core and some outlying points of interest such as the Indy 500 Raceway track, along with 9 semi-detailed heliports. Regrettably, but not solely of the developer's choice, there are no custom airports included in this package.

In the words of Aerosoft's Mathijs Kok: "This being a total VFR scenery, I would say interest for serious virtual airline pilots is limited."

FS9 products for Indianapolis (and others in the USCitiesX series) are not planned, since FS9 is incapable of drawing this amount of 3D polygons and autogen. Aerosoft's staff are professional 3D people, they want to work for the future, not for the past (words from M.K.).

 

What I Like About Scotflight: Version 2

  • Incredibly believable detail to many buildings.
  • Nine heliports and 2 copter charts.
  • All city highways, streets, and railways match up perfectly with those of Ultimate Terrain X USA.

 

What I Don't Like About Scotflight: Version 2

  • A small area of coverage without night textures

 

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