Orbx Simulations started out as a freeware group with the single purpose, to improve Microsoft Flight Simulator 9’s default textures and airports of Australia. The results were outstanding to say the least, with a very simple way of changing textures for Australia. It made flying a lot more realistic in Australia.
With the introduction of Flight Simulator X, the rules were changed with what you could and could not do, and Orbx took advantages of the new platform with some very stunning results. The FTX AU Gold area covers South East Queensland, which is a small (for Australia) area but covers a wide variety of terrain, from the outback desert to the bustling city of Brisbane and the coastal area that is Surfer’s Paradise.
Installation and Documentation
Once you have purchased and downloaded the installer from the Flight Sim Store, it is a simple matter of double clicking the installer, this will verify the download and start the installation process. This does take up to five minutes to complete after you click on the file, it did cause me to think I had done something wrong, but patience paid off and it installed without a problem.
Once the installer has opened, you are presented with a welcome screen and the license agreement. Once you accept this, it will ask for the purchase details that was emailed to you. Enter these details and click next, the installer will then extract the files. Once the extraction has taken place a seperat window will open. Don’t do what I did and close that window, otherwise you will have to start again! Click next on the new window that was opened by the installation.
Follow the on-screen prompts, and leave the installer to install the files in the recommended locations. Once the installation has completed. you will have a new folder in your start menu. This folder includes a readme file, which thanks you for your purchase, and some tips and configuration settings to get the most out of the scenery on your computer. I would recommend that you do what the manual states and then go and fly. If you need to go back to the manual to tweak your system, go right ahead, there are some very good hints and tweaks in the manual.
Normally I would go on about how good or bad the scenery is, but in this review, I think I will let the screen shots do the talking as there really isn’t too much to say about the scenery except that it is very, very good.
The package includes custom buildings and autogen files. With the customization you get better frame rates than the default autogen, and the effect is great. You can turn up the autogen settings inside the simulator with no or very little performance hit. On my system, I was averaging 40-50 FPS in the rural scenery areas and 15-20FPS in the heavily populated areas like Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
Included in the package is a very handy little utility that allows you to turn on or turn off the scenery files. This is done if you want to install some other scenery, or another package from Orbx. It is mentioned in the documentation that the Orbx installation will not affect any other scenery or part of the work, unlike the old FS9 versions that changed the whole world.
This doesn’t happen with AU Gold, it only affects the area it is meant to. I have installed other scenery for New Zealand (my home country) without any interference or issues from AU Gold. And I didn’t turn off the Orbx files as suggested in the manual.
Another item included is a utility to change the brightness and halo of the lights installed. It allows for a great range of realism and customization to suit your own tastes.
The land class and ground textures have been custom designed and colored. You can be forgiven for thinking that you are looking at a photo, my wife was one of them, the ground textures are that good.
There are some areas where there are a few little issues, like autogen not quite right, or ground cover not quite matching up. Orbx has acknowledged that there few little issues exist, which is expected with such a large area. Orbx is working on them as they are discovered and releasing hot fixes to correct these issues as they are found. There are a couple of places where airports have a road running through the middle of the parking, but this I feel is due more to the placement of the airport than the add-on scenery.
There are freeware airports out there that fit perfectly with the AU Gold and AU Blue regions, and there are airports that are being designed with payware quality but released as freeware. These airports are great, and really suit these add-ons perfectly. Redcliffe is just one example I have found.
There are a couple of funky issues with the bridges. One is the gateway bridge in Brisbane, traffic will sink below the bridge then take a straight up path to the top of the bridge then carry on their way. It looks really weird seeing a semi-trailer going straight up! Orbx are aware of the problem and are looking into fixing it with their next hot fix release.
At this point I would like to mention how quick the support is from Orbx. I emailed them with a question in regards to the bridge, and within an hour I had a response from them. I only wish all support was this good
Summary / Closing Remarks
This is one scenery package I can recommend. It makes so much of a difference to the area that it is like night and day comparing the default to the Orbx product. The very handy installer and the ease of installation makes this package great for anyone from a beginner to the seasoned pro, and everyone will notice the improvement. I hope the screenshots have given you a good overview of the package and the wide variety of differences within the scenery included in this package.
Now to convince my darling wife I need to buy the other packages!
What I Like About FTX AU Gold
What I Don't Like About FTX AU Gold
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