AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

Cloud9
Orlando International Airport

Product Information
Publisher: Cloud9
Description:  Scenery Add-on.
Download Size:
72 MB
Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Lydell Stelmack AVSIM Staff Reviewer - December 30, 2006

A Bit of History

Not so very long ago, I took that perfect vacation with the kids to the incredible state of Florida, and giving up the window seat on the arrival and departure, I never really got a glance over KMCO. More concerned we were all together and everything else one thinks of when traveling to these destinations, I sit back now realizing how airports really are the beginning and ending of this kind of perfect trip and just getting through it at the time was the biggest concern.

Orlando is the busiest airport in Florida, serving well over 30 million visitors to its tourist parks and destinations, making it the 12th busiest in the USA and 21st in the world. By size, KMCO covers 23 square miles and is the third largest in the USA by area. This award-winning airport also boasts North America’s second tallest control tower; KMCO serves over 80 airlines and 80,000 people daily.

With all this activity throughout KMCO, all I really recall of the airport was how swiftly we were in and out. KMCO, with its swift people movers and moving sidewalks, really knows how to move people along and though all the activity within the terminal. Unfortunately, this can’t be detailed for flight sim. However, Cloud9 offers all the detail that is possible for FSX.

KMCO’s runway 18/36 is designed to accommodate the B-52 Straofortress and was also an obvious choice as an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle. MCO, properly known as McCoy Air Force Base and the civilian Orlando Jetport at McCoy, gained its international airport status in 1976 but kept its IATA airport code MCO and ICAO airport code KMCO.

Affectionately known in Florida as “Mickey’s Corporate Office”, Cloud9 brings a highly visual and brilliant Orlando International airport addition for FSX.

Picture Perfect Details
Dawn and Dusk lighting

Installation and Documentation

Cloud9 has always impressed me with a feature that you can rarely find, the “Try Before You Buy” feature. I can hardly begin to list all the various advantages of taking a product for a short test drive. Now with FSX and a whole new line of products coming available, this makes just so much sense to me. If the product can’t work on my current system or even if I’m just not satisfied with it, well, I’m not out of pocket now am I. Thanks Cloud9.

Top Down View

After the download, you have a 7-minute time-limited trial period to go over all the product's features. If this wasn’t enough time, restart your sim and try again. This feature is more than enough to fully test drive this product and make your decision.

After the initial install of the download, the FSX trusted software module will appear and you have a choice to either load the software for this session or automatically load when FSX is started. The installation is completely automatic with no further actions required for adding it to the FSX scenery library.

When purchasing Orlando right from the FSX “Addon Manager” be sure to reduce the window (Alt+Enter), simply select Orlando and buy. Then follow the straightforward instructions “Cloud9 Install guide.pdf” in the included documents with the download.

Included with the download is a 36 page “Install guide” which I skipped initially, but if you’re having troubles whatsoever with the install or purchase process, its clearly illustrated and easy to follow. The manual can be found in your Cloud9/Orlando folder within the FSX folders. Here you will find the 28-page manual listing the products features and airport details including airport parking maps and airports charts.

With Cloud9 products, a shared module Addon Manager is included giving you the ability to fine tune FSX advanced settings without having to manually edit the config files. Now not to get into performance issues with FSX, like most I’m sure there is a lot of tweaking and setting adjusting going on to achieve performance and display preferences. This Addon Manager is another set of sliders to help out and save settings to FSX or if things aren’t right, to simply go back to default settings. Now with all the advice I’ve been reading on various forums, I’ll be tweaking for a while yet but I have settled for what my system is capable of.

One more thing I would like to add, Cloud9’s forum is one I’ve been following for quite some time now. Quick support on all the Cloud9 products can be found here as well as some great discussions and fantastic screenshots.

Down to the Details

Although FSX is still somewhat new to me and yes, I am still true to FS9 and my collection, moving forward is like walking the high-wire. As time moves on, developers will no longer provide sceneries for the old and focus all their imagination and creativity to the new. Cloud9 has taken the challenge to set the bar for the new. And WOW.

FSX is highly visual, so lets compare default to default. It took a lot of collecting products to get FS9 to just how I liked it. I had hoped for a wee bit more for FSX.

A Comparison to the Default FSX

Comparing FSX default to the Cloud9 Orlando is just as before. FSX missed some of the details. Now every detail of the sim could never possibly be covered by FSX, so thanks to creative developers like Cloud9 we can still enhance our simming. Orlando International Airport is simply stunning. Flying the default FSX Orlando, I had my sliders up for the best my system could handle, but once again there is no comparison to the addition of the addon. And there’s no going back.

With reflections on the numerous small lakes within KMCO, details abound within the scenery. Grasping the size of this airport in full detail and every nook and cranny was an adventure in itself. Based on real ground and in-flight photos, Cloud9’s KMCO has a long list of features. Included are; photographic terrain textures, detailed runways, taxiways and aprons, animations, realistic night lighting, and the list goes on.

Animated People Movers Detailed Perimeter Fencing

Roadways and people movers network the mid-field and terminal area. Cars traveling to the various parkades and the animated people movers (trains) bring KMCO to life. For FSX native aircraft only, ground handling equipment, fuel trucks and animated jetways are detailed. I did try a non-native aircraft in my tests and found the detailed jetways did not respond to it. Signage from runway to taxiway, gate numbering to hangars and buildings are detailed, as are the 3D Calverts on all runways.

The terminal and four airside gates are also highly detailed clearly showing the differences in each airside terminal gate. 129 aircraft gates are available to stop at and no I didn’t try each one. A landable heliport is also available on the central terminal. Custom objects like baggage carts and various service vehicles clutter the airside giving a true impression of a busy airport. Cargo areas from the North Cargo area to the Fedex ramp are filled with trailers, reflecting the freight that travels in and out of KMCO.

Vivid Detailing of the Included Buildings and Businesses

Also skillfully detailed are the ARFF stations (fire rescue) with custom buildings and fire/rescue trucks. The control tower, U.S.Customs, Citation Hangar, well in a nutshell, everything is detailed right down to the perimeter fence, palm trees and the grass.

Center Field ARFF Station

Custom and very realistic night lighting effects are also crafted into Cloud9's Orlando International. Night, dusk and dawn effects make KMSO appealing for any time of day flight. Runway lighting and taxiway lighting, custom building and light post lighting adds a true realism. I didn’t include a night screen shot to illustrate this, but there are several on the Cloud9 Orlando Products page or simply take Orlando for a free "Try Before You Buy".

Center Field And Terminal Details
Note the Helicopter landing pad on the terminal roof

More Bits and Bites

Test System

Pentium P4 204Ghz
Ram: 1535 GB
VIDEO: ATI Radeon X7 Pro
Windows XP Home
FSX

Flying Time:
10 hours

For this pure FSX product, Orlando International Airport really does fall right inline with FSX. Flights both in and out of KMCO, the transition of the airports scenery to the surrounding area is seamless. There are no definitive differences or “borders” that are commonly found in add-on scenery. KMCO can be spotted from a distance in-flight which is a reflection of its true size.

It is so inline with FSX, I really have to be cautious when describing some detailing that may actually be an FSX feature. This being my first addon for FSX and not having overly tested FSX itself, the effects like the FSX rain on the surfaces, or the animated service vehicles found in FSX are also common to this product. My only comparison of such features were to simply go to another default FSX airport and try it out.

Just a brief mention on performance. I do have performance issues with FSX on my old dinosaur of a PC. However, for the settings I was using in the default FSX, I found no noticeable difference in performance after the installation of Cloud9’s Orlando. This is Cloud9’s claim, as to be designed to maintain the impact on the framerates as low as possible.

The one downfall I could find was having to become accustomed to jetway or marshalling systems at the gates with these payware products. I either missed it because of the settings I used or I was unable to find this feature.

Orlando is also compatible with third party photo-realistic sceneries and mesh. I also tried Carenado’s Cessna 206 upgraded to FSX to test out this scenery and once again, not a hiccup.

Testing Out A Favorite Payware Aircraft Default FSX aircraft, note the jetway in position

Summing it up

Only one word comes to mind, “perfect”. Yes, as it was for my pefect vacation. Now I can revisit that trip in the sim and actually take in all I missed back then. Cloud9’s excellent detailing of this huge and busy Orlando International airport and its true to life realism has definitely set the bar for future developers for FSX.

Custom Terminals and Gates A View of the Apron Objects on the Ramp
Detailed Signage and Grass A View from the Tower 3D Calverts

It most definitely makes me look forward to the progress in this hobby and lean toward FSX.

A Fantastic Overview

 

What I Like About Orlando Scenery
  • This is a highly visual highly detailed product
  • By far takes FSX itself to higher levels
  • Even with a system as mine I was able to capture the details in FSX
  • Great documentation
  • Best of all “Try Before You Buy” feature

 

What I Don't Like About Orlando Scenery
  • I couldn’t find a jetway or marshalling feature (Note from Cloud9: the jetways work with all FSX default aircraft and with all FSX native add-on aircraft but cannot work with old FS9 aircraft simply adapted to work in FSX)
  • No other dislikes

Printing

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Orlando

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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