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LAdamson

Impressions on first FS2004 flight...

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Thought I'd post this here too (originally at FSN)Just flew my first flight after buying the sim earlier tonight at Best Buy - here's my first impressions of the sim:Default Lear, KTUS-KPHX, ActiveSky 1.9 weather, FSUIPC 3.02I must say that I'm very impressed. I was not expecting the sim to look or run well on my current system (Athlon 1.4, 512MB, GF3) but to my great surprise it ran and looked very good. First off, don't believe what anyone says about the sim not looking better than 2002. Even sitting on the ramp at KTUS I could tell this was a new product. The tower looks very realistic (the turning beacon is great), you can actually SEE where you're going on the taxiways now with the obviously improved lighting - the taxiway signs are a great help as well! The airports look noticeably better - the intersections of the taxiways, runways aprons etc are now smoothly curved and have a much more realistic look to them. The runways have a new texture now as well that looks very good - rubber marks, lines in the concrete and everything! It's a rainy night in southern AZ and I loaded up the new ActiveSky wxRE 1.9 to check out the new weather system - it did not disapoint. It looked very very close to what I was seeing outside - dreary gray overcast with some obvious thunderstorm cell activity. As soon as wxRE finished updating, I was greated to rain streaking off the widshield and falling outside all around - a MASSIVE improvment over 2002's rain where it seemed like it was only happening in a 50ft box around the plane. Takeoff was very smooth - no overspeeding immediately or jerking up off the ground like 2002's twitchy Lear. Oh the other thing - I did not leave the VC for this entire flight - the clickable VC's are gonna revolutionize FS - mark my words. This was one of the most immersive experiences I've had in FS because it felt like I was actually there panning my head over to the glareshield AP controls, down to the radio stacks etc. In fact, if anyone knows how to disable the 2D panel in the view sequence, I'd probably do it now. This is only going to get better once Active Camera 2004 comes out.So anyway - climbing out of KTUS RWY 29R, I pan my head to the left and notice the rain streaming by at high speed - killer effect! Went out to spot view and noticed that I could still see the ground below through the lower layers of the rain clouds. I've been on real flights in the rain many times and this looked very very close to reality. The city night lights are quite a bit brighter in this version and I noticed that the airport remains visible much further away than it does in 2002. I did not use ATC on this flight - I'll start going through that stuff tomorrow. I turned on the AP, intercepted the TUS R-318, and climbed up to 14000. Breaking out of the overcast layer (which by the way remained full overcast), I was greeted with some rather stunning thunderstorms in front of me - incredibly impressive to finally see clouds in FS that tower over you. I know the coulds really aren't true 3D, but this will fool all but the hardest of the hardcore into believing they are. It looks very convincing.Started my descent down about 50nm out, KPHX weather indicating east runway flow in use, so I decided to see if 2004 fixed KPHX's RWY 8, which was incorrectly given a Localizer Backcourse approach in 2002. Low and behold, they fixed it! Now a full ILS/DME as it should be, I decided to land on it using the autopilot APP mode, which was notorious in 2002 for being unable to do much of anything. As mentioned before, I could see the airport much further away than I could in 2002 - this will make VATSIM controllers trying to give realistic visual approaches VERY happy! I intercepted the RWY 8 localizer abour 12nm out, which the AP handled superbly. Then to top it all off, the AP captured the glideslope with NO PROBLEMS at all. It was very very smooth, no more crazy dives below the GS etc... As I was passing downtown Phoenix, I panned left and noticed that they finally added Bank One Ballpark where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball - complete with the video screens in left and right field! I let George fly it down to the inner marker where I took over and made a greaser right on the numbers!KPHX is absolutely stunning - it looks like the real airport. I can't thank MS enough for finally giving it the high detail treatment it deserved for so long. I go to the real place many times a year and I think they did an excellent job. I'll have to see how the Simflyers one compares when it comes out.Performance:Ahh yes, the issue that's destined to be argued over for all eternity! Truthfully, I expected a slide show after reading some of the posts here - I was running 1280X1024X32, terrain at 90%, most sliders upped a few notches from their defaults (left the autogen at the default though after reading that default in 2004 is 2002's max setting) View distance at 100nm, cloud view distance 50nm, 3D cloud percentage 100% as recommended by wxRE's docs. I was not however running any FSAA or AF, as my GF3 chokes on it most of the time even in 2002. Loaded it up and was pretty shocked to see it running smoothly at 20FPS on the ground at KTUS, as set by the framerate slider. This is with clouds, with the default AI flying around and with most of the sliders upped several notches from the default "Medium High" setting. In the air I noticed some slowdowns when looking at the huge towering CB, which dropped to around 13-15FPS, but I didn't see single digits the entire flight. It was very smooth and in fact looked smoother than 2002 to me. The weather didn't seem to be makign much of a difference at all FPS wise. (I will check this tomorrow though) Note too that I was flying at night - it may very well go down some during the day. Performance on the ground even with the scenery set to maximum density (for the gates, trucks etc) it was still very fluid and easy to get around taxiing. Would I like the FPS to be better? Of course (and they will be when I get my new system :D ) but for how old my computer is, I'm happy until I get my upgrades. At first glance I'm very impressed with what they've done here. This does not feel like an FS2002 patch as some have suggested - it feels like a new sim. The weather is astounding - definitely worth the price of the sim alone. The default aircraft seem to have been redone and made better - I can honestly say for the first time I truly enjoyed flying one of the defaults - the Lear was very nice. I will try out the others tomorrow... I can't wait for all the addons to be made compatible and for SquawkBox 3 to come out so I can take it on VATSIM! RyanPS - this is not my final judgement on the sim of course (one night flight isn't enough to judge of course) - it could be horrible durring the day, but I'm betting against that! ;) )

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Nice, detailed post, and just the sort of stuff people who haven't got the sim yet are wanting to read about. How are you finding the flight models and the sounds of the historics (if you have tried any yet)?

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G'day TabsWhen you say night is it still the old Microsoft version of night or have they finally made night a truly dark experience like it really is.One of my pet hates of FS(apart fom a lack of tue CB's and wokng wx radad) is how much excess light there is at night.Having spent quite some time flying around outback Australia at night with the Royal Flying Doctor Service let me tell you when theres no moon out there you see more light inside a bottle of black ink.Anyway enjoy 2004Darren Howie

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Haven't flown the historics yet. (and I'm getting way too tired right now - it's 4AM and I still haven't stopped flying this thing, it's so much fun!)Couple updates:I installed the Dreamfleet C310 and RealAir SF.260 and both perform extremely well, if fact I think they handle better than they do in 2002. I also installed my FSGenesis terrain mesh with no real noticable framerate hit.Flew 3 or 4 flights during the daytime. One out of KSEA just flying around the city in the 172, one out of KTUS in the SF.260 and the C310 and one out of PHLI (Lihue, HI) in the new Robinson R-22 helicopter. The FPS are indeed lower during the day - which I did expect since at night it's not rendering as much of the groung stuff. I knocked my resolution down to 1024X768, turned on 2X FSAA in my GeForce control panel and I think I'm pretty happy with it - it's hovering in the 15-20 FPS area with scattered clouds. There didn't seem to be a difference in FPS from the 2X AA and it does go a LONG way to eliminating the shimmers. Speaking of the shimmers, yes as reported by others they are a lot worse than in 2002. I'm not sure what's causing it - my guess is that it's driver related and both ATI and Nvidia will fix it in the next update. The other thing that may be playing a role is that 2004 has FAR more autogen buildings, radio towers etc than 2002 and maybe it's just that it wasn't as apparent in 2002 because there were less polygons being drawn. Turning on AA did improve things considerably.The other thing that's worse is the blurry textures in the distance. I have several theories on what might be causing this though, and I suspect we'll have it nailed down before long - I've seen untweaked FS2002 look very similar to what I was seeing in 2004, which is kind of a smudged look to the textures about 15-20nm in the distance. Theory #1 - MS programmed 2004 to reduce texture detail in order to maintain a flyable framerate at all costs. I think this is the most likely explaination - I have yet to see the sim get completely unflyable with single digit FPS or anything like that. Theory #2 - you guessed it, driver issue! I really think that as soon as ATI and Nvidia have the retail version in their labs and can optimize for it, we're gonna see all these issues go away. Contrary to what some more fanatical posters have said, the shimmering and blurring are NOT show stopping issues!!! I'm already not sure I can go back to FS2002, this sim really looks and feels that much better. While we're waiting for info on how to make the ground look better, all you have to do is look UP! The sky is just beautiful - several times I thought I was looking at a photograph. It really has to be seen in motion to be believed. The new turbulence modelling is superb as well - you really get that feeling like you're in an airmass and moving with it etc...Ryan

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FS2004 will go pitch black with no moon. No indication of the horizon whatsoever.L.Adamson

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