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    REVIEW - FSFX Immersion Package by FSFX Packages for FSX/P3D


    WR269

    Review

    by Marlon Carter

     

     

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    Introduction

     

    While many of us find it hard to agree on which is the best aircraft add-on available, we can all agree that Flight Simulation has come a long way since the days of FS95 or even older versions. With each new platform, we’ve seen a significant improvement in the overall immersion of flight and an even greater improvement in the general FS environment. With so much progress being made on the part of the Flight Simulator developers and 3rd party products, it’s hard to imagine that we’ve been missing out on a very important element to the overall immersion of Flightsim. What are we referring to? Well if you are a true aviation enthusiast at heart, you would have enjoyed spending many hours on youtube looking at aircraft videos. Some of the most spectacular videos are the ones that show the stunning performance of various aircraft in bad weather conditions. For example, on a rainy day, there is nothing more spectacular than watching a 777 land or take off to see the awe inspiring power of the engines as they spray water off of the runway surface. Added to this is the condensation effect that can be seen in the engines and over the leading edge of the wings.

    While we are all grateful for the improved aircraft systems of popular add-ons, some of us who truly desire an immersive experienced have always request some additional visual features that create a realistic environment when flying in IMC or operating on a wet runway. At long last, one developer has ceased the opportunity to create such an immersive experience that is specifically tailored to various aircraft.

    FSFX has been around for a relatively short period of time, but has managed to gather a significant following with their PrecipitFX product which was released for FSX and P3D v2 & v3. PrecipitFX introduces a host of new effects into your Flight Simulator that improves the default effects tremendously and I would highly recommend it. Of particular interest is the improved rain and snow effect that many have complained about for years. Here is a short video preview of PrecipitFX.

     

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuM7k2sjWXw

    Video Preview PrecipitFX

     

    With the release of PrecipitFX, it seemed only logical that this development team was only getting started and they soon released an immersion product for the popular PMDG 777 and then later for the PMDG 737 NGX and Aerosoft A319/320. While there is also an immersion product that is specific to the Flysimware’s Learjet 35, we will be focusing primarily on theAerosoft A319/320 and the PMDG immersion packages.  Below you will find a brief description of each product and a preview video.

     

     

    FSFX PMDG 777 Immersion Package

    FEATURES

    Weather presets

           

    Volumetric strobe lights

           

    Volumetric logo lights

           

    Brake dust

           

    Touchdown smoke

           

    Volumetric landing lights, taxi lights, beacon lights and turnoff lights

           

    Contrails

           

    Engine cold start smoke

           

    Engine condensation

           

    Vortices

           

    Raindrops from the airframe

           

    Engine jet wash effects on water and snow

           

    Wheels water and snow effects

           

    Wing condensation

           

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jb9VfzwWFk

     

    Preview Video – By Jeroen Doorman

     

    FSFX PMDG 737 Immersion Package

    FEATURES

    Volumetric rain for landing lights

         

    Volumetric landing lights

         

    Volumetric wing lights

         

    Volumetric taxi lights

         

    Volumetric turnoff lights

         

    Volumetric beacon lights

         

    Volumetric strobe lights

         

    Volumetric logo lights

         

    Wing condensation

         

    Flaps vortices

         

    Contrails

         

    Engine condensation

         

    Engine jet wash effects on water and snow

         

    Wheels water and snow effects

         

    Brake dust

         

    Touchdown effect

         

    Engine cold start smoke

         

     

     

    Preview Video

     

     

     

     

    FSFX Aerosoft A320 Family Immersion Package

     

     

    FEATURES

    Weather presets

           

    Volumetric logo lights

           

    Brake dust

           

    Touchdown smoke

           

    Volumetric landing lights, taxi lights and turnoff lights

           

    Contrails

           

    Engine cond start smoke

           

    Engine condensation

           

    Vortices

           

    Engine jet wash effects
    on water and snow

           

    Wheels water and snow effects

           

    Wing condensation

           

     

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9Pb3NLZko

     

    Preview Video – By Jeroen Doorman

     

     

    For the benefit for those who are very familiar with FSFX, here is a brief interview with Keven from FSFX to find out more about the company and the development of their products.

     

    1. Can you tell us a little about FSFX and how it all started?

    Back in 2006, I personally began experimenting with visual effects in the simulator. I learned techniques to show and control effects in the sim. Never had I imagined the interest such products would have. In 2014 we decided to up the quality a notch and make it available to public. The results were beyond our expectations.

     

    2. Can you tell us what inspired your team to create individual immersion packages for popular add-ons?

    While doing PrecipitFX, it was clear that some things were missing around the aircraft. We made a list of every environmental effect we could find and started building the foundation of what is our Immersion series of products. The decision to make our effects for specific aircraft was not an easy one. Because of the way FSX(ESP) was designed, we could not dynamically create complex effects like wing condensation and volumetric lighting based on simulator variables. This is still true to this day. Every developer also has its own way of doing things. Some aircraft have misplaced references for engines, landing gear, landing lights etc. and if we were to base ourselves on those variables to position our effects, the result would be totally unpredictable. Every aircraft is different and some variables simply aren't there for an automated system to do the work. For example, the A320 Family of aircraft does not produce wingtip vortices and very little flaps vortices. This is not something we can calculate on a generic scale within the simulator as it is now. We had to do research and create the right conditions for each effect.

     

    3. Where there any significant challenges in developing each package?

    Every aircraft is different and every Immersion Package contains many challenges. From misplaced references to custom flight models, there are a lot of things people don't see in the background.

     

    4. What would you say is the most ground breaking feature of your products?

    For PrecipitFX I'd say the new rain and snow effects are the most talked about. For your Immersion Packages, people really like to show volumetric lighting. I think this effect looks incredible. Nothing on this scale has been done before and we are happy to be able to provide this to the community.

     

    5. What can we expect to see from FSFX in the future?

    We have a big product unveiling in the coming weeks. Nothing I can tell right now obviously but stay tuned!

     

     

     

     

    THE EXPERIENCE

    As seen in the preview videos, these products truly offer an enhanced visual experience when using FSX or P3D. My personal experience in the past is that while I’ve always enjoyed using the PMDG’s 737,777 and the Aerosoft A320 series, I’ve always thought that while the simulation of the aircraft systems were fantastic, flying in cloudy or rainy conditions left a lot to be desired from a visual perspective.  It’s almost as if the aircraft and the environment were not connected and they have no influence on each other.

    A typical example of this is something that many of us have seen in the real world. If you’ve ever been to the airport on a rainy day and you’ve have the privilege of being close to the runway, you no doubt would have enjoyed seeing water being displaced by the powerful engines of departing and landing aircraft as they apply takeoff power or reverse thrust. With aircraft such as the 737 and A320, this sight is always quite impressive. When it comes to the 777 however, it is an awe-inspiring site to see the power that these engines produce.

    In the simulator world, these types of effects are sorely lacking and were only briefly enjoyed at one point with a user mod for FS2004 (Reserve Spray) that required some tweaking for each aircraft. To the best of my knowledge, FSX and P3D didn’t have any of these modifications and for many years most of us have simply done without it.With the release of the Immersion package however, users of FSX and P3D now have the opportunity to see the connection between the aircraft and the environment.

    After going through the simple installation process, I was quite eager to see some of the most basic effects such as the reverse thrust water displacement but it is important to note that these packages offer you much more. For example, to those who have travelled or work at an airport on the ramp, you may have noticed that under the right conditions, when an aircraft’s engines are started or power is applied, you can faintly see the moisture from the ground being sucked into the engine. While this is a subtle effect, it is something that is unique to the aircraft and how it reacts to the environment. Other effects such as wing condensation, brake dust, vortices and custom contrails are also included and are remarkably realistic in that they are only visible when the right atmospheric conditions are met.

     

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    Are there anyother features worth mentioning or worth raving about? While the effects we mentioned previously are fascinating enough, these products offer much more. In addition to the stunning new condensation, smoke and dust effects, we also see some enhancements to the way lighting is displayed in low visibility and the addition of a volumetric rain effect. These new features allow users to see extended a volumetric light beam that represent a much more realistic lighting effect while flying in low visibility or bad weather conditions. Personally I have always known that this was a missing element while flying in FSX or P3D, but after seeing these effects in action, I can hardly imagine going back to the standard effects.

     

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     As far as the rain effects are concerned, while I would have loved seeing a virtual cockpit rain effect, these products still offer you a host of rain effects that are very realistic. These include raindrops that fall from the fuselage, wings and engines when the aircraft is stationary. It’s important to note that different packages offer slightly different options but one of my favorite effects is the volumetric rain effect that is visible when the landing lights are turned on. We can go on and on describing these effects, but perhaps its best to show you since a picture in this case is definitely worth more than a thousand words.

     

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    As we bring this review to a conclusion, it’s only fair to discuss performance and limitations. As far as performance is concerned, you will be pleased to know that these effects, while high quality, leave a very low VAS footprint. The manuals mentioned an impact as little as 5MB. As far as frame rates are concerned, these effects have had little to no effect on my frame rates and if you do experience any adverse impact, the development team also offers the option to have varying levels of condensation and the ability to turn off each effect individually. With so many tweaking options, performance issues will be none existent when using these products. With regard to limitations, the developers mentioned a few limitations such as effects that are no visible at night for performance reasons and effects that won’t be visible when the engines are off. Ultimately, the limitations of these products are very minimal and I definitely think you will have no issues using these products.

     

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    CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, If you desire to have the ultimate immersive experience while using the PMDG 737,777 or AS A320, these FSFX immersion packages are a must have. As mentioned in my introduction, my first introduction to FSFX was with their PrecipitFX product which I honestly rated as a must have product along with Active Sky 2016, and REX 4 for enhancing your default simulator. With the price of each Immersion package being $25-$27, I think it is a fair price for the enhancements made to these already outstanding aircraft add-ons. While these products do have their limitations, it is a step in the right direction that all aircraft developers should consider. If not, then thankfully we have FSFX to take existing products to the next level.With the Q400 immersion package on the way, I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what surprises are in store for the FS community!

     

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