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    REVIEW - Sim720 - EGEO Oban


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    Sim720 - EGEO Oban

    A review by Mike Cameron

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    Scotland Tour Leg 3 – Edinburgh to Oban

    My third review of the Sim720 series of Scottish airports is going to begin a little differently.  The first section will be devoted to the final leg of my Scotland Tour.  The next section will be the formal introduction for the City of Oban and EGEO Oban Airport, Scotland.  Now it is time to continue with my aerial tour of Scotland.  I am going to depart from Edinburgh Airport and travel west to the City of Stirling, where I will fly over some of the landmarks for that city before continuing on to Oban, enjoying the wonderful Scottish countryside along the way.  The same person who created the free landmarks that I visited for my previous review also created one or more for the City of Stirling.

     

    Now for a brief history of the City of Stirling, as with the previous historical information, I gathered what is contained here from www.visitscotland.com.  Stirling is Scotland’s heritage capital where the Wars of Independence were fought and won, where for three centuries, monarchs ruled in regal splendor and merchants & craftsmen sold their trades below the castle rock.  The spectacular castle on the hill above the city and is open to the public today to visit.  The Heritage Mile links Stirling’s Old Town with the modern City of Stirling.  The Old Town includes some of the finest concentration of historic buildings in Scotland. 

     

    Wonderfully preserved medieval and Renaissance churches & mansions are clustered around the Old Town and are flanked by cobbled streets, period street furniture and Victorian styled iron work.  Overlooking the area is one of Scotland’s most famous battle sites, Stirling Bridge.  Located here is the 2200 foot high National Wallace Monument where if you climb to the top you will have views of the Forth Bridges to Loch Lomond.  This monument is named after William Wallace, one of Scotland’s most famous historical figures and was the primary leader in the fight to win freedom of Scotland from England.  After he was killed, his martyrdom paved the way for eventual success.  If you are interested in learning more about William Wallace, visit www.biography.com/people/william-wallace-9522479.  I do not know how many of these landmarks are included with the Orbx Scotland scenery or the free scenery but I will capture what I see during my tour. 

     

    I am going to land at the closest airport to Stirling, EGPG Cumbernauld Airport, and then fly the Trike to find the landmarks then return to this airport before continuing on to Oban in the Cessna 172.  When planning my flight from EGPG to EGEO, I noticed that the City of Glasgow is just south of my route so I decided to flyover Glasgow on my way to Oban.  Briefly, Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and the 4 screen grabs before my final picture of approaching Oban Airport are of the City of Glasgow.  If you are interested in learning more about Glasgow, visit the www.visitscotland.com website.

     

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    Introduction to Oban and EGEO Oban Airport

    Besides the website mentioned in the previous section, I also gathered information for this introduction from the Sim720 Oban product page.  Oban is the capital of North Argyll and is informally known as the “Gateway to the Isles”.  The Town of Oban lies in the crescent occupying the hills surrounding Oban Bay and is a busy town with a wide selection of places to stay and eat along with many places activities to do and nearby places to explore.  

     

    This popular resort town is also known as the seafood capital of Scotland.  The most notable landmark in Oban is McCaig’s Tower, the Roman Coliseum look-a-like which stands above the town.  The tower is a ten minute hard walk uphill from the center of town and provides spectacular views of the town and the neighboring islands.  Another landmark located close to the shore is the ruined Dunollie Castle which was the stronghold of the MacDougall Clan while the Dunstaffnage Castle, which belonged to the Campbell’s since 1470, is located only two miles away.

     

    EGEO Oban Airport is situated on the coast of Scotland and lies 5.8 miles (9.3km or 5nm) northeast of Oban in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.  Oban Airport has a CAA License as commercial airport offering scheduled flights to the Isles of Colonsay, Islay, Coll and Tiree.  Historically it was a World War II airfield for aircraft such as the Hurricane and also Oban Bay was home to the RAF Sunderland and Catalina flying boats. 

     

    The Sim720 presentation of the airport has been created as a match to the real world airport and features a high-resolution ground polygon model; high quality photo-real textures and custom made & placed buildings.  Outside of the airport boundary, the scenery is also enhanced with custom auto-gen buildings.  This airport scenery also features accurate taxiways, custom night-lighting and improved runway lighting for very immersive take-offs and landings.  I will cover these features in more detail during the review.  This scenery has been designed to work with default FSX scenery, Orbx Scotland, Horizon scenery products and is DX10 compatible.

     

    Installation and EGEO Control Panel

    If you have read my other two Sim720 reviews then you may skip ahead to the next section because the install process is the same.  First, if you are going to use this scenery with the Orbx Scotland scenery product, Sim720 recommends selecting “Default” or “Global” from FTX Central before installation, then select “Europe” after the installation for optimal results.  Also, install the latest Orbx Libraries if you plan on exploring the area outside of the Sim720 scenery area.  Since I am on the subject of scenery libraries, download the latest Sim720 Library and install after the scenery installation.  I am reviewing EGEO Oban Version 1.1 and the install process is very easy.  If you have Version 1 of the scenery, contact the store where you purchased it and download and install the new full installer.  

     

    It is ok to install over the previous install but I like to start fresh and uninstall the previous version first.  I received the review product directly from Sim720, so this procedure may be different. After purchase, you will be emailed a link to the setup file and a Serial Key.  Start the install process, read the important information about this scenery, Accept the EULA, select your simulator (Version 1.1 includes the triple installer for P3D 2.X) then enter the Serial Key.  That is all there is to it, very easy and fast, no complicated activation procedure. 

     

    A nice 17 page User Guide is included which is located in the Sim720 folder of the main FSX directory.  This manual contains the recommended FSX/P3D settings and I used these settings.  As always adjust the simulator settings for the best performance on your system.  The scenery options for the Oban scenery have also now been added to the Sim720 Control Panel.  I love the simplicity of the Sim720 Control Panel rather than having a separate CP for each airport.  There is only one CP and you select the airport that you would like to work with. 

     

    I left all of the default options turned on and because I do not like to manually activate the seasons, I selected the “Summer/Spring/Autumn/Winter LVL 1 & LVL 2” grass setting instead of the hard winter option.  If you have a slower system or like the look of the hard winter textures, select one of these options.  I am not going to do a comparison of these options because I already captured screen grabs in the first part of this series.

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    Oban Airport Walking Tour

    I am going to start my tour at about the same location where I parked my aircraft, which is in front of the control tower.  I did not capture a screen grab but this building had some textural issues so I contacted Sim720 and they responded the same day with the corrected file.  This does not happen with every install but sometimes the Orbx airport buildings bleed through the Sim720 scenery which causes this problem and this file solves this issue.  I love this level of customer support that if you have a problem the developer responds in a timely manner. 

     

    The first screen grab is of this Sim720 building and as you can see the building and ground textures are excellent.  I love that there a couple of tower employees outside of the tower scanning the sky for that added realism level, as long as there is still someone inside manning the radio.  Even the sign with the large “C” looks impressive.  Near the control panel is another building with weatherized textures for the real world look.  The first screen grab also contains the airport terminal and connected to this building is the fire station with a very good looking rescue vehicle parked nearby.   A regional airline propeller aircraft is parked in front of the terminal and all of the static aircraft with this scenery are very impressive looking. 

     

    While I am here, I thought I would see what the night lighting looked like, this effect is pretty good and you can see some detail inside of the fire station window.  There is a small building to the north of the fire station and I like that the exterior lights shine on this building and the ground for a nice effect.  The only thing that I would like to see changed would be to only have the worker visible during the day which would add to the experience.  Also, even with the update, the Scotland airports still do not have animated people.  This would be a nice addition but without animations, performance on my system is excellent, with no lag in displaying the scenery objects. 

     

    Moving to the entry side of the terminal, I get to see the outstanding airport and building signage.  I can even read the Connel Flying Club sign on its building from a distance which is great.  It looks pretty good up close too!  Sim720 continues the scenery quality with a feature that is sometimes over looked by scenery developers, the static cars and trucks in the parking areas.  They are very realistic looking with readable license plates.  In front of the Connel Flying Club building are some of the static GA aircraft and as mentioned previously these are very detailed with manufacture names and logos included as part of the model which is very impressive.  The screen grab of the Cherokee also displays the excellent ramp signage for this airport. 

     

    The ramp signs are not lighted but you can see the ramp lights in the background.  I personally would like to see an option added to the Control Panel for a reduced halo size of the lights.  Even though the lighting effect looks nice, I personally prefer a smaller halo size.  Looking at the Runway 19 approach, the runway lighting and approach lighting are also very impressive. Just outside the northeast boundary of the airport are some impressive looking small houses or cabins. Crossing the runway and looking south at the runway, the texture of the runway is also very impressive.  Also from this viewpoint, even though I am writing this review in early September, some of the fall colors are starting to show on the trees. 

     

    At the southwestern area of the airport are some helicopter parking spots, it would have been nice if a static helicopter would have been included as part of the scenery.  The fire training area of the airport have excellent looking equipment that look very realistic and the other airport vehicles & static objects have the same quality look as all of the other static objects mentioned previously.  I love that the sign on the fuel tank is very readable and the small items such as the pipes at the Fuel Farm are very detailed.  Concluding my tour at about the same location that I started, there are another couple of helicopter landing areas for the virtual helicopter pilot to enjoy.  This screen grab also provides a nice example of the grass and brush features that I selected in the Control Panel for the Sim720 EGEO Airport.  The last screen grab is of another impressive looking building that is located just outside of the airport boundary. 

     

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    Oban Scenery Aerial Tour

    This scenery product includes some additional scenery surrounding the airport.  As I always like to do when reviewing the surrounding scenery, I am going to load the default Trike, open a Google Maps moving map application on my iPad and have the scenery coverage area map open in the manual.  I am going to depart of Runway 01, fly north along Ardmucknish Bay then fly in a large circle around the scenery area before returning to the airport.  The airport and the trees to the east of the airport are just as impressive from the air as they were from the ground.  I love that the fall colors are starting to display in September, without having to manually switch the season. 

     

    It is nice to see impressive beach textures along with an accurately placed Trailer/RV Park.  As an added bonus, the trailers in this park are custom objects, which greatly add to the flight experience.  I really like when developers include custom 3D objects for the scenery area instead of relying on photo-textures which depending on the quality can look good or bad at low altitudes.  The rest of the small towns & communities are also realistically placed and are also impressive looking.  The natural scenery features are also very nice looking.  The other custom objects included with the scenery look wonderful such as some form of tanks located near the Town of Connel.  

     

    As I approach the Connel Bridge, I love the amount of detail modeled with this bridge, I can even see the detail of the stones used for the foundation of the bridge.  It is nice to see the custom 3D sail boats anchored on Loch Etive.  This may be outside of the Sim720 scenery area but Dunstaffnage Castle is not modeled but you cannot have everything and hopefully someone will create it to add to the scenery at a later time.  The final screen grab is an aerial view of the nice approach and runway lighting for the Sim720 EGEO Oban Airport.  This concludes my aerial tour and Sim720 has done an excellent job with the scenery coverage area.

     

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    Conclusion

     I am going to write the conclusion a bit differently starting with this review.  The Avsim Review Staff have been discussing having a common format for the conclusion so I thought I would use this new format for this review.

     

    Accessibility:  Sim720 EGEO Oban is very accessible because it is available as a downloadable product from several flight simulator stores. The download size is 1.19GB which is somewhat large for a single airport scenery product but customers with modern internet connections should not have any issues downloading the file.  Many stores also offer a DVD backup service for a small fee if you do not have high speed internet in your area.

     

    Affordability: I consider this scenery very affordable.  For $24.95, not only do you get a very detailed airport but also a nice scenery area surrounding the airport.  Version 1.1 of this scenery includes the triple installer for P3D 2.X so you do not need to purchase an upgrade when you migrate to the P3D 2.X series.

     

    Ease of Installation:  This is a very easy product to install.  Activation does require entering a serial key but the short key is separated into easy sections to be able to read and entered.  If you are going to install this scenery into the Orbx Scotland Regional scenery, there is an added step but this is still just a couple of mouse clicks.  The install process automatically adds the airport to the scenery library.

     

    Compatibility with Other Products: Sim720 has done an outstanding job here.  This scenery is compatible with FSX/P3D default, Orbx Scotland and Horizon scenery products.  It is very easy to select the compatibility mode with the Sim720 Control Panel.  The Orbx option was already selected when I opened the Control Panel the first time.  EGEO Oban is also fully DX10 compatible.

     

    Features & Performance: The easy to use Control Panel is outstanding.  Just select your options and you are good to go.  If performance is an issue or you do not like the look of the grass setting, just select another option.  Season switching is automatic which I like but you still have to select the hard winter option if you like hard winter textures.  I do not know how much hard winter is a factor in this area of Scotland.  The Scotland airports still do not have animated people which would add to the overall experience but without them performance is outstanding with no lag at drawing the scenery objects and smooth VC panning in the aircraft that I used.

     

    Scenery Issues: Other than the building texture issue that I had when I first installed the scenery, I did not have any other issues with this wonderful scenery.  Sim720 responded the same day that I enquired about this issue and provided me with an updated file to fix this problem.  I love this level of customer support.  Also, this problem does not happen with all installations, only sometimes when installing Oban with the Orbx product.

     

    I want to thank Sim720 for providing the review copy of this scenery.  If you are interested in EGEO Oban and the other Sim720 products, visit their website located here:

     

    http://flight.sim720.co.uk/products1.php .

     

    Test System

    Hardware:

    Computer Specs:

    Intel Desktop Computer

    Intel i5 4670K 3.4Ghz Non OC Processor

    8GB DDR3 1833 Memory

    2TB SATA HD (7200 RPM)

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX550Ti Video Card with 1GB GDDR5 Memory

    Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

     

    Software:

    FSX with Acceleration, Windows 7 – 64 Bit

    REX 4 Texture Direct

    DX10 Scenery Fixer

    FSX Fair Weather Theme

     

    Flight Test Time:

    25 hours

     



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