After reviewing Cloud9’s XCity Rome, I was left with the impression that it would be near impossible to detail a multitude of different Italian rooftops covering a large expanse of cityscape while keeping FSX’s performance friendly. Then along comes Aerosoft’s claim that with all of the following details “it is possible to maintain 20 fps without too much problem”. Plus two airports; Venice Tessera (international airport) and San Nicolo included (small airfield).
FSX SP1 and SP2 compatible;
My question is: is it possible to even get 20 fps as a max? Well, I have an Intel quad core feeding 512 megs of video-ram and 4 gigs of memory Ram but still I have my doubts about this claim.
Regardless of performance issues, I am already impressed with their quality reproductions as I show this next picture from the Wikipedia page on Venice. Compare the Aerosoft picture below it? Obviously, high quality reproductions are there. Venice itself is a worldly art treasure. I am hoping this product makes it worth a stopover in our fast paced and restless FSX world. I have learnt from my previous review of Monaco X, that there are artists amongst Aerosoft’s contributors. Time to brush up on my Skyhawk’s hovering skills.
This is the third product on Venice by Aerosoft. To make this one take full advantage of newer FSX features, they decided not to make a parallel FS2004 product as their differences would cause for the creation of two totally separate products.
Installation and Documentation:
Minimum requirements(see practical requirements below):
The usual request for your email and serial code clears installation to your FSX path (changeable). It will not install outside of your FSX main folder, so check to make sure you have about 500 megs of free space available on its partition first. Something you may want to keep in mind is that the install asks you if you have either SP1 or SP2 updates, so if you have the tendency, like me, to install/uninstall the acceleration pack every so often, you may want to address this issue before changing SP versions after Venice X is installed.
A manual is made available from the Windows start menu, as well as a downloadable free version from their website. The manual is 40 pages long, quite a bit for a scenery package. The first 13 pages document the different aspects (see above) while afterwards we are treated to some very nice charts, airport layouts, parking docking map, SID/STAR (+RNAV), and Visual Approach Charts for both airports. These drawings and charts are beautiful and since they are free, go get the manual even if you are not considering buying this product.
I have a dual boot system, with FSX installed on Vista, where I try to keep a permanent install of acceleration thus SP2, and on XP(SP2) where I only have the SP1 patch. I will be commenting on both installs as required but will be keeping to the friendlier XP install for the most part. The reason they prefer FSX (SP1) is because FSX (SP2) inhibits traffic after flattening, something they had to do for Venice X.
The terrain cfg also gets modified during install because this flattening caused steps that were placed further away from Venice, and would, without the terrain cfg modification, have that rocky cliff texture. As a result, users of Ultimate Terrain may also chose to run their setup tools again after installing Venice X. The ILS frequency at Tessera was changed to the real 109.95 from the old 110.3 of yore.
To get the “20 fps” mentioned above, the manual lists yet a second set of “minimum” requirements, which a lot of users may not be able to meet.
The performance in lesser systems can be improved by the reduction of FSX graphics settings or by the removal of certain frills like ships and flag object files as explained in their manual.
SP1 or SP2:
The only benefit of using this scenery with an FSX-SP2 install would be for the DX10 preview attributes, appreciated by few at the time of this review (Q4 2007), and the developers strongly recommend using the SP1 version of FSX for this product. If by chance you install the SP2-version of VeniceX, you can easily revert back to its SP1 standards and/or vice versa by renaming a couple of scenery files and following instructions in the manual (no need to uninstall/install).
There are two custom airports included in this package: Teressa (LIPZ) is the main local airport, and San Nicolo (LIPV), a small island airport south of the city. It is suggested to approach Teressa via the Alps which are a visual treat in themselves, then to hop over to San Nicolo using your general aviation favorite. I will be arriving from Zurich using the approach charts supplied in the manual (one of many); and the Venezia/Tessera STAR. There are many more charts and info supplied covering 26 pages of the manual.
Using FSCommander8 for my flight planer (updated after installing VeniceX), I am able to select STAR ALBERT 1A and get more precise information from the charts supplied in the VeniceX manual. If I were using VATSIM’s services, these would probably be followed, but I am using Radar Contact and will have to improvise the approach myself, if I want to follow it.
The manual suggests approaching Venice from the North in order to take in the spectacular Alps, which are indeed nice, especially with the help of Cloud9’s XClass for Europe (not required for the VeniceX scenery).
Did you know that Venice was built on 117 small islands, many of which are artificial? Being a walking and boating city, there is scant room for cars and even the public transit uses water buses.
From the above batch of pictures it is evident that Aerosoft succeeded once again to amaze me. This is a lot more than the HelgolandX I reviewed last year. In order to convey the complexity and total immersion possible as you get near the city, I am leaving it to the pictures to speak a thousand words each. One novel creation not seen elsewhere is moving trains on the bridge: there are four parallel tracks upon which they travel in both directions simultaneously and sometimes more than one per track. And hard to beat is that the fps is not affected that ,uch while flying over them. There are other animated ships and boats that navigate near the city and amongst its canals.
LIPZ: Venice Tessera: A package in itself with local terrain made from satellite imagery, this nice airport makes for a fine destination. The manual recommends that after arriving here you take a smaller airplane over to the grass strip of San Nicolo and then use a boat (as available as freeware at some places) to patrol the water roads of VeniceX.
LIPV: This smaller airport has a tower, so you may want to follow procedures for a visual approach according to the supplied charts. The runway is grass and makes for a rough landing and bumpy when taxiing, but it is worth visiting as there are custom buildings here too, adding to the illusion.
Summary / Closing Remarks
This must be one of the more impressive packages I’ve reviewed lately. Covering the entire island areas of Venice, this was indeed a lot of work on the part of Aerosoft. The main airport is practical and makes for an interesting destination when flying around the European continent. The smaller one, with one grass runway, was less impressive and served only as to complete the area’s navigational layout.
There are a couple of military airports near Venice (not in the package), but I did not visit them. Even though quite a few buildings of VeniceX are generic, ample variety in heights and sizes make for a believable simulation of the area. Custom buildings and bridges are great, and the active railroad bridge is novel.
This is indeed a work of art, as is the real Venice. Performance was excellent, with quite high fps everywhere except the runways. The manual suggests fixing the fps to a set value, but I left it at unlimited without any problems.
What I Like About Venice X
What I Don't Like About Venice X
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