Mega Scenery Earth 2.0: Switzerland.
FSX/P3D. Greetings from the Great Land! My name is E.K. Hoffen and I'm humbled and honored that D'Andre has invited me to do some reviews here on ADX and I only hope they're half as interesting as his are. As a real world commercial pilot here in Alaska and an avid sim enthusiast, I'm looking to add a different perspective to some of the add-ons available to our little community. Many of the reviews I do will be based on real world operations in regions and aircraft I am very familiar with and over real routes I have flown many times. But my first contribution here will be a look at the recently released MegaSceneryEarth: Switzerland. So please bear with an old ham-fisted, tongue-tied crate driver as I bomb around virtual Switzerland and give you my honest review of this product.
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
Ah, Switzerland. This country has always been very high on my list of places I'd like to visit, and a frequent destination with my FSX adventures. My virtual exploits range from an ILS to minimums on a stormy, snowy night into Zurich, to riding the thermals above Sion on perfect alpine day, and many hours of just hopping around exploring the region. The Alps are very similar to the different mountain ranges here in Alaska, except there are a lot more roads in Switzerland and subsequently it's a lot easier to access the peaks and valleys. Up here you have to fly in, or if you're a nutter you can hike in. Of course, the best way to see any mountains is in the pilot's seat and Switzerland is an awesome place to burn up time in whatever your aircraft of choice may be. Except helicopters. Helicopters are weird.
Honestly, I've always stayed away from photo realistic scenery products for one reason or another so this is a real first impression for me with any of the MegaSceneryEarth products. You can order MSE Switzerland either for download or on DVD. If you have a slow internet connection you may want to order the DVDs; the total size is about 8 GB divided into 8 separate zip files(not including the installer). I really like that they divide the files into separate 1 GB chunks, this can be a real life saver if you have a spotty internet provider(as I do). Nothing like downloading a giant file and at nearly the end, having a service interruption and having to start over. Fortunately I didn't have any trouble at all downloading the files, and once downloaded the installation is a snap. Just unzip the installer in the same folder as the scenery files and start it up, complete a few instructions and voilà, you're pretty much done. I was a bit disappointed to find no charts included with the package. Oh, well.
Time to fly. I loaded up my Citation Mustang at Sion (LSGS) for a VFR flight to Zurich-Kloten (LSZH) to get a good look at this scenery product and to see how Aerosoft's Zurich meshes with the photo realistic surroundings. All of my screenshots are straight V-key grabs; no editing except for a little cropping here and there.
Hmm, Flat castles.
Looking a little better at 1500' AGL.
Looking pretty good on that side.
Here is where MSE Switzerland really starts to shine, it's hard to beat photo real from altitude. The roads and rivers are all in the right place....well, everything is in the right place. The detail is pretty amazing. I admit I was skeptical about this product until I got up away from the ground and looked around, now I'm rethinking all my preconceived notions. Other than the color having a bluish tinge, it really looks fantastic. The glaciers are clear and the valleys beautiful, the switchback roads up the sides of the mountains are scary looking and yet somehow enticing, and the little ponds and lakes hidden in the peaks are just asking to be splashed down in. I see now that I may be spending much more time here in this beautiful little corner of the world.
Continuing on to Zurich with the Alps stretching out in the distance, the view is just captivating. I believe Mega Scenery Earth has won me over, at least flying through the jagged Swiss peaks.
Out of the mountains, on the descent and still looking good:
Coming up on Zurich.
Uh, oh.....I don't like the looks of this.
Yeah, this is a reality check. The honeymoon is over here, I think.
When seen next to a quality airport like Aerosoft's Zurich, the comparison is very clear. To me, the realism takes a big dive on approach, and can be very distracting (my excuse for being low on the glide path).
I NEED AUTOGEN!
On the plus side, the placement of the airport relative to the roads is spot on.
The borders show the color contrast with the default scenery. A little blue and washed out to me.
Here are some shots from FL300. The higher you go, the better it gets:
For the next flight I loaded up my Jet Prop in Locarno for more Alps flight seeing. Please place your seat in the full-upright position and fasten your seat belt, and enjoy.
Over the hill into scenic Lugano. The cars follow the real roads, neato.
The Glaciers are fantastic.
The Matterhorn is on the border with Italy which means the backside is the default scenery.
Runway misalignment is a common problem with photo real scenery. The default airports are sometimes a little (or a lot) off from the picture. It would be nice if MSE would address this, although that might drive up the price.
Interlaken looks rather “undefault-like”. Maybe they did fix some airports.
Airliner time. Vecters for the ILS 23 at Geneva Cointrin.
The border looks pretty good from 17,000 feet.Default trees on the France side of lake Geneva. TREES!
The more I fly around in MSE Switzerland, the more I find little things like this. They put some effort into the various dams and other features like bridges and such. Very nice. The question is: Can I land the Otter in there?
One of my favorite approaches in Switzerland is the twisty turny approach to Ambri's runway 29. Good fun:I love it here.
Looks fairly real.
3-D object! Yay!
Performance is good with MegaSceneryEarth Switzerland; I got frames greater than 30 most of the time on my aging, but trusty mid-range system. Although, for some reason my Flight1 Mustang took a frame rate hit in the mountains. And of course, Aerosoft Zurich took the frames down a bit..... mostly because I have WoAI at 80%. Otherwise everything was smooth.
In conclusion, I think the screenshots speak for themselves. Altitudes above 3000' AGL are gorgeous, especially in the mountains. It really is a fantastic experience cruising around among the majestic peaks and lush valleys of the Swiss Alps with this product. The downers are the lack of autogen and the scarce 3-D objects....oh, and did I mention the lack of night textures? No night flying for you. Well, there are some limited city lights around major areas like Zurich, but they look ….bad. I guess it just comes down to how important autogen and night textures are to you. Those mountains are beautiful. The price point makes it even more appealing; cheap enough to get and decide for yourself. I plan on many more excursions and much time spent tooling around the area. Oh, and the little lakes in the mountains must be frozen over.....I recommend using wheels or skis, not floats.
Now available from PCAviatior Australia!
Keep the dirty side down,