Orbx Canberra Cityscape.
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
The Capital city of Canberra is located about 140NM southwest of Sydney. And what an amazing Capital it is, lots of interesting stuff to see. But I'm not going to copy/paste Wikipedia here, so if you want any more minutia relating to this fine city, the internet awaits. What I am going to do is examine the FSX version by the team at Orbx and show what you can expect to experience.
FTX Canberra has been 3 years in the making by Maurizio Giorgi, and covers a massive 180 square miles of area. Each building and structure has been hand-placed and over a 100 points of interest have been recreated for us. At the risk of sounding like an Orbx fanboy (I prefer fanman, if you please), it is utterly fantastic. That is all. Really, the stuff Orbx creates is what I have always dreamed about for flight simulation and this just raises the bar further. If Orbx continues to produce stuff like this from their uber-talented developers....I think they will become very rich, and I will become poor. But: although the scenery is spectacular, my particular experience was not entirely without hiccups.
One of my disappointments with FSX is the night-flying experience, it's okay...but it's missing something: decent lights. Sure, when it was first released I thought, wow, this is so much better than fs9, but it is still just blotches of yellow splattered about the ground. Less than perfect...much less. Thankfully Orbx is fixing this for us, in a big way.... in fact, on a world-wide scale, with FTX Global, vector lighting, and such. Now we have realistic 3D lights to enrich our night flying. Thank you, Orbx, thank you very much. Unfortunately, I do not yet have FTX global, so I was all atwitter to get Australia, Canberra Airport, and Canberra City Scape installed so I could check out the 3D lighting.
So, after selecting the global region Australia in FTX Central and selecting night mode using the FTX Night icon, I loaded up my Bonanza A36 in YSCB, anticipating a new level of night-lighting awesomeness to enhance the night realism. The airport lights shown brightly and beautifully in the inky dark as I applied full power on my Beech. Then, as Bernoulli's theory became reality and I rose into night, the big continental steadfastly singing its powerful song, I swiveled my view to the west and......eh? Not what I was anticipating at all. My lights were missing. Gone. Long story short, I reloaded, restarted, re-installed, and finally went to Orbx for help.
I tell you what, those guys at Orbx are keen to help you solve your problems. The Orbx Support Forums are a great resource and a seemingly tireless force in problem solving. Not just with my situation either. Looking through the different posts shows a high level of dedication to their customers and a desire to continually improve the products. You can't ask for more than that. Being able to interact one-on-one with the developers is, in my opinion, the best way to handle support.
And, most importantly, I got my lights! I'm fairly certain that my problem was an isolated issue. I searched the support forums and did not find the same hang-up. So my deal should not be a concern for anyone....and if it is, rest assured a solution will be found. I am even glad I did have a glitch. It gave me an opportunity to experience first hand Obrx's product support. Top notch.
Now about those lights. Have you ever had that experience where you get a new game that raises the bar on graphics, and you kinda forget the game play? You just stand around checking it all out, awe-struck, until, whack, you get bullet-struck. Yeah, that happened to me as I took off again, looking west toward the city, I forgot to set climb power, pull the gear.........I was just staring at all the twinkling lights spread out before me. Not randomly placed, but lining the streets and highlighting the buildings and parking lots.....It is just beautiful. Maurizio has created a masterpiece.....
My only other hiccup was downloading from the Flight Sim Store: I seem to have problems downloading large Orbx files. I get a bad case of downloadus interruptus, especially toward the end of the download. Lots of fist shaking and tears. It's not just me, or my crappy internet, I've heard it from others, too. The solution, of course, is to use a download manager. I've tried several different free programs and they've all worked fine.
I highly recommend you grab FTX's YSCB to compliment the Canberra City Scape. It completes the picture and provides much more goodness and happiness to your experience. That is unless you have a low horsepower system, as the FPS do take a bit of a hit.
And speaking of performance, it pays to follow the User Guide. I, of course, did not, I went for it with my usual settings, which is all sliders hard right, including my WOAI traffic. My frames where not too good. After following the guide, and tweaking the control panel for YSCB, I averaged better than 15 FPS depending on what aircraft I was using. Not too bad for my wimpy rig. I did get an occasional stutter, but no more than I usually get.Anyhoo, on to the screenshots:
This set depicts: Downtown. Telstra Tower on Black Mountain. Parliament. Hey, a Motorsports complex. A Beauty shot. Airliner action.
Zipping around Canberra in a fast plane is nice and all, but to really appreciate how much work went into this project, it must be viewed from a 'real' airplane. Something like a Champ or a J-3 Cub. I was almost tempted to fly a helicopter......Ha, Ha,... no, not really - friends don't let friends die fly in helicopters. Really, I will be spending hours exploring this area in something low and slow, so many details to enjoy.
I've never been to Canberra....or Australia for that matter, but being a huge geography buff, and a very skilled and proficient Google Earth operator, I would say Maurizio's Cityscape is very accurate and certainly gives me the feeling of being there. The attention to detail is at the highest level I have ever seen in a scenery add-on, especially at night. If Orbx keeps producing stuff like this I may have to start neglecting my personal hygiene and just quite reality altogether.
The take-away from this is, not only does Orbx produce some of the best scenery products available, but they are dedicated to backing them up. That is a sure recipe for continued success.
My recommendation? Even if you have a fear of Kangaroos, you should add this to your Orbx collection. If you don't have an Orbx collection, this is an excellent reason to start one.
Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times,