We have finally arrived.
Now a quick note about my review style for those of you who have not experienced one of my reviews before. To start, my review style is anything but mainstream. I don't go into system specs because let's face it, everyone has a different system and everyone will have a different look and experience. I also don't go into the product install processes unless it is somehow super complicated. I won't go into airport histories and statistics as I don't want to insult your intelligence and besides, you can read Wikipedia articles yourself.
So when you have a product this large, it can be difficult to determine exactly where to start. Not only is the city itself covered complete with the islands and Sheikh Zayed Road, but so is Dubai Marina and Sharjah as well. Thus, I think the best place to start here is with the centerpiece itself: DXB.
Me after 9 hours flying with 8 more hours to go.But this time, all of this can still happen without getting your fat ass off the computer and still feel as if you arrived in Dubai. This is because the scenery work is so real to life, you can't help but feel as if you are really there and I have been there! And it's this amazing work that makes Martin so damn good at what he does.
I sincerely hope you'll enjoy!
As my first trip here was merely weeks after the opening of terminal 3, a lot of finishing touches were still going on. But that did not deter me from being so awe inspired of what immediately became the best looking structure I had ever seen. Needless to say, my lovely Dock E back in Zurich merely felt like ant poop compared to this place. It was... it IS... truly an amazing place and Martin captured it perfectly and true to form. I was one of the lucky few Martin confided in a couple years back when he mentioned to me he was strongly considering rebooting Dubai. From that point on, all I could do was wait and pray. Well Martin has answered our prayers and has come to our rescue like a knight in shining armor!
Honestly, I have to admit: In my opinion, this is the best project ever created for FS. And unless someone corrects me, it's also the biggest in terms of the number of scenery objects present. Now there is another project that comes to mind when I think "biggest" and "best" and that's the Orbx PNW complete with all it's included airports. But these products just don't compare to each other. In scale, both are quite large indeed.
Besides FT HongKong, I have never seen so many buildings in a scenery before. This trumps HKG by far. Heck, just the number of buildings placed in Sharjah alone are more than what's present Hong Kong. I could be wrong... but I doubt it.
Now if you were to ask FlyTampa fans what they love the most about FT sceneries, I believe the first response would be regarding easy frame rates. The second response without a doubt would be about FT's texture baking methods. Now when it comes to texture baking, I believe the 3 leading developers are FlyTampa, FS Dreamteam, and FlightBeam Studios. Umberto has said some negative remarks in the past on how he believes his methods and texturing are superior to FlyTampa's. I was amazed to see just how many FSDT fans went to FT's defense. From what I have seen in the many years I have been in this hobby, many people in this hobby regard FlyTampa to be the very best in the business.
Is this my opinion also? Well, um... hard to answer... and not so hard.
And here's why:
In my opinion, the ultimate FS development group is Orbx. The reason is obvious. But Orbx is not in the business of making A380 capable airport sceneries. And until this year with the advent of their New Zealand scenery, Orbx was not big on creating large metropolitian cities either. Yet still, it's very hard to determine. What I will say is this: Between Grorge and Martin, FlyTampa does make the very best when it comes to quality not being compromised by framerates and vise-versa.
With FlyTampa, I never... i'll repeat: NEVER have any stutters or framerate problems with any of their sceneries. And what makes them so great is how they manage to do this without compromising the look and quality of their work.
What also makes Martin's and George's work stand out among all other developments is their affinity to push the environment out beyond the airport perimeter fence. Even with Martin's smaller works, still he manages to keep the default world from completely taking over or leaving a large void exclusion zone around the airport.
This is something I wish all developers did.
Given the fact that no other developer has ever taken on a project of this scale essentially does make Martin the best in the business. And i'll be clear: This is a project of just 1 person. So yeah. He's the best. There! I said it.
Here, everything was done just right! One thing that makes this product better than its elder predecessor is almost no part of the scenery was left out and it has a much higher degree of accuracy. Everything here looks and is in their proper place.
Now it may be hard to believe but there are actually a couple of things I need to point out here that I was rather displeased with. The first thing is actually very simple yet it displeased me nonetheless when I noticed that the Emirates Airline headquarters was missing the corporate building logo on both ends.
I don't know how Martin missed that. But he did correct this in his V2.1 update as seen below!
And if any of you are interested in what the inside looks like, here is a shot of me at lunchtime. They have a very nice cafeteria as well as a couple nice cafes and eateries. But only expect to find soy bacon for breakfast!! I was all like: "OOh! Bacon! Yes i'll have 5 of those. I thought pork was a no-no here." Took a bite and nearly threw up.
photo copyright AirTeamImagesI don't want to beat up Martin too bad here. But for what it's worth, these are the only areas in the entire 23 mile wide scenery area that I had an issue with. I'll cross my fingers for a future update.
DXB NIGHT SHOTS
Now whereas Martin did add some moving vehicles on the ramp areas, they are very few and thus the FSX version does not look busy at all. In fact, if anything, the FS9 version looks busier with all my AI packs present on the airfield. Martin elected not to use AES lite and in my opinion, that was a bad call.
Another thing is whereas you will find vehicle traffic around the airport, street traffic is limited to this area due to frame rate issues with FSX. In FS9, you could literally cover every road in the entire city area with AES lite vehicles and see little to no impact on performance. My system runs the entire FS9 product in its sleep. But when I run the product in FSX, the cooling fans start screaming. Despite this, my average FPS flying around the city in FSX was 27-45 with all but the water sliders mixed out so still I am still impressed with FT's ability to deliver outstanding performance.
With FS9... hehe... I didn't even look at the frames. But I imagine they were about the same as if it was all default scenery. Purrs like a kitten.
Very well done Martin!
A lot of developers rely on autogen to populate cities around their custom building objects. Few developers get it right, most get it wrong as autogen is just so difficult to work with and predictability of autogenic behavior (yes, I just made that word up) can become erratic at best as it varies from system to system. Also autogen tends to get jealous around custom objects and tends not to show up at all.
In this case, there is no autogen at all. Every single building in custom made and this is how a city should be done. I imagine there must be about at least 3 to 5,000 custom buildings in the scenery and that is what makes this project so impressive. Let's start with the Emirate and city of Sharjah.
Now if you have been to the region some may say that Sharjah is the "hood" or "ghetto" of the UAE. It's also important to note it is a separate Emirate from Dubai and has it's own government and royal family. But in reality, the royal family of Abu Dhabi reigns supreme here nonetheless as whenever the other Emirates need cash infusions, they go to Abu Dhabi to get it. And believe me, there are caveats to these loans and bailouts.
A large portion of the area is industrial. I have heard many stories among my expatriate friends about this area and most simply stay away if they can help it. But to be honest, there are some very beautiful areas to visit in Sharjah. Just keep in mind that the police tend to be a lot more strict here and the area's laws are not as liberal as Dubai and Abu Dhabi so I highly recommend you leave that bottle of Stella behind. It's illegal.
I always recommend hiring a taxi over renting a car if you visit any Emirate but never in my life was I so afraid for my life as I am when riding the streets in a cab in the UAE. People drive crazy!! Thank goodness for the monorail.
But no matter. We are visiting the FlyTampa version of Sharjah and it's nothing but beautiful. My words simply can't accurately explain just how well done everything is here.
Looking North towards the Persian Gulf.
Hundreds of custom building objects.
I just love all the trees!
E-11: Sheikh Zayed Road
Here I present you with 2 photos:
Downtown Los Angeles.
Downtown Dubai along the E-11
Now both images depict large cities before major growth. The Los Angeles picture was taken during the 1920's! Whereas the photo of Dubai is only from 1995! That's barely 17 years prior at the time of this review. Talk about quick development and growth!
Amazing! And Martin's talent clearly shines throughout the entire scenery. Etisalat and Emirates towers clearly present in the background. I remember my first trip down this road. By day, it's amazing! But at night it's quite scary. You see, a lot of these buildings are vacant so traveling down the E-11 at night yields a lot of blacked out buildings and almost makes you feel like it's the end of the world or something. Seeing so many skyscrapers without lights is scary. This of course due to overbuilding in the country which led to high vacancies and foreclosures. But don't worry! All those buildings are beautifully lit at night in the sim!
Here the architecture of the local buildings are different than in other areas. This also shows the commitment and passion Martin puts in his work. He easily could have just made 2 or 3 generic buildings and placed them everywhere. But from city to city, they do change. As Jumeirah is more of an affluent area, we see a better type of generic dwelling. Smart. Very smart.
That is because looking at the building from this angle resembles the Christian Cross. Rumors are: the government after noticing this mandated that no pictures shall be displayed from this angle. Whether or not this is true, IDK. But I will say this, all the Burj Al Arab symbols with the cross depicted on license plates were removed without explanation back in 2004.
Either way, it's a beautiful building and Martin did a terrific job!
Dubai Marina / Emirates Hills
Emirates at night!
OOHH!! Now we get on to my favorite part! The night shots! This city is so much beautiful during the day but it's even better at night! Now whereas the FS9 version is bright and colorful at night, the FSX version is more vibrant and is complete with flashing strobe lights on various buildings including the Burj Khalifa.
To say the effort performed by Martin is truly outstanding would be the understatement of the year. I honestly don't believe I have ever been so impressed with an FS product before. This thing is freaking huge! All the custom buildings, all the texturing, placing the trees... I just can't begin to imagine all the work that went into this impressive feat.
Where I also find my profound respect for Martin is through all the hard work, passion and pride clearly seen in his work. No part of this scenery seemed rushed or half finished. Everything is so detailed and present true to form in their correct places. I really don't know how to properly tip my hat here but to say:
Thanks! and Great job!
Martin continues to swing his home runs time again and this time he has hit the ball so far out of the park, it's hard to believe it all was done by 1 man. This scenery is an absolute MUST have for ALL flight simulation enthusiasts. And if you have no interest in this product then I am sad for you because you are truly missing out on so much. The screenshots shown above just barely scratch the surface of what this product has to offer.
When you get yours, be sure to put the 777 down and pick up a powered glider and discover everything this work has to offer.
I have absolutely no clue how Martin is going to top this. Besides Hong Kong and Dubai where can he go next to show this level of talent on such a grand scale? Tokyo maybe? Spinning my Google Earth globe, I honestly can't decide where he will go next but I will say this. Whatever it is, wherever it is. I want it!
Also note the V2.1 update for the scenery:
- Updated ILS frequences
- Added DBX-VOR
- Made Static Apron Vehicles Optional (Higher Performance without)
- Added Optional Default Runway Lighting (FS9 only)
- Added Green Center Lights always On Option (Real world Dubai)
- Added Emirates Logos to Headquarter Building
- Increased Taxisign visibility radius
- Fixed Elevation Flatten (FS9 only)
- Other Enhancements & Performance Tweaks
And the performance update for FS9:
- Decreased Jetways' visibility radius for Performance
- Decreased Vegetation visibility radius for Performance
Now go and get it!
Thanks for reading!
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Copyright Airdailyx November 2012. All rights reserved.