Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Orbx South Alaska : our review

FSX/P3D. Welcome in high mountains, glaciers, and a large number of landscapes. You have liked Northern Rockies ? You will probably be found of this one. Here enclosed, hours of test flights to catch the best of SAK.  Warning: Bandwidth!



Version tested : V.1.0 FSX.
File size : 3,8 GB.
Installation : Easy but will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes according to your computer speed.
Manual : Yes. 28 pages in english (no charts).
Utility : Yes (FTX Central, FTX day/Night).
Framerate : very friendly on GA (more than 30 FPS) and liners (around 18-26 FPS).
You will experience much better performances under DX10. This is typically the kind of scenery you can test with DX10 since there are minimal or none issues with DX10 (except if you fly under some specific addons like Ivao IVAP etc..).

Machine test :
My usual I7, 3,4 Ghz, 6 MB, with a Nvidia Geforce GTX 650 TI OC.
Windows Seven.

Compatibility note :

- I did not try Ultimate Alaska from Flight1 and frankly, i don't really see the point to use both Ultimate and SAK.
- I did not encounter any issue with Aerosoft Anchorage Ted Stevens PANC. The scenery has two layers, one for the airport and one for the terrain. As advised, i just deactivated the Anchorage terrain layer to "enjoy" SAK. But yes, you will loose some interesting terrain and photoreals parts developed by Sim-Wings and Aerosoft.


Now i understand why so many developers have been investigating this region, Misty Moorings and FSaddon+ communities (Tongass Fjords), Aerosoft (Anchorage airport) etc.. Just a few minutes over these glaciers and you are (i was) subjugated. I runned my tests flights with a liner (the NGX from PMDG) and with a GA aircraft, the Skymaster from Carenado. But most of the time, i enjoyed to fly with the Jetstream J41. I have planned 10 flights to find the best screenshots :

Fairbanks (Aerosoft) to Valdez.
Seward to Girdwood
Juneau to Skagway
Whitehorse to Carcross (Yukon)
Yakuta to Malaspina Glacier
Cordova to Pinnacle Rock
Elfin Cove to Cape Spencer (helipad).
Soldotna to Shell oil platforms...
Anchorage to Skagway
Sitka to Valdez
Valdez, Seward, Skagway, there are many of these airfields/airports just enhanced by the surroundings mountains. Although Valdez is a simple single runway, i really hope Orbx will make an add-on of it in the future. The place is just charming...

Valdez airport from Google EArth.

The bad :

- Still no People Flow in winter. Would make sense...

- No specific Flow tech included here, until further notice. I still pray to see some deers and bears in the mountains ! (my usual routine...)

The good :

- A very detailed Skagway airfield.

- A large number of interesting airports.

- Incoming projects from Russ White (Juneau, Orbx), and Misty Moorins.

- Very long spin of life.

* * * * *

SAK has been managed by a pretty large team, with Holger Sandmann for the geospatial data processing, the terrain, landclasses etc. Also included in this team, Tim Harris, Alex Goff, Jon Patch, who worked on Skagway, Neil Hill, Chris Clack, Graham Eccleston and Edward Correia.

I have seen dozens of different glaciers forms and colors. Of course, if you switch the seasonal textures to spring and summer, they will retreat !

Around Cordova. The Municipal airport (CKU) is really tricky with the road traffic and the mountain, just aside.
* * * * *
I have a point of comparison here, speaking about ice and snow textures. Antarctica X (LimeSim, Aerosoft) was a huge work but i never watched such details on textures : traces on the snow, stripes and scrapes. They really give a depth.

* * * * *


Oil and gaz installations near Soldotna and Nikiski. See all these helipads !
* * * * *


Another form of glacier. Traces of ice are very faint on this one..
Wonderful textures here below on these two shots. Very high resolution.

A great view, taken after departing from Seward to Girdwood. The PMDG Jetstream is a great aircraft to explore this large area. Once released, the Majestic Q400 will be an excellent choice too.
* * * * *
So this is Juneau PAJN airport, with the sailplane base on the right side of the runway. A central place for many flights. The final approach on the runway 26 is very tricky, by the way, with the hills on your glidepath... The second screenshot below this one gives you a better idea of the diversity of landscapes.  

* * * * *
A ballad in Yukon. We are at Whitehorse, flying to Carcross in the south-east. The airport is elevated over the city. A lot of steep slopes and hills here, And you can see small towns perched on plateaus.

Flying to Carcross.
* * *  * *

You will probably find more of these helipads in SAK (here is Cape Spencer). Just check them in your .Kmz file.
I also found Cape St-Elias for instance. But you will be more impressed by the whole Kayak island.

* * * * *
Skagway, a small add-on in the larger add-on. This is the cherry on the cake. And apparently, Orbx has decided at the end of the development to add a special touch to this steep and craggy place. The runway is not long enough for the B-737-600 here. But the PMDG Jetstream would do it nicely. The airport surroudings are very detailed with a lot of houses. We don't like to give tips on support here but just for the record, i had some floating houses at the beginning, and i finally discovered that my old AI Traffic add-on was conflicting... I just regret that Orbx cannot include some AI aircrafts here but i think the relief totally forbid it.

So, after my ten flights across Orbx South Alaska, i think i didn't cover more than 20 % of the area. There is so much too see, from the region of Anchorage to the "flat" areas of Yukon Territory. From Juneau Intl airport to the formidable Malaspina glacier... Just explore... Personally, this is my new playground. I am even giving up Pacific Northwest ! (calm down, Dom). And you can enjoy liaisons to Ketchikan, Stewart, Fairbanks etc.. 
Want to make some comparisons with EU England Sim720 ? Yes maybe, this one is the team number one, but that's not the purpose. Holger and his collegues have thousands of days on these american areas. This one is an accomplishment. So what's now for them ? Northern Alaska ?
No, We say go to the south, go the North California !! Ah !
Thanks !
Reviewed by Dom Mason
Airdailyx, April 2nd 2013
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