Saturday, November 9, 2013

ADX FirstLook: SIM720 Catalina!

P3D. We'll, what a very nice addon to arrive on the day of my birthday. Of all the popular paces in the world, Southern California is a region that has been overlooked time and again. With the exception of some excellent freeware addons, SoCali has been largely overlooked over the years. Cloud9 with LAX, FlyTampa with SAN, Shez with ONT and LGB, FSDT back with LAX and LatinVFR with their own updated rendition of SAN. All of the above is not even 1% of what Southern California has to offer. Needless to say, i'll take every little bit I can get. Aerosoft's US Cities LA is likely the biggest project ever created for the area in terms of scale and if you have it, you know what it offers. If you don't, there is one little reason why you might want to consider the purchase if you are going after Sim720's KAVX. Confusing? Come along! We are off to Catalina!
ADX>>2 UPDATES included at the bottom of the review.

Many of you have seen my first vid of me taking on the legendary Piper Arrow and i'm still on my Arrow kick which explains my selection today. As there are no high quality payware airfields so show off in the area, my screenshots start off en-route. 

What's that big dark brown area i'm approaching? That is the Sim720 KAVX scenery area surrounded by the photo terrain of the Catalina Island product by LimeSim's US Cities LA. The issue is, the Sim720 dark brown area is a high-res photo coverage surrounding the airport and approach but that's it. The entire island is default with options to blend in with MSE2.0 or Orbx FTX Global.
I would have liked to see a third option making the product compatible with US Cities LA. The LA product provides a very high res ground image. But unlike MSE 20. SoCali, there is autogen populating the entire island. Thus I do recommend buying US Cities LA. But besides the textures blending issue, there is some minor texture bleeding that will happen at random when either flying overhead or approaching. But it's barely noticeable from the exterior and not noticeable at all from the VC. A small price to pay to get the best of both worlds.

See the above shot? See the below shot? As we get closer, you see the US Cities LA textures bleed through. But it is only seen as I pan the camera far back from the exterior. Again, from the VC, all this activity is pretty much out of your view. Another good thing, is, the textures don't stutter. They will blend in a solid manner.
KAVX Catalina Airport is situated on Santa Catalina Island and is known as the ‘Airport in the Sky’ due to its elevation at 1,602 ft (488 m). The airport is located 6 miles (10 km or 5 NM) northwest of Avalon, or to position it in relation to the mainland of the USA, it is off Long Beach, Los Angeles, California. Although most U.S. airports use the same three-letter location identifier for the FAA and IATA, Catalina Airport is assigned AVX by the FAA and CIB by the IATA. The airport originally opened as "Buffalo Springs Airport" in the late 1930s. Prior to this time the Island was accessible only to amphibious aircraft.

The runway was built by blasting away the tops of two mountains and using the 200,000 truckloads of rock to fill the gap between them. A scheduled passenger service was briefly provided by United Airlines in DC-3s but this was discontinued; it is however used for airfreight from the mainland, with supplies being delivered via a Douglas DC-3 aircraft daily. Don’t be fooled by the long-disused refueling equipment which is located in the pavement in front of the terminal building, no fuel is actually available. It does however sell buffalo burgers.

Nice runway textures.

But hmmm... the ramp textures could really be sharper. A little too blurry for my taste. I like a sharp crisp look.
Great looking static aircraft and cars!
Great attention with the flora. The environment is perfect! This really looks and feels like Catalina!

I don't think the runway is curved... In the very far background across the Pacific, is the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Many of you know I am a serious road cyclist. On most weekends when not club riding, I solo ride from Marina Del Rey to Rolling Hills Estates which has some very good category 3 and 4 climbs with a 1,200ft elevation accent. On a clear day, without our famous smog, Catalina Island is clearly visible from there.

Here you see the differences with the textures between Sim720 and Aerosoft US Cities LA.
And below you see the default FTX Global textures. See what I mean? You might really want the US Cities LA.

Above another shot of the default island with FTX Global surrounding the airport.

Okay so many of you might be thinking: "I have US Cities LA and it already comes with a nice Catalina airport." When you compare the two, you quickly see just how dull the US Cities version is. 

 Above is US Cities and below is Sim720.
 Above is US Cities and below is Sim720.
So I think the choice is obvious. As far as performance is concerned, you need not worry. With the HD clouds and water at max, 50FPS flying around the island, on approach and departure was the average. Sim720 has done a great job capturing Catalina Airport and I really hope the team will return to Southern California with more airfields in the future. 

Update: Now if you want Aerosoft /  LimeSim's Catalina island to pair with Sim720's Catalina without buying US Cities LA, you can get it for free HERE

Additional note: Sim720 Catalina is fully compatible with US Cities Catalina. Just be sure to set compatibility to default in the control panel.

Happy Flighting!
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Drzewiecki Design said...

IMHO it would be nice to have a few comparison photos between a product and a real thing, not only comparisons between different products.

DAndre Newman said...

I'll be there in a couple months time. Can take some shots then...

Kevin Firth said...

I've compared it with images I've found on the web, as far as I can see it's pretty damned accurate.

Drzewiecki Design said...

Its not a problem to find some pictures: , but to compare them with the FS version (the same camera view).

Todd said...

I really like this scenery. It even has the water-based airport if you prefer amphibian aircraft.

I could almost swear the runway isn't flat, but maybe it's just an illusion.


Unknown said...

I'm fairly impressed with this one although, I'd expect sim720 to do the entire island as well. Sort of like how Aegean-X was done and not just the airport.

Nick Svejdal said...

Hi DAndre

Thanks for the very nice review.

We noticed that you found a compatible issue running the airport with US Cities X, I can see from your screenshots that you tested it with both MegaSceneryEarth and FTX Global setup, but you get the best blend with selecting default on our control panel.

Here is a link to our forum with a step by step guide to make it blend properly.

Kind Regards

Nick Svejdal - Sim720

DAndre Newman said...

Hey Nick,

I'll give it a shot and update. D'

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