Are the Orbx products our solution to London City’s lack of details?
When we first heard of MSFS and saw the visual quality of the simulator and its advertised 2 petabytes of world data, a lot of people thought this will end the scenery developers. But, the sim has been released and some are disappointed with the default scenery. One of the biggest disappointments was certainly London city with its lack of 3d photogrammetry and lack of details in general of major landmarks. However, Orbx saved us with their product London City Airport and Landmark London City Park. Both products enhance the experience of the city of London and the true colors of Britain’s capital city. But, is it worth the money or shall we wait for the World Update 3 - England from Microsoft? Let’s find out! This review will focus on the EGLC airport and part 2 will cover the London City Landmark.
Who is Orbx?
Orbx was founded in 2005 and released its first product in 2006. Since, they have published over 800 products for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D, Aerofly FS 2, Laminar Research X Plane, and Microsoft Flight Simulator. They are well distinguished in our community by their different product lineup, such as Global Range, TrueEarth regional packs, airports from GA to commercial services, and Cityscape.
What is so special about London City Airport?
London City Airport is a commercial airport situated in the middle of London City, literally. It sits beside the river Thames in the east portion of the capital. It’s recognised worldwide for many reasons, like their 5,5° steep approach, the need of a special qualification, and its prestige for the flight BA001 from London to New York City! It was constructed in 1986, and had its first commercial flight in 1987. Since then, the airport has served more than 64 billions passengers across the world by its single runway! Planes ranging from executive jets to A318 fly on the airport, giving rare sights of the unique planes in the middle of a unique city.
If you’re a new user, you might take some time for the first installation. First, you need to download Orbx Central to download your sceneries. It took 7 steps to setup your Orbx Central, with your account, sim installed, libraries, etc. It is fairly long if you just want to use it, but considering Orbx is offering different products, it’s a great hub for future purchases. So, I went to download and install EGLC Airport and London City Landmarks. However, while downloading, I was surprised to see that there’s no user guide for both products. This could be helpful to see what is covered exactly by the scenery and having the approach templates. So all in all, the Orbx Central is a great hub and for future product it will be easier.
So, the airport itself. I will compare a few things with the default scenery and the IRL. This will show how it improves from the default and until where it is closed to real life. The layout of the airport itself is pretty close to the real life counterpart. The runway marks, the type of ground, and the taxiways are really close. However, I must say that the construction boats and installations are missing, but considering construction is temporary, it’s certainly what is the best for the future. The surroundings of the airport is a big improvement from the default version. Bridges, roads, and buildings are well placed and give an authentic feeling of the London borough of Newham.
The custom terminal is certainly one of the core features of this product. Orbx delivered a great product in its main terminal. It definitely feels more natural in its environment than the default buildings. The colors, placement, and exterior models are simply good. However, I can’t say the same for interior modeling. There’s only few places where you can actually see the interior, but it’s just a wall of departure flights and few benches, nothing from the terminal. Given that this is becoming the new industry standard, it’s disappointing to only see opaque windows instead of people, stores, waiting room, or benches. But, except for that point, it’s perfectly fine and way better than the default scenery.
Texture is a major aspect when it comes to sceneries. Orbx did a very good job at these. The colors look accurate, the terminal seems good, there’s no complaint. Except two things. First, some buildings have strange materials. The firefighter station and the private terminal have their textures look like… metal? The Windows doesn’t seem smooth. Finally, in winter, there’s some spot where it looks like there never has snow. Having looked closely, it’s only on the dark asphalt. I hope this will be resolved in a future update. But in general, it’s really good, it’s nice and crisp, the PBR is well implemented. All in all, the texture work in this airport is pretty good.
Having flown a couple of times in the airport, I haven't notice any drop in performance while flying or taxiing around the airport. While my computer isn't the best, the frame per second remained constant throughout my flights. Orbx did a really good job on maintaining a low impact for it scenery.
Overall the airport is a great addition for the simulator. Their textures meet the high standards, the terminal is looking nice and modern. But, is it worth 11.14$ USD? Yes! Despite the minor little errors, it's still really enjoyable. Performance is a major point in this simulator, considering the sim isn't optimized to the latest standards. Hopefully, by the time, we will have a better enhanced London!