DD are well established scenery developers for both the ESP and X-Plane simulators and their latest release for Seatle certainly shows their expertise in this area and why they’ve garnered a reputation for beautiful scenery. But is it good enough for a heli simmer?
This review actually covers two separate packages. It made sense to us to do it as a whole (even if we could obviously do it separately) as they complement each other and cover the same area.
The two packages are split in the following way:
Seattle Airports XP -- covering the major airports of KSEA, KPEA, KBFI,KRNT,S50 and their immediate surrounds
Seattle City XP -- covering their entire city area of Seattle from Everett in the north down past Kent, East past Redmond (and the Microsoft Campus) to Vashon Island in the South West. As a side treat there is also photoscenery coverage for Mount Rainier though it is restricted to the summit and nicely blended into the default textures.
Installation was very well done and certainly shows that DD understand their market. With options in Seattle Aiports to install with options to turn Static Aircraft on or off (for those using xLife or World Traffic 3) and Ground Photoreal on or off (for those using Ortho4XP).
I can’t count how many YouTube videos I’ve seen with people making traffic routes for aircraft, decrying how the developers should just remove all of the static aircraft. Well now they can.
I'm not sure how many heli pilots use xLife or WT3, but really we’re not their target audience for this are we and so I’ll give them credit for giving us all options. Options are good.
With Seattle being the home to the Boeing Corporation both Boeing Field KBLI and Paine Field KPAE are wonderfully detailed with the different Boeing factories and work areas and there is a lot going on at these airports.
Make sure you check out the Everett Factory at KPAE and take a small helo so you can fly inside the massive factory and see how those behemoths are constructed, just be careful of the workers getting caught in your rotorwash.
Now the fact I can joke about that says a that spent a lot of time designing their premium product (US$43 from the Org Store). There were quite a few times I found myself pulling back into a hover as I noticed little stories being told with the people they’ve placed around their scenery. Aside from all of the moving vehicles, having people in a scene really making it more “real” and more engaging.
Unfortunately I didn’t see many more of these stories anywhere else apart from KPAE and KBLI around the Boeing areas. That’s not to say that KSEA, KRNT and S50 aren’t well done, far from it, there is as much attention to detail with the buildings and objects as there are with KPAE and KBLI and the food hall at KSEA is perhaps the exception here as there are certainly people enjoying the view and waiting for their flights, but that’s it. There no controllers in any of the towers, there are hardly any people anywhere and the world feels empty because of it.
This is where it gets interesting. Seattle City is such a mixed bag for me because it does a fantastic job of providing an extremely expansive city scape for us to fly around, which looks stunning during the day and beautiful at night with fantastic use of XP’s lights and LIT textures.
However, that’s all you can do. The “included” helipads are, regrettably, afterthoughts. Some are covered by roads, others by trees and all, are boring and useless with the possible exception of SC (WN98) though that has issues itself.
This is quite unfortunate as there are plenty of interesting Helipads they could have used instead. In addition most of the Helipads are also named incorrectly:
- KS68 has trees covering the helipad
- FA24 is not placed near where it is reported
- P (WN93) is actually WN93 Park 90 Heliport
- WN71 has been placed on a road
- WV37 is also on a road
- SC (WN98) has been situated in the E-5 carpark for Graves Field and is actually WT22 Graves Field Heliport
There’s a couple of buildings in the city skyline too that clearly have helipads and cannot land on them.
I do however have some suggestions for DD for some more interesting Helipads:
Other suggested Helipads for Seattle
- WA53 Harborview Medical Center Heliport
- WA54 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza Heliport
- WN16 KOMO-TV Heliport
Helipad suggestions for Bellevue
Helipad suggestions for Everett
Most of these buildings are already present in their rendition of Seattle so here’s hoping we can get an update in the future.
All in all we have an awesome mesh for this scenery and it really shows how the many hills and valleys make up the area and give the city its character.
Some of the buildings however have not been set correctly and do not conform to the mesh, with some whole areas floating above the ground. Overall most people wont notice that when they cruise out at 5000’ heading for their transition in their tubeliners, but heli & bush pilots like to fly low and slow and it can be distracting at times.
With thousands of buildings and millions of autogen it’s going to bring my system crashing down right?
No not really, as performance was surprisingly good. I consistently got around 35-40fps in VR for most areas and sitting around 45-50 in 2D @ 1440p.
I’m fortunately enough to have a pretty powerful PC (8770K, 16Gb and GTX1080) and i’m getting this with the following settings:
- World Objects: High
- Graphics: HDR
- Textures: Max (compressed)
- Anti Aliasing: Low
- Reflections: Low
Even bumping World Objects to Max only set me back around 5-8fps in 2D.
Seattle City and Airports are truly beautiful and for most simmers a no brainer instant purchase. But are they, at the end,any good for a heli simmer? They could be.
As I said, the whole area is (on the whole) beautifully done and really amazing to fly around in, but that’s all I can do. I cannot land on any of the rooftop helipads, none of the hospital helipads are represented and the helipads provided are incredibly lackluster. But if we don’t let them know that we love their scenery and how they could improve it, then how is anyone going to improve?
Go buy them, fly around Seattle at sunrise and watch the sun come over the mountain ranges to the east and slowly illuminate the city. Let DD know you enjoyed their product, but also show them how it could be better, with your own suggestions for helipads in the area and how you would use them.
Where to get the Drzewiecki Design Seattle City XP and Seattle Airports XP
- Fantastic Scenery
- Detailed main airports
- Great install options
- Finding little moments around the airports
- Good performance
- Heliports are forgettable
- Mesh issues (though very minor)
- Not enough moments amongst the whole scenery