ORBX has been in the market for quite some time and, for many, they are the benchmark of scenery design; the guys that everyone should look at when talking about the subject. And they have delivered over and over again.
So, can we build the ultimate general scenery for FSX and P3D? For that we would need to try 3 of ORBX products: FTX Global Base, FTX Global Vector and FTX Global openLC. Each one adds layer over layer of scenery goodness and improves FSX and P3D drastically.
Is this a new product? No. It's not. And I don't want to present it as a new product. My intention was to test and talk about how these 3 products go together and if they are worth it for virtual pilots -- especially helicopter pilots.
The bottom layer: FTX Global Base
The first package we need to install is FTX Global Base. This alone drastically improves the scenery by adding a plethora of enhancements to our default scenery: a huge set of new ground (with all 4 seasons) and autogen building textures. 3D night lighting, updated landclass and a bunch of other stuff that we don't even remember they're there and make everything look so, so much better.
After the installation I started to have amazing cities. Not just because of the new textures and light but also because the amount of autogen that FTX Global Base adds is absolutely insane compared to the default scenery.
There is an obvious impact on framerate so you may need to visit your sim's settings and tweak the autogen if you have a lower spec computer like I do (my current ASUS does not handle simulators that well).
FTX Global Base completely transforms your sim and makes it look great all over the world. And that's just the start.
Going up: FTX Global Vector
Vector brings you an extra layer of detail to your scenery. You will now have accurate coastlanes and water bodies (such as rivers and lakes) which was a very drastic improvement in my case since my country is not that well represented in FSX.
One of the things I immediately noticed was the amount of roads that were added as well as road traffic. Roundabouts, which are quite common in Europe, also popped up, which is pretty cool. Also cool was the fact that train lines are now a lot more present (and in the right place as far as I could tell).
There are a lot of other improvements but these were the ones that impressed me the most and made a bigger difference in the scenery that was already improved with FTX Global. So far, so good. Amazing, really.
Finally: FTX Global openLC
openLC comes in 2 flavors: openLC Europe and openLC NA, Alaska/Canada. In my case, I installed openLC Europe.
I had now, at my disposal, 10 million square kilometers of "hand crafted landclass", even more new textures that made a world of difference - although it can get a bit weird to see agricultural fields where cities usually are but that happens since it's not a product specific for each country -- that would be a HUGE download and out of the scope for this product. openLC is a great product for general areas. If you want something specific for your city, you should find scenery designed to cover it.
Scenery started to look more different and even less boring than FTX Global already made it. If there was one thing that I would have to point my finger at that definitely makes openLC worth it -- apart from the landclass and textures -- that would be the night lighting. It's absolutely gorgeous!
The ultimate scenery for FSX and P3D?
So, the question remains and it's time to answer it: can we build the ultimate general scenery for FSX and P3D? Yes, we can. It may be a bit expensive but it will be very much worth it.
As you can see in the images along this article, my scenery has improved quite a lot. There's a richer color palette, more depth and the night scenery is absolutely gorgeous with the new lights.