Orbx TrueEarth Great Britain South
The Orbx website described this scenery package as being one of three covering Great Britain. This particular package covers 42000 square miles (107 349 square km). The information states there are 130 million trees at the correct height and location and similarly 13.2 million buildings.
There are numerous VFR landmarks across the scenery and particularly in city and coastal areas iconic landmarks are modelled and correctly positioned. The design of the modelling allows for crisp and colour matched aerial imagery. The road and rail network is modelled in detail with options as to how the roads are presented. The scenery is for the summer only and night lighting is also supported.
Download and Documentation
The scenery can be bought either through the Orbx website, orbxdirect.com, or their app Orbx Central. This can be downloaded by clicking a button, the green “Get Central”, top right on the Orbx website, or at this link. In order to make the purchase the user has to set up an account with a user name and password. This is straight forward and the website or the app take the user through the process.
The website states that the initial download of the package is 26 GB and the installed product is 127 GB. Orbx have their own download process vis their Orbx Central App. Whether the product was bought on the website or the app it is the app that is used to download the scenery. Once signed in the app shows the scenery as available and then takes the user through a series of prompts to initiate the download.
The download can be made directly to a copy of X-Plane or elsewhere, another drive for example, which Orbx term a library. The software creates automatic links to a nominated copy of X-Plane. The library option is useful in the fact that it allows storage away from the main copy of X-plane and because the scenery is a large amount of disk space this may be an advantage.
If the user has more than one copy of X-Plane care should be taken to direct Orbx Central to the correct copy. If it transpires it has gone to the wrong copy there is a square to the top right of the app display which contains the word X-Plane. By clicking on that the app identifies all copies available. If the cursor is hovered over those options the identity of each one is revealed. Clicking on the appropriate description points the app towards it.
It is also possible to create a “library” at any time and retrospectively store the scenery there. The process is intuitive and easy to follow and the software does all the intricate work.
The download is a large file and does take some time but installation is completed by the app and produces several Orbx folders in the appropriate custom scenery folder. The user manual can be downloaded through the app or through a web search. The manual has a date of October 2018 on the front, but still covers all necessary information.
The guide consists of twelve pages and covers product features and requirements, quick installation, scenery coverage, the product control panel, product support and the TrueEarth team. The control panel allows the user to configure the scenery. This configuration allows the product to be set up with default X-Plane roads or photoreal roads. If the user chooses photo-real roads there are small adjustments that need to be made to roads folder in the Orbx overlay folder.
Once installed the scenery opened smoothly although it did take longer for X-Plane to open. I accept that there is far more information to load and it may also be due to the limitations of my hardware but users should be aware this may be the case.
The new scenery is immediately apparent on taking off in the area covered. I loaded an aircraft at our local airport and easily used VFR to fly to my village. The location is rural and the village is relatively small and so I did not expect too much detail. Some buildings were still specifically modelled and the road layout and areas of trees were easy to recognise, as was the location of my house!
I then loaded an aircraft at Bristol airport as I had a third party add on for this location and wanted to see if the scenery worked together. I could see no problems with the new scenery and the airport add on and the two blended well together.
I then did what I expect most users would do and went to an area of iconic landmarks to see how they looked. I chose central London as I thought the buildings would be familiar to most users. There were many recognisable buildings and landmarks and they appeared in detail when I flew low enough or magnified the view.
I then overflew an area and increased the altitude, starting at 1000ft, and then in 500ft increments up to 2500ft, and then one view from 5000ft, to see how the view changed and the scenery was affected. The specifically modelled buildings remained clear and crisp from all altitudes and, as would be expected the lower altitudes revealed the most detail on those buildings.
The more generic buildings actually assumed a greater realism at higher altitudes where their comparative lack of detail was not so pronounced. At all altitudes the scenery was impressive and immersive, and improved the experience and view from the cockpit. Traffic was moving on the roads, and being driven on the correct side also!
I also overflew populated areas to see how the night time scenery worked. The view was very interesting with some buildings lit more brightly than others, some only lit on some floors and some unlit, this provided a varied and realistic view both in commercial areas and residential areas.
Certain items added extra detail such as illuminated sports stadiums. Flying over rural areas lighting was much more sparse, as in real life, and yet particular buildings were still visible such as the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Given the size and coverage of the scenery it is impossible to cover every iconic building and every area. Angelique has assisted me by creating two movies covering a flight through the scenery from the south east coast, over London, down to the Isle of Wight and then along the south coast to Land’s End. This a great way for users to see the scenery in action and how it works with X-Plane.
Her first flight starts at EGX6 (Eastchurch Airport) and via the river Thames until the Peninsula Square, then heading in a SSW direction to Portsmouth and finally, arriving at EGHN (Sandown Airport) on the Isle of Wight.
The introduction to the product states that particular detail is added in the more built up areas, iconic sites and coastal regions. As Angelique’s video demonstrate the scenery better than words I decided to follow some of the coast and to take in as much variation as possible and hopefully also to touch on some of those highlighted items which readers may recognise.
I tried to fly at different altitudes to establish how the scenery looks at different heights and look at how an X-Plane recreational user can benefit from this great scenery package. I started at the north east corner of the scenery towards the top of The Wash, east of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire. I flew across the standard default scenery and then turned south to cross the scenery boundary.
Looking back north the difference was immediately obvious and the attention to sea textures was apparent and the TrueEarth sea looked very impressive.
I followed the coast to the south following the coastline. I am not very familiar with this part of the coast and wanted to carry out some VFR navigation using a map rather than local knowledge. The beach areas were well presented with natural margins between sea and land. This area is Lincolnshire, known for its flat fields and agriculture. The textures of the different fields looked very good. VFR flight is easy with the detail of the scenery and I followed the Great Ouse, towards the south of The Wash, inland to Kings Lynn in Norfolk. I then headed along the Norfolk coast trying different altitudes whilst looking down at varying coastlines and agricultural areas. The scenery was impressive from altitude and was easy to follow on a map.
I continued south to Great Yarmouth to experience a more built up area on the coast. Having overflown Great Yarmouth I used the map and VFR to navigate in to view Norwich, a more built up area in Norfolk, from 2000ft. All scenery was accurate and easy to follow with the more built up areas looking convincing and blending well with the rural and coastal scenery.
The next view I checked out was approaching the white cliffs of Dover. I first flew over Dover Port and the detail shown is very impressive, Dover Castle and the offices of Her Majesty’s Coast Guard are modelled at the top of the hill above the town and the cliffs are presented in a realistic manner. The town and the surrounding countryside look very good and really add atmosphere to the flight.
I next carried out a flight over Stonehenge. When viewed from low altitude the forms and shapes of the stones can be identified and even from greater altitude, 2500ft, the stones and the site are recognisable.
I next took a flight over Blenheim Palace. Blenheim Palace looked good from height set in its grounds which could be seen in detail. At lower level the quality of the detail of the house was very high and the surrounding water and trees looked very effective with great textures and huge variation in colours.
After Blenheim Palace I flew to the south to view the nearby university city of Oxford. The textures were varied and realistic with a huge variety of colours. This showed how this scenery goes beyond just photographic scenery with moving traffic on the roads and particular buildings highlighted.
The view of the Oxford area showed the blend of urban and rural scenery and the integration of inland water, the river Thames, alongside the other modelling. All worked exceptionally well and was extremely convincing.
As the scenery is described as GB south and Angelique’s videos and my review so far, have covered the English countryside, I decided to take a flight over Wales to view and illustrate how that area is presented. The flight took me from Bristol over the river Severn to Cardiff and then up over the Brecon Beacons to southern Snowdonia and then on to the north west extent of the scenery on the North Wales coast.
Views of the Severn and of Cardiff were clear and recognisable, especially with specifically modelled buildings such as the Principality Stadium. Moving away from Cardiff the route was easy to follow on a map whilst watching the scenery.
The variety of textures and colours was very evident when flying over the valleys and mountains. The vegetation is very effective and whilst the textures of fields, rocks and scree are of a very high quality what is also impressive is they way they blend together and how the developed and inhabited areas sit well within the rest of the scenery.
Overflying more of Wales the rugged scenery speaks for itself and the appearance of all views is realistic and convincing. Looking north at the edge of the scenery package coverage and into the X-Plane standard scenery the two blend well so there is no artificial boundary other than scenery detail reduces.
There is a great temptation to just keep on flying over this scenery, interested in the next detail to be viewed. The standard of presentation certainly is a game changer in terms of flight experience and creates another reason to simply get in a plane and fly. The package also assists greatly with VFR flight. Not all buildings are modelled in detail, but even those not given special attention are in the correct place and add to the view.
Settlements are recognisable from particular buildings and also road layout. In terms of navigation all settlements reflect the same “footprint” as those on the map and so can be identified. The detail, colours and textures are realistic and effective and blend well together.
And we’ve got a surprise for you. As previously mentioned by Andy “as Angelique’s video demonstrate the scenery better than words” she decided to go for another flight. Angelique’s her second and last flight in the south of England starts at EGHN (Sandown Airport at the Isle of Wight) and via the Needles and Plymouth towards Land’s End and arriving at EGLA (Bodmin Airport).
Andy continues; I have found no difficulties created by third party scenery working with this product. It is a big download and takes considerable space on disk and I did find that X-Plane took a little longer to load whilst reading new scenery files, but this was not a problem and there is a lot more detail to be loaded.
Once using the scenery there is so much to explore and view that it is a really enjoyable and immersive experience. Flights run smoothly once loaded, as can be seen from Angelique’s movies, and there are no areas where detail is reduced. A thoroughly impressive package which adds so much to the X-Plane flight experience.
More information about TrueEarth Great Britain South can be found at the dedicated Orbx store page. As of this writing, the product cost roughly 45 USD, 32.50 GBP or 37.5 Euro.
|Add-on:||Payware Orbx TrueEarth Great Britain South|
|Publisher | Developer:||Orbx Simulation Systems |Orbx Simulation Systems
|Description:||Realistic rendition of the South region of England|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 127GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Andy Clarke|
|Published:||February 27th 2021|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Intel i5 27"
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
- Logitech Force 3D Pro
|Software specifications:||- macOS Big Sur 11.x
- X-Plane 11.5x (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports