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Australia is one of the largest countries in the world, yet it has only recently been given the acknowledgement it deserves within the flight sim community. Thanks to teams such as ORBX, there’s some beautiful coverage of the country, yet there were still many airports which, quite simply, had never been given quality scenery. Again, ORBX delivered some stunning airports, but the performance of some of them left a lot to be desired. Fly Tampa have always been consistent with their releases. Airport after airport sees both a well performing airport, alongside unbeatable quality. To most, Valentine’s day is about showing love and affection for partners, but for simmers, Valentine’s day 2013 was the day FlyTampa melted the hearts of their fans by announcing Sydney would be coming to Flight Sim in the near future. Just a little over 2 years later, we’re all ready to go down under. Sydney, as a city is important for many reasons. Being the most populated city in Australia and the State Capital of New South Wales obviously attracts visitors from all over the Globe. It’s home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and of course, the Sydney Opera House – quite simply, it’s a beautiful and rich city. The airport itself is the only major airport within the city, and sees nearly 40 million passengers a year. It’s amazing, it has taken this long to be faithfully recreated within our Flight Sim products. To be perfectly honest, when FlyTampa announced their development on the primary hub for Qantas, it just all felt perfect. I couldn’t think of a better developer to bring this huge airport to life. Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (YSSY) has three runways, with a maximum length of 12,999ft – meaning that long haulers will of course comfortably be able to fly their long distances. Being on the far east of Australia, expect to be able to fly direct to the West Coast of the USA, New Zealand and Hawaii quite easily. Even direct flights from the middle-East and Asia are all possible in your long range aircraft. As a result, VAS and Frame Rates are normally at the forethought of people’s minds. After extensive testing and a range of settings, I can confirm that it should not be a worry. Providing you use ‘appropriate’ settings, and it’s relative to your hardware, you will have similar frame rates to that of other FlyTampa scenery. Thanks to the configuration options, you can easily select what features you want on or off. Find that 3D grass gives you poor performance? Turn it off. Want to see little fishermen on the coast during approach, turn them on. You have plenty of options to fine tune it to suit your system, which is definitely a win-win solution for everyone. In regards to VAS usage, I had no troubles. I have modest settings (but my Simulator still looks fantastic), and I have installed the LITE package (sets textures to 1024, instead of the default value of 2048). Even with VAS heavy add-ons such as the PMDG 777 and MyTraffic 6, I never got close to being out of memory. It’s a little more intensive than some scenery packages, but you have to remember exactly how much detail FlyTampa have gone with Sydney. Speaking of detail, remember those Fishermen I mentioned? Well, how would you like to add sharks, moving traffic, static aircraft, traffic lights and much more to improve the visual quality? There’s so much attention to detail it is unbelievable. There’s moving fans in the rooftops of some buildings and plenty of puddles along the taxi ways. Dirt is spread throughout the airfield, as well as stones and concrete to really immerse you in the experience. Texturing aside, the modelling is quite simply, the best I have ever seen in a Simulator. The famous control tower at Sydney has been authentically recreated, and to the finest of detail. You genuinely could mistake it for the real thing. It has the perfect geometry, scaling and texturing. I remember when the first image of the control tower was released, and I had a hard time guessing which was the Sim and which was real – I still have that same problem now. Alongside the configurator, is the opportunity to change the seasons accordingly. Texturing changes depending on the month you chose, which again, just helps to differentiate FlyTampa from the rest of the competition. Not only have they done an excellent job with the airport, but they’ve also worked hard to make sure the surrounding area also. There’s plenty of satellite imagery that has been used to create some really good and detailed ground textures. There’s also been some work done to the nearby buildings within Sydney. Although it doesn’t extend too far from the airport, it’s enough to keep you immersed during the approach into Sydney (and also the departure). It is obvious that I think FlyTampa have done a remarkable job on Sydney. With a range of terminals fully created, beautiful artwork and texturing and mind-blowing model work – this ranks as one of the best created add-on packages for Flight Simulation. With excellent performance (considering its size and location) and moderate memory usage, Sydney will be the new number 1 spot for short and long haulers alike. It may be far away from home (for some of you), but it’s certainly worth the trip. See you down under! Purchase FlyTampa’s Fly Tampa Here
It’s been a while since my last review, and as a result, I’ve had some wonderful down time to revisit some of the older airports released over the years. One such airport was Copenhagen. At the time, I forgot how much I enjoyed the quick hops from the UK over to the Danish city. It is also one of those destinations where the weather can either be on your side, or cause havoc to your flight planning. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had it all – everything from glorious, crispy sunny mornings to the CAT 3 landings. However, despite how beautiful it is, it’s never really been properly captured in the flight simulation world. Until now, however. It’s been no secret that FlyTampa have been crafting Copenhagen with support from Flight Simulator Development Group. FSDG are a relatively new developer on the scene of Flight Simulation products. I remember not that long ago downloading their fantastic Sharm El Sheik and Heraklion projects. Both were wonderfully created, frame rate friendly and breathed a new lease of life into these locations. Earlier this year, they released, quite possibly, their best project yet: Thessaloniki. A medium-sized airport, surrounded by a sprawling city. Despite everything going on, it was pretty much flawless. It had charm, atmosphere and easy on the simulator. As a result of their clear talent, FlyTampa made it clear that these guys would be great to partner with to bring about their latest airport – Fly Copenhagen. It’s immediately apparent that the best of both teams come across in the scenery. The texturing around the airport is amongst the best FlyTampa (hereby FT from now on) have ever delivered. If you’re a fan of anything from FT in the past, then you know the quality to expect here. If you think back to Dubai (their last release) and how breath-taking it all looked, then imagine the quality factor turned up by 10. The screenshots here don’t really do the scenery justice. Mostly because JPG compresses the images to a low quality level (hence why night shots look a bit bad…), but also because it’s impressive to see the detail move at a surprisingly good pace. The screenshots have been taken with the settings taken at the highest quality so I hope you like them. As for the texturing itself, it’s clear that everything is crystal clear. Taxiway markings and signage are all looking excellent. But again, it’s the attention to detail that makes it stand out to other developers out there. Scuff marks on the ground, dirt tracks and even stones can be seen on the ground. The immersion with the scenery is just remarkable. As usual, the modelling is near perfect. Every single building within the airport is present and are all high quality. There’s been no compromise on “less” important buildings or those that you may not use / see on your day-to-day flying. However, this hasn’t stopped the guys from ensuring every building looks as impressive as the last. Even the inside of the buildings have been given the now-norm 3D interior effect. What impressed me more was the fact that each section was accurate to the real airport and not just a generalisation of what you would see at an airport gate. For example, if you were at gate F5, you would see the signage on the inside clearly mark the passengers were at the same gate, with additional signage pointing to other gates. Again, all accurate and certainly not a copy and paste job. It’s this level of detail that separates FT and FSDG from the others. As you can see, I started off with the evening screenshots first. If you’re a frequent reader, then you will know, that these normally come last. However, in this instance, I felt that the night lighting here is the most impressive night lighting ever to grace a Flight Simulation airport. Words can’t describe how much I love the lighting [editor’s note: please find some, we need to boost the word count somehow!]. There’s no light that over exaggerate what the scenery is trying to show off. Nor is there a single block colour that covers the whole airport. There’s a huge variety of lights and shadow that really showcase the beauty of Copenhagen airport. The taxiways and runways look glorious on those evening approaches – certainly helpful when flying an autoland in fog. One complaint with the lighting, however, is the slow loading textures when panning around. Similar to the effect of Aerosoft’s Heathrow earlier this year, when the scenery isn’t in view, it’s somehow ‘flushed’ out of the Simulator to enable better performance. However, one downside of this is the effect of the textures taking a few seconds to load up. Not really an issue in general usage, but if you’re one for taking photos, this will become noticeable. It certainly won’t spoil anything for you and by no means something that should put you off from flying at night. Outside of the airport, Copenhagen is renowned for its beautiful surroundings and of course, the famous Øresund Bridge. For those of you who don’t know, the Oresund Bridge is the longest combined rail and road bridge in the world. It’s a beautiful landmark and makes the approach into Copenhagen that much more exciting. Luckily, the two teams have wonderfully created a fantastic replica for us to fly around (or under!). It looks great, and the moving traffic certainly makes it feel very much alive. Of course, it wouldn’t be a FSDG airport if there wasn’t the inclusion of a surrounding city. Again, the team haven’t disappointed. There’s literally hundreds of houses, buildings and other environmental obstacles that litter the surroundings of the airport. It takes a bit of a hit on performance, but for the sheer number of objects and the quality of each one, it makes it a very fair trade off. Thanks to advance techniques and an easy-to-use configurator, the impact is minimal and can be adjusted to your preferences. 2014 has certainly been the year of developers taking on board that every user has a different machine, and as a result, a different expectation as far as performance goes. FT and FSDG have jumped on board with the idea and Fly Copenhagen is the first scenery to support FlyTampa’s latest configurator. Everything from season texture, amount of traffic and whether you use the default or custom autogen. It’s highly detailed and allows any user of any powered machine to get the most from their scenery. In my opinion, the ease of use and the number of options available makes me hope that this soon becomes the standard for all scenery developers. Fly Copenhagen is truly the best scenery FlyTampa and Flight Simulator Development Group have ever created for the community. The quality is ripping from the seams and not a pixel looks out of place. As a result, there’s a relatively high price tag associated with it. However, you get bang for your buck – a huge, and highly detailed airport and a sprawling city which expands over the sea and more. If you need a winter destination for your Christmas stocking, then this is it. You’ll have a range of aircraft to fly from here, and you will never have two of the same approach thanks to its ever-changing weather conditions. Fly Copenhagen is the airport of the Winter! 5/5 | Publisher: FlyTampa | Developer: FlyTampa / FSDG | Price: 33.22EUR PURCHASE FlyTampa’s Copenhagen HERE! A fantastic effort by combining two excellent developers. The texturing, modelling and atmosphere shadows any other Copenhagen currently on the market. Although pricey, the huge amount of area covered is impressive, all whilst ensuring a smooth experience for your Simulator. An absolute must buy for a winter destination. + The best modelling and texture work from FlyTampa yet. + Huge amount of detail and coverage with minimal performance impact. - Slow loading textures can sometimes be irritating. - Pricier than most other scenery packages out there.