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Calum Martin

ORBX Gustavus Airport (PAGS) Review

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The last few reviews I’ve provided for you have been for larger and more commercially viable airports. This time however, I take a look at ORBX’s recent release of Gustavus Airport. It’s certainly a lot different compared to the likes of Dublin or Istanbul, but have ORBX delivered on creating a small airport that can capture the attention of Flight Simmers?


Situated in the farthest corner of South-Eastern Alaska, the airport is fairly unknown and unused. Seeing as just four airlines serve the airport (Alaska Airlines only serves as a seasonal airline), it was never going to have to be a busy airport. With only two runways – the largest measuring at just over 6,700ft in length – Gustavus Airport will never be hailed as the must-go to airport in Flight Sim. However, the level of detail ORBX have managed to squeeze into the package is outstanding.



Gustavus_Airport_1.jpg  Gustavus_Airport_2.jpg


Gustavus_Airport_4.jpg    Gustavus_Airport_5.jpg


Gustavus_Airport_6.jpg  Gustavus_Airport_7.jpg









First impressions would immediately tell you that this is easily worthy of the ORBX tag.  The realism provided in each texture is still to be beaten by any other developer. Every single marking, every grass blade and every grain of sand is visible. It’s clear that Russ White has a very good eye for visualisation within the world of Flight Simulator. The colouring fits in beautifully with the in-sim world, each being vivid, distinct and clear.


A personal touch I love seeing in ORBX products is the considerable effort they go through to include as much detail surrounding the airport as possible. This certainly holds true with Gustavus Airport. Coastlines border the airport, hand-placed auto-gen sprawls for miles around the airport and forestation creates cinematic approaches. It’s this level of commitment to ensure a truly new Flight Sim world that sets ORBX apart from the rest.


Being an ORBX airport, it includes a lot of neat little extras. ORBX’s famous ‘Flow Tech’ has been used incredibly here. Throughout the airport are various characters all doing their own individual action. As you taxi around the airport, there will be plenty of these characters walking around the car park with their luggage, others will be doing work for the airport such as sweeping, window cleaning and so forth. Without a doubt this is my favourite feature of the airport. It brings it all to life in a way I’ve never seen an airport come to life before. It works well, looks great and adds that extra bit of realism to the sim.











Gustavus_Airport_15.jpg  Gustavus_Airport_16.jpg


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All of this is provided with fantastic performance. Although it’s a small airport, in a remote part of the world, it has allowed the developers to take this to their advantage and create a remarkable looking airport without taking a performance hit. With the airport brimming with aircraft, plenty of cloud coverage and the resolution set to high, I was still achieving an acceptable frame rate of around 30-35fps. Again, this shows the class and skill the team at ORBX have when creating Flight Sim add-ons. Even if you’re using a low-end machine, a great little feature allows you to turn off certain CPU heavy features.


Whilst I commented on how having a small airport can benefit the product, at the same time, it also burdens the value of the airport, too. It’s a real catch 22.


The airport, on a technical level, is fantastic. It looks great, performs well and has nice little features to make it an entertaining product. However, the value is something I believe is slacking. Although no fault of ORBX, it’s a very niche airport. As I’ve already said, only a few select carriers visit Gustavus Airport, meaning the level of motivation to visit the airport is very low. There’s nothing special about the airport itself either. It doesn’t fall on any “top 10” lists for a challenging or beautiful approach, nor has it got any real historical value. It’s a shame as the airport looks stunning.



Gustavus_Airport_26.jpg  Gustavus_Airport_27.jpg






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Another gripe I have with the airport is its reliance on ORBX’s FTX: NA Blue Southern Alaska release. During the installation process, and during purchase, you are reminded that it must be installed prior to use. Whilst I can confirm that the airport can be used without it installed, it certainly takes away some of the coverage and beauty you would expect. The nearby mountains and terrain look unpleasant and some of the terrain mesh mismatches a little.


Again, this takes away a lot of the value of the product as to get the most out of it, you’ll now need to install another product.


Sadly, due to the airport’s size, lighting at night is almost none existent. During the hours of dusk and dawn, surrounded by the wondrous looking valleys, lakes and shrubbery, it looks wonderful. In the dead of night, it’s almost unusable. Taxiways are poorly lit, and the buildings emit almost no light. Understandably, this is an airport that probably has very little lighting, but regardless, it feels like it was an afterthought on the developer’s behalf.


Despite these qualms, it’s hard to take away what value you do get with the product. You get fantastic seasonal texture work, great and detailed buildings, volumetric grass, the people flow and some wonderfully hand-placed auto-gen.









Gustavus_Airport_44.jpg   Gustavus_Airport_45.jpg




Gustavus_Airport_47.jpg  Gustavus_Airport_49.jpg





I am truly conflicted on my recommendation as to whether it’s worth your time and money to invest in the product. On one hand, it’s beautiful to fly into and explore, but on the other, it just doesn’t provide the same level of exploration or challenge you could get from a larger, more commercial airport. It’s clear that the target audience wasn’t the casual simmer, but for those you enjoy flying in and out of smaller airfields with quick and easy access to some wonderful VFR flying. It’s a technically brilliant airport and truly some of the best work ORBX have delivered, but generally speaking, I find it hard to recommend unless you’re very much into small airfields.









My Specs: 


Processor - 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-3770K Ivy Bridge (OVERCLOCKED TO 4.8GHz)
RAM - 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 2133 (PC3 12800)
GPU - GeForce GTX 780 FTW 3GB GDDR5
Mother Board - ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Hard Drives - 2 x 128gb OCZ SSD + 2 x 1tb 7200RPM HDD
Operating System - Windows 7 (64-bit)

Add-ons Used In Screenshots: 

Scenery - ORBX PAGS Gustavus Airport, ORBX FTX: Blue Southern Alaska
Aircraft - PMDG 737-700NGX, Piper Cherokee 180F FSX by Carenado

Utilities - REX4 Textures, Active Sky Next, SteveFX DX10 Fixer (Also tested with DX9), FTX Global

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