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Calum Martin

ORBX - FTX Global Europe OpenLC Review

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When ORBX first announced that they would be covering the entire globe with their FTX Global series, it seemed way too good to be true. Fast forward and they have successfully managed to release two ‘Global’ products. Those obviously being both FTX Global and FTX Vector. Both releases were met with universal praise and went on to being some of ORBX’s most successful product launches. Of course, these products were never meant to be the “ends all” for their true “Global” remake. This is where OpenLC (LC = Land Class) comes into play.

 

Now I want to make things very clear before I proceed: EUROPE OPENLC covers just that: Europe. This is not a global product unlike the previously mentioned products. The idea behind this is to allow users to choose the regions they’re most interested in. This saves development time for ORBX, reduces the overall cost of the product for the user and also helps to keep your Flight Sim hard drive to be kept clean and to a minimum. It also allows ORBX to really polish and refine each region to be as accurate and true-to-life as possible.

 

 

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Another point to note is the term “OpenLC”. LC, or Land Class essentially tells the simulator what kind of ‘ground’ to display within the sim. So for example, if the data says “rock” then the sim will display the “rock” texture, which was included with the FTX Global base pack. It also tells the sim where towns and villages are, meaning most remote places in Europe are now visible. Obviously this is me simplifying the technology and dedication the team at ORBX have put into the product, but hopefully it gives you a better understanding of what the product is, and not what you hope it will do.

 

I can assure you, that whilst the new Land Class data is excellent, it’s only as good as what the system can read. This is no alternative to replacing your full FTX regions, but it vastly increases the realism in what you see depicted in the sim. That’s right, I said ‘vastly’. It truly is the difference between night and day, or Winter and Summer, or black and white. Just look at the screenshots.

 

It’s clear that ORBX have invested a lot of time, dedication and resources into achieving as much accuracy as possible with the product. With over 10 million sq km handcrafted Land Class, it’s easy to see why the product’s timeline slipped a few times. Once you see what has been achieved, it’s hard to be mad at them! It’s breath-taking, beautiful and breaths a whole lease of life into the Sim. I will never fly without OpenLC again.

 

 

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One of the biggest concerns I’m sure many of you have is the total cost of the product. Obviously you will need to have FTX Global for OpenLC to work and it’s advisable to get FTX Vector to truly make this a recreation of Europe. The costs add-up quickly. That’s three products just for one purpose. From a business prospective, I completely understand, but from a consumer’s point of view – I also understand it’s not the cheapest hobby to shell out. However, I honestly believe that ORBX’s ‘Global’ vision is value for money. Let’s put things into prospective.

 

GLOBAL = 69.96EUR – MUST have for OpenLC.

VECTOR = 48.96EUR – Highly Recommend (but not needed) for OpenLC.

OPENLC = 27.26EUR – Europe, each region will be priced individually.

 

TOTAL = 146.18EUR

 
 
 
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Not cheap at all.

However, if you purchased Global last year when it was, that’s nearly half of that cost already gone. If you don’t need Vector, then you’re only looking at spending 27.26EUR – pretty low cost for the coverage you’re receiving. Some of the bigger airports in the FSX world cost more than that, for substantially less “Sim Space”. Obviously, if you’re yet to own any of the products, then you’re looking at a bigger investment…. Key word here, “Investment”.

 

It’s an investment as ORBX have promised to provide free updates to their Global range. If you buy version 1.2 of Global, and they release 1.5 next year, you will get that update free. The same with all other products from their Global Range. It’s that customer focused attitude and honesty that set ORBX products above the rest. With improvements for vector and land class data becoming more and more available, ORBX will continuously push that out to their customers through service packs. I can see that for as long as I use FSX/Prepar3d, I will have the Global Range on my PC. Certainly a small price to pay for the upgrade in quality from stock scenery.

 

It’s difficult to review such a package as FTX Global Europe Open LC due to the sheer quantity of what is different than before. Instead, I have created a wide range of BEFORE and AFTER screenshots demonstrating the improvements you see from installing OpenLC and exactly what the product does.

 

PLEASE NOTE, THE SCREENSHOTS ARE ANNOTATED.

BEFORE = FSX + FTX GLOBAL + FTX VECTOR

AFTER = FSX + FTX GLOBAL + FTX VECTOR + EUROPE OPENLC

 

The screenshots were never intended to show vanilla FSX compared to openLC, just what improvement the additional cost involved between Global and openLC would bring.

 

 

 

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As you can see, the difference is defined and clear. You may ask “but some areas have less city land class in”, in which case, is probably right. Not every town and city is as huge as what the current FSX land class represents. ORBX have spent a lot of time ensuring that the data is accurate and believable.

 

I am totally and completely convinced that ORBX have really outdone themselves with the release of FTXG openLC. There is nothing in the market that compares in the modern market. It is a costly venture, but one that will be supported and used for many, many years to come. Unlike a standalone airport, Europe will remain one of my most visited areas on the Globe. The combination of ORBX’s Global Product line works flawlessly and provides such a rich and immersive environment, it’s hard to not get excited about their future openLC packs and what else they have in store!

 

 

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5/5  |  Publisher: Flight Sim Store  |  Developer: ORBX |  Price: 27.26EUR

 

Despite being an add-on for an add-on, FTX Global Europe OpenLC delivers on the promise ORBX set out years ago. It’s delivered a breath-taking and stunning overview of Europe’s diverse landclass. Full towns and villages now appear, with more attention to detail to mountainous areas and forestation. A absolute must-buy for European routes and a great insight for future openLC from ORBX.

 

+ 10million sq KM covered in just one package.

+ Breaths new life into Europe making it much more realistic.

 

- Although an 'investment', can appear costly to newcomers.

- Some areas appear more "refined" than others.

 

 

Purchase ORBX's FTX Global Europe OpenLC Here

 

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's FTX Global openLC Europe, Aerosoft's Mega Airport Lisbon (LPPT)

Aircraft – Aerosoft’s Airbus A320, A2A's Piper Cherokee 
Utilities - REX4 Textures, FS Global Real Weather, SteveFX DX10 Fixer (Also tested with DX9), FTX Global, FTX Vector

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