Even though I don’t quite appreciate Orbx’s approach on developing addons for FSX, the company’s product, however, are no doubt much better than the default FSX and well gain a seat among other quality developers. With the release of its FTX Global, I (same to most flightsimmers) am expecting all ugly default scenery to be gone for good — in theory.
Unfortunately, my first impression on it is:
not yet and not quite, in my opinion. (Edit: see update in Post 204)
PART 1: INSTALLATION
After downloading the file, the first thing I did before installation as usual was backing up all my important FSX files, including Autogens and directories where scenery.CFG and fsx.CFG are stored, because FTX Global is somewhat a major upgrade to the whole FSX system, especially under the FlyZone Approach I’ve been using.
I also used True Image 2013 to back up my whole OS and FSX drives. Besides, I also cleaned up my Windows TEMP directory in order to find out what files would be created during the installation.
The zipped package weighs to 4.17GB and took about 20 mins to get it from The FlightSim Store using Free Download Manager. Inside the package, there are 10 files including an Important Read Me, which instructs users to switch to FSX Default Region via FTXCentral.
Actually, when the installation is done, a detailed User Guide for the product will be saved under ORBX’s User Documents folder. This approach is being used among all Orbx’s addons.
Frankly, this approach sounds a complete stupid to me because no users can read the Quick Installation Guide and other notes about pre-installation preparation and information about the product from the manual before the installation. We paid already to get the package. I don’t see the logic why Orbx has to keep the user guide hidden until the installation is complete. (Edit: just found that Orbx’s Forum is now providing the download of the manual. But still, why not doing it right from the beginning?)
The product took about 2:45 mins getting verification from the store.
Then a screen popped up suggesting user to backup system’s original World\Scenery\Texture. Even though I had done the backup already, I followed the instruction and it took me about 3:30 mins to backup all 10,569 files (6.13GB) in the directory before moving on to the next step.
At nearly the end of the installation, an error message popped up telling me that the FTXCentral was still open. I had to turned it off to continue the installation. Although it isn’t a big issue, I think the installer should have a note informing users to close the FTXCentral after switching to the Default region or before the start of the actual installation process.
During installation, three folders were created under the Windows TEMP directory. One of them contained the 9 files similar to the zipped package. Actually, the one named OrbxFTXGlobal100.exe in this temp folder should be the actual installer after the package was unzipped.
From what I experienced with previous Orbx’s products, running this exe file directly would allow users to skip the verification process. However, this directory was immediately deleted after users pressing the Finish button from the installer.
The whole installation process, including the texture backup, took about 19:07 mins on my system. The size of my FSX drive increased from 145GB to 147GB, in which 2733 files and 14 folders were new.
Under ORBX directory, a new folder called FTX_OLC was created, which contains scenery and texture files for the global region. Also, a number of FTX Global folers were also created under the ORBX’s Scripts directory.
Moreover, the AutogenDescriptions.spb, default.xml and RoofDescriptions.spb of Oceania, Europe and North America were mostly updated. And surely many texture files under World\Scenery were modified.
The scenery.CFG file has been updated to include FTX Global scenery (OLC_AA and OLC_EU1). The DLL.XML, exe.xml and fsx.CFG were untouched.
For the installation part, above basically highlights most elements that have been changed.
PART 2: WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE PRODUCT
For the quality and performance of the product, let’s see some images I captured from Sion, Switzerland and Hong Kong below before moving on to what I think about it.
From Sion (Click Image for Bigger Size):
From Hong Kong (Click Image for Bigger Size):
At first sight, the overall image quality is enhanced, compared to default FSX. That’s for sure and shown clearly in Sion’s pictures.
However, when you look at the details of it, there are fields over the mountains — possibly due to inaccurate or not yet implemented landclasses etc.
The issue is further amplified in images from Hong Kong. The buildings, or simply the whole area, turn out to be a terrible mess. The quality is way below default FSX’s level, not to mention the well-known Hong Kong Airport add-on from FlyTampa.
It is true that Orbx has announced their plans to release specific landclasses for respective regions in the coming future. Above issues should then be fixed. Also, after some adjustments, above issues could be slightly alleviated, I guess.
But really, the return from the current FTX Global, so far, is not enough. Just better graphics quality is not enough.
The price of this product alone is already a double more than FSX itself, not to mention the money to be gone to Orbx’s pocket for the several coming landclasses.
Also, its integration with existing Orbx regions under hybrid mode is not flawless.
Above image was captured around Bowerman KHQM. In addition to the total number and composition of buildings are changed, there are odd bluish color spotted on the walls of many buildings as well.
Besides graphics issues mentioned above, I also encountered a number of system errors after installing the add-on.
• Many flight session loadings stuck at 6% for up to 1:30 mins and take another 2 to 3 minutes to load the remainings;
• When switching airports (just selecting, not loading), FSX in many instances takes more than 1 mins;
• Also, when quitting, sometimes FSX takes nearly 1:30 mins, sometimes FSX just hanging there and doesn’t quit at all.
There should be more reportings about this and that errors from users in the coming weeks or months, I believe.
Is NOW the right timing to make the purchase ?
Indeed, this post is not at all a comprehensive review of Orbx’s FTX Global product. There are many aspects I still haven’t covered. But above findings and comments are based on the initial contact I had with the product in the first few hours.
Definitely I will further test it under different settings and add-ons.
But the answer for now is:
No, Not Now…I would say. (Edit: see update in Post 204)
I would recommend people holding their purchases until Orbx releases its update patch, or wait further until the specific landclass of their favorite region is launched.
This is my first impression so far, even though you could disagree.
- Enchanced Graphics
- Better integration with existing Orbx’s products
- No noticeable degradation in performance
Long session loading time(solved) Long airport switching time(solved) Messed up landclasses and autogen items(improved, in general) FSX hangs more frequently(solved)
- Odd colors found on buildings under hybrid mode
- This and that error to be found