Cloudy's FS2004 Reviews
I intend to add here reviews of FS2004 add-ons with install tips.
France Mt. St. Michel and St. Malo sceneries
FS Global X 2008 for FS2004
Hawaii freeware sceneries
France - Mt. St. Michel and St. Malo
1. General France scenery. The excellent freeware FRP2004 is a very good general cover for the whole of France: it adds "the most celeb monuments of french cities more than 100 cities, 400 monuments, more than 1000 lanscape element". Having been recently to the Loire valley, I have checked that quite a few of the famous castles there are included, albeit reproduced in a rather schematic way. It is advisable to have this scenery as a background for local sceneries, in order to achieve a better overall coverage of France. Strictly speaking however, that is not a necessity to enjoy local sceneries such as St.Michel and St. Malo.
2. St.Michel/St.Malo ensemble. To combine these sceneries is a very good suggestion found in the recent Tips and Tricks vol. 16 by David "Opa" Marshall, which together with the suggested freeware scenery downloads can be found at www.avsim.com . I quote: "Pascal Dumat has provided us with an incredibly detailed rendition of St. Michels right down to how it appears as the tides (some of the highest in the world at 14 feet) change. If you install this scenery, be sure to fly by it at differing times to observe the tidal action. A nightime fly-by offers yet another spectacular viewing experience."
3. St. Michel scenery. This comes as two separate sceneries by Pascal Dumat, lfrf2005.zip for the airport of Granville and smichel2.zip for the Mont St Michel. The latter - absent from the default FS2004 scenery - is included in the above-mentioned FRP2004, but in quite a rudimentary FS98-style rendering. Here the results are very accurate and really astonishing. [I was there 30 years ago, while touring that part of France for a few unforgettable days with two beautiful American girls I met in Rouen, but that's another story ...]
4. St.Malo scenery. The download lfrd2004-v1a.zip covers the whole area around St.Malo: city, coast, rivers, beaches and a very detailed rendition of the local Dinard airport. Author Etienne Vauchez has provided some land VFR textures and placed upon them quite a few detailed 3D-buildings and objects, keeping however frame rates reasonable. Well done Etienne!
5. Install tips. Installing the sceneries is a bit of a conundrum. They come with automatic installers. You also have some directions in the already-mentioned Tips & Tricks 16. The final result is however, IMHO, a mess with lots of different scenery folders. My readers know how I hate this, with good reason. Do as follows and you will create only ONE new scenery into your FS9:
a. Run in any order the automatic installers in the three downloads. Each install gives you the option to override the default FS9 folder: install everything into an empty "xxx" folder you create for this purpose.
b. Move the files in C:\xxx\Scenery\Eurw\Scenery\
into your corresponding FS9 folders.
c. Rename C:\xxx\Addon Scenery\LFRD2004 as C:\xxx\Addon Scenery\StMicheldetail.
(This folder has four sub-folders: Install, Plates, Scenery, Texture.)
d. Move the \StMichel-detail folder with its contents into your
..FS9\Addon Scenery folder.
e. Move the files in C:\xxx\Addon scenery\FPLoire\Scenery into
..Fs9\Addon Scenery\StMicheldetail\Scenery .
f. Move the files in C:\xxx\Addon scenery\FPLoire\Texture into
..Fs9\Addon Scenery\StMicheldetail\Texture .
g. Move the files in C:\xxx\Texture also into
..Fs9\Addon Scenery\StMicheldetail\Texture .
h. You do not need a new folder for less than 20 landclass BGL files. If you have installed FRP2004, you have something called say ..Fs9\Addon Scenery\France\LandMesh\scenery (with no \texture folder) which contains Landclass and/or Mesh files. Just move there all the files in both
C:\xxx\Addon Scenery\LFRD2004-LandClass\scenery\ and C:\xxx\Addon scenery\LCLoire\Scenery .
If instead you did not install FRP2004, use any other scenery folder with no associated \texture folder.
i. If you installed FRP2004, there are "clashes" with two files there. The install instructions tell you to rename or delete S:\Fs2004\Addon Scenery\France\France-Detail\scenery\stmalo.bgl . That's fine, but at least in my case I found that S:\Fs2004\Addon Scenery\France\France-Detail\scenery\Stmich.bgl has also to be renamed, otherwise you end up with two Mt.St.Michels interfering with each other.
j. Zip your
..Fs9\Addon Scenery\StMicheldetail folder with its contents and store as a backup.
k. Now start FS, go to Scenery Library and Add a new scenery based on the
..Fs9\Addon Scenery\StMicheldetail folder.
Give it priority over any standard France detailed scenery such as FRP2004.
And needless to say, all detailed sceneries should have priority over Landclass and Mesh sceneries.
Restart FS and enjoy!
FS Global X 2008 vs FS Global 2005
FS Global X 2008 (from now on FSG08) is a global mesh for FSX and FS2004. There are excellent reviews of this product as an addon to FSX, both online and published in magazines, such as the one by George Markham in PC FLIGHT - The official magazine of PC Pilots Ireland - Vol. 12 No. 1, June 2007, pp.17-19, or the one by John Lattanzio in Computer Pilot, Vol. 11 No. 6, June 2007 pp.16-21.
This mini-review is however focused on the product installed in FS2004, and its comparison with its well-known predecessor FS Global 2005 (from now on FSG05). There is no doubt that either version will produce a significant improvement in FS2004. The question is instead: if you already have FSG05 in FS2004, is it worth the investment and effort to uninstall it and have FSG08 instead?
The answer is a resounding YES. The "general" resolution of both FSG05 and FSG08 is 76m (this is the grid or distance between adjacent elevation measurements). But while FSG05 has some significant areas at a lower resolution, FSG08 has instead some significant areas at a higher resolution. Examples:
Himalayas: FSG05 is abysmal, forcing you to download and install the mammoth freeware Himalaya mesh. This is no longer needed with FSG08.
Europe: FSG05 has 76m, which is marginally WORSE than the freeware Europe meshes at 38m.
FSG08 carries instead the 38m mesh for all Europe, and over most of the Alps that is improved to 19m. The screenshots below compare FSG05 (left) with FSG08 (right) over the Alps, as shown on FS2004 with Ground Environment textures.
Please note that these screenshots have a low resolution: at usual resolutions of 1024x768 or above used nowadays by most flightsimmers, the difference is even more noticeable.]
I have noticed small improvements in other areas as well.
Hawaii freeware sceneries
The following is my suggested Hawaii almost-freeware policy:
1. The payware. This is the only thing you cannot avoid paying for. Whether you have or not an improved global mesh such as FS Global 2005 (LOD9-76m), do purchase and install the FS Genesis Hawaii Mesh and Landclass. Not only it is significantly more detailed (LOD12-9.5m) but it also carries a general improvement to coastlines.
2. The freeware airports. To improve the most important default airports and features, there are literally scores of freeware add-ons, overlapping, contradicting etc. My policy - for consistency in the style and boundaries of the scenery - is to try and stay with sceneries by one author. The more complete coverage is the marvellous work by Bill Melichar. His freeware downloads - compatible with FS2002 - are available from both www.avsim.com and www.flightsim.com and are at present the following [find below my comments between brackets]:
Honolulu International, Oahu
Name: honov5.zip Size: 5,185,393 Date: 12-10-2003 Downloads: 8394
This scenery completely redoes the Honolulu Airport, which is the main stop over between the east and west, and the largest airport in the central Pacific. Included here you will find the main terminal, the Inter-Island terminal, fuel storage tanks, 39 gates with jetways, plus numerous other parking spaces, three different hangar / cargo areas, parking structures and the park like landscaping on the front side of the airport, realistic ramp lights, ramp light parking textures, airport vehicles, the Aloha Tower and the numerous coconut palms that welcome you at every turn at this airport. Due to its large size two scenery density settings are provided, so you can eliminate all objects in front of the airport which are not seen from airside, and balance it between traffic and scenery density to get the best frame rates on your particular computer.
Lihue Airport, Kauai
Name: llihue2.zip Size: 5,368,190 Date: 09-18-2003 Downloads: 4235
This scenery completely redoes the original right down to the last palm tree. It includes an all new terminal which is highly detailed, and now includes the entire airport. With a cargo area, hangar area, and airport office buildings. The default FS tower has been left in due to its nice rotating beacon on top which is something new in FS2004, but it has been incorporated into the scenery with the office buildings at its base. The front of the airport has an all new parking lot complete with parked cars and landscaping.
Name: lihfx.zip Size: 18,968 Date: 10-05-2003 Downloads: 2854
This fix will take care of the problem in FS2004 where the ocean is running up hill at the end of runway 21 at Lihue, Hawaii. You must have the Lihue Scenery for FS2004 (LLIHUE2.ZIP) by Bill Melichar installed in order for this fix to work. Fix by Tom Stovall. [This fix is unnecessary if you have installed FS Genesis's Hawaii Mesh and Landclass].
Kahului Int'l Airport, Maui
Name: kahu2.zip Size: 5,992,314 Date: 10-30-2003 Downloads: 4718
A complete remake of the Kahului airport on the Island of Maui in Hawaii. It includes a completely new terminal, with newly designed jetways, and now includes the entire airport, with cargo and hangar areas. The parking area is also included as is the road coming into the airport, and if you drive very carefully you can even follow the outgoing road into the town and down to the beach. The jetways at the center buildings have been rotated inward to make way for the heavy jets which park in this area, or for regional jet parking. This airport is a very nice short hop out of Honolulu.
Lanai Airport, Lanai
Name: lanfs9.zip Size: 2,336,248 Date: 08-29-2003 Downloads: 2690
This scenery is a remake of Lanai scenery for FS2002, which was way too overdone for this sleepy little airport. It now contains a very quaint, rustic Hawaiian styled airport which has been made and updated to work in FS2004. There are a few changes in the landscaping and updated car parks have been used. Since there are no turnouts at the ends of the runway in FS these have been added.
Kona Int'l Airport, Hawaii
Name: konav3.zip Size: 9,711,951 Date: 06-12-2005 Downloads: 2024
Comment to previous version 2: A completely new Kona, which is now more correctly laid out and very detailed. This is one of the most unique and beautiful airports in the world. It resembles a Hawaiian village and botanic garden combined, and is completely open air. The airport is built on old lava flows and the terminal area is full of lava rock walls, which was probably mined while constructing the taxiways, tarmacs and terminal itself. This scenery redoes the entire airport and includes details like baggage carrousels, benches at the gate areas, check-in counters, parking lot shelters and some purple baggage carts to go with the island atmosphere. Since this airport has no jetways, some lower impact air stairs have been created and are positioned around the two main gate areas. There is also a large air stair at each gate area to accommodate heavy jetliners. The unique ramp lights found at this airport are also included as well as some interesting night lit ramp textures.
New comments in version 3: ... more realistic .... It includes new roof textures, trees, vegetation, a virtual airline hangar, base, offices, new ramp lighting and an AFCAD2 file which smoothly overlays the errors of the default FS2004 program and relates to this scenery... . Kona is the second largest airport besides Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands and can accommodate the largest jet airliners. It would be best to delete any previous versions of this area before installing this scenery.
Hilo Int'l Airport, Hawaii
Name: hilov3.zip Size: 4,845,846 Date: 10-09-2003 Downloads: 4796
An all new Hilo airport right down to the last tree. The terminal has been completely re-worked, and is much more detailed, as is the hangar area. You can drive into the terminal and find check-in desks, along with building support beams. This airport is all open air, so there are no windows or doors. The scenery includes the rental car area just outside of the main airport entrance, the inter-Island terminal, parking lot, heliport for sightseeing tours of the volcanoes, new hangars and cargo buildings, landscaping, and a new animated bus macro from John de Langristin.
3. Additional sceneries. You should feel free to add additional detail sceneries, as long as you are reasonably sure that they will not interfere with Melichar's airports. I recommend the following:
Mona Kea Observatory, Hawaii
Name: mona_kea.zip Size: 341,934 Date: 09-26-2004 Downloads: 1847
This scenery add-on places the telescope array on the summit of Mona Kea on the big island of Hawaii. The observatories came default with FS2002 and were taken away for FS2004. The summit of the dormant volcano is at an altitude of 13,900 feet which is the highest point on the Hawaiian island chain. This makes for a perfect location for the observatories due to less atmosphere for light to pass through from the stars to the telescope lenses. The sizes and locations of the observatories were based on actual coordinates and aerial photographs. By Dan Fleming.
Hawaii Aircraft Carriers 1.0
Name: cvn01.zip Size: 252,976 Date: 05-09-2004 Downloads: 2843
This adds the carriers back into Hawaiian waters as seen in FS2002 and FS2000. For all those who miss seeing the carriers in Hawaii. Public Domain. [The author not mentioned anywhere. To land your Cessna 172SP in the carriers requires skill and the full length of the carrier is barely enough: parking brakes will help. To take off is easier: just use 20º of flaps.]
Midway Atoll/NW Hawaiian Is.
Name: dbwmid05.zip Size: 3,119,471 Date: 08-05-2005 Downloads: 776
DBWsim presents a scenery pack for Midway Atoll on the northern tip of the Hawaiian Islands. This pack also includes scenery for French Frigate Shoals (Tern Island) and Kure Atoll. All airports and facilities have been redeveloped along with significant coastline modification and where possible land-class enhancement. By Derek and Brendan Webb. [This scenery actually covers most of the Northwestern Hawaii Islands. Those shown with an asterisk below include a full scenery with airport/airstrip, buildings, trees and shrubs:
Kure*, Midway*, Kittery, Lisianski, Laysan (lagoon is rwy 17-35 for seaplanes), Tern*, French Frigate Shoals, Necker and Nihoa.
Expect frame rates as low as 8 in some views of the very complete scenery for Midway Is. There is an alternative scenery by Kawamura, but is limited to Midway only, without the other islands.]
4. Texture file cleansing. If you, like many others, have downloaded the full set of Nova textures and installed them in the main FS2004 \Texture folder, you should search through all of the above downloaded zip files and delete all the Nova*.* files. [I have performed a full check: there are no Nova files there which are not included in the standard Nova downloads.]
5. Scenery Installation. Some people follow the installers advice and install every single addon into a separate FS2004 scenery. That improves VERY SLIGHTLY IF AT ALL the frame rates, but if you follow such a policy throughout, your installed sceneries will easily run into the thousands and their maintenance will be a nightmare: when something does not work OK you will be unable to identify and fix the problems. For the above Hawaii sceneries, actually only three FS2004 scenery folders are needed:
a. All the add-ons listed above. Yes, copy all the .BGL to the same \scenery folder and all the textures to the same \texture folder! It works! You will find that many texture files are common to the different airports: just install the most recent version of each and you will be fine, also saving considerable disk space in the process. This "Hawaii airports" scenery should be set with higher priority than all the default continents and add-on meshes.
b. The FS Genesis Landclass. It needs a separate folder with no \texture subfolder.
c. The FS Genesis Mesh and/or any other meshes affecting Hawaii, such as FS Global 2005.
[For a complete account on the selection and installation of Mesh sceneries see my Mesh tips.]
6. Backup. Finally, you should produce a zip file of your final scenery installation and record a backup in some other hard disk or DVD (I back up periodically my whole FS2004 installation).