You will be mistaken if you think this is just another Orbx airport. On the contrary, this is Orbx next generation CityScene.
With the arrival of scenery designer legend Allen Kriesman (‘Ultimate Terrain X’) and his ground-breaking new technology, enabling highly-detailed scenery, coupled with highly improved performance and optimisation, he seemed to be the ideal candidate to take on the famous metropolitan region of Brisbane, the entire City of Gold Coast and surrounds.
CityScene Gold Coast captures one of Australia's favourite tourist destinations and largest non-capital city.
Gold Coast City stretches from Beenleigh and Russell Island to the border with New South Wales (NSW) approximately 56 km (35 mi) south, and extends from the coast west to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range.
The Gold Coast was originally known as the South Coast (because it was south of Brisbane). However, inflated prices for real estate and other goods and services led to the nickname of "Gold Coast" from 1950. South Coast locals initially considered the name "Gold Coast" derogatory. However, soon the "Gold Coast" simply became a convenient way to refer to the holiday strip from Southport to Coolangatta.
Orbx CityScene Gold Coast is available from Orbx Direct using your FTX Central 3 portal and the full download for this product is 1.17GB. The price at the time of writing this review was AU$24.95 or approximately £14.00. A steal in my opinion! To use Orbx CityScene Gold Coast, you will need to have installed either Orbx AU Australia, or FTX Global BASE Pack or both.
You get a huge 600 Km² almost all of it at 60cm texture resolution whilst in and around Southport Flying Club it is rendered in 7cm ultra HD textures. You will find a 'Lite" version of Southport Airfield towards the northern area of the coverage, whilst at the southern area of this coverage there is Gold Coast International airport YBCG. Whilst this airport is covered to a certain degree and texturally very good, you can also purchase YBCG – Gold Coast Intrtnational airport separately from Orbx Direct or through your FTX Central 3 portal.
It is fairly evident where this scenery begins and ends when you fly to either end of the coverage area. CityScene Gold Coast scenery is extremely well detailed compared to the surrounding non-covered regions.
This sceneries features are listed by Orbx and include:Highly detailed representation of the City of Gold Coast and surrounds;
What Allen has done with CityScene Gold Coast is nothing short of a miracle when it comes to the detail in his autogen. The textures used in his bespoke buildings and other structures such as sports stadia, hospitals, parks and more is quite refreshing. The attention to correct placement of the hundreds of buildings is also very good, although there were a few that were not quite on the money for me. The main one being the tallest building in the scenery, which is slightly off line. But hey, with the amount of buildings and other autogen that is included, perhaps this is bound to happen and can be forgiven. The underlying ground textures are photographic in nature and blend well with the huge amount of 3D content that Allen has included but tend to get a little blurry except at altitude.
Aside from the handful of misplaced buildings and blurry textures, the quality of the content cannot be questioned. Allen has taken a good portion of the East Queensland coastline and literally peppered it with buildings and autogen. Including some of the most intricate building designs I’ve seen to date. Coupled with thousands of custom bridges, traffic, marinas, jetties, pontoons and millions of trees and other vegetation. Using some unique textures to bring to life what is the sunshine, holiday destination for thousands of Australians and visitors alike.
Also included and with the help of Jordon Gough (another Orbx stalwart), are several ‘lite’ versions of various helipads dotted around the coverage area. Also, a ‘lite’ rendition of YSPT – Southport Flying Club. This might be a good place to start your exploration of Gold Coast CityScene. Or even the larger airport to the south of Gold Coast International airport.
The screenshots above show the differing texture resolutions between the two airports. With Gold Coast Int’l on the left rendered at 60cm and Southport on the right, rendered in glorious 7cm pixels. The detail that is evident when textures are rendered at 7cm is beautifully clear.
Other possible areas to land at, should you be flying a rotorcraft-
Some of the tallest buildings in Queensland are right here in Gold Coast and have been expertly modelled by Allen. Below are a few of these buildings, the tallest of which is the Q1 Tower which stands at an impressive 323m (1059.7ft). Despite its status as Australia's sixth largest city, the Gold Coast has the fourth-greatest number of skyscrapers in Australia after Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
The third tallest building in this area is Circle on Cavill, which consists of two towers, north and south. The north tower standing 220m (721.7ft) and the south tower standing 158 (518.3ft). The south tower being the eighth tallest building on the Gold Coast.
Way down in fifteenth place are the three Southport Central towers, the tallest of which is a mere 127m (417 ft). Gold Coast certainly does have a wide variety of skyscrapers and most, if not all have been included in this product.
Although not strictly true renditions of the actual buildings, Allen Kreisman has included a vast amount of custom models in this product whilst keeping performance levels high.
Away from the main downtown areas and the shoreline, the detail does not diminish. On the contrary, it seems to get sharper and more interesting. This is really the Venice of Queensland in my view. There are miles upon miles of inland waterways, marinas, shopping malls and parks. Nothing appears to have been missed out by Allen and the Orbx team. I am sure you could wander for weeks on these waterways and still not see everything.
I will show you a comparison of the real world scenery in a small corner of the area covered by this product. Just to give you an idea of just how much research and development Alen Friesman has undertaken, to produce this work of art for us.
Here is a tiny part of the Coomer River at the northwest corner and as you can see, there is a great deal of interest in just this tiny section. Multiply this by the 600 Km² area covered and you can see the incredible amount of detail Allen has painstakingly added to his first product. As you can tell, the land to the west of the dual carriageway is not covered by CityScene Gold Coast.
I was looking forward to the promise of 3D lighting but I was not too impressed with the overall look and feel of the lighting my PC generated. The buildings seemed overly lit with what I can only describe as, unrealistic lighting. There was a better outcome when the time was set to total darkness but during dusk and dawn, the lighting seemed garish. When at altitude though, the roads and streets did look a whole lot better.
Queensland's Gold Coast has a sub-tropical climate with around 300 days of sunshine per year. As such, you are going to be extremely unlucky to find snow there. I am always a little excited when I read in a products manual that there are five seasons. The user manual does state ‘where applicable’ but I took screenshots of all twelve months on the same day each month and there was no discernable difference in the seasons month on month. So to recap. There are not five seasons within this product so don’t go looking for snow, you will be disappointed.
A succinct 11-page user manual is included in the download in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) which is accessible from the FTX Central 3 portal. This explains all the user needs to know regarding this product, from installation to how to configure your Sim.
Performance using my system was excellent. There was no discernible downgrade in performance and no stuttering. My frame rates were locked at 31 within the sim as always and this was achieved throughout my time flying around this wonderful rendition of Gold Coast, Australia. If you set all you settings as described in the user manual, you will be able to fly up and down this part of the Queensland coastline, forever and a day without any lack in performance.
For around £14.00 you are getting a whopping 600Km² of highly detailed custom scenery. This therefore has got to be this year’s deal of the year to date. I cannot overstate how much you are getting in terms of time and effort that has been put in to this product and all for a low price.
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
Asus Maximus VIII Hero Motherboard;
Intel i7, 6700K, 4GHz 'Skylake';
Asus Strix GeForce GTX970 OC 4GB;
32GB DDR4, Corsair Vengeance, 3000MHz;
500GB, Corsair Force 3 SSD, Windows 10, 64bit;
2TB WD HDD, Prepar3D v4; and
1.5TB WD Sata HDD, programs.
Additional Major Add-Ons. Orbx FTX Scenery; FSGlobal Ultimate Next Generation; Active Sky Next; Active Sky Cloud Art; SPADnext; FSUIPC+ WIDEFS.
Well done to Allen Kriesman and Orbx for bringing us a superb 600Km² of some of the finest scenery Queensland has to offer. CityScene Gold Coast in my opinion is a superb piece of work and would certainly recommend you add it to your scenery library.