FSaddon Vancouver Plus review
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Vancouver Plus Version 2
For FSX Published by FSaddon
Reviewed by Brian Buckley
June 2011

Introduction
When I suggested that I take on this review, I was under the impression I was doing a review of the Vancouver cityscape and airport. 
How wrong I was. The area covered by this scenery add-on is absolutely huge. It covers approximately 30,000 square kilometres, stretching from Vancouver city and its surroundings, north and east of the city which includes a great part of British Columbia. Also in the mix are two complete and highly detailed airfields. The harbour and its facilities, hundreds of bridges and many other things are included also for you to discover. Vancouver city is extremely well replicated with most if not all, of the tall buildings and major landmarks, faithfully modelled by Jon Patch, building by building. If you have been to Vancouver or reside there, you will undoubtedly be amazed at the true to life creations. Jon Patch, Holger Sandmann and their team have come up trumps again with Vancouver Plus.

The main inclusions in this package are:

  • The City of Vancouver in even more astounding detail than the FS9 release
  • Downtown Vancouver/Stanley Park and Tsawwassen/Roberts Bank with 5 meter aerial photographs!
  • The Airport of Pitt Meadows (CYPK), highly realistic
  • The Airport and aviation museum of Langley Field (CYNJ), highly realistic too
  • Both airports ground textures made with 30 meter aerial photographic textures
  • 30.000 square kilometres of ‘Holger Sandmann’ scenery, showing BC as it really is
  • Custom made textures, water textures, mesh, landclass, roads and railways and much more…
  • AI cruise ships and other vessels making their way through harbour and sea
  • Custom made AI aircraft and helicopters, with many liveries and AI flightplans
  • 29 improved airfields in the region
  • 7 seaplane bases, all AI capable
  • 13 heliports 11 private airfields (see if you can locate them!)
  • A custom made ‘configurator program’ that lets you tune the package to your desire and PC’s capabilities
  • A 59-page, very extensive manual, helping you with installation, navigation, (FSX)tuning and general enjoyment
Installation, Configuration and Repair
Installing Vancouver+ is a breeze thanks to the automatic installation routine and the configuration panel. You basically just click on the downloaded .exe file, and the installer will guide you through all the next steps.
 
For the download version you will have received a Registration Key that looks something like this example: FSADVAN-999-99999-X9999-99999.

You receive the key from the distributor, in an email, and it will also be available from your regular Customer Area (‘your account’) where all your orders are listed.

When you ‘run’ the installation file, it will prompt you for this registration key. Just cut and paste it in! After installation, you will be presented with the Vancouver+ Configuration Panel.

The Configuration Panel is where options can be set. You will need to ensure your monitor is set for a minimum of 1024x768 resolution. You’ll note the following options:

Land Class Ground Textures:
Reorganizes FSX standard textures to best match the natural and man-made environment of the coverage area and also adds more realistic water textures (colours) for the area. No default textures are overwritten! Requires an extra 1Gb of disk space!

FSX Standard Textures:
Use this if you have another global texture replacement add-on, or prefer the default textures

Optional Scenery Elements: (denoted by * will improve performance if deselect)
Ambient Sounds – adds seagulls, ocean noises and bridge traffic noise in appropriate locations
Marine Navigational Lights* – adds about 200 buoys and other marine lights in real-world locations with realistic flashing or steady light effects. Minor Roads – adds minor roads and streets throughout the region but will reduce autogen density in urban areas.
Moving Road Traffic (Light* or heavy): with road traffic enabled in FSX, adds traffic to either major roads, or many roads in the area, depending on the selection.
Marinas and Static Boats* – adds docks and docked boats to Vancouver Harbour and False Creek
Winter Ice – changes texture of all water bodies above 1000’ to landable ice in winter FSX or FS9 style traffic.

Traffic:
& You can choose whether our custom AI traffic is enabled for each of: General Aviation, Floatplane Traffic, Helicopter Traffic, Cruise Ship Traffic, and Small Boat Traffic. Also varying your traffic density settings in your traffic control panel will vary the amount of traffic. You can also choose whether your AI traffic uses the FS9 or FSX format.

Selecting FS9-style traffic means any flight plans compiled with FSX tools, including the FSX default aircraft, ships and ferries, will be disabled.

Selecting FSX-style traffic means you have to make sure no FS9-style traffic is active in any of your FSX add-on folders.

A single FS9-style traffic file will disable all FSX-style traffic. FSAddon recommend you use FSX-style traffic.

Optional Flight Situations: - select this option and a number of saved flights will be available in your flight list, preceded with “Van+…”

Maps showing area covered
As you can see the area covered is huge. This will give you months if not years of exploration flying to do.

Terrain
Holger Sandmann has done his magic again by creating an exact copy of the real terrain, including the coastlines, lakes, rivers and river beds, mountains and hills, forestry roads, glaciers and such. And dams, waterfalls….. and even ski runs! Check out the famous Whistler ski areas!

The Ski Runs on Whistler!

The area of Whistler
Landscape
  • LOD11 (19-m) mesh of the entire project area with integrated FSX style multi-LOD (LOD5-11)
    buffer mesh files to maintain high terrain detail in the mid to far distance
  • Accurate ocean and inlet water bodies, with shorelines; all saltwater shorelines have wave
    action.
  • Accurate lakes and rivers, with shorelines where meaningful; all lakes and some rivers will be
    flattened to avoid water creeping up adjacent slopes.
  • Lakes and rivers above 600m ASL can be made to “freeze” in winter.
  • Water class (water colours) file with custom textures to depict differences in river colours (e.g., brownish Fraser, greyish glacial rivers, bluish others), lake colours (e.g., turquoise glacial lakes vs. dark blue others), and ocean colours (e.g., Fraser River sediment fans).
  • Land class (land use) file optimized to represent the current distribution of urban areas, settlements, farmland, forests, forestry cut blocks, wetlands, alpine areas, etc.
  • Custom ground textures for several land use types not present in FSX: small and large forestry cutblocks, industrial areas.
  • Optimized autogen files (distribution of vegetation and buildings) for most ground texture types.
  • A modified local set of default ground textures can be created (via configurator checkbox) to prevent the display of the “desert”-style default winter textures.
  • Custom seasons file to more accurately control the spatial distribution of ground textures throughout the year (e.g., advancing or receding snow cover in the mountains).
  • Accurate placement of the main glaciers and ice fields.
  • Road network for the coverage area based on the GeoBase road data; major roads have FSX style moving traffic (optional).
  • Railroad network for the coverage area based on railroad network data provided by Joel Gill. Power line network (utility corridors) based on topographic maps and satellite imagery.
  • Custom textures for different shoreline types, streams, gravel bars, utility corridors, railroads, and the Vancouver Skytrain.
  • Ski areas (ski runs and trail network) at Grouse Mountain, Cypress Bowl, Mount Seymour, Hemlock Valley, Whistler-Blackcomb, and Mount Baker. Most include ski lodges.
  • Spray effect at the Cleveland Dam; includes sound effect.
The Configuration Panel
 

Once you have installed Vancouver Plus, this configuration tool will show up. Here you can set up your copy of Vancouver Plus, to suit your systems specifications. I found that I needed to play with the settings until I found a decent compromise for my system. I suggest you do the same. Play around with the settings and you will find your ideal configuration. Almost everything is optional so it’s entirely up to you. Click on - Apply Settings and Exit, job done!

From within the configuration Panel, you can also access the 59 page manual, maps covering the area and also the support forum, which I would encourage you to register on.

Where to place the Vancouver+ entries in the FSX Scenery Library?
Note: In the following instructions, "below" means lower on your FSX scenery library screen, with a higher Priority number, and “above” means the opposite.

The Vancouver+ auto-installer will add three Vancouver+ entries to your scenery library. However, before starting your first flight you should have a closer look at your scenery library menu and check the list of entries against our recommendations below.

There are two important aspects regarding the Vancouver+ entries: the order of the three entries themselves and their placement as a group relative to entries of other add-ons. Of course, the second aspect is important only for third-party scenery that partially or fully overlaps with the Vancouver+ coverage area.

  1.  Always keep the order of the three Vancouver+ entries exactly as they are in the screenshot on the next page.

  2.  Always keep your Ultimate Terrain entries, should you have them, below the three Vancouver+ entries; this includes the landclass folders, should you have them as separate entries.

  3. Always keep third-party global or regional land class add-ons, such as the FS Genesis USA or Cloud9 Canada products, below the three Vancouver+ entries.

  4. Always keep third-party global or regional terrain mesh add-ons, such as the FS Global or FS Genesis products, below the three Vancouver+ entries.

  5.  Always keep third-party scenery with photoreal ground textures, such as Megascenery Pacific Northwest and Georender 4 ‘Darrington’, above the three Vancouver+ entries.

  6.  Always keep Jon’s and Holger’s Victoria, B.C., enhancements, vicenh07.zip, above the three Vancouver+ entries. (This add-on is not available at the time of this release)

  7. In general, any airfield add-on or other objects, such as Nigel Grant’s Vancouver International, should have their entries above the three Vancouver+ entries.

Photoscenery

  • 5m Aerial photo scenery
    Downtown Vancouver/Stanley Park Tsawwassen/Roberts Bank

  • 30cm Aerial photo photos
     CYPK area


 South West Vancouver City

 Vancouver Harbour Area

 Tsawwasswen Area

 CZBB Airfield

Super Port Roberts Bank
 

Peace Arch Canada – USA Border
 
Real World Pictures of the above FSX screen shots

I found that the 5m photoscenery was everything you would expect from the FSAddon Guys. I didn’t notice much difference in the frame rates although there was a slight drop, as you would expect from a system with my specifications. (see footnote). I would expect a system with greater specifications would not notice any drop in frame rates at all.

Structures Included:

  • Custom Gmax buildings with photorealistic textures (photography by Nigel Grant and Emmett McRobie):
    Airport Square, Bentall V, Callisto, Canada Place, Cathedral Place, Electra, Flying Beaver Bar & Grill at Vancouver International Seaplane Base, Four Bentall (TD/Canada Trust Tower), Hotel Vancouver, Lafarge Cement plant, Library Square, HR MacMillan Space Museum, Marine Building, The Melville, Park Place, Provincial Law Courts, Qube, Royal Centre, Scotia Tower, Shaw Tower, Three Bentall (BMO Tower), Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver City Hall, Wall Centre. And in Burnaby: Metrotowers I and II, Metropolis at Metrotown (470 store shopping centre), Telus Building, Simon Fraser University Quad.
  • Thousands of autogen hand-placed buildings
  • Vancouver harbour structure
  • Custom Cleveland Dam
  • A smattering of MS generic objects: refineries, tank farms, buildings and structures of the Pacific National Exhibition in Exhibition Park
  • Burnaby Mountain tank farm
  • Point Atkinson lighthouse
  • 200+ marine navigational lights
  • False Creek and Coal Harbour marinas
  • Many antennae
  • Large greenhouses in Pitt Meadows, Surrey and Langley Township
  • Fuel barges in Coal Harbour
  • Peace Arch at Canada/US border
I took quite some time looking for the above structures which included hours and hours of flying. I can honestly say I didn’t find everything. That’s how huge this area is to discover. You can fly around the Vancouver Plus and its surrounding area every day and find something different every time you fly. That’s the joy of this package.

Also Included:

  • Major bridges, custom gmax. Road surfaces from aerial photos. Bridge models from Engineering drawings kindly provided by: British Columbia Ministry of Transport; TransLink Regional Transportation Authority; City of Richmond; City of Vancouver; Vancouver International Airport Authority.
  • Vancouver: Lion’s Gate, Second Narrows – Ironworkers Memorial, Granville St., Cambie St., Oak St., Knight St.
  • Region: Port Mann, Alex Fraser, Mission, Pattullo
  • Sea Island Bridges (CYVR): Middle Arm, Dinsmore, No.2 Road, Arthur Laing, Airport Connector.
  • SkyBridge transit bridge, linking New Westminster and Surrey Minor road bridges, custom gmax: approximately 110
  • Rail bridges, custom gmax and FS generic models: approximately 60

I found it quite pleasurable flying up and down the myriad of rivers and inlets looking for and spotting in most cases the listed bridges, towers, etc. The guys at FSAddon have really polished the designs of all the structures it makes it almost like flying real world. I haven’t finished flying this area yet, so I’m looking forward to even more discoveries along the way.

The two main featured airports in this package are:
To make sure we have somewhere to fly to, Jon has also built Pitt Meadows airfield (CYPK) for us and is also accompanied by Langley Airfield (CYNJ) a little further down the road. This is a fairly large airfield situated to the east of Vancouver, along the Fraser River. Here are the websites for the airfields - www.pittmeadowsairport.com and www.langleyairport.bc.ca

CYPK – Pitt Meadows Regional Airport

  • N49* 12.97′ W122* 42.60′
  • 40 custom buildings
  • Transparent tower windows
  • Three runways
  • Runways and taxiways adjusted to 20 cm air photo data, accurate to within 2m
  • Taxiway signs adjusted
  • 30 cm photo scenery for airport area

CYNJ – Langley Regional Airport.

  • N49* 6.04′ W122* 37.84′
  • 41 custom buildings
  • Transparent tower windows
  • Two runways
  • Runways and taxiways adjusted to 10 cm air photo data, accurate to within 1m
  • Taxiway signs adjusted
  • 30 cm photo scenery for airport area


Pitt Meadows Regional Airport

Langley Regional Airport

Downtown Vancouver City and the Harbours Area

In my opinion the cityscape of Vancouver and the surrounding Harbour facilities have been recreated to a very high degree of realism. If you like flying in this extraordinarily beautiful part of the world, you will not be disappointed. If you take the advice that is offered in the manual, regarding the settings, then you will have a fantastic area to play (fly) in. From the Airports to the Harbours and float planes to the countless Heli’ Pads to land on there is an immense choice of destinations and routes to fly.
 

Harbour Area

Cityscape
The night lighting and textures are mixed in my opinion. Some, mainly the city centres and Harbour areas are very good whilst others in the surrounding areas, let it down somewhat. Below are a couple of shots to show what I mean.
 

This shot at night shows Vancouver City in the distance at the top right and the night lighting there is very good. But look at the foreground. Although it looks like a very well lit area, in my opinion it doesn’t look quite right.


This shot on the other hand is very well lit and looks very realistic. The guys at FSAddon have spent many hours getting the night lighting correct and with scenery like this to fly around in at night makes it more of a joy.

A couple of points I would bring to mind are maybe system related rather than anomalies within the software, but I thought I would share them with you in case you happen to experience them yourselves when flying this area.
  • Odd looking trees in the background! I’m not quite sure what was going on there but although I noticed them, they didn’t really detract from my flying experience as I wasn’t looking from that particular angle for too long. Once I had taken off, they blended in with the surrounding scenery
  • The next anomaly seems to be a spike of some sort in the harbour area. Again, I was not sure if this was due to the restrictions of my particular system or a glitch in the scenery. This spike or line seems to go for miles into the distance but I never noticed any in any of the other areas I flew around.


Night falls on Vancouver

Compatibility
There is an interim compatibility patch for ORBX "Pacific Northwest" scenery available via a link from their support forums.  This interim patch is intended to allow users of Vancouver+ Version 2 and ORBX Pacific Northwest V1.001 to use both products. Note that there are a number of minor issues with this patch, which will be addressed in Vancouver+ V3, as well as new features.  V3 will be available as a free upgrade for people purchasing the current V2 software.



Verdict

Jon Patch, Holger Sandmann and the guys at FSAddon have come up with an amazing piece of scenery for FSX. The city of Vancouver really does come alive on screen when flying around it and the same applies to the rest of the surrounding areas. This add-on covers a huge swath of British Columbia, Canada, and I have yet to explore all of it.

I did have some teething problems in setup but they were purely down to my system specifications and not to the work done by this great bunch of guys.

Installation was so simple. Just put the disc in and the included installation engine took over. All I had to do was to check that I had the 3 scenery areas in the correct order in my Scenery Library.

What this scenery would look like on a system with maybe a corei7 processor and a better graphics card is only guess work on my part but I would imagine it would be pretty awesome.

If you go for the download version be prepared for a long wait as it is a sizable file to download. Go for the dvd version and you won’t have the wait. Your Choice!

There is more to this scenery package than first meets the eye, so I would suggest, if you like flying in Canada and BC, then buy this add-on. I am positive you won’t regret it. Plus you will get many many hours of pleasurable flying from it. I can thoroughly recommend this add-on especially if you already own Pacific Fjords and/or Orcas Islands. If you don own them yet…..go get them! You won’t regret it.

On the basis that I have found some glitches with the scenery, albeit in a nit-picking manner, I give this super add-on a-
Mutley’s Hangar score of 8.5/10



Brian Buckley
Review machine Spec:
Intel Core 2 Duo @ 3.15 Ghz | 4Gb 800Mhz DDR2 Ram |GTX285 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit


        
       System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Pentium 2 GHz (Duo2Core Intel or equivalent advised)
  • 1 Gb RAM (2 Gb recommended)
  • 256Mb graphic card (512 MB recommended)
  • 550Mb Download size


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