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Review: SST’s Slovenia for FSX Part 1

Slovenia; officially known as the Republic of Slovenia covers an area of approximately 20,000 sq kms and has a population of just over 2 million. Relatively speaking it is a small country located in Central Europe.  For those of you not familiar with Slovenia it borders Italy on the west, the Adriatic Sea on the southwest, Croatia on the south and east, Hungary on the northeast, and Austria on the north.  Almost half of the country is considered elevated land mass, that is to say mountains and plateaus located mostly in the central portion of the country.  This scenery from SST reproduces the eastern half of the country.

Installation and Configuration

This scenery package is comprised of two files one for the scenery and one for AI aircraft. The two combined are just over 4Gb in size so a fast internet connection is definitely a plus.  The main scenery file is in an ISO format which can be burnt onto a DVD with the appropriate software or it can be mounted again with the proper software tools.  Instructions for using either method are provided in their forum.

When you purchase the product you are sent an email with instructions to register on their forum. Registering in the forum is a must and should be done before anything else. Once you register and are confirmed as a scenery owner you are given access to the dedicated forum where you will get detailed installation instructions as well as the required unlock keys. As with any other product certain steps need to be done in a particular order and not adhering to them will cause you to not be able to complete the installation properly. Finally, to complete the registration and activation you must have an active internet connection.

Images of the Airports

The installation routine itself is not very complicated but you do need to pay attention to what the installer is asking you to do and do things in order.  Some may find it a bit cumbersome but with software piracy being a huge problem this is how the developer chose to safeguard their product.  In a nutshell you run the install routine, add it to the scenery library and then run a few small patches to unlock the scenery so it is visible.  One advantage to this method of installation is that there is no mystery as to where the files are being installed.  Again each step is detailed in their forum. Usually I comment on how important it is to read the manual before you begin but in this case it is reading the forum that is essential.

The second file is for AI traffic but this one is optional.  Installing it will add AI traffic appropriate for the region. Just as with the main scenery installation there are a few steps that you will need to do but they are simple, straight forward and fully explained.  I highly recommend anyone buying this scenery to install the AI package. To not install it means you will be missing out on an integral part of this package.

Although it may sound a bit more complicated than what you may be accustomed to with many scenery packages nowadays if you follow the developers instructions it really is not that bad and the end result is worth it.

Once the package has been installed you will have four new entries in your program menu structure. In addition to each one having the appropriate uninstaller the Slo4fsx part 1 entry also contains a link to the slo4fsx website.

Here are the entries:

  • \Slo4fsx part 1
  • \Slo4fsx patch b
  • \Slo4fsx patcha
  • \slo4fsx AI aircraft

Documentation

There is no documentation with this package per say.  Everything you need is on the publisher’s website within the dedicated forum.  This is a bit unorthodox however the publisher felt that this was a better method of giving the purchaser the information they needed as well as for giving you after sales support. Within the forum topics you will find detailed installation instructions, airport charts, compatibility fixes, tips and tricks and lots more.  Any of these can be printed out for ease of use.

The charts are found in the forum. As stated by Andrej the site administrator what they have provided is a limited set of charts for ten of the twelve airports. These were rounded up from a number of different sources so the information you get varies from airport to airport but what they do give you is useful and relevant.  Just like the installation instructions I highly recommend you save these to your PC and then print them out for future reference as you fly around.

Support

After my installation was complete I did encounter a problem with one of the airports not appearing as it should. I emailed support and literally within minutes I was given suggestions on how to fix my problem.  As it turns out it was a conflict with another addon’s AFCAD file.  The promptness of the response was impressive.

Flying the Scenery

Seeing is believing and this scenery is definitely worth seeing. Covering the eastern half of Slovenia it is a huge area, approximately 11,000 sq kms with textures for all four seasons, precisely placed autogen and airports throughout. Additionally, you have realistic high quality AI traffic that includes commercial, general aviation and military aircraft.

Faced with the task of reviewing such a large area of scenery I wondered what the best way to do this would be.  I wanted to try and see as much of it as I could to give my best interpretation of what this scenery was like both visually and performance wise. To do this I chose to fly at low altitudes staying about 2000 ft above ground level and at a relatively low airspeed flying in the default Piper Cub. After all if you want to enjoy the details of the terrain and autogen what better way is there?  Looking at the map of the coverage area you can see that there are airports scattered throughout so I simply flew from airfield to airfield covering as much of the scenery as possible.

Let me begin by commenting on the terrain. I found it interesting to fly as well as challenging at times.  For the most part the land is rugged, flying throughout Slovenia you will see lots of farmland, plateaus, mountainous terrain, winding rivers, lakes and streams, villages and moderate sized cities. At low altitudes you really get to appreciate and enjoy the diversity of landscapes.

Overall the terrain graphics are crisp, well defined and look very realistic. They’ve included textures for all four seasons so the colours of the landscape and foliage change as you would expect them to with the changing seasons.

Images of the Terrain

Some examples of their work are: flying over farmland you can make out the individual furrows in the fields, the trees that so often border small country paths and roads are all lined up as you would expect. When you get to the larger towns and cities all of the buildings whether they be residential or commercial line up with the network of roads. The lakes and rivers look real and because they use phototextures as a base the shorelines are accurate.  The networks of roads and railways can easily be discerned due to the clarity and detailing in the textures. The roads also contain moving traffic that line up correctly so you don’t have vehicles driving around aimlessly in fields or mountain sides. When roadways go into the sides of a mountain or cross a river there are bridges or tunnel openings added.  They’ve done a very good job making sure little touches like these are taken care of. That is so important to giving the user a quality product. I should also make mention of the assortment of structures, they have done much more then just duplicate the same buildings over and over. There is variety and uniqueness throughout. While exploring you will fly over or near villages and cities, factories, hydro electric plants, large commercial and industrial buildings, and many other unique structures.  On the shores of the Sava river near Trbovlje there is the Trbovlje chimney which at 1,200 ft is the tallest in Europe, this is just one example of what you can expect to find as you explore Slovenia.

In addition to the vast amount of landscape there are the 12 detailed airports.  Of these you have one military aerodrome LJCE, one international airport LJMB and 10 other smaller airfields most of them with grass strips three of which are sloped.  All of them will challenge you to some degree and in different ways.

Each of the airports include accurately placed buildings, runways and markings. If you install the AI traffic file you will also find that most airports have aircraft. They have made some of their airports a bit more interesting by adding some unique features to several of them.  As with just about everything else you need to know about this package the information I am giving you is available to you via their forum.  In several of the grass strip airfields the runway markings change with the wind direction.  Not something you see in most scenery packages. Another little extra is at the military air base LJCE, dialling in the proper NAV frequency will open the hanger doors to reveal the Blue Angles aerobatic team parked inside. There are numerous other “easter eggs” like this scattered throughout the countryside for you to discover, some are always there and others are only visible at certain times of the year.  Happy hunting!

Performance wise this package was easy on the frame rates and didn’t over tax my system.

What I’ve touched on in my review are some of the highlights and by no means are they the only ones. I found that in every flight there was something new to catch my attention.

Final Thoughts

I have never been to Slovenia and likely never will but after having had the opportunity to fly this scenery I feel that I now have a good sense of what this part of the country looks like and definitely how beautiful it is. There is certainly lots to see here and although I spent many hours flying the scenery I know that there is so much more exploring left to do.

I would have to say that this scenery rates as some of the best I have flown in FSX and I look forward to the eventual release of the scenery that will cover the remainder of this beautiful country.

My Ratings

  • Installer: Good. Does require user intervention however to unlock the scenery as well as adding it to the FSX scenery library.
  • Documentation: Good. Although a bit unorthodox the information you need is provided through the dedicated forum rather than a supplied manual or readme.
  • Modelling: Very good. Graphics optimized, objects precisely placed and accurately depicted.
  • Extras: High quality AI traffic, textures for all four seasons.


Test System:
Intel i7 920 @ 2.66Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, 8800 GT 512Mb video card, Win XP x64 SP2, FSX SP2, TrackIR4

Richard Desjardins

About Miguel Blaufuks

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