FSX

Review: UK2000 SCENERY – GATWICK XTREME V3


Quick Summary: UK2000 are renowned for their Xtreme series of airports for FSX and Gatwick Extreme v3 is no exception.  It is extremely well detailed, accurately modelled and fits in exceedingly well with the default FSX scenery.  The night visuals are excellent, and the whole package is a vast improvement on what is offered in FSX.  I experienced some mild impact on frame rates but I still achieved extremely smooth results.  You would never want to go back to the default airport having flown in this one.

UK2000 SCENERY – GATWICK XTREME V3 — The Creepy Crawley Review

Background:  (Courtesy Wikipedia and Gatwick airport.com)
Gatwick is situated about 30 miles south of London (≈30 miles north of Brighton) and is a large International Airport with the Gatwick Airport site covering ≈1,690 acres (≈680 hectares, i.e. ≈6,800,000 m2) and sports two main terminals, North and South.  The North Terminal has an area of 75,000m2 and the South Terminal covers an area of 120,000m2, and the terminal that you would use depends on the airline and destination.  It is one of the busiest airports in the UK and its ICAO code is EGKK, it boasts the world’s busiest single-use runway, and is the 28th world’s busiest airport.  The airport dates from the 1920’s with the biggest development starting from 1970 to the current date. In 2009 it carried in excess of 32,000,000 passengers pa, with ≈252,000 aircraft movements during the same time period.  It has two main runways, the secondary runway, 08L/26R 2,565 m 8,415′ and the main run way 08R/26L 3,316m 10,879′ both constructed in asphalt/concrete.

Features:

  • -Full detail Buildings
  • -Realistic Ground Markings
  • -All Jetways present
  • -UK Runway markings
  • -Stunning Night Effects
  • -3D Approach Lights
  • -Hundreds of Airport Vehicles
  • -Excellent Frame Rates
  • -Unique Service Fleet
  • -Animated Traffic
  • -Full set of signs
  • -Fencing
  • -Static Aircraft
  • -Docking systems
  • -Special ‘Effects’
  • -Improved runway lights
  • -‘Edge’ blending
  • -High resolution textures
  • -‘Wet’ runway effect (FSX)
  • -Stand IDs

Plus, NEW in Version 3

  • -New airport changes, including new A380 taxiway changes
  • -Update of existing buildings and textures.
  • -New High res ground image, including seasonal repaint version
  • -New taxiway and concrete texture including FSX ‘wet surface’ effect
  • -New taxiway edging Techniques with grass blade effect
  • -New lighting system and effects
  • -New image process for sharper FSX textures
  • -New better designed AFD files.

Installation:
Very easy — the installation is fully automatic i.e. the exe file expands into a UK 2000 folder in FSX.  You then activate by inserting a key-code from the UK2000 site using the purchase email address.)  Also installed are the “AFD” files which allow the AI aircraft to park correctly, and routes AI vehicles from AI aircraft taxiing/parking routes.  There are also some transparency grass textures which I did not use.

The Manual:
The manual is small and concise being 15 pages long.  It covers, new v3 features, display settings, system requirements, support details, PC optimisation, product features including animation, airport information, parking and docking, points of interest, known FSX issue, compatibility, uninstallation and general tips.  There are several pages of illustrations covering the most interesting features of this busy airport.  The manual covers both FSX and FS2004 and it can be quite confusing to see something that works in FS9 but not FSX and vice versa.  Separate manuals would have been a better option.  A two page brochure covers the AFD install and features.  No charts are included in the package.

The Visual Experience:
UK2000 have produced an excellent upgrade to a busy commercial airport showing the various features in great detail that mirrors the real life Gatwick.  It is visually excellent and leaves the stock FSX airport way behind.  The two major terminals (north & South) are faithfully reproduced and add AI traffic together with animated vehicles and the whole place becomes alive.

In terms of performance using the approved settings from the manual, I did experience a very slight loss of fps with this add-on but it still remained extremely smooth throughout the test.  The effect was not really significant.

To get around and have a look at the airport I used again “BOB” from OrbX.  BOB allows you to wander all around the airport at ground level so that you can look at all of the buildings and AI planes there.  I did something wrong during the review in that I must have changed a setting and in doing so I “lost” all of my AI aircraft, static or otherwise.  I discovered my AI wasn’t working and I had disabled Static AI in the configuration panels! J  The disappointment was the car park which was full of very flat AI cars that needed to be viewed from the air to appear realistic.  This also applies to ‘parked’ trains at ground level.

UK200 have done a competent job in reproducing all of the different complex activities that you see at a major multifunctional airport, such as freight, passenger planes, vehicles, signs, cargo and general containers, and car parks.  The taxiways and runways are accurate with excellent textures and markings, great lighting (including superb blue taxi and apron lights) and very clear signs guiding you to the departure or parking point.  The runway signs are all present and are in the correct locations ie left turn signs are on the left side of the and right turn signs are on the right side of the sign plus all the usual holding points and the various surfaces available.  The perimeter fences and anti-blast wall areas are also well represented.  The night lighting is also excellent in both the buildings, signs and the various lighting poles dotted around this complex.




UK2000 in Gatwick v3 model provides a number of animated moving objects including vehicles inside and outside the airport, South to North Terminal ‘Shuttle” transit train, express trains to and from London.  (See pictures above).

There are some very nice features in this airport, too numerous to mention in this review but they all add to the experience of flying to and from the second busiest UK airport.  I spent quite a bit of time just wandering about noticing the detail even in the places you do not normally go.  I attach a few pictures of my virtual peripatetic wanderings using OrbX “BOB”.

Options Configuration:
There are configuration options accessed via the start menu, all programs, UK2000 scenery, UK200 Gatwick — Xtreme, Configuration Options.  Here you can set the scenery quality from ‘Xtreme to “Low” and on the second options screen you can choose such things as’ static AI planes, whether you use GENX or VFR Real scenery, AFD options (see below), inside and outside traffic, UK2000 service fleet, FSX coded polygons and ‘animation timers’ for smoothness wrt to FSX FPS or constant speed vehicles.  Unfortunately the configuration panels are not described particularly well in the manual


In terms of AI scenery, there are two AFDS provided by UK2000 one with AI planes dynamically/statically parked at some of the jetways, ramps etc and one without so you could use your own AI program.  Compatible AI programs include MTX, PAI, UTX, FSTraffic and ARNZ AI.  You can also activate a UK2000 service fleet that occupy five gates throughout the concourse. The two page brochure explains all of the AI options in great detail and should be read to obtain optimum traffic movement at the airport.

Aircraft Taxiing and Parking — Aerosoft AES:
In UK2000 Gatwick Xtreme v 3.01 you can use of Aerosoft AES (latest version + 4 credits) to help you get from the runway and taxi to the gates and vice versa, ie taxi from the gates to the runway.  If you decide to taxi or park without AES, you can follow the FSX arrows to the gate.  When you get to the “run in” to the gate you see a ‘docking board” which has lights or an electronic device to guide you to the parking (docking) spot so that the plane can be disembarked.  There are NO animated Jetways (Air bridges) at UK 2000 Gatwick, you either use the default jetways, or you can use AES which provides these and/or stairs (plus other features) to disembark passengers.


Night Textures:
Realistic, the buildings, lights and the runways are beautifully lit much, much better than the default.  The following pictures depict the various night lighting modes.  From a distance the aerodrome and the environs seem to glow, guiding you like a moth to a flame.


Navaids etc:
These are accurate in UK2000 Gatwick with the runways being the correct length, elevation, orientation etc.  The ILS DME’s for both runways check out and match the real world values.  Using the appropriate navigation aids in artificially created severe overcast weather I was able to accurately position a default 747 for an instrument landing.  The taxiways and terminals were also accurately depicted and placed, so navigation around the airport is pretty much as it is in real life.  SIDS and STARS could be followed using real world charts showing the accuracy of this add on.  The lighting was also representative of the real world airport.

Summing Up:
This is a very nice UK airport add-on from UK2000.  Gatwick is extremely well depicted matching the views that you see in Google Earth and the Official Photos of the Airport.  Everything is very well modelled and it gives the impression of a busy bustling hive of activity both day and night.  The animations are excellent and using AES adds icing to the cake.  I would have liked the cars in the car park to be better modelled but this is a minor criticism.  All in all, if you fly heavy iron in the UK Europe, this is one add on that will enhance your experience.

UK 2000 has gone to great lengths to ensure a seamless join between EGKK and the default scenery and although there is some slight impact on frame rates, I did not find that to be an issue using the default FSX heavy iron.  I guarantee that once you fly into or out of the UK 2000 Gatwick Xtreme v3 you will not want to go back to the default airport.

WOW Factor: 8½ out of 10.

Peter Hayes
Australia
January 2011


The Important Bits:

  • Publisher: UK2000 Scenery
  • Supplier: simMarket
  • Download File Size: 80 MB + 25 MB Transparent Grass Textures + 4MB Sutton Bank add on
  • Installed File Size: ≈300MB
  • Simulator Requirement: FSX SP1, SP2 (Acceleration/Gold)
  • OS Requirements: Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7;
  • Testing System: Intel E8600, 4GB DDR 800 RAM, Vista 64 SP2, nVidia GTX260 GT,
    nvidia 258.96 Driver;
    FSX SP1 + SP2; 750GB SATA II Seagate 7200 HDD. 
    No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.
  • Scenery: FSX Default; FS Genesis, UTX USA/Canada; GEXn; X-Graphics,
    FTX PNW, PF etc plus OrbX “BOB”, Aerosoft AES 4 credits
  • Installation: Installation is simplicity itself being automatic
    via a self extracting exe file, plus online activation.
  • Manual: One manual 16pp plus 2 page AFD brochure
  • Demo: Demo version available to check compatibility with your system:
    simMarket
  • Support: here
  • Homepage: here
  • Forum: here
  • Updates Ver 3.01 allows Aerosoft AES 2.09 to work.
  • Uninstall Procedure described in the manual

Comments are closed.