FSX

Review: UK2000 VFR Airfields Volume 2

Fancy flying around the UK’s large and small airports? We’re going to check out UK2000’s VFR Airfields Volume 2. It’s a collection of 80 airfields, big and small, for the south central part of the UK.

UK2000 has been developing scenery for FS since 2002. The year 2002 and the FS version, coincidentally. They focus on the UK and offer some free airports for FS2004 and FSX on their site so you can see the quality of work before deciding to purchase. You will be very impressed with the quality of their work. They seem to really enjoy developing these add-ons as much as we like to fly them. Read on to understand why I say this.

Installation

Volume 2 continues to the north of Volume 1 which I reviewed previously at Simflight. When you purchase the software you are emailed a link to the download site. When you are here you will have to login or create an account if you don’t already have one. This installation seems a little overboard but it’s understandable in today’s market where piracy is a large problem.

It is a 420mb download so you will have to wait a little. Once downloaded you will run the installation app and enter the license code. The scenery is added to your database automatically. The software comes with a small configuration app to modify the scenery add-on allowing you to select which airports you want to install, whether to install custom general aviation AI traffic, and a checkbox if you are a Generation X user. Other options are to include/remove static aircraft, road traffic, and the base image. Deselecting either of these will reduce the load on your PC but will result in less satisfaction with the product.

 

The bgl files are named logically by using the ICAO code of the airfield so that you can easily remove or troubleshoot if something is causing a conflict in FSX. You should use the customize app above for this to ensure you are getting the correct files. There are optional, free, AFCAD files available on their site maintained by a user, too.

Manual

The manual is really well done. They include installation instructions, modifying FSX’s settings to improve the look of the scenery, and even a mod to the FSX.cfg file if you are brave and experienced enough.

Then, they list all of the airfields included in the package and which ones have night time textures. Not all do as some are general aviation or ultra light fields. They really did their homework because there’s a brief description and history of every airfield included. The only complaint I have is that they don’t list the airport runway lengths so that you know at a glance which ones your airplane can land at. There are links to the site of the real airfield, too.

The Airfields

There are a whopping 80 airfields in this package! I’m not going to show you each and every one. I’ll show you some of the more popular and scenic one’s but leave out a few so that you can explore and find some of the “Easter Eggs” yourself. There aren’t “Easter Egg’s” really, but each airport has something that makes it unique and fit the surroundings. Whether it’s Harrier’s parked at EGXT or large bails of hey at EGSF you’ll really get a feel for the location of the airport. Some of the airports are grass fields and UK2000 has included the dirt taxiway indicators. It looks really cool. Others have birds flying around.

 

Click to enlarge the picture below to see the birds.

One of the first things I noticed is that the airfields are really bright. Not bright in the sense that it looks overexposed but bright in the sense that they are not dreary as compared to the default FSX scenery. They are cheerful and pleasant to visit especially the smaller general aviation airports. The textures are not excellent quality but are clear and detailed. You have to get really close to notice the difference.

I use Ultimate Terrain X Europe and I haven’t noticed any problems and the same goes with the FS Genesis mesh.

You will notice a decrease in framerate’s if you select the static aircraft and road traffic. While doing this review I upgraded from a 3ghz duo core CPU to a quad core 3.3ghz. I can tell you that the 3ghz worked hard after adding this scenery where I lost around 5 fps with everything activated. My newer quad core CPU barely flinched. If you overclock your CPU you may be able to handle everything. You can turn down some of the other FSX framerate killers such as autogen and detailed clouds and enjoy everything this package has to offer.

The ground textures around the airports are very nice and there’s no issue with autogen appearing in odd places. The ground textures are actually pretty pleasing to the eye even while on the ground.

Comparison

Here is a slew of screenshots of selected airports using the FSX Default scenery and UK2000 Volume 2. This should be enough to convince you that this is a must have package. Enlarge these images by clicking on them and then go through the slideshow for a better comparison effect.

First, Birmingham…

Next EGBD Derby

EGBE Conventry. Notice that UK2000 has fixed the building locations on the right and the grass looks awesome.

EGGW – London Luton

EGNX East Midlands. Quite a contrast at this airport. Well done UK2000.

EGSC Cambridge. This one shows off the grass texture that UK2000 uses to make it look more realistic.

EGWC Cosford Air Base. Notice the difference?

EGSS London Stanstead.

Approaches

You’ll find that approaching the smaller airfields is a little more of a challenge especially if you are using Ultimate Terrain X Europe. The textures blend in more with the surroundings and that makes it harder to find the runway. Any pilot will tell you that’s more realistic and the reason why Navaid’s are really helpful. Here’s a few approach shots I took while exploring this add-on.

EGSF is one of the easier one’s to find because of the contrast in grass colours.

I like the bails of hay at this airport and it is one of my favourites in the package for giving a feel of the surrounding area.

Conclusion

As you can tell I’m really impressed with the quality in this package and it’s truly a fantastic value. Think about it, you are getting 80 airports superior in quality than freeware one’s for 30.87 Euro’s or $43.33 Canadian/American. That’s .38 Euros or 54 cents per airport! Tell me that’s not a deal after seeing the screenshots above and I’ll tell you to get your head examined.

One thing I’d like to mention is that this is a great add-on for those of you who fly at FS Economy. The UK is fairly popular there and you can make some good virtual money flying between these airports.

Developer: UK2000

Price: 30.87 Euros or $43.33 Canadian/American as of this writing

Details: 420 mb download. FSX compatible only. Works well with Ultimate Terrain X Europe and FSG Mesh.

Purchase link: SimMarket

Test system:
Intel Core i5 2500k at 3.3 ghz, 6 gb RAM, Windows 7 score of 5.9 (slow hdd), 1920×1080 widescreen. Pictures were reduced to 1024 pixels wide for the purpose of  this review.

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