Lightman Posted October 6, 2022 Report Share Posted October 6, 2022 Scenery Review: Helsinki Metropolitan Area v3 by FA Simulations FA Simulations are well-known for their VFR cityscape scenery packs for X-Plane. They recently updated their Helsinki Metropolitan Area to version 3 which includes newly updated orthos from 2020 as well as improved buildings and vegetation. Having visited the city several times over the last few years, I thought I would take a closer look at what FA Simulations have put together and see if it stands up to the real thing. The City of Helsinki Helsinki sits as the capital city of Finland. It hosts the world's most northern metro network and has a population of around 632,000 people. Sitting on the northern coast of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki has a mix of urban, rural and forestland, especially as you head out further into Tikkurila and the Greater Uusimaa region. This add-on aims to cover the entire part of this with Ortho, with special hand-made buildings in the city centre. Installation Installation of Helsinki Metropolitan Area V3 is very easy. After purchasing the product on the X-plane.org store, you download a zip folder which includes all the files you need. Available on the FA Simulations website are some free download expansions for this scenery which include higher resolution orthos for Helsinki as well as parts of neighbouring Espoo. These are well worth a download if you find yourself running with some GPU memory to spare! Up Close and Personal with the Capital Overall, this add-on gives you a pretty good feel for the city of Helsinki. I have had the pleasure of visiting three times so far and have walked the streets on several occasions. Custom buildings are featured throughout the scenery, such as the railway station, Olympic park, harbor and famous cathedral as featured in the Darude - Sandstorm music video. Everything is modeled with a relatively low polygon count so as to save your graphics card from overloading with memory usage, meaning buildings do eventually start to lose their shine when you get too close, but when flying past at a couple of hundred metres, things still look good with high-resolution textures donning each structure. As you leave the city centre and head to the more rural places, the hand-made buildings do eventually stop, but instead, we now see a custom-building database which has been generated and placed over the ortho area, presumably using data from Open Street Map. This is a very good way of doing things, as it allows for accurate looking buildings to populate the real-world locations of shops, apartments, houses and more. This also means you enjoy the feel of a hand-made world while allowing the developers to greatly expand the coverage of the scenery they've created. Ortho imagery for the region has also been carefully worked on. Within the city centre, the satellite imagery is of high resolution and colour corrected to ensure that nothing looks out of place. This has been shaped around the coastline too, with the harbour and canals all visible and matching closely to their real-world locations. As you head north and out into Uusimaa, the resolution does drop slightly to allow for memory optimisations due to the larger area, but the colour correction and coastline adjustments are still very well worked on. The resolution and buildings pick up again as you get closer to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, meaning from the ground when preparing for your flight, you can certainly enjoy the benefits of this add-on. I have noticed a very minor colour and resolution degradation on the border between the super-detailed city centre and the more rural parts of Helsinki, but when flying at a decent altitude, it's not something you're going to notice unless you're specifically looking for it. Overall, I am impressed with both the quality of the city as well as the scale of the add-on, as it reaches out to the Uusimaa region and Espoo. Satellite Imagery & Ortho Overall, the Ortho for Helsinki looks good, having been updated in 2020, and as such, you can enjoy a more up-to-date city when compared to their previous releases which came with the older satellite imagery from 2016. There are additional Ortho and scenery files you can also download from the FA Simulations website. These are made to the same high-resolution texture standard as the payware product and require the libraries and scenery files from Helsinki Metropolitan Area v3 to work. This means you're guaranteed to get the usual FA Simulations quality, without spending any more money! As this scenery was developed for X-Plane 11, there is not much in the way of seasonal effects, but I would certainly love to see an upgrade to this when X-Plane 12 moved into the frame. Nice Additions As well as the main metropolitan area of Helsinki, FA Simulations have included two small airfields. These are simply offerings, but their inclusion is highly welcomed as it means that VFR flyers looking to explore the area at low altitudes are well-catered for. More detailed is the Meilahti hospital helipad, which is very nicely done and allows for additional challanges. Nightlife in the Nordics After sunset and during the winter months when barely any light graces the city, FA Simulations have put a lot of focus on how the cityscape looks at night. Roads look fantastic from the skies, especially the motorways as they snake their way across the region. With the occasional smaller towns and lanes cutting through them, you really get a feel for the peaceful life down below, with vast amounts of dark woodland separating homes and population centres. As you head closer to the capital, suddenly things get a whole lot busier, brighter, and far more congested. Custom buildings within the city centre all have appropriate night lighting to fit with their real-world counterparts. The station, cathedral and Kauppakeskus shopping centre certainly stand out and help add authenticity to the world below. Cars also populate the streets of Helsinki and make good use of X-Plane's default roads and vehicle system. This makes flying over the city at night a joy, especially during the winter months when the southern part of Finland only sees limited light during the day. Opinion & Closing Remarks Overall, I am impressed with what FA Simulations have put together. As a Helsinki regular, it's nice to see somewhere I visit often, modeled well with high-quality Ortho and autogen overlays. Road layouts and buildings are all in their correct locations, and as mentioned the satellite imagery is high-resolution and colour matched. I especially like how well the more rural areas look, and whilst they employ fewer hand-made buildings, they make good use of the custom-building library in which to populate their real-world locations. Performance across the Helsinki Metropolitan Area v3 add-on is also smooth, with minimal loss across the region and capital. I didn’t experience any noticeable drop in framerates, nor have I come across any stutters when flying overhead. Potentially there is a little loss in FPS when flying into Helsinki from a distance, but this is usually very quick and sometimes unnoticeable. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is known in Europe as the gateway to Asia, and if you find yourself passing through here regularly, then it's well worth picking up! _______________________________ Helsinki Metropolitan Area v3 by FA Simulations is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Helsinki Metropolitan Area v3 by FA Simulations Priced at US$25.00 Features Over 4000 square kilometres (1544 square miles) of detailed scenery 50cm/pixel resolution in the ortho scenery (approx. zoom level 16-17) Includes summer textures (winter textures will come later) Decals added to the whole scenery (will give you detailed terrain all the way to the ground). Hundreds of custom-built objects placed accurately on the orthophoto Extremely detailed forests, over 10 forest files used to accurately represent the forests of the scenery. The forests cover the whole scenery and match closely the underlying orthophoto. Custom-built HDR-night lighting for the whole area. Night/dusk/dawn flying has never been so realistic Two custom-built airfields in the scenery (EFNU and EFMN). Extremely detailed Meilahti hospital helipad (EFHY) Detailed helipad on passenger ship Silja Serenade Detailed helipad on top of Helsinki central fire station You can land a helicopter on all high buildings Custom built OSM-facades for the whole area. Southern Finland has very good OSM-coverage, so the scenery is filled with buildings. Hand-edited shorelines for very realistic coastlines Works with Truscenery airports, also with all other payware airports in the area. Airports must be above all HMS files in your scenery_packs.ini file Extra areas, HEMS missions and high-resolution terrain ortho can be downloaded from our website https://www.fasimulations.com/ Remember to delete all HMS files from the previous versions (1&2) Requirements X-Plane 11 – X-Plane 12 (when available) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum- 8 GB+ VRAM Video Card Recommended Download size: 7.4 GB Current Version: 3.0 (July 28th 2021) Review by Michael Hayward 26th August 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications: Windows 10 Professional, AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor, 32GB RAM, Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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