Lightman Posted January 18 Report Share Posted January 18 Scenery Review: Alps UHD XP12 By Stuart McGregor If you love mountains and valleys, and specifically those in Europe, I am sure you are going to love this scenery! Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini have brought their creative talents to X-Plane 12, with the recent release of their Alps UHD scenery. Covering a staggering 8,000 square kilometres, this scenery is massive in every sense. It currently retails for just under $US 60, which to be honest at first glance seems a little bit expensive for a scenery package in my experience, however, when you consider you are getting five airports, fifteen airfields and forty-six heliports across three countries, France, Italy and Switzerland, and if mountain flying is your thing, then this is well worth considering and perhaps not a bad deal after all. Megève Airport in the Alps If you are a fan of this type of scenery, you will no doubt be familiar with the work of Frank and Fabio as they have already created several similar 3D Mountain Park sceneries for X-Plane 11, and this release for X-Plane 12, is a further extension of their prolific work in this area. However, if you’re an X-Plane 11 user and have yet to experience Frank and Fabio’s mountain scenery packs, then I highly recommend you check out Stephen’s excellent reviews of their previous versions: Scenery Review: Matterhorn Park 3D by Frank Dainese & Fabio Bellini Scenery Review: Eiger Park 3D by Frank Dainese & Fabio Bellini Scenery Review: Mont Blanc Group by Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini If you are already a customer and have purchased individual X-Plane 11 sceneries previously (specifically Aosta & Matterhorn, Mont Blanc & Eiger) they are currently offering a whopping 40% discount at the time of writing, which is a nice way to acknowledge the patronage and loyalty of existing customers. The human disposition typically wants more for less, and something for nothing, however, for me at least, I believe it is not unreasonable for this to be a paid ‘upgrade’, considering the developer’s statement that this is not a simple like for like overhaul of existing sceneries. What the actual price is and what is a fair price, I am sure we all have our own views based on what we are typically willing to pay, but either way, the offered discount is a nice touch. Courmayeur Alpine Resort in Northwest Italy, at the Foot of Mont Blanc In their latest release, there are four main packages provided, and these cover the Eiger Park, Matterhorn Park, Aosta & Mont Blanc, and the main peaks of the Alps, and within these, there are quite literally thousands of hand-placed objects and dozens of fascinating places to visit. This is no mean feat, believe me! Wengen in the Bernese Oberland Region of Central Switzerland From the outset, you can’t help being impressed by the splendour and natural beauty of this part of the world, from the majestic and rugged snow-capped mountains stretching to the sky, to the beautiful and tranquil lush valleys peppered with crystal clear waterways and lakes. If you close your eyes for a moment, you can almost taste and smell the clean, cold and crisp fresh air. As I have a VR headset, I was also able to experience this scenery in the truly different manner that VR brings, and if you have never tried it, you really should. Being able to stand at the base of one of the famous peaks and crane your neck upwards or perch yourself on the very edge of a cliffside and look down on the valley below, is an experience I will never forget. This was largely because of the scale of what is laid out in front of you, but also because of the improvements to the way many of the structures and mesh have been remodelled to reflect the real thing. Now some naysayers will undoubtedly shout, but this is a flight simulator, who cares about the ground experience, and for some, that may very well be true, however, my own view is that X-Plane is more than just the flying experience and offers an authentic (all be it virtual) opportunity to see parts of the world I may never get the chance to visit in real life. Breuil-Cervinia Located in the Alps Based on images and descriptions I have read on the internet, the stock X-Plane 12 scenery makes a reasonable job of representing this part of the world, however, the Alps UHD scenery enhances the vanilla state and takes this to an altogether different level. Many of the improvements are quite subtle, for example, tree placement and shape of lakes etc, and even the improved definition and appearance of the key peaks are quite subtle if you just glance quickly. However, it is this level of detail that really makes this scenery pack stand out. If you’re just a casual flyer or typically spend life at 35,000ft in a 747 and are not really bothered by this level of detail, then perhaps a scenery like this is not going to do much for you, however, if your passion is to get as close to the real thing as possible in a VFR sense, then in my opinion, this scenery is a big step in the right direction. For VFR pilots specifically, and those that like to fly helicopters, microlites and GA aircraft generally, you really can spend hours and hours exploring the breathtaking scenery whilst trying to take it all in. There are so many peaks and valleys to explore, not to mention the towns, villages and features that are strewn across the landscape. The Town of Thun and Lake Thun in Switzerland As I am sure most of us know, X-Plane 12 is still very much in its infancy, however, there are clearly new features that blend effortlessly well and complement sceneries of this type. For example, the winter textures that are now included in X-Plane 12, turn what is a beautiful green lush garden in the spring and summer months, into the harsh but beautiful reality of what winter weather brings, freezing temperatures, snow and ice! During my testing, I was quite amazed at just how real all of this felt (particularly in VR) when I set the temperature to sub-zero with deteriorating weather. Watching the new X-Plane 12 volumetric clouds come rolling in across one of the valleys and the snow and ice start to form on the ground was just stunning. Yes, there are clearly some issues and bugs still to be worked out in X-Plane 12 for sure, however, the initial signs are very promising when it comes to creating an immersive experience in sceneries of this type. The Gnifetti Hut in the Aosta Valley, Italy The scenery is large at just a little over 3GB, and when you download the scenery, you will find inside the main folder a whole raft of sub-folders. Although installation is just a case of drag and drop, there are more than thirty new folders that will appear in your Custom Scenery folder. Unfortunately, from what I understand, not all of this will be compatible with other third-party mesh upgrades, however, I am not able to speak for this as I don’t have any for this part of the world, but something worth considering if you already have these installed and can’t live without them. By comparison, what is spelt out very clearly by the developers, is that the package is only meant for X-Plane 12, and therefore is not compatible with earlier versions of the X-Plane sim. The Kleine Scheidegg Mountain Pass Once you have installed it and have checked your scenery.ini folder for any conflicts, (I always do this with new scenery just to be sure the load order is right), off you go… but hold your horses!! Where do you start? Fortunately, the scenery comes with a nice manual, plus a guide and map to show where everything is in relation to each other. As well as the included documentation, there is also an excellent support forum over at the Org, with the developers being highly supportive when answering questions: (Frank Dainese Mountain Scenery - X-Plane.Org Forum). Detailed Map of the Scenery So, where do you start? With more than sixty-five possible starting points, there is a massive choice of locations, and I must admit, I didn’t investigate all of them, however, I did make my way around all the main airports and a considerable number of the airfields and heliports. So, what awaits you? Well, assuming you visit outside the winter months, one of the first things you will notice is the massive difference in appearance that the photo-realistic textures bring to the ground. In X-Plane 12, the default ground textures, compared to some of its peers, is still an area where the sim lags behind, however, the addition of sceneries of this type, really makes a massive difference. The other thing that is very noticeable is the inclusion of additional and bespoke objects to those solely present in the default scenery, with many of these being based on photo textures and therefore in keeping with the feel and look of the region. Sallanches, Located Near the Mont Blanc Massif in France Now, whilst it’s true that some of the textures are perhaps not as sharp as they could be, compared to the default objects, I was able to look past that, and just marvel at the sheer number of objects, time and effort that must have been put into creating this scenery package and everything in it. Traffic Global was adding traffic to at least a couple of the airports, as I did see several GA aircraft going about their business while I was exploring the scenery, but you can’t help but be drawn to those majestic mountains above and marvel at how fabulous they really look. Moving away from the larger airfields and up into the mountains is even more pronounced. Meribel Airport in the French Alps As you progress higher, there are numerous alpine-styled houses and buildings dotted all over the sloping hillsides, and many of these were very nicely done. There is also a great deal of other smaller objects situated around the scenery and some of these include, signs, tables and chairs, flags, fences, traffic and marker cones, assorted vehicles, radio masts, lights, etc, and one of my favourite features, the chair lifts, which enable you to have a direct route to and from the various peaks. When you include the default animated trees from X-Plane 12, it all fits together nicely, and again, I can’t even imagine how many hours of work went into creating all of this. Sadly, I didn’t see any animation of the chairlifts which would be the ultimate cherry on a very fine cake, but nevertheless, just having these inserted into the scenery is very nice indeed. I should mention that although there are numerous objects, I wouldn’t say the airfields and heliports are crammed full, however, they are probably more than sufficient for most tastes. I guess the question to ask is, when is enough, enough? And in a scenery pack of this magnitude, what is presented is honestly quite impressive. Oh, I also forgot to mention that there are a few people dotted about the place, which is a feature I always look for when trying out new scenery. Without them, sceneries just don’t feel real to me, so seeing a few hardy souls present made me smile. Several of the remote helipads found in the scenery are literally on the edge of a mountain, a real ‘Eagles Nest’, and when you visit these, the photographic textures, the improved mesh, and the animated trees, all help to create a feeling of being in the wilderness. As I also mentioned earlier, having the VR experience in this scenery was also special, as when you add in the winter textures from X-Plane 12, the sounds of the wind and rain, you really do get an enhanced sense of being in the mountains. Plateau-Rosa Situated Near the Matterhorn Looking up from, or even down onto the majestic Skyway cable car at the Courmayeur helipad (LICYH) is a fitting example of one of the keynote features that are provided in this scenery pack. When combined with the new features X-Plane 12 has to offer, this scenery is a truly wonderful experience, and in my opinion, exploring it via helicopter is the best way to get the most out of every nook and cranny. Being able to drop in on one of the cliff edge helipads or follow one of the many ski lifts from top to bottom, really allows you to explore this massive scenery. You just won’t get that at 35,000 ft as you watch the latest movie and enjoy your chicken and rice (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available on request…)!! The Skyway Panoramic Cable Car in Action As far as performance goes, with my trusty 1080TI and 9th gen CPU, I didn’t have too many issues, and my FPS were generally OK (30 to 50+), even in VR with my Rift S. However, this is in all fairness, not a particularly good test right now, as there are still several areas which I believe X-Plane 12 will improve on, particularly around VR performance and general texture appearance. Courchevel Airport in the French Alps Based on my observations whilst reviewing this scenery, there is no doubt in my mind that the developers have worked tirelessly on making this scenery pack as realistic as possible, and in my opinion, they have succeeded in recreating the experience in X-Plane. Yes, there is perhaps some opportunity for improvement; for example, I noticed that some of the windsocks and flags are a little out of sync, and if one wanted to be picky, some of the texturing could be improved on a few of the buildings and objects. Additional features like a rescue scenario here and there would be a nice extra touch too, however, that doesn’t take away from the fact that if you are interested in mountain-styled scenery, this pack should offer you a very enjoyable experience as it stands. If you liked what the developers brought to X-Plane 11, I am sure you will love what is offered here! __________________________________ Alps UHD XP12 by Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Alps UHD XP12 Price at time of writing US$59.95 Customers who own of of this previous mountain package can get this new Scenery for 40% off. Please find your coupon code in the original invoice. Eligible packages: AOSTA+Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Eiger for XP11 Features: Includes the degrees +45 +007, +46+007, +45+006, areas of Italy, France, and Switzerland Mountain scenery including 3D models of the Mont Blanc massif, Matterhorn and Eiger Five main airports, fifteen airfields, and forty-six Heliports Faithfully reproduced towns and villages with appropriate types of buildings using customized textures and modelling. Photographic polygons/textures covering the mountain ranges and surrounding areas Polygons/textures 4K - covering an area of 8000 km Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not compatible with X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM - 8 GB+ VRAM Highly Recommended Download Size: 3.3 GB Review System Specifications: Windows 10 64 Bit CPU Intel i9-9900k 64GB RAM Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Oculus Rift S Scenery Review by Stuart McGregor 19th January 2023 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews (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) Kiwiflyer 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.