Ahhhh yes…the world of flight simulation… We love flight sims here at the Shogun office, well, some of us do. Others can’t understand what we find so enjoyable about the simulation of flight, no goals or mission objectives, just you and your machine cruising about on your own terms.

For those of you who ‘get it’, you know what we mean. And you will understand why we are so excited about Flight1’s Ground Environment X – USA & Canada. Normally, our reviews are very objective and give a good pro vs con argument of a product. Not so in this case. And that is primarily the fault of Flight1, who has such a great product in GEX, it is hard to find a ‘con’ to it.

The basic world textures in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X are much improved over its predecessor’s (FS9). Unfortunately, they are still way too pixelated and low res to promote the needed realism to match the rest of the incredible graphics of the title. You have this beautiful aircraft, weather, and lighting…then the frumpy ground texture.

Enter Flight1, and their add-on to the game, Ground Environment X. GEX replaces all those ‘frumpy’ ground textures with photo-realistic ones that cover the entirety of the US and Canada (yay Canucks!). The difference is very noticeable in FSX and amazingly noticeable in FS9, where the ground textures are considerably worse than FSX to begin with. The textures are extremely crisp and have better organized auto-gen in most areas, meaning that you shouldn’t have trees popping up on top of buildings, etc (although this still happens now and again).

The textures will cover every area, season, weather condition, and time of day possible with realistic changes depending on the condition. Night time is especially brilliant with street lighting, etc to guide you in your difficult VFR journey. They even have ‘blend’ textures when an environment changes (such as daytime to nighttime). We were also impressed with the fact that game performance was not significantly affected by the add-on.

For $34.95, you would be hard-pressed to find any better texture replacement for Flight Simulator 9 and X that has the quality and feature set of Flight1’s Ground Environment X – USA & Canada.

The full feature list:
   * Complete coverage of the USA and Canada (including Alaska).
* 1m/pixel – 1024 x 1024 Texture Size – Hand Crafted To extreme Detail.
* High Performance, extreme density and perfectly aligned autogen.
* Realistic custom designed night textures.
* All seasons including snowy winter.
* Textures derived from licensed Arial and Satellite imagery.
* Fine tuned add-ons and ongoing updates and enhancements will be made available through the built-in update feature, based on customer feedback.
* Textures have been enhanced to provide even more texture clarity.
* Enhancements to produce simulated 3D depth in texture foliage.
* New winter textures which display vegetation within the snow.
* Better season blend so seasons such as fall fade into winter and blend naturally.
* Enhanced color processing which upgrades all seasons.
* Enriched desert and flatland details, no more bland yellow deserts or flatlands.
* Structured texture layout to assist in covering all major landclass products.
* Special features for Ultimate Terrain X USA and Canada Customers.
* Completely redesigned night lighting environment.

Ground Environment X is available here.


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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com