We’ll always have Paris? Yes we will, thanks to the committed, talented French developers FranceVFR.
I became aware of the FranceVFR powerhouse via their Paris CityPack title, but then I found these fellows have been quite busy replicating, at photo-real quality, the whole of France! Luckily for me, the CityPack does not work without the installation of another of their add-ons, the FlightParis BasePack. Thanks to this particularity, I began to appreciate the wide scope this company has blueprinted for their line of products.
The Île-de-France region, also known by the French as the Région Parisienne, is an area of about 12.000 square km, encompassing Paris’ metropolitan area. What the FlightParis BasePack does is to replicate in FS the whole region in photo-real quality. Moreover, it also adjusts and improves the looks of each and every one of its 25 airports to be perfectly aligned with the photo coverage. Now grasp the implications of this. If you cover an area with photo-real textures, every object on top will have to be precisely positioned, not only objects at airports, but every piece of landclass, water-body, and so on! Well, these guys have done that, and it’s just fantastic. I had come looking for urban Paris, but suddenly I had before me a vast area to explore, discover, and VFR. The BasePack merits an article of its own, but check out these few pictures of the rural Île-de-France:
My exceptional detectivesque abilities, combined with my uncanny journalistic skills alerted me a familiar perfume was emanating from the BasePack. The sheer scale and the high quality were hinting that Vauchez (Stéphane Lepage) may have been involved! Laurent Dupouey, principal FranceVFR man and designer extraordinaire confirmed it: Vauchez designed the BasePack. Elementary, Watson. Dupoey has also told me it took them a whole year to complete this monster: three months for the BasePack, five months for the AutogenPack, and four more for the CityPack… Now that’s commitment.
And so inexorably you will be pulled towards the heart of this outstanding release: the Paris CityPack, which recreates the principal monuments and major buildings of the City (some 200 objects with photo textures, both for night and day times). A painstaking rendition of the Paris Heliport (Issy-Les-Moulineaux), 36 of the most important bridges, parks, plus many points of interest. The problem is, when FS scenery gets this good, a strange phenomenon takes place: you miss people. You suspend disbelief and then wonder “the city is looking great, where’s everybody gone?”. Spooky.
If you want the whole shebang, you can also purchase the (optional) Autogen pack, which provides yet another level of detail and authenticity to the area, with buildings, trees, and other local objects. This costs more, of course, but they offer both the BasePack and Autogen in a single pack at a discount, so you’d buy this plus the CityPack if you look for maximum immersion. Another impressive feature is the amount of real-world charts that come included: you get, in PDF format and in English, en-route, SID/STAR, IFR plates, VFR approaches and diagrams for ALL the airports in the area. Très Magnifique!
And all of this runs on… FS9! That’s right, my fellow conservative simmers. Good old 2004 is alive and well, and if you still haven’t done the big leap to FSX you will have lots of fun with this package. So, does it mean FSX users are left out? Oh, no. Install a small patch, and enjoy this baby in FSX too. 😀
Check out these FSX shots:
Now, as this is originally an FS9 release, these are 5-meter textures. If you are already used to super-cool 1-meter FSX ones, you will notice the difference, of course. However, the FranceVFR team is already working on a full FSX update, with 1-meter textures for Paris, and 2.5-meters for the whole scenery!
Keep an eye on the talented people of FranceVFR. Vive la Virtual France!