Third-party add-on developer Orbx just released its Singapore City Pack add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator, improving the looks of the popular South-East Asian city-state.
The default version of the city has a few nicely-made landmarks, but its beautiful skyline certainly isn’t very recognizable.
As with all of Orbx’s products, Singapore City Pack can be installed via the Steam-like Orbx Central client, meaning that the process is really painless. You can find it on the publisher’s store for about $12.
If you’d like to know what it looks like, you can check out a full flyover video showing the city in different lighting and weather conditions below.
One element that makes this package very attractive is that it’s suitable for a wide audience of simmers. A lot of scenery that focuses on cities is great for those who enjoy low and slow sightseeing flights, but its value drops considerably for the hardcore crowd of airliner fans as you tend to fly rather far from downtown areas. That, or so high that even the best and largest landmark is reduced to a few pixels.
On the other hand, Singapore is quite close to the take-off and landing paths of the southbound runways of the super-busy Changi international airport, which incidentally is a perfect complement for this package.
This means that, even if you fly exclusively airliners, you’re still going to get some value out of this add-on.
The video below is an approach to Changi’s runway 02L, focused on showing the view of Singapore from the cockpit of an Airbus A320. I cheated with the time of day a little to show different conditions.
Thankfully, Orbx didn’t just slap a bunch of skyscrapers on the existing terrain: Singapore’s default digital elevation map in Microsoft Flight Simulator is all sorts of screwed up, with many bumps and unnatural hills where there really should be none.
The developers smoothed most of those out, which is pretty much a requirement for a realistic representation of the city.
The package includes 20 high-detail “hero” landmarks and 109 that feature less visual glitz but aren’t as demanding on the resources, with a good balance between detail and performance.
While the improvement over the default city is massive, optimization is also more than acceptable. On my PC (RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900x, 32 GB RAM) I lose about 8-9 frames-per-second at 1440p resolution and Ultra detail settings. You can see a handy comparison below.
For the high-detail landmarks, Orbx has added parallax internal shaders to its toolbox, improving in-game visuals sensibly compared to flat textures. The “high-detail” definition is certainly fitting because they look great.
We also get a bit of animation with the Singapore Cable Car, while even default Microsoft Flight Simulator landmarks, such as the Marina Bay Sands Resort, have been improved with the iconic evening laser show. It’s very nice to see that Orbx went above and beyond, implementing something that I definitely haven’t seen before in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The 109 medium-detail landmarks may not be as glitzy as their big brothers, but they’re still definitely fetching, ranging from many skyscrapers to more traditional elements like St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
That being said, I’ve noticed some occasional flickering textures. They’re rare but visible.
The coverage is quite good, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’d have liked to see a few more relevant landmarks like the Sultan Mosque and The Istana portrayed, alongside some more skyscrapers. Maybe I’m being a bit greedy, but I feel that there are a few patches of the city that still feel a bit “default.”
That being said, those are located more toward the interior, so what you usually see while approaching and leaving Changi is top-notch.
Speaking of said approach, the iconic “traffic jam” of cargo ships crowding the Singapore Strait has also been reproduced, improving the spectacular view from the cockpit, alongside large areas of the massive port.
A lot of attention has been dedicated to improving night lighting, which looks really spectacular even thanks to the laser show mentioned above.
The city interacts very well with the weather, and that’s great since Singapore gets a lot of rain and low clouds due to its humid tropical climate.
Ultimately, Orbx’s Singapore City Pack looks great. It improves the visuals and the feel of the city-state radically, helping it look a lot more like the real one.
If you love flying to and from Changi, it’s definitely an add-on that is easy to recommend.
- Beautiful skyline with a great level of detail.
- Night Lighting is even more spectacular than the daylight view.
- The cargo “traffic jam” in the Singapore Strait looks great.
- Will enrich your approaches and departures from Changi considerably.
- A few occasional flickering textures.
- The coverage of bespoke buildings is a bit more patchy than I’d like.
February 12, 2021