Tuesday
Jun232009

Review: Real Environment Xtreme (REX)

Reviewed By: Eric McClintock & Mark Stewart

Install
The install process of REX can’t be any easier. I have never used the FlightSimStore.com wrapper, but anyone who has used the Flight1 wrapper system should find this process similar.

The wrapper is able to download all files you need, which totals around 4GB of data over about a half dozen different individual files – Much better than downloading each one by itself. After downloaded, you just put in your order number and serial key and away it goes.

Once installed, you’re greeted with the REX Configuration Manager interface. The first thing you need to do is locate your FSX.cfg file (If it can’t find it automatically), and backup your existing default textures – very reassuring. The last step is to enable or disable what options you want to use in REX, they also let you pick your general system specs and it will determine these settings for you.

Configuration Manager
The configuration manager is what makes REX come full circle. It gives you FULL control over your virtual environment. Lets go through just a preview of the possible options…

Sky Selection:
• Sunrise (~12 Sky Textures)
• Daytime (~24 Sky Textures)
• Sunset (~12 Sky Textures)
Cloud Selection:
• 3D Clouds (~50 Cloud Sets)
• Cirrus Clouds (~24 Cloud Sets)

…You get the idea. Each different texture includes a sample screenshot. In addition to the two different categories, you are also able to customize the inland water, Tropical Water, Water Animation, Runways and Taxiway Textures, and Lighting Effects (Sun, lightning, landing lights, strobe lights, runway lights).

Once you’ve picked your settings, you almost forget that you are actually able to load this into FSX! The great interface and sheer number of options of the theme creation make creating a custom theme an enjoyable experience.

You are also able to “Just Fly” though, and pick between a list of premade themes.

Flight Planner
One feature that surprised me was the ability to plan your flight using the REX configuration utility. The process is very simple, simply input your flight information (Type, Aircraft, departure, arrival, etc) and REX gives you printable flight plans, along with navigation information, and weather information.

With the weather information, REX relays the conditions at the airport, the TAF forecasts, and an interactive weather map with your flight plan overlaid onto it.

The Results
So far everything I’ve talked about have all been pre-FSX. Once you’re ready, just click “Fly Now” in the Configuration Manager, and REX will install the necessary textures, which takes about 5 minutes every time you change the textures, and then it starts FSX. If you’ve entered a flight plan, it will automatically load that too.

Starting your flight, you will be met with your custom weather theme, and complete texture set. The clouds are picturesque, however don’t appear to be ‘pictures’. They look and move realistically, which is something you can’t do with just a photo of a cloud. I also noticed something right away too, the performance… But something was different, it seemed like I was actually getting better performance than I was with default weather.

I am sure that we’ve all experienced this, flying near or into a cloud and your simulator suddenly turning into a slide show. I did not experience this with REX, and tested it with a performance aircraft flying in and out of clouds, up and over, and did not notice an impact enough to significantly affect my frame rate.

I decided to change my environment settings to “Midwest Storm”… Something that I am very familiar with this time of the season here in Ohio. For easy comparison, all I have to do is look outside the window…

The results that REX gave me were spot on:

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Real Life:

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From the atmospheric haze, to the color of the sky, even to the type of clouds used and how the clouds LOOK. Real Environment Xtreme got it exactly right!

However, you’re not getting what you’re paying for with REX if you don’t check out their tropical textures. From the water textures, the wave size and animation, to the ocean floor and the sky, REX does it all! These were taken from the previous $100 hamburger flight (Link):

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Overall
Final thoughts on REX… I thought it was simply a replacement cloud texture, like so many products, but it is so much more. It almost turns FSX into a new simulator, because everything you see is improved – The sky, the oceans, and even FSX’s airport lights, and runway/taxiway textures. You can also download improved grass textures, highway/road textures, and other freebies from REX’s website [Link].

I have absolutely no doubt that Real Environment Xtreme is the best addon for FSX for the money. You can purchase one airport addon that drastically improves that area, or even a mesh that improves that region… But I would recommend spending the same amount and drastically improve the entire world using Real Environment Xtreme.

Real Environment Xtreme [Link]

Price: ~40.00USD

System Tested:
Intel Core 2 Duo X9100 (3.06GHz)
4GB DDR2 RAM
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS (512MB VRam)