Occasionally, Orbx release freeware and the scenery never really get the attention and publicity it deserves. One of Orbx's latest freeware offerings is CAX6 Ganges Water Aerodrome, by lead developer Larry Robinson. This is Larry's second freeware for Orbx and follows on from his previous scenery of CAC8 Nanaimo Water Aerodrome. Larry was originally working on Ganges with the late, very talented scenery designer, John Patch who sadly passed away last year. Larry decided to press on in his own style along with some of John's work and decided to release it free in memory of John.
Ganges Water Aerodrome IATA: YGG, ICAO: CAX6 is also known as Ganges Seaplane Base. The town of Ganges is the largest community on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia and has a unique character. Because of several marinas located there, a safe harbour with good anchorage, the artistic feel of the place, and access to the town by ferry and seaplane as well as boat, it has long been popular with boaters. The town has grown substantially and is now a destination its own right. Ganges is the home of Salt Spring Air and is also served by Harbour Air, and Seair Seaplanes.
Orbx offer the following as the key features of CAX6 Ganges Water Aerodrome:over 70 custom buildings and building complexes;
None are published except that this product will not work without Orbx Pacific Northwest being installed.
CAX6 Ganges Water Aerodrome is only available from Orbx Direct, to obtain, simply log into your Orbx Direct account, click on the Freeware tab and choose the airport from the list. At this point you must specify your sim, the choices are: FSX, FSXSE, P3DV1, P3DV2 and P3DV3. Two further options are given, either "Open in FTX Central" or manual download. By far the easiest method is to use the FTX Central method and the installer will download and complete its operation with just a friendly completed message at the end.
Although file sizes are not mentioned anywhere, I measured the download file at 95.09 MB and the installation size of approximately 214 MB. Once the installation has completed you have many options in the control panel to suit your needs. This scenery benefits by having all the options switched on and in my case, with dense scenery settings too in P3D.
This scenery covers the seaplane dock, the harbour development and the main area of the town. In all, this is an area of around 0.36 sq km (0.14 sq mi).
This little town and harbour is literally packed to the gunnels with interesting buildings, boats, pontoons, and general marine related structures. When comparing with Google Earth it looks as though all the major buildings have been placed in the correct position, so that is a great achievement. In order to get the most enjoyment after flying in, switch to your avatar, or change aircraft to Orbx's very own Bob and take a walk around the streets or just watch the cominings and goings of the boats in the harbour.
There are two sets of photographic base textures used, summer and hard winter, so there is a certain level of seasonality. These textures change automatically, so do not have to be selected in a control panel outside the sim, like some other sceneries.
CAX6 Ganges Water Aerodrome scenery is a real mixed bag of quality. On the one hand there are (at best) mediocre quality buildings and objects with very flat textures giving no feeling of depth, and on the other hand, textures like you see above in the comparison of the Mouat's building, which are quite stunning. Unfortunately, close-up, most of the secondary building and object textures are a little blurry, but probably no worse than you will see in any scenery with objects not in the main area of interest. When looking at the texture files I can see three different resolutions and format of dds files used in the buildings and this is quite evident in the final result.
There are several scenery errors which should have been picked up by the testers and a couple of jagged edged objects, such as the lamp posts, which are just too low resolution. The overall look from the short to mid distance however, is fantastic, and very pretty to look at from all angles.
It is very evident that FTX AA CAX6 Ganges Water Aerodrome is alive and kicking, the only thing missing are seagulls. There are animated flags and windsocks, which are wind speed aware, active and static people, some of which are time aware. For example, there are a group of people on the pontoon ready to board the static DHC-2 Beaver, and a man looking on from within a shed on the pontoon, who are not there all day.
At certain times of the day a high resolution AI model of the Canadian Coast Guard Cape Class vessel, CCGS Cape Naden will leave dock and head east, I have yet to follow it to the end of its journey but it does return. Likewise, with the Gulf Islands Water Taxi, "Mistaya", which follows a route from Ganges to Port Washington. The dock at which it lands includes a helipad. (Port Washington, on North Pender Island, can be selected as a starting point.)
Also, included in the package is a repaint of the Salt Spring Air DHC2 Beaver for the default FSX model. The model is also included in P3D but only as an AI model so it does not show up in the vehicle selection screen, however, if you were to copy the panel folder from FSX, or download an alternative panel, then you can have the Beaver show up like in my shots in this review.
There is a selectable custom lighting option to override the Orbx lights with CAX6's own lights, the standard Orbx lights can disappear in some situations. I saw the problem happening, so tried the custom lights, which cures the problem, but doesn't look quite so good. It really didn't bother me that much so I will keep with the higher quality Orbx lights in future.
In general, the lighting is superb, from the street lights lighting up the ground below, to the lighting on the pontoons and boats - it's well worth a walk around there after dusk.
With my frame rate locked at 31 frames per second and most of my settings set high to very high, I enabled all features in the CAX6 Control Panel. I then flew in and out of the sea port with several floatplanes and over the town in a Bell UH-1 Huey. I have installed P3Dv3 and I did not need to make any adjustments to compensate for performance issues and there was only a slight impact on frame rate performance against what I typically get. Of course, this is also system dependent and paying heed to the relevant sections in the User Guide should avoid any disappointment and provide optimum performance for your system.
When reviewing products as closely as we do, we often come across texture anomolies where we feel they should not have made it to the release version - version it's time to name and shame:
As part of the installation a comprehensive 23 page document is supplied which cover the following elements:
quick installation guide;
scenery coverage area;
airport information and charts;
the CAX6 control panel;
quick reference simulator settings; and
This is a must have scenery for people who enjoy flying around the Pacific North West, Tongas Fjords, and Vancouver areas, especially in seaplanes. There are a few texture anomalies but you must look real close to find them. The developer has made a great job of Ganges and I would highly recommend it.
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
CPU: i7 4770K @ 4.2 GHz;
GPU: GTX980 Ti, 6 GB;
RAM: 16 GB, DDR3, 1,866 MHz;
OS: Windows 10 Pro, (64bit); and
Sim: Lockheed Martin Prepar3D V188.8.131.5270.