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Product Reviews: VOZ 1.1 Insider Review
Posted by Gavin on Thursday, March 30 @ 07:54:07 EST
Add-On Scenery

VOZ Powered

The wait is over and VOZ day is finally apon us. While you are downloading, I hope you have taken my advice and subjected yourself to a little default scenery. If you haven’t there is still time because to truly appreciate VOZ, I think we all need a little reminder of what life was like before VOZ.

I have tested VOZ 0.99 extensively and I can honestly say I have not even scratched the surface. With such a complete product in VOZ 0.99. I couldn’t help but wonder weather it was even possible to significantly improve it. If they can improve on VOZ 0.99 surely it will only be by a small margin right? Wrong! VOZ 1.1 is a major upgrade with a long list of features and enhancements and I will try to impose on you a sense of those enhancements in this review.

New Switcher
The new switcher is a vast improvement in both looks and function. The most notable changes are the extension of the SE textures to cover Tasmania and the Northern Tropical textures covering the Northern Territory. They have also changed the names of some of the regions. South to South East (SE) and West to South West (SW) with small descriptions giving insight into the conditions of each region.

As before, we have the normal VOZ and UnVOZ buttons, but they have also included a FLY button that will load up FS2004 without you having to close the switcher.

Under the surface of the VOZ Switcher, they have made improvements as well, the loading of textures is now a little faster and the unloading of textures a lot safer. When you UnVOZ the switcher automatically backs up the default textures incase any problems arise such as a power failure that restarts your computer.

Custom Splash Screens

VOZ 1.1 comes packed with 4 new splash screens depicting the 4 regions of Australia. North, South, Central, and West. When loading up your Flightsim using the Switcher I believe the corresponding splash screen will appear depending on what region you have selected. This however was not the case in the beta gold version provided to me for the purpose of this review. I am told this has been addressed and fixed in the final release version.

Region Texture Enhancements

VOZ 0.99 Featured highly detailed Northern textures and left the Central, Southern, and Western textures requiring a little more work. VOZ 1.1 addresses those few short comings and vastly improves the new South Western and South Eastern regions. There has obviously been a lot of time spent on these two regions with massive improvements notable in all areas. The SE and SW region now boast some of the most stunning rural textures in the game with life like representations of wheat fields and open country farms. The West Australian Wheat Belt and the Market Gardens of Victoria come to life with amazing atmosphere and presence as you fly low and slow over the rolling hills. There is almost zero noticeable repetition in textures even on the longest flights.

The updated textures capture perfectly the colour and vibrance you expect to see when looking out the window of a plane and I have no doubt these regions will now become very popular locations for the scenic VFR flights across our country.

Sunrise & Sunset Textures

In VOZ 0.99 they changed the sunrise and sunset textures and while the new sunset was very popular with its atmospheric glow. The sunrise textures in my opinion needed a little more work. I found myself spending very little time flying at that time of the day because for me it was a little too pink. VOZ 1.1 has come to my rescue and fixed the sunrise textures to more accurately reflect a crisp summer morning. This new improvement is sure to spark new interest and a flurry of screenshots posted on in the VOZ forums.

Urban Textures

The new urban textures are a real treat to the eye. With more detail than ever you can quickly identify the difference between roads, highways, and freeways. Suburbs, roundabouts and median strips are all visible and with a little local knowledge you can easily navigate the major highways of you local capital city. I failed to find the moving cars that were depicted in a movie released featuring VOZ 1.1 but that could be just a movie trick, as it is not mentioned in the features of VOZ 1.1

Night Textures

Koorby has included a partial version of his night lighting textures. City night lighting is often a forgotten part of the texture process when developers create there scenery and Koorby has addressed this short fall with his own set of night lighting textures. Most notable is the Tokyo styled city billboard lights around Sydney CBD. Although a little repetitive from a distance the new lighting effects are better than default and add the feel of a night life to what otherwise has been a dead looking city at night. There is also some added street lighting effects and a nice yellow glow over a few streets and highways. The best place to view Koorbys night lighting effects is Brisbane, Brisbane is by far the most influenced city by these new lighting effects so make sure you check them out.

Over all the new lighting effects are welcome additions adding atmosphere to the dull night experience of the default textures. I am looking forward to the finished product that will be included in VOZ 1.2 if all goes well.

Scenery Enhancements in Brief

VOZ 1.1 features many new scenery enhancements from airports to city improvements. The following airports are either new or enhanced with many new buildings and Gmax models improving on the already impressive list of airport and city landmarks included in VOZ 0.99.

Bankstown Airport (YBKS), Melbourne International (YMML), Canberra (YSCB), Parafield (YPPF), Caboolture (YCAB), Caloundra (YCDR), Redcliffe (YRED), Watts Bridge (YWSG), Sydney (YSSY) and Brisbane (YBBN). Brisbane CBD, Brisbane Stadiums, Cairns, Gold Coast, a vastly improved Canberra, Queensland coastline and much more!

The “much more!” was the hard bit for me to find. Without the user guide that will come with the full version of VOZ 1.1, I was forced to focus on the enhancements that were made public knowledge and the dumb luck of stumbling across others as I flew around VOZ 1.1.

Canberra City

Given the number of enhancements in VOZ 1.1, I have decided to focus on just one major city’s improvements. That city is Canberra, our Nation’s capital and a fitting first choice for review given the unmistakable Aussie nature of this product. Until now scenery designers and Flightsim Pilots alike mostly forgot Canberra. Nobody could blame you for skipping past Canberra because until now there wasn’t anything there and even if there was it’s not like you could drop virtual bombs on parliament house in FS9. Moreover, that would just let the sound of whining escape from its soundproof walls.

On a more serious note, Canberra is far from forgotten in VOZ 1.1 and now features an array of new buildings such as bridges, embassies, and hotels. In addition, the foundations have been laid for Parliament house to go over the top of the new landclass in future releases.

Over Black Mountain, you will find the home of football in Canberra and I do not mean Soccer or AFL, I mean the game they play in heaven. Yes, it is Rugby Union and Bruce Stadium is arguably the birthplace of professional Rugby in Australia. Bruce Stadium is also located adjacent to the Australian Institute of Sport which will hopefully make future VOZ installments. With all the new eye candy around Canberra, it is sure to be a popular VFR destination from now on.

The only thing detracting from Canberra is Parliament House not being ready for release by the time this article was written but I guess they had to save something for VOZ 1.2 We can all cross our fingers that Parliament house will be completed in time for the next installment of VOZ.

Pre Selectable Flights

Knowing that VOZ 0.99 has many pre, selectable flights I made a beeline for that section to see if there was anything new. A quick scan and I quickly notice more than 30 new additions such as a Perth Flyover, Mount Hamersley, also known as Mount Nameless by the locals in Tom Price and Paraburdoo and the QE2 Stadium (Home of my Beloved Brisbane Broncos) just to name a few.

With so much to look at, I decided to fly around my hometown first. I selected the Perth Flyover and was quickly airborne over the Swan River facing the Perth hills. I can see Kings Park to my left and Perth International Airport in the distance. As I pan to look behind me, I notice the murky river water breaking out into the mighty Indian Ocean. I was impressed with how well the river textures blended with the ocean textures. It made for a some very eye catching and realistic effects that I’m sure the VOZ guys are very proud of.

Fremantle Harbor is clearly visible in the foreground with a few ships in the harbor and the new Lighthouses standing prominently at the entrance. Jandakot Airport is of to my right and with the new Urban landclass I can make out all the major freeways and highways from 4000ft.

You will also quickly appreciate the new SW textures around Perth, they are stunning and really add to the feel of flying around my new home town. . These new textures look life like with that unmistakable golden dry look that Western Australia gets in the middle of a hot summer.

Conclusion

VOZ 1.1 is fast becoming the only add-on you will ever need to enjoy flying around Australia. The list of enhancements above is huge but does not give you the whole picture. I don’t think anybody can, the fact is VOZ is so complex it will take many months for the average person like you and me to find everything. I wonder if Koorby was able to keep track of the plethora of additions, he him self might find a few new features when next flying around. I can imagine this project would have been very challenging and it’s a credit to the organisational skills and dedication of this team. Reviewing VOZ 1.1 has been enough to make this writers head spin. I didn’t even scratch the surface and you won’t either in the first few weeks.

All of you are going to enjoy thoroughly the latest edition to the VOZ brand name. VOZ 1.1 is a comprehensive product with detail and accuracy worth every cent of your bandwidth.

My final advice to you is make your self comfortable because you will be spending a lot of hours discovering what VOZ has to offer. Grab a beer, clear your schedule, and enjoy immersing your self like never before in this Great Southern Land.

Congratulations to everyone involved with VOZ 1.1. On behalf of the Flight Sim community, I thank you for enriching our flightsim experience.

VOZ Team and Koorbys Credits

John “koorby” Venema
John is the man behind VOZ and the reason it’s in your hands today. Prior to VOZ John helped get BirdsEyeView (BEV) to market and has also released his Koorbygen as freeware and bundled with GE2006. John is in his 40’s, lives in semi-rural Victoria, is married and has three teenage children that keep him very busy.

Matthew Tomkins
Matthew is a meticulous tester and co-developer of the textures for the North region.. A lot of why VOZ in the North looks accurate is due to Matt’s critical eye. His Australian Native trees autogen are a masterpiece of texture design. Matt is a Queenslander, so his bias towards the area means you benefit from his work in that spectacular region.

Ross Casey
Ross is a perfectionist. His scenery clearly shows that. Just fly anywhere near the Queensland coast and you will see his beautiful work out of your cockpit. He lives in Brisbane. Ross has updated his work extensively for the VOZ 1.1 release.

John Dow
A thorough beta tester and the maker of the awesome landclass on which VOZ gets its basic instructions to paint with. John is based in Canberra.

Clive Marriott
A Sydneysider and proud of it, Clive has made the wonderful extra scenery for Sydney harbour and surrounds. Clive is a great asset to our team with many years of FS scenery design under his belt and lots of files on AVSIM. He’s added more to VOZ 1.1

Steve Royals
Steve has contributed the fantastic Parafield scenery for this release. He is a well known designer of previous Australian sceneries. He will be adding more to future VOZ releases, such as Adelaide CBD and Adelaide International reworked in gMax.

Marty Henare
Marty is an expat Kiwi working at YMML, and therefore an undisputed authority on how it looks like. He’s updating his famous YMML Phase I as we grow the VOZ project.

Derek Kippo
Derek hails from Perth, which is like another country for us easterners, but he’s half of the team which is Westsim Design. We are lucky to have them onboard and their SW Australia LC and Jurien sceneries are wonderful – thanks fellas!

Jarrad Marshall
The other half of the Perth-based Westsim Design team, Jarrad makes fantastically detailed scenery with Derek, some of which is nearing commercial release for 2006. Again, we’re privileged to have JM on the team.

Jason Davies
Jason is training for his full commercial pilot’s license. How he finds time to crank out scenery is beyond us, but we’re grateful for his efforts. Jason and Koorby will be collaborating on incredibly detailed Melbourne city scenery coming in the future releases, plus also a detailed Ballarat scenery.

Bruce Kennewell
Bruce hails from the nation’s capital Canberra and has contributed many new objects to VOZ 1.1 including the lighthouses, TV Towers and much more.

Jim Croft
Jim is a quiet achiever and has contributed the superb Brisbane CBD, Gold Coast and Cairns to VOZ 1.1 We hope to see more additions to VOZ over time.

Jay Kae
Jay is our “server guy” who provides a truckload of server space and bandwidth so the world can freely download VOZ. He’s known to work entire weekends to keep the servers up and running in a crisis. Thanks a bunch Jay!

Marty Pomej
Marty is our code cutter and VB programmer extraordinaire. He whips up bug-free, rock solid code faster than anyone we know, and he’s always finding a way to tweak and make it better. He is the man responsible for coding the VOZ switcher.

Terry "Teecee" Carr, Wayne O'Dowd. Greg Free, Steve James, Rafael Ramos, David Ransley, John Tavendale, Steve Coplin, Ben Simon, Maurice Smith, Stian Rolandsen, Max Kraus, Peter Milroy, Christian Stock, Adrian Musto, Shaun Snyman & Leonardo Andrade These guys ROCK! Apart from some of them being established scenery designers, aircraft painters, award winning video makers, and FS community leaders of outstanding reputation – these guys have put in long selfless hours of testing to ensure that any quirks have been fixed and bugs squashed. Without the beta team VOZ would not be anywhere near the quality you see today. Simple as that. Thanks a million guys! Also a special mention to Stian Rolandsen and Maurice Smith for their awesome beta screenshots and also to Adrian Musto, Max Kraus and Leonardo Andrade for their pro quality, wonderful videos.

Thanks for reading, now go play.

Kind Regards,
Gavin Gillett
 
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Re: VOZ 1.1 Insider Review (Score: 1)
by x on Friday, June 02 @ 02:47:01 EST
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Very interesting and I am about to load it into my pc...



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