Following up from my Orbx TrueEarth Canary Islands review, I wanted to do a review of the Balearic Islands for X-Plane 11. These three islands in the Mediterranean have lots of details and make for a great destination. So, let’s have a look!
Orbx TrueEarth in 2022
If you missed my review of the Canary Islands, I already wrote a segment on what Orbx TrueEarth is like in 2022. Impressive at release in 2019, there are aspects that are starting to feel a little dated and built to an older spec in 2022. Read my review of Orbx Canary Islands for that information.
Three main islands to explore
Looking at the three main islands that make up the Baleric islands (Ibiza, Mallorca, and Menorca) from satellite view on Google maps and you’d think that there wasn’t much to them. Until this scenery package came out, I barely knew they existed nevermind that each of them had a rich and storied history through the ages. The three islands have been part of a pathway for peoples, cultures and religions through history and, in the modern day, exist as a popular tourist destination.
Although I made them out as better as a destination but there is plenty of see around each of the islands. They are decent helicopter and GA playgrounds if you want to enjoy the scenery and just fly through each of the islands taking in the many points of interest that Orbx have put into the scenery pack. They don’t have the stunning elevation changes like you find with the Canary islands but they are nonethless interesting to see and benefit from the same attention to detail.
Each of the islands has a few helipads and all three of the main islands have at least one if not two or three airports to land at. Menorca for example has a quaint GA airport (San Luis Aerodrome – LESL) located just next to the main international airport that is great for a sight-seeing launching point.
The islands are all rendered using high resolution satellite or aerial imagery at 60cm/px of resolution. There’s a high detailed mesh at 5M detail using scanned LiDAR data. And the pack also includes about 150 points of interest covering the islands’ famous buildings, hotels, resorts, castles and other historic structures.
Like with Canary Islands, I found the autogen and custom scenery to be reasonably well done but not especially impressive in 2022. Compared to the autogen I’ve seen in Microsoft Flight Simulator and DCS World, these are less detailed with lower resolution textures. It may be a consideration for people still flying using OpenGL rather than Vulkan but it is slightly disappointing. On the other hand, I would have been overjoyed to see the kind of detail that these offer back in 2019 so this is more representative of how much the needle has moved on visual scenery.
The Balearic islands are not as mountainous as the Canary islands so they are somewhat less impressive at scale, however, those detailed terrain mesh details really do pay off here too. The cliffs of Parque natural de Sa Dragonera just off the coast of Mallorca was particularly impressive when flown close to in a helicopter or GA airplane.
Ibiza and Menorca also have plenty of terrain details and points of interest and they really do look great. All three islands are just big enough that you could explore each with a couple of GA flights or do ferry flights between the two. All three have reasonably sized airports that can handle larger airliners and so this pack, unlike Canary Islands, is better as a destination for an airliner flight than for casual GA exploring although each island has its share of details too.
Orbx’s TrueEarth Balearic Islands scenery pack has the same consistent quality that we’ve seen from other TrueEarth releases. It adds tremendously to the visual elements of the X-Plane experience and, in my opinion, makes the sim worth flying in 2022. The Balearic pack is somewhat less exciting to explore than the Canary Islands pack but they are still good and what I see Orbx doing is building a nice collection of areas to explore that includes Canary Islands, Southern Spain and the Balearic islands package that lets you tour a good chunk of Spain with fun destinations for a wide variety of pilots.
TrueEarth Balearic Islands isn’t quite as good of a bang for the buck as Canary Islands is but I can nonetheless recommend this pack especially if you plan to fly in and out of the area. The scenery itself is truly spectacular.
In reviewing this product, I made sure to visit all three islands and explore them as much as possible. Here are some images from some of my flights over each of them!