Xbox Series X and S gamers can now fly over our region – and the rest of world – from their sofas. We gave it a go …
Flying over a near-photorealistic rendition of northern Lincolnshire is now possible from the comfort of your own sofa thanks to a new video game.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was released for the Xbox Series X and S consoles last week marking the first time the 40-year old franchise has been available on anything other than a PC.
The latest instalment, created by French developer Asobo Studio, was hailed as a “technological masterpiece” when it launched on Windows 10 in August 2020, particularly for its jaw-dropping recreation of the entire planet for gamers to fly around.
It also became somewhat notorious for being demanding on hardware specifications, with expensive high-end PCs required to run it properly.
Now, however, it has been transferred to the latest Xbox consoles, making it available in a form as graphically impressive as its PC counterpart but at a more accessible price-point.
While the simulation aspect is as faithful to the real thing as the series has been for years, it is the virtual recreation of every square foot of the real world that has hit headlines.
Microsoft says it is made possible using cloud-based ‘machine learning’ processing known powered by Azure technology based around 2D Bing Maps data combined with artificial intelligence to procedurally generate a 3D version of the world, complete with live weather conditions.
GrimsbyLive took a ‘golden hour’ evening tour of northern Lincolnshire on an Xbox Series X console to see how the area fared after being digitally generated by artificial intelligence in a glorious 4K resolution.
Taking to the skies in a Beechcraft King Air 350i, we took in everywhere from Scunthorpe to Cleethorpes along with a fly-by of the Humber Bridge as a virtual sunset bathed the incredibly lifelike clouds in warm evening colours.
The results are generally very good with an uncanny realism at times though, largely not being handcrafted, there are many quirks that make this more of a ‘rough’ approximation of our region.
While landmarks such as the Humber Bridge are rendered well, others are missing completely such as Grimsby Dock Tower and Cleethorpes Pier.
As most buildings are based around a number of pre-determined styles generated into approximate dimensions by AI, some are recognisable in shape but not entirely in detail such as shopping centres, supermarkets and leisure centres.
Blundell Park looks fairly authentic from a distance but Glanford Park is a flatter affair, as are the Humber industrial areas and Scunthorpe’s steel works.
With the simulation frequently being updated, it may well become more accurate over time but, even in its current state, it is still eerily convincing most of the time with navigation possible simply from recognition of real-world road layouts and the outlines of buildings.
One thing’s for sure, most will have never seen our area from this sort of perspective before – flawed as it is – not least with your feet up at home and a cup of tea!
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