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Calum Martin's Activity
Calum Martin added a topic in Forum NewsiFlySimX - Unicom Podcast Episode 122.800 - The Pilot And The Future Of Flight SimiFlySimX - Unicom Podcast Episode 122.800 - The Pilot And The Future Of Flight Sim
Ladies and Gentlemen, we would like to present to you a very special forum post.
Introducing our first, of many, podcast episodes. Appropriately named Unicom, we have an excellent team of Flight Sim enthusiasts, and real world pilots, who talk about everything aviation related.
You can listen to the Pilot episode through SoundCloud below.
Click here to listen!
There's some REALLY exciting new stuff coming soon and we can't wait to share with you all. Who knows, maybe we hint at the future in the podcast, so take a listen.
As always, please leave any comments below.
SHOW NOTES || 02 SEP 2015 || EPISODE 122.800 (PILOT)
Orbx Jackson Hole Triple Installer V1.1 released
Flight Sim Visual Effects announced. The planned add-on will add lens flare, walk around, and other general effects to the flight simulator.
Aerosoft and SimWings have released Ibiza X Evolution
Dovetail Announces New Sim for 2016
Carenado has released The Phenom 300
Join us as we talk everything Flight Sim on The Unicom Podcast Presented by IFlySimX.com
You can reach us all via IFlySimX.com
Mitch can be reached via his YouTube Channel
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Calum Martin added a topic in Forum NewsWant To Be Part of the Team?Good Afternoon all!
We have some really exciting news coming up in the near future. The best thing is, we want you guys to be a part of it.
We’re looking for someone to help drive our continued success and become one of the leader Flight Simulator websites out there. We’ve already established ourselves as an informative and reliable source of information for Flight Sim news and reviews, and we’re looking to expand that into something completely unique to us.
We want Flight Sim enthusiasts who are committed, willing and prepared to help us in providing up-to-date information for the high volume of visitors we get to iFlySimX each and every day.
If you’re interested in finding out about the future of iFlySimX, send us a PM with some of the following information, where we’ll be able to talk further about the requirements of the brand new positions.
Primary Language Spoken:
Closing date is a 29th July 2015, so apply fast!
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Calum Martin added a topic in iFlysimX ReviewsFlyTampa Fly Sydney (YSSY) Review
Australia is one of the largest countries in the world, yet it has only recently been given the acknowledgement it deserves within the flight sim community. Thanks to teams such as ORBX, there’s some beautiful coverage of the country, yet there were still many airports which, quite simply, had never been given quality scenery. Again, ORBX delivered some stunning airports, but the performance of some of them left a lot to be desired.
Fly Tampa have always been consistent with their releases. Airport after airport sees both a well performing airport, alongside unbeatable quality. To most, Valentine’s day is about showing love and affection for partners, but for simmers, Valentine’s day 2013 was the day FlyTampa melted the hearts of their fans by announcing Sydney would be coming to Flight Sim in the near future.
Just a little over 2 years later, we’re all ready to go down under.
Sydney, as a city is important for many reasons. Being the most populated city in Australia and the State Capital of New South Wales obviously attracts visitors from all over the Globe. It’s home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and of course, the Sydney Opera House – quite simply, it’s a beautiful and rich city. The airport itself is the only major airport within the city, and sees nearly 40 million passengers a year. It’s amazing, it has taken this long to be faithfully recreated within our Flight Sim products.
To be perfectly honest, when FlyTampa announced their development on the primary hub for Qantas, it just all felt perfect. I couldn’t think of a better developer to bring this huge airport to life.
Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (YSSY) has three runways, with a maximum length of 12,999ft – meaning that long haulers will of course comfortably be able to fly their long distances. Being on the far east of Australia, expect to be able to fly direct to the West Coast of the USA, New Zealand and Hawaii quite easily. Even direct flights from the middle-East and Asia are all possible in your long range aircraft. As a result, VAS and Frame Rates are normally at the forethought of people’s minds.
After extensive testing and a range of settings, I can confirm that it should not be a worry.
Providing you use ‘appropriate’ settings, and it’s relative to your hardware, you will have similar frame rates to that of other FlyTampa scenery. Thanks to the configuration options, you can easily select what features you want on or off. Find that 3D grass gives you poor performance? Turn it off. Want to see little fishermen on the coast during approach, turn them on. You have plenty of options to fine tune it to suit your system, which is definitely a win-win solution for everyone.
In regards to VAS usage, I had no troubles. I have modest settings (but my Simulator still looks fantastic), and I have installed the LITE package (sets textures to 1024, instead of the default value of 2048). Even with VAS heavy add-ons such as the PMDG 777 and MyTraffic 6, I never got close to being out of memory. It’s a little more intensive than some scenery packages, but you have to remember exactly how much detail FlyTampa have gone with Sydney.
Speaking of detail, remember those Fishermen I mentioned? Well, how would you like to add sharks, moving traffic, static aircraft, traffic lights and much more to improve the visual quality? There’s so much attention to detail it is unbelievable. There’s moving fans in the rooftops of some buildings and plenty of puddles along the taxi ways. Dirt is spread throughout the airfield, as well as stones and concrete to really immerse you in the experience.
Texturing aside, the modelling is quite simply, the best I have ever seen in a Simulator. The famous control tower at Sydney has been authentically recreated, and to the finest of detail. You genuinely could mistake it for the real thing. It has the perfect geometry, scaling and texturing. I remember when the first image of the control tower was released, and I had a hard time guessing which was the Sim and which was real – I still have that same problem now.
Alongside the configurator, is the opportunity to change the seasons accordingly. Texturing changes depending on the month you chose, which again, just helps to differentiate FlyTampa from the rest of the competition.
Not only have they done an excellent job with the airport, but they’ve also worked hard to make sure the surrounding area also. There’s plenty of satellite imagery that has been used to create some really good and detailed ground textures. There’s also been some work done to the nearby buildings within Sydney. Although it doesn’t extend too far from the airport, it’s enough to keep you immersed during the approach into Sydney (and also the departure).
It is obvious that I think FlyTampa have done a remarkable job on Sydney. With a range of terminals fully created, beautiful artwork and texturing and mind-blowing model work – this ranks as one of the best created add-on packages for Flight Simulation. With excellent performance (considering its size and location) and moderate memory usage, Sydney will be the new number 1 spot for short and long haulers alike. It may be far away from home (for some of you), but it’s certainly worth the trip.
See you down under!
Purchase FlyTampa’s Fly Tampa Here
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Calum Martin added a topic in iFlysimX ReviewsDreamFlight Studio's Puerto Plata X (MDPP) Airport
Located in the heart of the Dominican Republic, Gregorio Luperon International Airport (MDPP) is one the most frequently visited airports in the Caribbean. With flights coming from all corners of the Globe, and being the Forth busiest airport in the Dominican, can DreamFlight Studios bring this vibrant airport to life in the world of Flight Simulation?
Let’s start with location. Being so important to the tourism industry within the Domincan, it stands to reason the airport sees a lot of activity. As a result, the airport has been built with this in mind. Capable of holding 3 Boeing 747-400s at any one time is incredibly impressed for a Caribbean airport. With a range of airlines visiting, it’s easy to find a route you’ll enjoy flying to and from the beautiful and sunny destination. After the harsh winter months and bitter cold, it makes for a wonderful change to fly into such a hot airport. No wind sheer and not a cloud in sight to ruin your views of your beach approach.
As for the airport itself, DreamFlight have done a great job at surrounding the airport in plenty of autogen, that lends itself nicely to the over grown nature of the island. The runway is almost lined with tropical bushes and trees that gives excellent views on your final approach. As you come in over the waves, you will notice the special attention DreamFlight have given to the coastal areas. During a sunset, it’s really quite the experience and I urge you to try it out.
The airport itself is masterfully done. Despite being fairly new to the game, DreamFlight have created a detailed and well performing airport. The texturing is of a high standard and the modelling is near-life-like. Although the static and bland airbridges could use some much needed cosmetic work to really wow me with the attention to detail. The iconic red-roofed buildings are present and give the airport that rustic Caribbean feel their airports are renowned for.
One problem I do have is the lack of detail outside of the airport. There’s a rather basic car park area, with low-res models of cars and coaches, as well as a few hangers and buildings. It’s a shame really, as there’s a small town just to the South of the airport. Instead the default autogen makes up for it, which as we know, is certainly not that impressive. It would really add to the beautiful approach and prove that DreamFlight mean business.
Night lighting, on the other hand, is really well done. As mentioned before, approaching in the sunset really brings the airport to life. There’s some great work done on the texturing of the terminals during the darker hours, and the approach lights look truly beautiful. The night lighting with Puerto Plata Airport is one of the best features of this airport. Turn of the lights and go flying at dusk! Trust me, it’s worth it.
Gregorio Luperon International Airport (MDPP) is a great airport at a reasonable price. With so many aircraft flying in and out of the airport daily, it’s easy to understand why DreamFlight chose to visit Puerto Plata Airport. With some excellent texture work and good modelling, it’s a great airport to add to your Caribbean collection. However, some short-comings from lack of detail in some key areas of the airport and the surrounding area stop me from saying this a must-buy.
PURCHASE PUERTO PLATA X AT SIMMARKET
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Calum Martin added a topic in iFlysimX ReviewsFlyTampa Fly Copenhagen (EKCH) Review
It’s been a while since my last review, and as a result, I’ve had some wonderful down time to revisit some of the older airports released over the years. One such airport was Copenhagen. At the time, I forgot how much I enjoyed the quick hops from the UK over to the Danish city. It is also one of those destinations where the weather can either be on your side, or cause havoc to your flight planning. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had it all – everything from glorious, crispy sunny mornings to the CAT 3 landings. However, despite how beautiful it is, it’s never really been properly captured in the flight simulation world. Until now, however.
It’s been no secret that FlyTampa have been crafting Copenhagen with support from Flight Simulator Development Group. FSDG are a relatively new developer on the scene of Flight Simulation products. I remember not that long ago downloading their fantastic Sharm El Sheik and Heraklion projects. Both were wonderfully created, frame rate friendly and breathed a new lease of life into these locations. Earlier this year, they released, quite possibly, their best project yet: Thessaloniki. A medium-sized airport, surrounded by a sprawling city. Despite everything going on, it was pretty much flawless. It had charm, atmosphere and easy on the simulator.
As a result of their clear talent, FlyTampa made it clear that these guys would be great to partner with to bring about their latest airport – Fly Copenhagen.
It’s immediately apparent that the best of both teams come across in the scenery. The texturing around the airport is amongst the best FlyTampa (hereby FT from now on) have ever delivered. If you’re a fan of anything from FT in the past, then you know the quality to expect here. If you think back to Dubai (their last release) and how breath-taking it all looked, then imagine the quality factor turned up by 10.
The screenshots here don’t really do the scenery justice. Mostly because JPG compresses the images to a low quality level (hence why night shots look a bit bad…), but also because it’s impressive to see the detail move at a surprisingly good pace. The screenshots have been taken with the settings taken at the highest quality so I hope you like them.
As for the texturing itself, it’s clear that everything is crystal clear. Taxiway markings and signage are all looking excellent. But again, it’s the attention to detail that makes it stand out to other developers out there. Scuff marks on the ground, dirt tracks and even stones can be seen on the ground. The immersion with the scenery is just remarkable.
As usual, the modelling is near perfect. Every single building within the airport is present and are all high quality. There’s been no compromise on “less” important buildings or those that you may not use / see on your day-to-day flying. However, this hasn’t stopped the guys from ensuring every building looks as impressive as the last. Even the inside of the buildings have been given the now-norm 3D interior effect. What impressed me more was the fact that each section was accurate to the real airport and not just a generalisation of what you would see at an airport gate. For example, if you were at gate F5, you would see the signage on the inside clearly mark the passengers were at the same gate, with additional signage pointing to other gates. Again, all accurate and certainly not a copy and paste job. It’s this level of detail that separates FT and FSDG from the others.
As you can see, I started off with the evening screenshots first. If you’re a frequent reader, then you will know, that these normally come last. However, in this instance, I felt that the night lighting here is the most impressive night lighting ever to grace a Flight Simulation airport. Words can’t describe how much I love the lighting [editor’s note: please find some, we need to boost the word count somehow!]. There’s no light that over exaggerate what the scenery is trying to show off. Nor is there a single block colour that covers the whole airport. There’s a huge variety of lights and shadow that really showcase the beauty of Copenhagen airport. The taxiways and runways look glorious on those evening approaches – certainly helpful when flying an autoland in fog. One complaint with the lighting, however, is the slow loading textures when panning around. Similar to the effect of Aerosoft’s Heathrow earlier this year, when the scenery isn’t in view, it’s somehow ‘flushed’ out of the Simulator to enable better performance. However, one downside of this is the effect of the textures taking a few seconds to load up. Not really an issue in general usage, but if you’re one for taking photos, this will become noticeable. It certainly won’t spoil anything for you and by no means something that should put you off from flying at night.
Outside of the airport, Copenhagen is renowned for its beautiful surroundings and of course, the famous Øresund Bridge. For those of you who don’t know, the Oresund Bridge is the longest combined rail and road bridge in the world. It’s a beautiful landmark and makes the approach into Copenhagen that much more exciting. Luckily, the two teams have wonderfully created a fantastic replica for us to fly around (or under!). It looks great, and the moving traffic certainly makes it feel very much alive.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a FSDG airport if there wasn’t the inclusion of a surrounding city. Again, the team haven’t disappointed. There’s literally hundreds of houses, buildings and other environmental obstacles that litter the surroundings of the airport. It takes a bit of a hit on performance, but for the sheer number of objects and the quality of each one, it makes it a very fair trade off. Thanks to advance techniques and an easy-to-use configurator, the impact is minimal and can be adjusted to your preferences.
2014 has certainly been the year of developers taking on board that every user has a different machine, and as a result, a different expectation as far as performance goes. FT and FSDG have jumped on board with the idea and Fly Copenhagen is the first scenery to support FlyTampa’s latest configurator. Everything from season texture, amount of traffic and whether you use the default or custom autogen. It’s highly detailed and allows any user of any powered machine to get the most from their scenery. In my opinion, the ease of use and the number of options available makes me hope that this soon becomes the standard for all scenery developers.
Fly Copenhagen is truly the best scenery FlyTampa and Flight Simulator Development Group have ever created for the community. The quality is ripping from the seams and not a pixel looks out of place. As a result, there’s a relatively high price tag associated with it. However, you get bang for your buck – a huge, and highly detailed airport and a sprawling city which expands over the sea and more. If you need a winter destination for your Christmas stocking, then this is it. You’ll have a range of aircraft to fly from here, and you will never have two of the same approach thanks to its ever-changing weather conditions. Fly Copenhagen is the airport of the Winter!
5/5 | Publisher: FlyTampa | Developer: FlyTampa / FSDG | Price: 33.22EUR
PURCHASE FlyTampa’s Copenhagen HERE!
A fantastic effort by combining two excellent developers. The texturing, modelling and atmosphere shadows any other Copenhagen currently on the market. Although pricey, the huge amount of area covered is impressive, all whilst ensuring a smooth experience for your Simulator. An absolute must buy for a winter destination.
+ The best modelling and texture work from FlyTampa yet.
+ Huge amount of detail and coverage with minimal performance impact.
- Slow loading textures can sometimes be irritating.
- Pricier than most other scenery packages out there.
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Calum Martin added a topic in iFlysimX ReviewsAerosoft Airbus A318/A319
Flight Simulation went an age without a decent Airbus series of aircraft. Sure, some developers created visually appealing models, but nothing with systems and flows that made any sense. Never mind the complexity that comes with the vast ECAM screens and the FBW system. Of course, as Simmers we want realism, but that comes with a cost: a long development time and a performance hit – two things that every developer and simmer out there dreads. Luckily for us, Aerosoft saw a great opportunity and ceased it.
Their visually appealing Airbus A320 X released several years ago began a trend for the publishing giant. They realised they could create a visually appealing aircraft, with minimal systems, yet immerse Simmers just enough to satisfy their lust. Sadly (or thankfully, depending what side of the fence you’re on) demand for a deeper system became priority for everyone. As a result, in 2013 Aerosoft released, what was known at the time, The Airbus X Extended (or AXE for short). Suddenly, fixes to the FBW, MCDU (Editors note: Nearly called this the FMC… too much Boeing on the mind) and visual improvements made this THE airbus to fly. It was well designed, light on the user’s machines, but included enough depth to the systems to allow the Simmer to follow a typical, standard flight – and at a bargain price.
Unfortunately for Aerosoft, despite their persistence and hard work, after a few more months, we all got restless yet again! We all knew it was their plan to release the A319 shortly after the A320, but what we didn’t expect was for them to add even more to the overall package of the Airbus. Here we are in 2014 (and three paragraphs into the review already, without even touching up on the review), and Aerosoft’s most ambitious project has been released for sale.
As you step into the Flight Deck for the first time, you will notice an all familiar location. Everything looks pretty much the same from the A320 Flight Deck, however, Aerosoft have completely redone the Virtual Cockpit to improve draw calls to help improve the frame rates significantly. Not only that, but the resolution is higher and the displays are much clearer than ever before. Despite being clearer than previous aircraft, once you zoom in just a bit, text becomes a bit blocky. After having experience inside of a A319/320 flight deck for a long time now, I feel the refresh rate inside Aerosoft’s ‘Bus to be a bit slow. It may save on performance, but having the option would allow users to adjust based on their machine. With dimmable displays and more functionality, this already feels much more realistic. Something that was missing from the previous Airbus products from Aerosoft were fire tests and a realistic APU start up time. After being requested constantly, Aerosoft have listened and delivered. Something that is still missing if the inclusion of an LBS function for our American friends. There’s a huge Airbus in operation over in the states, yet they have to convert all of their weights in KGS. No issue for most, but something I would have expected to be achieved by now.
Modelling on the outside of the aircraft has also been vastly improved too. There is no longer any debates over the size of the engines, the angle of the flaps or any other complain initially had with the Airbus series. This is their most impressive work yet, and even all of the texture work has been upgraded to a more high resolution giving simmers even more opportunity to take shameless amounts of screenshots of their new baby ‘bus. Another added feature is the addition of external nav, beacon and strobe lighting reflecting off of the ground. Again, this was the direct input of the community and Aerosoft have listened.
If anything has impressed me with the A319/318 collection, is the upgrades Aerosoft have put into the software. I remember when they first announced that Airbus Xtended X, when they announced it to be a medium-range aircraft. Similar to that of QualityWings – a great looking model but only limited functionality. Enough to allow the simple Simmer to enjoy the day-to-day procedures of the Airbus. Whilst this is most certainly the case, the added functionality is very much welcomed as even basic MCDU functionality such as range arcs has now been included (missing before). It’s all these included extras that make the upgrade price such good value for money.
Speaking of the MCDU, a lot of new functions have now been made available. Things such as HOLD and OFFSET are now included and provide an excellent tool when planning for bad weather. Also, now when you change the route in the ‘preview’ mode, the nav display will now highlight your new adjusted route in yellow – just like the real thing. Small, but invaluable improvements such as these make the A319/318 feel like a more complete package than ever before. Just as before, only the left MCDU is functional, but the right side allows for users to configure their Airbus – but more on that shortly.
One of my new favourite features is the fact you can now load fuel, and payload directly in the Airbus via the right MCDU. If I hated anything from the previous airbus collections, it was the external fuel loaders. I hate them. They are a pain to work with and complete spoil any and all immersion. Thankfully, Aerosoft realised this and have given you the option to either instantly add fuel or payload, or in real-time, complete with appropriate ECAM memos. I finally can plan my flights before, operate a 4 sector day and never leave the Flight Deck. Failing that, external fuel loader-lovers can also plan and load fuel just as before.
As I mentioned above, you can now use the MCDU to plan for any approaching weather. Of course, this would be pointless in the world of Simulation without some way of knowing where the weather was on your course! For those living under a rock, PMDG lead the way earlier this year by releasing a service pack for their 777 series which allowed users of Active Sky Next to use a fully working Weather Radar within the Nav display of their aircraft. Well I am happy to say that Aerosoft’s Weather Radar (which can be used with ANY Weather Engine, or even default FSX weather) works incredibly well, with very little impact on performance. From a time where developers were adamant that a WX Radar was impossible to having two products in one year with finally claiming accurate information, Simmers have truly been spoilt.
Having a Weather Radar is a fantastic piece of equipment. Within the sim, you will be able to adjust the gain and tilt of the radar to pick up returns up to a very large area in front of the aircraft. As a result, you can detect clouds with precipitation within them, which includes storms and other activity. It can really make a difference to how you fly, adding both an extra challenge and thrill to a typical flight. What really impresses me about Aerosoft’s Weather Radar is the fact that any weather engine is compatible. Finally non-users of Active Sky Next can experience a true to life weather radar, complete with ground returns. It’s easy to use, immersive and impressive – everything I would want from a WX Radar.
In addition to the WX Radar, a new feature has been added to the Nav display, which takes Aerosoft series far beyond their initial medium-spec’d outset. With a click of a button, you will now be able to see a completely accurate terrain database appear, to allow you to avoid conflict with nearby terrain. The level of detail in both the weather radar and the new terrain database is easily on PMDG level in terms of complexity and quality – and this is a $30 add-on!
Everything else with the product feels incredibly fine-tuned. The IAE engines are now accurate and have the correct displays. The FBW settings of the aircraft have been fine-tuned, and even the taxi model has been adjusted to consider the poor friction of the FSX/P3D world. Finally, single-engine idle taxis are now possible (with a light load of course). Even the aircraft’s sound-set has been updated. Everything from start-up sounds to the impact of landing has been adjusted for a more realistic and immersive quality.
Further to just improving their aircraft and systems, Aerosoft have spent a considerable amount of time on improving their co-pilot functions. Apart from fixing some issues from before, new commands and flows have been added. Again, Aerosoft realise how important it is to be immersed into your product. Although I’m not a fan myself, I can assure it works splendidly. It’s certainly a great feature to be built into the aircraft and one I hope other developers push in the future.
Aerosoft are consistently fine-tuning fuel and flight dynamics. During the course of this review, they have released several updates / hotfixes which fix general issues. The on-going development work from the team is something Aerosoft have defined their business on and continues to be the best in the industry.
As you can see, I am more than impressed with Aerosoft’s brand new A319/318 update. It adds so much more than just a model and slightly different flight dynamics from their A320/321 series. The improved performance, the added functionality and impressive Weather/Terrain displays easily justify the expense of upgrading. Whether you use the A319 for short/medium haul, or take the 318 for a spin across the Atlantic, you’re going to have an incredible experience. I have poured countless hours already into the Sim and you will do too. If their continued support and range of updates is anything like we’ve seen from Aerosoft before, the A319/318 will be an ever-growing project.
5/5 | Publisher: Aerosoft | Developer: Aerosoft | Price: 39.95EUR | 16.16EUR
PURCHASE AEROSOFT'S AIRBUS A318/319 HERE!
The sheer number of improvements, optimisations and additions to Aerosoft’s Airbus family is staggering. Everything from improved texturing to improved systems warrants not only the upgrade price, but even a full priced product. The weather radar is excellent and the new sound effects immerse me completely in the product. With more features to come, it will remain in my hanger for a long time to come.
+ Impressive new range of features and at a bargain upgrade/full price.
+ Performance friendly, even with new features inc. Weather / Terrain radar.
- Still no inclusion of LBS for our American friends.
- Refresh rates and texture quality of displays should be higher.
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Calum Martin added a topic in iFlysimX ReviewsTaxi2Gate Saint Kitts Robert Bradshaw International (TKPK) Airport
The expression “blink and you’ll miss it” almost seems to ring true for the development process of anything from Taxi2Gate. Just WEEKS ago, I was reviewing their last airport, Doha, and already, I’m writing the review of their next airport. This time, however, Taxi2Gate have ventured back into the sunny Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Clearly to have some down time, the development team like to focus on their Caribbean airports. After all, they’re significantly smaller and thus less complex, shaving huge chunks of time off of development. It must be a good way for the developers to have some down time whilst still actively working. However, is this trend from Taxi2Gate healthy or has quality dropped because of it?
Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport serves the nation of Saint Kitts and was recently renovated in 2006. Since then, it has become a major airport within the Caribbean, being able to handle up to 6 wide-bodied aircraft at any one time. The airport has gone from strength to strength and currently handles over 400,000 passengers per year. On top of that, it has a vast Cargo operation, which is handled by several major airlines, including DHL and FedEx.
My main concern with any Caribbean airport is and always will be the atmosphere of the airport. I’ve been numerous times to know what they should feel like, and I think having that atmosphere is just as important as having high definition textures. I mean, why look like the real thing if it doesn’t feel like it. So as soon as I stepped into the Sim, loaded up St. Kitts, I immediately felt like I was exploring Robert Bradshaw International airport. Staggeringly, Taxi2Gate seem to nail this feeling each and every time. As soon as you step into the airport, that warm breeze will hit your face, you will hear the sound of the exotic birds and taste the sea air. It’s incredible that by providing high quality texturing and correct colouring, you can actually feel like you’re there. The team are able to pull this off.
Once you step into the flight deck, this all becomes apparent. It comes as no surprise that Taxi2Gate have developed a really believable looking airport. All buildings, taxiways and signs have been given the attention they deserve. Again, everything is in beautiful resolution and looks just as impressive as their larger airports. Compared to Doha, St. Kitts looks far more worn-down and used and as a result, there is dirt everywhere! Despite the same developer, the differences in texture work ensure you know exactly where in the world you are.
Something that did disappoint me is the lack of work from the surrounding area of the airport. With the vast area covered in Doha or even Istanbul, I was shocked to see so little of St. Kitts covered this time. St. Kitts isn’t exactly the most built up of islands in the world, so it would be a case of creating imagery sets to ensure that the area around the airport would be fully covered. Instead, for some odd reason, on the approach over the coast, you get a few hundred yards of default scenery, including the costal area. For something so prominent in the airport itself, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Did the developer run out of time, money or resources? Either way, for such a renowned developer to cut corners on something so important leaves me wondering if this was rushed to market.
In general, I don’t believe enough of the island has been covered with custom terrain that we’re used to seeing from a developer such as Taxi2Gate. Even the mountain to the side of the airport lacks any custom work. Admittedly, the work they have done looks fantastic, which is probably why I’m craving for more from them. However, what is covered, it all looks amazing. Everything from the 3D grass to the nearby harbour makes everything feel realistic and offers great views during the approach.
Despite being a small Caribbean airport, there is still a great amount of variety for Simmers here. With British Airways visiting a few times a week with their triple seven (after a 20 minute flight from Antigua – always a challenge), American with their smaller Airbus’ and also some GA traffic, there’s plenty for you to try out here.
Performance, is, as usual, fantastic. Not a fault can be said about it. VAS usage is low and framerates are high, but yet again, there’s a lack of options for the user. Apart from just ‘deleting’ files, there’s no way for users to gain better performance or even change the texture set. Even though their scenery performs wonderfully, we’re in a time and age where users like to change their settings to best match their system and I think it’s time Taxi2Gate began to realise this.
Whilst I enjoyed the scenery and believe it to be of a high quality, just some aspect seem to be lacking compared to previous work by Taxi2Gate. The lack of surrounding custom terrain and the poor quality in their custom autogen makes me wonder whether this was produced by the same developer. They clearly have a highly skilled team, but St Kitts seems to suffer from a quick turnaround time. Despite some issues, this is an excellent airport with many positive qualities. From a reasonable price, to fantastic looking texturing and modelling work. As far as Caribbean airports go, this is a must, but be prepared to not be blown away as much as you were the first time you stepped into Doha for the first time.
Purchase Taxi2Gate’s St Kitts Here!
3/5 | Publisher: SimMarket | Developer: Taxi2Gate | Price: 17.84EUR
Taxi2Gate’s quick development process is both a Godsend and also its biggest downfall. Despite having fantastic texturing and excellent modelling, St. Kitts comes as a disappointment for those expecting the same detail and quality as their previous work. Regardless, this is an excellent Caribbean scenery, and with diverse routes to and from, it shouldn’t be missed.
+ Great value for money with great performance.
+ Fantastic use of colouring and texture work.
- Lack of detail surrounding key areas of the airport’s approach.
- Night lighting isn’t as strong as previous work.
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Calum Martin added a post in a topic Aerosoft Mega Airport Heathrow Xtended (EGLL) Review
Calum Martin added a topic in iFlysimX ReviewsAerosoft Mega Airport Heathrow Xtended (EGLL) Review
When SimWings / Aerosoft announced that they were hard at work at creating a brand new Heathrow, it was met with a massive “well what is the point” from the community. Not only was UK Airport Developer Gary from UK2000 scenery hard at work at creating a brand new version of Heathrow, but it was very close from being released. However, the community suddenly perked some interest when the first screenshots were shown. Suddenly, things were heating up, and with anticipated release dates for both sceneries within spitting distance of one another, it gave consumers a massive headache – which would be the better of the two. Just as people were getting their heads around it, SimWings delayed theirs and Gary released his. At the time, it was obvious: if you wanted the most up-to-date and frame friendly Heathrow on the market, Gary’s was the way to go. However, the choice is now much more difficult as we have two excellent products on the market (let alone the numerous versions of the exciting airport from before!)
As a result of this direct competition and the angst amongst you all to find out which product you should spend your money, I have divided this review into several sections allowing you to read what you want to read which will help you decide.
The sections will be as follows:
THOSE WHO HAVE UK2000’S HEATHROW V3 AND ARE NOT SURE WHETHER TO UPGRADE
THOSE WHO HAVE NEITHER AND UNSURE WHICH TO PURCHASE
THOSE WHO HAVE CONCERNS OVER PERFORMANCE AND VAS USAGE
All sections will cover and answer the questions that most have about SimWing’s Heathrow and how it stacks to the competition. My specs are at the bottom of the page and all my settings are pretty standard. All screenshots were taken in ‘normal’ conditions for me, so no bullshot to mislead you.
I RECOMMEND READING THE WHOLE REVIEW FOR A GOOD OVERALL REVIEW ON THE PRODUCT.
THOSE WHO HAVE UK2000’S HEATHROW V3 AND ARE NOT SURE WHETHER TO UPGRADE
So you have UK2000’s Heathrow V3 - a fantastic product in its own right. It’s detailed, accurate and the most up-to-date Heathrow on the market. Not only that, but Gary is a solo developer that relies on repeat business and has always gone from strength to strength. I really enjoyed Gary’s edition of Heathrow. It was surprisingly easy on the frame rates and the VAS usage was controllable. But how does it compare to Aerosoft’s / SimWing’s Heathrow Xtended?
As you can see from the screenshots, Aerosoft’s Heathrow looks stunning. It is immediately noticeable as to how different it looks compared to UK2000’s Heathrow. Everything from texture work and objects are completely different. In my opinion, the texture work from SimWing’s out does Gary’s work and then some. The texturing is much more detailed and colour accurate. Something I didn’t like so much with UK2000’s Heathrow was the ‘yellow-ish’ tint that seemed to cover the airport. Taxiways and runways all looked a bit off-colour. However, SimWings have done an excellent job at creating a much more realistic and believable colour pallet. The grass verges, the runways and taxiiways all look incredible and are streaming with detail.
There’s clear definition between every single object and light within the airport. I love the way that there’s clear contrast between terminal buildings and the more generic buildings of the airport. As a result, you feel like you’re actually taxing through Heathrow’s huge apron, passing distinctive and recognisable buildings. As you explore, you will notice even the finer details that make this the most up-to-date Heathrow currently on the market. For example, the Virgin Atlantic hanger is now equipped with its current logo, something already outdated in UK2000’s Heathrow. Sure it’s a small thing, but if you’re after accuracy in building placement and design, Aerosoft’s Heathrow is for you.
Further to the defined texture work and new buildings, the night lighting compared to UK2000’s Heathrow is vastly better. Every single taxiway is lit up now, and the apron really comes to life with yellow tints spread throughout the airport. Compare that to the dimly lit and lacking night lighting of UK2000’s version, you will see an immediate difference. Quite simple, Aerosoft / SimWings have NAILED the night lighting and approaching the airport during dawn/dusk is simply stunning.
When you install UK2000’s Heathrow, you’re given many options to help increase performance. The screenshots you see in this section have my settings on the low-amount setting offered by UK2000. Why? Simply because I wasn’t achieving an acceptable frame rate. As soon as I turn it up to High or even EXTREME then my frames sunk drastically into the low-teens. Unlike UK2000’s version, Heathrow Xtended has no options (besides the ability to turn off AES Lite around the airport) for increased performance. However, I achieve similar frame rates as I do with the current LOW setting of Gary’s Heathrow. So I am able to achieve what essentially what EXTREME would like, but with solid and acceptable frames. This alone is reason to buy it over UK2000’s Heathrow.
So should you buy Aerosoft’s / SimWing’s Heathrow despite owning UK2000’s?
THOSE WHO HAVE NEITHER AND UNSURE WHICH TO PURCHASE
So you’re fed up of default Heathrow and are unsure which Heathrow to buy. Sure, that’s fair enough with so many different Heathrow add-ons out there to buy.
SimWing’s Heathrow Xtended is not the cheapest option out there. UK2000’s undercuts Aerosoft’s by just a bit, but in this money saving culture we live in, is it justifiable to spend extra for an increase in quality?
If you’ve read the section above, you will know that I had a lot of praise to say about the increase in quality between the two products. There are a lot more objects, a lot more detail in the textures and the airport is much more up-to-date in terms of structure changes and signage. If this is important to you, then I recommend you spend the extra money on Aerosoft’s Heathrow Xtended.
It’s easy to think that newer is always better, because for some people it may not be the case. If you wish to use things such as the airbridges (which Heathrow has a lot of), then you need to be prepared to buy AES from Aerosoft as well to enable them (also bearing in mind it’s not out yet). Yet, with UK2000’s, airbridges work by default and stick to your aircraft wonderfully.
Furthermore, as far as I’m aware, the texture work of Aerosoft’s Heathrow have been designed with ORBX’s FTX Global in mind. I’m lucky enough to be in possession of both products and have it merge in wonderfully with Global and FTX England. However, UK2000’s doesn’t merge as nicely, it does however, merge nicer with default FSX. So again, if you wish to have all the perks and benefits of SimWing’s Heathrow, then you’re going to need to spend extra money. Suddenly spending a few extra pounds/euros/dollars has resulted in your spending more and more.
Of course, if you own ORBX FTX Global / England and are prepared to use a few AES credits, then you’ll have no problems. That’s not to say however, that you MUST buy all the extras for the scenery, as it still looks wonderful without it and functions as intended.
So should you buy SimWing’s Heathrow over the competition?
YES – as it offers the best value for money in terms of performance and high quality visuals.
THOSE WHO HAVE CONCERNS OVER PERFORMANCE AND VAS USAGE
Every time a new Heathrow is released, one of the most requested features if a high frame rate and a much more managed VAS usage. In the day and age of extensive add-ons, high resolution textures this is a reoccurring problem for developers and consumers alike. We all crave the most realistic experience possible, but with that, we must take some sacrifices and the same has to be said here, with SimWing’s Heathrow.
Much attention was given to the amount of VAS and how the scenery performs on people’s systems. There isn’t much to ‘review’ on VAS usage other than I can tell you that it only uses roughly 500mb of memory. This is nothing compared to the number of parking stands and sheer amount of detail the airport covers. Not only that, but being near London also makes it prone to an increase in VAS usage. 500mb is a completely acceptable amount, and I’ve not experienced a single OOM with the scenery as a result (I am using DX10). As always, disable any unused scenery (it takes like 2 minutes) and be conscious of the number of AI you’re using, the resolution of your textures and other OOM-causing scenarios. It’s all about compromise.
In terms of performance, this is single handily the most FPS friendly Heathrow for Flight Simulation (aside default…) Ground texturing and modelling is top class, however there have been some shortcomings, which I imagine is an attempt to reduce the impact on performance. For example, taxiway signs (and there are a lot of them), aren’t quite the same high quality you’re used to seeing. Also, despite the large amount of coverage, there is a distinct lack of draw distance on the satellite imagery used.
Another compromise that you’ll have to deal with is the slow-loading textures of most of the buildings. Despite loading correctly and accurately, when you start to pan your view around, you will notice that buildings are textured jet-black, until eventually they load up again. If you pan around again, wait a few minutes and look back, you’ll have to go through the same process. I imagine this is totally intentional from the developers to help keep performance as high as possible. After all, if you’re in the Flight Deck, you can’t see what’s behind you so why have it niggling away in the memory. A clever developer trick, but may affect the immersion for some.
So is Performance and VAS usage a cause of concern?
As you can see, even when splitting down the review, the conclusion is always the same. Without a doubt, this is the BEST version of Heathrow currently on the market. Everything from the accurately placed buildings, the updated models for the new terminals and structures and the impressive texturing and performance for the airport.
Heathrow is an exciting airport and will always be relevant in aviation. With so much to see and do, it’ll make for a perfect hub for so many people. Aerosoft have done an excellent job at creating a well-balanced and fantastic looking scenery. It’s fairly priced and blends in well with other popular add-ons. Despite some issues with texture loading and a lack of snowy textures during winter, there’s very little stopping me from saying this is a near perfect example of how a large scale airport should be done.
5/5 | Developer: SimWings | Publisher: Aerosoft | Price: 27.95EUR
PURCHASE AEROSOFT'S MEGA AIRPORT HEATHROW XTENDED AIRPORT HERE
Heathrow is and always will be a tough airport to develop for Flight Simulator. Its location and size presents headaches for pilots and developers alike, but luckily, SimWings have created a well balanced and well performing scenery package. Whether you’re new to payware for Heathrow or upgrading from alterative products, this is the defining Heathrow for Flight Simulation currently available.
+ Very frame and VAS friendly package.
+ Wonderful modelling compares to the real thing.
- Occasionally slow-Loading textures when panning views.
- Pricier than alternative Heathrow packages.
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