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Calum Martin

DreamFactory Studio Rome Fiumicino Airport (LIRF) Review

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Rome Fiumicino is an airport that people have been waiting patiently for an incredibly long time. Ever since its initial announcement, FS2004 users have been treated to many months of exploring a great looking rendition of the popular Italian airport. Fast forward and after many promises and great anticipation, Aerosoft officially cancelled the project - claiming that the quality of the product just wasn’t up to expectations. Since then, DreamFactory Studio has decided to self-publish through SimMarket, allowing countless fans the chance to finally explore one of Italy’s largest and greatest airports. Were Aerosoft right to cancel their contract? Let’s find out.

 

Rome Fiumicino is also home to several airlines, including easyJet, Air Italia and many more. Large international carriers such as Emirates and United also fly into the airport daily. Its location and size make it an ideal destination for both business travellers and holiday makers. It’s little wonder why so many were looking forward to such a sought after airport for Flight Sim.

 

Before we begin, allow me to clarify a few points:

 

·         I always use a clean FSX.cfg along with the simple [bUFFERPOOLS], HighMem fix and widescreen set to true. This allows consistency with the reviews when it comes to performance.

·         I always use the same settings within FSX and Nvidia inspector for each review. This was stress tested at several payware airports (E.G. UK2000 EGLL) with payware aircraft (E.G. PMDG 777), all achieving roughly 30-35fps. This allows me to judge performance based on other add-ons.

·         I will disable and lower settings to what I believe to be minimal if it means I achieve greater performance for the review. However, this is last resort as I believe if my machine can handle the point above, then it should be able to handle a simple payware airport. N.B. I never lower them lower than the minimum stated in a products manual.

·         I perform my tests with and without DX10 (using Steve’s fixer) and enable / disable FTX Global and similar products to test for compatibility. However any incompatibility will be noted. NOTE: I don’t regard it to be a compatibility issue if the surrounding terrain colours don’t match, but will do if the airport or the add-on then breaks because of it.

·         I use a variety of add-ons, weather engines and so forth in 3 stages whilst testing: minimal use (minimum to enjoy the scenery), Normal Use (a typical flight scenario) and a Stress Test (turn on all features, bells and whistles).

·         I solely use FSX as my platform of choice.

 

With that out of the way, let’s jump in…

 

 

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As with any airport, one of the first things you will notice is the texture and modelling work of the airport. After all, it’s the primary reason why we purchase an add-on airport for our simulations. From initial impressions, it was clear to me that these were created for an FS2004 product. Certainly not as bad as FSX default, but lacking the detail and refinement so many of us of used to seeing. Computers are much more capable of displaying high resolution graphics now, and many developers are utilising new techniques. Small things such as dirt, dust and water spillages are all part of the ‘norm’ now for developers creating payware scenery – so to see a lack of it with Rome was disappointing. Clear distinctions between the taxiway and runways, and the ground markings are accurate and impressive.

 

Modelling on the other hand looks great. The terminal buildings (and there’s many) are all rendered with a lot of precision. It’s fantastic to see so much attention placed in the architecture of the product. Everything from airport terminals and hangers to moving trains and office buildings all correct and present. There are even animated cars bringing the airport to life.

 

In terms of placement and design, DreamFactory Studio has done an excellent job. From scanning Google Earth, everything from changes in tarmac colour and building placement has been given the upmost attention. It’s great to see a true-to-life airport in the heart of Italy. For example, car parks, runways now used as taxiways and airport development is all present with Rome. Like so many other developers, however, once you leave the airside operations of the airport, things take a turn for the worse. Texture work outside lacks as much detail and the low-resolution terrain allows the immersion to suffer.

 

 

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To me immersion is one of the most important aspects of any add-on scenery to me. We want to feel like we’re really taxing down Taxiway ALPHA before holding at runway 09. We want to see the nearby towns under the wing as we drop the gear down for our final approach. It’s the increase in immersion that justifies our purchase on virtual airports. The sad thing is, I felt that immersion just didn’t exist. As soon as I booted up Rome Fiumicino I noticed some strange terrain issues. Admittedly, after switching off my FTX products, the sinking stopped. However, another cause of concern cropped up.

 

That concern, and of course it would be, is the Frame Rates. I appreciate it is a HUGE airport with a lot going on. Everything from a huge amount of taxiways, runways and buildings are all reasons for a drop in frames. However, as described above, I achieve excellent stability at high end airports from a range of developers. So you can imagine my surprise, disbelief and disappointment when my frame rates initially started in the mid-20s, before dropping to 8-12 when I panned my view near to the main terminal buildings. As time passed, it seemed go get progressively worse! Even after fixing my terrain issues described above, again, they seemed to get worse. Although no-stutters seemed to be present, if a system such as mine couldn’t handle the airport, I very much doubt a standard user would be able to. In this regard, it would seem Aerosoft were right when they claimed the frame rate would be unacceptable for most to use. Despite everything I liked about the airport, this was a killer blow for me. Switch to nigh-time and I saw frames barely reaching 5fps. Unacceptable.

 

 

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On the other hand, if the developer decides to go back to the project, re-work some of the code to optimise it for FSX, then this would be a good add-on for those looking at having Rome as part of their collection. There are some great little quirks about the airport. There is some lovely looking satellite imagery surrounding the airport as well as some great looking texture work on the nearby buildings. The lack of build up around the airport mean you’ll be approaching over the sea and then some local farm – it’s certainly a scenic approach and one I enjoy making.

 

Despite its pick-me-ups, Rome falls short of expectations. The lack of manual, strange issues with PAPI lighting and a broken ASELite Menu (clearly from the old Aerosoft project) makes me wonder if this project was finished when it was released. DreamFactory Studio has done a good job at creating a life-like project of the airport, but the poor performance issues and lack of FSX-quality detail stop me from recommending Rome Fiumicino. With a few fixes this could be a worthwhile purchase, but until then, be prepared to be disappointed.

 

 

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1/5  |  Publisher: SimMarket |  Developer: DreamFactory Studio |  Price: 20.50EUR

 

Despite some nice looking texture work, the poor performance make the airport almost un-flyable. The massive drop in frame rate and the incompatibility make it a really hard recommendation. Despite being the only option to fly into Rome Fiumicino, DreamFactory Studio have really done a disservice to the community. An unfinished and poor performing product - an update is really the only thing that can salvage it.

 

+ Good looking models surround the airport.

+ Some areas have some nice texture work.

 

- Massive performance issues make the airport almost unflyable.

- Incompatibility with FTX products, no manual and a broken options menu.

 

PURCHASE DREAMFACTORY STUDIO'S ROME FIUMICINO HERE

 

 

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UPDATE 20AUG2014

 

Since our review, DreamFactory Studio have released an update that appears to FIX the awful frame rate issues. I can no hold frames around 25-30, but suffer from stutters almost every few seconds. I was also able to fly at night now, but the frame rate was still poor, achieving only 18-25fps. Other issues I noted during the review are still present, however, it is at least in a more stable state.

 

Any further updates to the product and I will revise my review and will let you know.

 

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My Specs: 

Processor - 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-3770K Ivy Bridge (OVERCLOCKED TO 4.8GHz)
RAM - 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 2133 (PC3 12800)
GPU - GeForce GTX 780 FTW 3GB GDDR5
Mother Board - ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Hard Drives - 2 x 128gb OCZ SSD + 2 x 1tb 7200RPM HDD
Operating System - Windows 7 (64-bit)

 

Add-ons Used In Screenshots: 

Scenery – DreamFactory Studio Rome Fiumicino (LIRF)

Aircraft – Aerosoft’s Airbus A320
Utilities - REX4 Textures, Active Sky Next, SteveFX DX10 Fixer (Also tested with DX9), FTX Global, FTX Vector, 
ORBX's FTX Global openLC Europe. ****HAD TO REMOVE FTX PRODUCTS FOR AIRPORT TO WORK AS INTENDED****

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Definitely an unfinished product from the look of it. 

It seems Aerosoft were right in their decision. 

My estimation of them has only gone up since the review, pity,as LIRF is badly needed in the FSX world.

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Just to add:

 

I really dislike slating anything produced by hardworking individuals.

 

However, this was a case of a product clearly rushed / out of reach for the developer.

 

Good luck to the development team on their next product and I hope they learn from the lessons from Rome.

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UPDATE 20AUG2014

 

Since our review, DreamFactory Studio have released an update that appears to FIX the awful frame rate issues. I can no hold frames around 25-30, but suffer from stutters almost every few seconds. I was also able to fly at night now, but the frame rate was still poor, achieving only 18-25fps. Other issues I noted during the review are still present, however, it is at least in a more stable state.

 

Any further updates to the product and I will revise my review and will let you know.

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Very Good report/review...I concur with all of your findings.  Its unfortunate, but activated with AI and traffic I've had to disable it.  This is seemingly a common challenge for developers aiming to please all three platforms, but more specifically from FS9 to either or FSX /P3D.  The polygon counts and other techniques cripple FSX.  As I said before, I pause when a product designed for FS9 and FSX.

 

I hope the future holds many more flourish-able products ;)

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