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Although being released on Saint Patrick’s day may have been sheer luck or done on purpose, many Flight Sim fans rejoiced at the fact Aerosoft’s long overdue Mega Airport Dublin was finally available to purchase. Whilst many of you jumped the bandwagon and downloaded and installed immediately, some of you have yet to plump down the cash. If you’re unsure, grab a Guiness, chill out and gouge over this mega review for this Mega Airport. The history of Dublin’s airport is pretty exciting. Opening in 1941, it is currently Ireland’s largest airport. 19.1 million people travelled through their doors in 2012, which was helped primarily from Irish carries Air Lingus and Ryanair. What makes the history of the airport so rich is the consistent conflict of these two giant airlines. Both have had contestant struggles in becoming the dominating force of the airport. Through sneaky tactics, creating strong advertising campaigns and taking matters into their own hands, Ryanair have tried and tried again to drive Air Lingus out of the airport. Although still bitter rivals, they both have a solid market share in Dublin – albeit using separate terminal buildings. Dublin is also home to one of two US boarder preclearance services. This has meant a lot of US traffic flies to and from the airport. Couple this with carriers from Asia and Europe frequently visiting the airport, Dublin is certainly a popular and diverse airport for real life and sim pilots alike. With AI traffic on, or even flying online, Dublin airport is full of life with aircraft from all over the Globe. Dublin has been sought after by Simmers for years. Aerosoft announced a little while ago one of its internal development teams would be crafting this international airport. Their forums were full of keen simmers eager to get their hands on their home airport. Due to troubles getting Satellite imagery, the project took a lot longer than most had hoped. However, the team have managed to create an airport that hits all the right notes. Let’s delve deeper. Before you even install the scenery, you have the option to install one of two texture packs. One that is hi-resolution (2048px) and one that is of a lower (NOT LOW) resolution (1024px). Although I have the graphical power to harness the hi-res textures, after sufficient testing, I found the lower resolution textures to not only provide much better performance, but also look equally as good. For the screenshots below, they are taken with a variety of resolutions and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference. This goes to show how creative art work and direction can take precedence over pure power. If you’re feeling brave, you can adjust to the higher resolution textures anytime you wish. However, it does involve copying and pasting files, as opposed to a small little installer. It’s functional, but does take away some of the professionalism and ease you would expect from Aerosoft. Once you have loaded the airport, you’ll instantly recognise that this is certainly a far cry from any other rendition of Dublin the world of Flight Sim has seen before. Grass is highly detailed. The runway has skid marks, gravel and cracks to show it’s age. The taxiway signs are accurate and clear. This is Mega Airport Dublin. Nothing feels out of place. The colour depth is what you would expect from a high quality add-on. The grass is nice and green and the ground markings are worn and faded just as you would expect from a busy international airport. Volumetric grass follows you as you taxi from runway to stand and you’ll be forever amazing yourself at the smaller details the team have put into the airport. As you find yourself just exploring the airport, you’ll notice at just how amazing the modelling work is. This is the most impressive model I have seen in a Flight Simulator airport. The old and new terminal buildings are brimming with detail. Every grill and air vent is detailed; the support beams are all there; and windows are placed as per their real-life counter parts. It’s evident the time spent waiting for satellite imagery was well spent creating these mesmerising buildings. Of course, the team didn’t stop at just a few terminal buildings. Air bridges, office blocks, hotels, fire stations and more are all rendered fantastically. Not a polygon was spared in ensuring that Dublin looks as realistic as possible. I spent hours needlessly driving around the perimeter, exploring every nook and cranny to see everything these guys had created. The level of detail in each is unbelievable. One of my favorite moments with using Dublin was approaching on runway 28 during a clear day to see the new terminal building out to my left. It was full of Air Lingus aircraft waiting to depart. I watched a couple of videos of the same approach on Youtube shortly after and was shocked to see just how true to life it’s represented here. Whilst the review, up to now, has been more than positive, there are a few areas of concern. Whilst taxiways, runways and ground markings have been textured wonderfully, it’s sad to see that not as much attention to detail has been put into the majority of the airport buildings. Whilst they’re all superbly modelled, looking at them it like looking into a time machine taking me back to texturing we were seeing in 2010. It’s not bad per se, but after seeing the staggering detail from developers such as Taxi2Gate and FlightBeam (considerably smaller teams than Aerosoft’s internal teams, I would imagine), it’s disappointing that the same couldn’t be reproduced here. This may have been to save on performance and VAS usage, but it begs the question why other developers can manage to do it with huge success. It’s also a shame that Mega Airport Dublin isn’t quite as feature packed as more recent releases from the same brand. Mega Airport Oslo 2.o came with a great NOTAM feature, lots of seasonal textures and also the ability to see through the terminal building. Whilst I appreciate some features are unique to specific projects, seasonal textures are deemed as a must by Flight Sim enthusiasts in 2014. It’s also a shame that some great features were missed out this time. It’s obviously of some interest in terms of how Mega Airport Dublin performs. It clearly depends on the specs of your system and what you’re going to throw at Flight Sim, but overall, the experience is good. It’s heavier in frames than smaller regional airports, but for the size, complexity and the detail, it’s considerably surprising. However, again, I can’t help but compare it to that of other developer’s work. There are some huge airports, all incredibly high in detail, yet their performance is never an issue. Perhaps this is the amount of satellite data used, or the number of rendered buildings, but either way, it still doesn’t fit in with other releases we’ve had this year. Don’t let these negative points throw you off. They’re a few, small, nit-picked issues. It doesn’t compare to all the positive and well thought-out design ideas the team have come up with. If anything, it’s the little touches that really sets Dublin apart from the rest. Cars, trucks and buses all drive around the airport and vicinity. All avoiding each other intelligently, and even indicating (visually) in the direction they will be turning into. Static objects near the runways, fire station and car parks, again, really make the airport come alive. You can spend hours just exploring to see everything Dublin has to offer. Of course, no airport would be complete without an impressive set of night textures. And does Dublin deliver. The apron, runways, terminal buildings and even the surrounding areas are all impressively lit up. Under the right conditions within the sim, it looks almost real. Just look at some of the screenshots in this review. Some of the most impressive night-lighting work I’ve seen. Fans have waited an age for Dublin to come along. It certainly was a reason to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day! It’s hard not to recommend Dublin, especially with all the attention to detail put into the airport. However, the approach and airport doesn’t create much of a challenge to those that have no reason to want to visit Dublin. It’s a solid release and a great addition to the Mega Airport brand – albeit with a few missing touches. So raise a glass, and let’s toast to another successful release from Aerosoft. Happy landings (unless you’re still tipsy from yesterday!) PURCHASE THE PRODUCT AT AEROSOFT 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 - Aerosoft Mega Airport Dublin (EIDW) Aircraft - PMDG 737-800NGX Utilities - REX4 Textures, Active Sky Next, SteveFX DX10 Fixer (Also tested with DX9), FTX Global