x + sim + reviews + (a quick look around Albuquerque, or pass the Rolaids​, please)

KABQ hdr logo

Well, me-oh-my, Mr. X has up and done it. He’s gone pro.

So, the big question right now is??? Is his work worth the money, or should he just stick with making freeware files in his spare time?

If you read our last review, comparing AeroSOFT’s EDDL with Mr. X’s KBOS, you probably already know the answer to this question, yet as we finished writing up that post we got word that he’d released KABQ, his long-awaited and much anticipated first payware release. So…I dutifully dropped everything I was doing, including my dog – who I was washing at the time – and ran over to the Org store. Breathless from such a long run I nevertheless managed to-to whip-whip out my wallet and pay for the thing. I also went to Waco. Er, no, a bought the Alabeo Waco. Been meaning to for a long, long time, too, but I digress. I do that a lot these days, too.

Anyway, was it worth the wait?

KABQ nite 1

I don’t know. You tell me.

KABQ nite 2.jpg

Oops, that’s not why you dropped by, is it?

So…first impressions?

  1. At less than twenty bucks this file is a steal.
  2. The main download is around 600 or so Mb, the ortho/mesh around 3.5Gb, so if you’ve got limited bandwidth or are on a nasty data plan keep these numbers in mind. Why? A lot depends on the mesh being under the main scenery file; so does having “runway contours” active (just read the instructions pdf…you’ll get it then).
  3. This is not your grandfather’s ABQ. With the ortho loaded this file is massive. It requires brute force, well, a really nice GPU with loads of Vram, in order to strut its stuff. My guess? The stated minimum 2Gb GPU is just barely going to be adequate; the recommended 4Gb will get the job done but even so you won’t have settings dialed all the way up. When I set World Objects to MAX my 5.5Gb GPU went into cardiac arrest; good thing I’d just recharged my auto-defibrillator.
  4. I hate to brag on it, but I know this airport. I mean, I KNOW IT. My folks spent a lot of time in Santa Fe after they retired and I flew in and out of this airport several times a year – for almost ten years. My dad and I used to fly out to California from Addison (N Dallas) Airport quite often, and in the Cessna 172 we’d stop and gas up in Lubbock then fly on into ABQ, hit a café for some green chile stew (and hey, if you’ve been to New Mexico you know what I’m talkin’ about) then rack out for the night. Come to think of it, there’s a café near Gate 5 that serves a mean green chile stew.

So, with all that out of the way, what’s the scoop here.

First things first, for your first time out don’t set World Objects any more than about halfway. Turn off any unnecessary plug-ins and set the weather to clear. Open the file with a lightweight acf., something like the default Cessna 172, then check your framerates and adjust settings as necessary. I was able to set textures and HDR to MAX, World Objects to one notch below MAX AND still managed anywhere from 23-37 FPS. I have found that nightscapes – especially with HDR set so high – really bog down the GPU. The trick, since it’s night out, is to turn World Objects down to almost nothing (can’t see squat anyway, so why bother?); XP takes care of the rest and you still have a plausible environment to operate in, with decent FPS. You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

KABQ nite 5

KABQ nite 7

ABQ is dominated by Southwest these days, but American, United and Delta, as well as Alaska, JetBlue, Allegiant, and Frontier all fly out of here. Southwest, of course, flies into KDAL Dallas Love Field, not DFW (– and won’t someone please make a good Love Field?), with Phoenix, DFW/DAL, Los Angeles and Chicago/Midway the most popular services.

This airport is fairly high altitude, around 5300MSL, so it’s similar to Denver. I made the “mistake” of overloading the IXEG 733 for my first takeoff out of here; just for fun I loaded a lot of gas in the tanks, and loaded a lot of payload – and then set the OAT to 99ºF. Let me tell you what…? You can chew up a lot of runway at those settings…at that altitude.

kabq a6

Dropping the temperature down into the 70s is reasonable in the fall and spring, but summers can be a little on the warm side, so 90s aren’t at all unreasonable, Then again, runway 8/26 is 13,800 feet long.

kabq a7

And why is that, do you suppose?

Four words come to mind.

United. States. Air. Force.

Big base. Lots of top secret stuff, too. Share the same runway, too.


kabq a1

So, this is a Mr. X airport file, right? Which means the details are going to be overwhelmingly, well, detailed. Yeah, well, take a look at the concrete on the ramps, willya? Grease spots, tar patches, some three-day-old Juicy Fruit smeared all over the place… So, check. He’s done it again in that department.

kabq a5

Runways and taxiways well marked?


kabq a2.jpg

Lots of ground vehicles, including pushback trucks and baggage handling equipment?


kabq a3

Fuel trucks? Check. Sanitation trucks? Check.

kabq a4

Lots of airplanes at the gates?

Whoops. I’ve been playing with World Traffic so forgot to check my settings.

So, lots of airplanes at the gates?

kabq r2


Buildings well lit?

kabq nn1

Check, and…

KABQ nite 4

Check. (and in the Retina Display it just looks awesome!)

Detailed Jetways and ground crew?


(and note the Southwest trucks servicing the Southwest jets?)

kabq r3

(note the window details in the glass, below)

kabq r4

Check, check and check again. And take my word for it…that girl up there ain’t wearin’ a bra. Hey…I’m just sayin’…

Fancy café near Gate 5 – that has damn fine green chile stew?

kabq trails 1

Nope, and I got out and went in and checked, too.

Major failure on the developers part! No café with green chile stew! Wa-a-a-a-a….

So, preliminary conclusions?

On a scale of one to ten, Short Final’s KABQ is a twelve. The only US airport files that I think even come close in quality and performance are Mr. X’s KBOS and KSFO, but given that Mr. X is Short Final I’d hate to sell him short.

So, to answer the question…is Mr. X’s KABQ worth the rubles? Oops, no such thing as Mr. X anymore, right? It’s just Short Final Designs…right? So, is Mr. X’s file worth the francs?

Yes indeed. It sure is. And then some.

The only other pressing question I have right now…is…what’s next? Milwaukee? Dallas Love Field? That grass strip over by Rancho Cucamonga Estates?

Anyway, I’m off to find some green chile stew. And I wouldn’t fly too close behind, if you know what I mean? Vapor trails, don’t you know…???

kabq trails 2

Adios, and Happy – Trails. Thanks for swinging by.


This entry was posted in First Look, Scenery: Americas, Western US Regional Routes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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