Decided to break our Riga and Tallinn airport reviews into two separate posts, other than that, there are no changes to our itinerary, so let’s get to it.
EVRA Riga // by JustSIM
EVRA Riga International is located on the west side of Riga, the capital city of Latvia, and this airport is also the headquarters facility and principal hub of airBaltic. The single file takes up 1.6Gb of space on my SSD; if charts were included I couldn’t find them. Installation was simple and we were up and running in no time at all. This airport, when you first open it up, has a lot of Wow! factor, too. The main terminal is impressive, though not huge, and it looks like there’s a lot going on here…
I usually open a file for the first time with settings dialed way down while using the default Cessna 172, and for obvious reasons. And…I did not do that today. I had settings almost maxed out across the board, and had the FJS 732 loaded.
So, I had an instant glacier on hand, with the GPU doing the Linda Blair thing (head spinning, spewing green goo, etc.). Now, here’s the thing with XP. If you start with high settings then dial them back, the Sim will often just keep going in “slow-down mode” – no matter what you do. So, I reset all graphic-sliders to minimal settings, get world objects to one notch above zero, then re-start the Sim. I’ve found that after several hours in XP this is often not enough, and can only get smooth OPS restored by restarting the computer. That’s what it took this time, too. Reset all graphics sliders, shut down XP, then restart the computer and reload. Pain in the keester, I know, but it works. Zapping the P-ram would probably do the trick…
Anyway, I added texture quality and objects until the Sim bogged down, then settled in and took a look around. What you see here is with World Objects at MAX and NO HDR, high texture quality, and minimal AA with no shadows.
This file is advertised at the Org as being XP10 and 11 compliant, and while it works well in XP11 the HDR effects look different. No star-burst lens flare on the lights, for one thing, even at HDR MAX, as below, yet the ramps are well lighted, and even the fencing shows up well (right around the 732s wingtip).
There are simple photo textures on the facades and no modeled interior, and while the interiors are lifeless the textures used are a little better than average. Again, you can see below that ramp lighting is excellent.
There’s also little movement, even though the file is advertised as having XP11s animated ramp activity. Auto-gate plugin is provided, too.
So, overall this file has much better than average night lighting, but quiet ramps. Also, on section of ramps has amber lighting, the rest white?
In daylight, you can see the concrete ramps are well marked and soiled with oil and grease stains, as well as tire markings. These can be hard to get right, and takes serious practice in Photoshop. Good marks here.
There are tunnels under the concourses (very nice to see) and well-executed little details everywhere you look, like the red/white crash guards below.
Another little detail, and one you’ll likely never see, are the louvered sun-shades above the windows. Hard to see even here (above), but just above the black and beige band at the bottom of the image below is the louvered overhang, and this is another fairly complex detail that is in keeping with the original. I appreciate these things, too, as they are hard to get down correctly and add just a little bit more to the inherent realism of the file…
Across the field, by the tree-line below, are VOR antennae and other techno-stuff, as well as the airBaltic base. You can also see the 150m tall Riga TV tower, which stands on an island in the Daugava River in the heart of the city.
So, let’s take a little hop around the area, because it appears JustSIM has included a built-up city with this file. Here’s what we’ll do:
The TV tower (red *) lies almost due east of the airport (red box), so we’ll take the default Cessna 172 on this flight (lime green arrows) around town, trying to keep an eye on framerates as we go. The orange arrow is for the next part of the review, the flight to Tallinn.
So, first thing, World Objects up to MAX, textures down. FPS falls from the high-20s down to the low-teens. Take off and head to the TV tower. Head away from the airport and FPS jump into the hi-20s, turn towards the tower and a sudden drop takes place.
Flying over the city, FPS fell once or twice into the 9 range (yes, nine), though generally remained in the 13-19 range. I dialed textures up and FPS fell back into the 9 range, and stayed there. Slow going, but pretty down there.
Below, a nicely detailed rail switching yard that leads to a railway bridge over the river.
Definitely doesn’t look like standard XP auto-gen down there, too.
And it appears as though a fairly detailed mesh was used here. Whatever it is, it looks good from 500 AGL. Grass behind the apartment towers, power lines, lots of traffic on the streets. Very immersive…just wish I was flying with 25-30 FPS.
(below) here’s the rail bridge I mentioned above, and the switchyard from the other side of the river. I tried to get here in time to watch a train crossing the river…no such luck, but it was fun to see, even from a distance.
So, for the last leg back to the airport I switched to night and approached the terminal building area with HDR OFF and textures low. FPS a litter improved, but nothing crazy good.
Below, HDR barely ON, with textures still low. FPS low teens.
Below, HDR and textures/AA at MAX, FPS at 9, falling to 5. In other words, glacial.
So, set HDR down a notch, dropped textures, AA and objects to low-moderate, FPS back at 19-25. Enough to fly the approach, anyway, and the airport & runway look great in the night.
Closer to touchdown, FPS holding at a solid 19. Still very flyable, still quite-smooth.
Next, for the last part of this review, we’ll do a cold and dark start in the LES Saab 340 and head off for Tallinn, about a hundred seventy miles north.
Here’s a list of NAVaids in Estonia to help us on our way, and it looks like the VOR/DME at Parnu is at a logical halfway point, and that should get us where we want to go: