It’s rather hard to know where to start.
Do you mention the sublime landscapes this file generates? You open the airport and all of a sudden you’re inside a painting – moving around with ease, changing vantage points and perspectives – and each time you do you stop and your jaw drops as you take in the next gorgeous scene unfolding on your screen.
Do you talk about the airport itself, or the surrounding town – which is rendered so accurately you can almost catch the scent of hibiscus on a passing breeze, or Greek coffee brewing in a nearby kitchen?
Or the surrounding hillside villages, rendered with as much care as the airport itself?
Or the forests on the hillsides? What can you say about a forest – except that there’s rarely, if ever, been anything quite like this in X-plane?
So pardon me, dear reader, while I catch my breath and try to figure all this out. “This” is, after all, renowned MsFS developer Fly Tampa’s first honest-to-Pete effort for X-plane, and yes, expectations have been running high, at a fever-pitch, I might add, for about eight years now. Ever since someone at X-Aviation ran a few promo images of a new acf – that happened to have an “allegedly” converted Fly Tampa airport visible in the background. And yes, ever since the rumor mills have swirled that FT was finally coming to X-plane. That’s eight years worth of rumors, by the way, so that’s where all the anticipation comes from.
Well, that Day has Come. We’re here, we finally made it. Fly Tampa has come to X-plane.
Interesting choice, you say?
Me too. Why not one of their big urban airports?
Well, after looking this file over just once, and for about two hours, I may have an answer…and it all comes back to the allusion I tried to paint above. Namely: that this airport – and the surrounding town, villages, and mountains – create an immersive landscape of such stunning beauty the choice of this file can be inferred as a choice to allow the developers to show off all their varied talents.
That said, the talent on display here is formidable; the end results are unlike anything I’ve seen in X-plane before.
About all I can say is this: Fly Tampa’s Corfu is the most powerful imaginable statement you can make…that now is the time to upgrade your hardware. Because not only are you going to need brutish power to run this file smoothly, you’re going to want it. No, after seeing what this file can create, you’re going to crave raw image processing power.
I am, of course, on a Mac, and Fly Tampa is an MsFS developer selling from their own store. Ergo: troubles with a MacOS download are a given, and it took me several e-mails and about eight hours to finally get a working file up and running this morning. Okay, I get it. Mac users are a painful quirk in the universe and we simply shouldn’t exist, but we do, and there is, apparently, nothing anyone in Redmond, Washington can do about it. Yes, we’re second class citizens, and we know it – but we also just happen to love our gorgeous, hyper-powerful, cutting edge machines. We love them because they don’t crash. Because they do what we ask of them, and all without having to learn one idiotic command line prompt. My only wish? C’mon Developers? Can we not figure this one out? Not once have I had a trouble free purchase from one of these crossover developer’s stores, and so I’ve taken a kind of Zen-like attitude when I hit the purchase button. I already know the download is NOT going to work, that I’ll have endless hours of fun with tech support just to get my purchase onboard, so why sweat it? I’ve given up. It ain’t gonna happen. It has not once, since 1984. This is part of being a MacUser.
The thing is…when I buy from the X-Aviation Store that just doesn’t happen. Never once, not in more than ten years. Hey, I’m just sayin’, and I wish it wasn’t so, but Cam does his homework – and doesn’t let a foul-up like this mar his product introductions. The Org is pretty good, too, for that matter.
This download is a little unusual too. You complete the purchase then get a download link. Hit this and you get to the download; in this case a .dmg file, which is the Mac equivalent of an .exe file. Okay, once complete the next step is to enter a key that allows the .dmg to open and do it’s thing. That’s where my trouble began, BTW, but enough of that. After that was wrapped up, I sent the files with my Xp install as the target and all necessary files ended up where they were supposed to be.
So, I opened Xp and this is what I found.
After zooming around I found not ONE default auto-gen object in the town. Not one. All images made here are, as usual, with all rendering options at MAX, including shadows and reflections, and that’s the Hi-def Toliss A319 on the ramps in her classic Aegean paint. Oh yes, the JarDesigns GHE package provides the clutter around the aircraft. Framerates? Hi-20s to almost 40. Again, that’s with 16Gb on the GPU. My guess? With less than 4Gb on your card you might as well not come to this party, but I could be wrong. This file feels heavily optimized, and after you putter around the area you’ll hardly believe so many custom objects can be onboard and not smoke your GPU.
So, where the heck is Corfu?
So, you’ve never seen it before? Well, have you seen this movie?
Come on, admit it. You have. Well, most principle photography happened around Corfu proper, including the chase scene through the olive groves in that old Citroën 2CV.
NOW you remember? Oh, after that movie poster, the film became known as “Between Your Thighs Only.” Hey…I’m just sayin’…
Which, of course, has NOT ONE THING to do with this scenery file.
So, looking at the chart above you can see that LGKR is not quite halfway between Rome and Athens. Does something come to mind? Like Athens to Rome, with a stop in Corfu…in that A319? If not, take a look at the lengthy list of airlines that operate out of this airport, and the destinations served, all right here. The only major player I can’t find on that list is SAS (well, of course, no North American carriers are here, but oddly, no Russian carriers, either).
Too many “new” files from MsFS (FsX) developers come to “X-plain” without taking full advantage of all the new tools Xp11 offers, notably PBR materials. In the image above, you can see that is most definitely NOT the case here. PBR reflectivity can be found all over this airport, both night and day, and the image above almost looks like the scene was rendered with a wet tarmac.
You might want to set Reflections to High if you can here, as this airport is almost surrounded by water. Of course, it IS an island…
Pavement and ramp details are in the “Outstanding” category, though there’s little in the way of static aircraft to be seen except down by the helo/GA ramps. Corfu is WT3 compatible, but X-life is not supported. Still, I’d like a static aircraft option, with, perhaps, the Hindenburg at Gate 1.
Runway and taxiway lighting seems adequate. Oh…can you make out the A320s reflection in the water, below?
No charts are included, but a detailed description of the runway and radio freqs used is included in the main PDF.
Note: the only instrument approach available is for Rwy 35. Below, the current VFR term procedures chart.
The terminal uses window textures, not a modeled interior, and it works well enough. The textures used are, of course, peerless. And all four sides, needless to say, are covered. The entry is fully modeled, the parking lot as well. No smudgy orthos here! (Boo, aeroSOFT!)
Overall, nightscapes are immersive, right down to the waterfront. As seems to almost always be the case these days, you won’t find people milling about – anywhere. TNCM was a potent reminder of how well human beings actually fit in an airport scenery! Imagine that…?
Here’s the real town, by the by (and I do believe clouds are against the law in Greece):
And we’ll wrap this up with another image from Xp11.20:
The file is available from the FlyTampa store, located here. It cost 26.0000009287356USD, quite a bit less than TNCM, and about average for top-tier scenery files these days. You’ll end up with three files in your CS folder, and the installation PDF is located in the main airport folder.
I find it impossible to “rate” this file, too. The exercise of assigning a subjective, personal rating to a work of art seems trivially absurd to me. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. To my tired old eyes, this file, and everything in it, resounds with outrageous beauty. If I were you, I wouldn’t miss it.
And so, that’s about all for now.
We’ll see you soon, with the last piece of the TNCM puzzle coming up this weekend. Until then, adios, and hasta later – A