So, had enough of the British Midlands yet? Good, neither have I.
To fit in with our theme-du-jour, we thought it best to continue looking at airports near those we wrote about the past few days, so with that in mind we’ll mosey on across town and look at EGCC Manchester, then take a look at EGSH Norwich. Another decent Norwegian freeware file popped yesterday, so we’ll make a quick stop at ENJB Jarlsberg. Right…off we go!
This is my fourth UK2000 airport and I have kind of a love-hate thing going with their airport files right now. The terminal models are good, most hangers too, but things go soft after that. Let’s take a look and break it down.
First things first: if you want static aircraft you’d better look elsewhere. Animated ground traffic is hard to find here, too; indeed, the ramps are not quite bare but some areas are better than others. Also – (night) ramp lighting does not appear to be Xp11 compliant. These omissions are, like aeroSOFT’s Rome, almost intolerable for a “new” product advertised for Xp11. In short, as more than a few commenters have implied: UK2000 are converting FsX files and using non-Xp11 resources. In other words, taking the easy way out and not providing a true Xp11 product…as in…taking unnecessary short-cuts and making a quick buck on what might be considered an otherwise obsolete product. If you want to talk about PBR materials and crowned runway surfaces – well, don’t bother. These are FsX files through and through, and that was fine – like five years ago.
Many parking lots (car parks?) at EGCC consist of smeary orthos. We’ll keep mentioning this until developers listen, but this approach was certainly appropriate for freeware files ten years ago. It has no place in a v11 payware file, especially not files in this price range. I’d imagine the excuse runs something like: ‘these car parks are too big…it would ruin framerates if we used objects…’ Well, fine, then please explain why so many other developers of similarly sized airports get away with placed objects in their car parks – without a performance hit. To me it simply smacks of – well – taking another unnecessary short-cut.
I’ve had to purchase these files through the UK2000 store, and their store is obtuse for a non-UK citizen. When prompted to select if you are or are not a UK citizen (for VAT purposes), nothing happens when the link is clicked – so you end up paying the VAT – and so one file ends up costing not quite 30USD. And obviously, with the short-cuts mentioned above these files are NOT worth that kind of money.
Of course this leads to another question. If Xp11 generated all kinds of excitement (because of all the new rendering features), enough to entice FsX developers to make the transition, why not take advantage of all these new technologies have to offer? Why not improve your FsX files, not simply convert them? And…why no static aircraft? If developers, UK2000 included, assume everyone in Xp is using World Traffic or X-Life…they’re making a seriously bad mistake.
Still, these files have many good features, enough to make them worthy of consideration. Consideration? Well, yes. There are, as always, freeware alternatives, and while some are decent enough few approach this level of quality. With UK2000 we’re left with imperfect choices again, aren’t we? Not exactly what we were hoping for from an FsX developer making the leap to X-plane.
So, above, the various terminal buildings appear accurately modeled, and while there are no interior components modeled the textures used are tolerable until you move in very close. Not optimal, but tolerable. I would say night window textures visible from the cockpit could be sharper, but generally speaking the nightscapes here are immersive and attractive. Oh yes, as planned, this file is piggy-backing on Orbx’s city file.
Below, as mentioned, some car parks are loaded with placed objects (i.e., cars), and some ramps are more densely cluttered than others. Trees are good, airport roadways less so but a lot of that has to do with how Xp integrates with the file’s roads. Again, without static aircraft the entire effort is just about doomed to fail visually…without aircraft at the gates it hardly looks like an airport.
Comparing ramp markings and roof detail in the file with what I can see in Google Earth it looks once again like short-cuts were taken. The asphalt and concrete ramps and taxiways show much more variety than what’s in the file (previous repair work) and some painted ramp markings are not present at all. Roof detail in the file looks like smeary orthos were used again, and few objects. Dreadful? Only when you compare to better freeware developers…
Again, night lighting on ramps is dim. Night window textures are one of this files strong points.
How to rate this one? Maybe a 7 out of 10. This appears to be, apparently, an older FsX file that was converted without much thought for Xp11s new feature-set. Like UK2000s Gatwick, Manchester International suffers from a few serious flaws and omissions. It could easily be a great file, however, as is it simply needs work. Decent, but there’re freeware that beats this file in detail and Xp11 compliance.
Down in Norwich we get cars, “real” cars, though in one lot all appear to be gray. No roof detail – where a couple of simple HVAC units might have done the trick. Dark ramps, not a lot of detail…are we seeing a pattern here? These guys need to hire tdg as a consultant.
Same issue with the UK2000 store, except this file ought to end up costing 12-15USD, not almost 30. Still, this file is lots better than any freeware available so let that guide your decision making. Score: 9/10
This is almost a waterfront airport, located in southern Norway and quite close to the border with Sweden. Looking for a good GA airport in Norway to make training flights from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands? This might fill the bill, and nicely, too. The file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/37959-enjb-jarlsberg/
And that’s all she wrote today. Later – A