No sooner had we posted JustSIMs preview images of UUWW…and then, well, the file released. But of course it did, so away we go. After all, it’s just another scenery file.
The thing is, over the last few months most of the new payware scenery files released have been, well, small. Aside from Corfu (well, big island, small airport), that is. Aspen, Telluride, and even TNCM…all relatively small airports. But…I guess big airports are simply more exciting, or, well, they can be. Or, they SHOULD be. Still, the last big airport that really seemed much better than the usual release was aeroSOFT’s EDDF Frankfurt, and that remains a benchmark file. Some consider EDDF the best in X-plane, too, though I’ve been partial to Dusseldorf and Zurich.
Well, that was yesterday.
Today, the new King of the Mountain arrived. His name is Vnukovo.
A little too dramatic for you? Maybe just a little over-the-top?
Well okay Poindexter, you open this file and take a long look around, then you tell me you’re unmoved, or maybe not even a little impressed. If you do, I have some sound advice for you: take up knitting. Or maybe something really exciting, like checkers.
I spent hours last night just poking around, looking for mistakes in the model or flaws in the textures. What I found was hardly worth mentioning, so…I won’t. For all intents and purposes this file is as close to X-plane perfection as I’ve ever seen, and in all regards it is an artistic tour de force. The model of the main terminal is massive and full of compound curves, and by all laws I know regarding such shapes, X-plane should have been grinding to a stuttering halt. The reality? I was getting better FPS here than I was at EGBB the day before. Mind you, all rendering settings were MAXed out – every single one, including reflections – and the worst I got (with the SSG 748i) was in the high-20s. The FF320, the Toliss 319, the FF752…in short all the usual suspects for causing performance headaches turned in reasonable numbers here, with no stuttering, in fact, no issues whatsoever.
Blown away? I was. And you should be too.
Well, look around. Study these images. No smeary orthos. Car parks full of placed objects (cars). HDR rendering, PBR materials. Dynamic window reflections. Animated ground traffic (and not one or two objects, but literally dozens). Static aircraft – everywhere, even over at the president’s private terminal. Even at the air cargo ramps, and the booze-jet ramps, and yes, even at the GA ramps. Warehouses. Apartment towers. Fire stations. Admin buildings. Maintenance hangers. Dozens of smaller shops and supply houses. Earth moving equipment. Snow moving equipment. Buses, dozens of buses. People everywhere they should be.
It just goes on and on. You look for the hidden error and nothing materializes. You look behind the concealed corner expecting to find something amiss – and everything looks perfect.
So yeah, go ahead, look at the images. Look close. Then admit it…this is about as good as anything you’ve ever seen in X-plane.
This model sits on, potentially, an extensive network of orthos, and let that sink in. There are all kinds of installation headaches awaiting if you have earlier freeware orthos installed, or even more up-to-date ones…but there are extensive installation notes included and I had zero issues. The file is specifically designed to integrate with DDs Moscow City file, and their airport file, too.
The ortho included with this file is über detailed, as you’ll be able to see in the next set of images. From construction zones to apartment towers, these are NOT smeary, low-res orthos, and they add an extremely attractive – and immersive – layer to the airport when on approach.
Models are used immediately around the airport proper, out to about a quarter mile, and then the ortho takes over. In the second and third images above, note the apartment towers; one a set of models, the other part of the ortho. From pattern altitude the ortho towers look okay, and once on the ground they’re almost too far away to be visible. This is, if nothing else, smart planning on the developers part.
And now, on to the heart of the matter. How does all this look at night?
In a word: Gorgeous. In two words: f-ing gorgeous.
There are currently three paradigms for creating nightscapes with airport terminal buildings and their windows: 1) smeary blue textures; 2) photo-textures, and; 3) built-out interiors inside the model. We are, of course, fans of the third option – and this is the paradigm guiding the terminal interior modeling at DDs EPWA Warsaw Chopin. In the end, this leads to the very best results, but with the highest performance penalty. Smeary blue window textures are the easy way out for lazy modelers who can’t be bothered with such things as immersive details and even a passing nod to mediocre levels of realism at night. Photo-textures, on the other hand, are a way to give a model the look and feel of a modeled interior – but without much of the performance hit – and that’s what’s on display here. Also note this type was seen on Fly Design’s EPKK that we looked at two nights ago, only the scale here is massive in comparison.
The clarity of these textures is good enough to hold up under mid-range scrutiny, but when getting close the quality breaks down somewhat, and that’s the rub with photo-textures. If the developer makes exceptionally clear glass curtain walls using photo-textures, the original imagery needs to be pristine, the file sizes huge, and by that point performance would once again become an issue.
Given the size of the windows involved (especially for the front, or street, facade), clarity is reasonable here. Would I have liked to see a modeled interior? Yes, who wouldn’t? Was that a realistic option? No, probably not, though I suppose if you didn’t mind paying fifty dollars for an airport file it might be worth a developers time.
Maybe it would be. And yes, maybe we’ll come to that, in time. There was a time when everyone was screaming when aircraft files broke through the 29.95 barrier, too. I wonder who the first airport developer will be to take this route…kind of like a UUWW Ultimate Edition. Would you buy it – for 50 buckeroos?
The next question is: can you really use this file? There are, after all, few options for flying to western Europe from here, and none to the Americas. You can do the trash-hauler thing with UPS to Köln-Bonn, fly Aeroflot to LFPO or LFMN, Wizz Air to LHBP, or Ellinair to Thessaloniki (good luck finding a livery for that airline), and that’s about all she wrote. Most everything else is domestic, but you will note we’ve been posting lots of good Russian airport files here in case that floats your boat. Me? I’m going to fly the 722 to EDDK tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how that goes (VOR nav all the way!). Most popular charting programs cover this airport, too.
The default 738 and the EADT x-737-7 earn high marks for great performance here, and Jacks 722F was more than decent. The old Sukhoi Superjet was a little sluggish in comparison, while the 748i was the heavy hitter (though the Laminar 744 was easy on the framerates). Note, the AVS system works well here. Also note: as this file sits on orthos, the TerraMAXX seasons generator does not work. Surprising no winter option is included, but do note that WT3 files are included.
Given that a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s not a whole lot left to say. Perhaps you’ll decide to try this with a biz jet, or fly to Tehran or Damascus, or even to Hong Kong, Beijing, or Bangkok (all are realistic options), or just wing-it and fly to Frankfurt or Helsinki. Whichever route you choose, the odds are you’re going to enjoy using this airport more than just about any other you’ve got. Yes, it’s that good.
Rating: 10/10, a total Must Have file. 21 buckeroos, at the org store or sim market.