ADX FirstLook: Aerosoft Dublin!
P3D. Well it's about time. If it's one country in Europe that has been so sadly overlooked in flight simulation, it's Ireland. Personally, I never really understood why. In my early FS9 days when I started branching into purchasing airport sceneries, my modus operandi was only to purchase European airports I had actually flown into such as LHR, LGW, CDG, AMS, ZRH etc. But after a while, I got bored and wanted more airports to explore. UK2000 seemed to have the neighboring UK well covered, France, Scandinavia, and Spain was more or less blanketed by SimWings, the German Airports Team had damn near every airport in Germany covered.
We had AMS and Bergen from Cloud9 while ISD had Italy's most important airports as very top quality freeware. Thus, the only Western European region without a proper quality airport was the Emerald Isle. Sure there was a popular DUB freeware available at the time, but in my own opinion, even for it's time, it was simply not up to my standard. Year after year I would sit and hope for a proper set of Irish airports to arrive but this beautiful green landscape of my own ancestry would continue to get overlooked time and again.
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
Now the odd thing here is, to this very day, I have never flown in to or out of EIDW despite visiting Dublin many times over the years. This is for 2 reasons. First, all my drinking buddies are in Belfast (or at least were. They mostly live in England now) and I really love driving around in the Irish countryside. Thus, all my flights to the island have been into Aldergrove in the North via Gatwick with my usual drive down to Dub where the good Chinese food is.
As an American, I just can't explain just how much fun right hand driving is. Needless to say, I was very pleased when UK2000 finally created Aldergove for FS and I have done many EZ A319 flights up there. It is an airport I enjoy to this day and once released, it cemented for the first time in the history of flight simulation that we finally had a quality payware airport on the island.
EireSim then came along a short while later and delivered DUB as their very first payware product offering. ADX followed the project from the first renders to completion. The only downside with the product was, the reflection of quality in EireSim's Dublin was really obvious as a first attempt at creating a large scale project for the Irish sibling team. But I didn't really mind. I bought it because finally, we had some kind of quality Dublin to fly into. But over time, I grew bored with it. Mostly because it did not stand up to the level of quality reflective the airports I was arriving form. Or flying off to...
Clearly, EireSim was never fully pleased with the quality of work either leading the two brothers team to set out and develop a new version titled "Dublin Ultimate". They employed Darren Seare (the guy currently developing Aerosoft Brussels) and he did a stellar creating the models for the new Dublin. His work was fast and accurate and given the fact that EireSim had released 4 airports since Dub, their quality standard had vastly improved. Despite Darren's speed of development on the models, Terry of EireSim had made clear that as a college student, development was not a priority. If not for Aerosoft, I doubt we would have a Dublin by now.
I recall at one point Terry (EireSim lead developer) and Gary Summons (UK2000 lead developer) had a very good relationship. As we all know, unlike many developers, Gary tends to announce his development structure sometimes a year and half in advance. Cheeky. After all, he has held a monopoly on the UK for years.
Luton (released last year 2013) had been one of the airports slated for development on Gary's advance airport list regardless of the fact that he was still at least a year and half away from actually starting the project. Seizing the opportunity, the Irish team moved in and developed Luton thus likely putting a permanent strain on the relationship between the two developers. Here is a comic ADX ran poking fun of the issue between Terry and Gary which was actually quite heated between both developers their respective forum members.
The funny thing is, in 2012 after EireSim had commenced pretty far into the Dublin Ultimate project, several months later Aerosoft announced development of their own Dub project. This upset Terry quite a bit who had already had all 3D models completed with many already textured and ground sat image purchased. It seemed, the tables had turned. Below are just a few of the early development previews of the canceled EireSim Dublin Ultimate project.
I suppose that is karma at it's best. Terry very visibility voiced his discontent via his EiresSim forum and in so many words, conceded his new DUB rendering it a DUD. I am doubtful yet hopeful that we will see something new from EireSim in the future. EireSim is a talented team and would be a loss to flight simulation if they choose not to return to product development. I guess we will see what the future holds.
On a quick side note, the team did release Shannon and Cork which although not up to modern standards, both are still quite good and I will continue to enjoy both along with the new Aerosoft Dublin.
Now onto my next point.
After so many quality developers having overlooked my motherland for so many years, if the Aerosoft Dub yields high sales (I believe it already is) I do hope more developers will venture to Ireland and get to work on both the larger airports and small airfields. Ireland is a beautiful place and it truly lives up to it's "green" nature. Let's hope Aerosoft has started a new revolution for the small island.
So with all that crap said. Let's see if this place is worth the nearly 3 years it took to develop it.
Right off the bat I am going to tell you. If you don't have Orbx FTX IRL, you are only getting half the experience. Especially when it comes to approaching the airport. The development team has included an option in the installer to make the scenery compatible with FTX IRL and both products come together very nicely as you will see in the approach and landing shots below.
Now if you live, have lived in, or ever visited Ireland, there is a saying you should already be well aware of. If you never been to the Island and are planning to visit, I will go ahead and tell it to you now: If you hate the weather in Ireland, don't worry. Just wait a few minutes.
This is because on every trip I make to the island regardless of the season, the weather can be predictably unpredictable. You could approach in heavy rain and low visibility on CAT||| and by the time you collect your luggage and hail a cab the clouds will be completely gone only for it to be pissing rain by the time you get to your hotel. I remember my very first trip here. I could not understand why all the damn cars on the roads were so dirty. As it turns out, the weather changes so much on a regular biases, people just don't bother washing their cars. That's IRL for ya'.
So if you see the weather changing a lot in my review here, you'll know why. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible.
Now as this is merely an ADX FirstLook and not a full review article, I won't be getting into much detail. My full reviews are bloody novels and obviously I can't do that for every product. But I hope that by publishing this article less than a week after release, it will give you a good idea of what you can expect from the product if you are still locked in that phase of determining whether or not to buy it. This is the propose of ADX FirstLook!
Time to step out and get a look around!
Let's start with the non airfield arrival and departure areas. This part of the airport also encompasses car rental, car park, cargo, long term parking, hotels, and corporate offices. Many users have complained of a large autogen exclusion zone surrounding the airport and I can confirm the same. I also noticed some major terrain issues. I am still looking into this. You may or may not experience these issues.
I was impressed with the quality of all the buildings is this area of the scenery. The on-site photography was obvious and everything represented in great detail. Good quality trees also. The cars are not all that great but it's not like you are going to drive one home anyway... This general part of all airports I cover is an area I really tend to nitpick at. The arrivals/departures part of most scenery projects used to get overlooked. Not much anymore. Likely due to my whining.
Besides the terrain and autogen issues which I am sure will be corrected shortly, I was impressed.
Jumping over to the airside part now. Let's get a look the old international terminal and make our way around.
The old 1940's architecture is unmistakable. I want to quote Terry of EireSim very quickly: ..."Its just very frustrating seeing a foreign company come in and get full access to all areas whilst a small Irish group (Eiresim) get denied any access whatsoever. So much for this country trying to get back on track economically when our own state bodies are hindering initiative shown by others. This Eiresim product could have been fantastic if we had been granted access, now it is as good as dead."
Terry wasn't kidding. The developer's photographer was indeed able to somehow obtain full access to the airport. The quality is very obvious with the high-res photo textures shown through the entire airport. In many areas, it's obvious what had to be hand drawn.
Let's move over to terminal 1.
Old and outdated (also ugly) for a modern airport, T1 looks great in those high resolution photo textures in the sim. I'm pleased to park here.
Finally let's take a look at the centerpiece of this project: The brand new terminal 2!
I honestly do not believe this could have been created any better. I also really liked the depth of the textures. Almost as if you can look inside and see the interior. If a developer chooses not to model transparent glass and interior terminal modeling, (which is not easy, and very time consuming) the high resolution textures are clearly the way to go. Personally, I like both over texture baked rendered glass.
Let's have a look at the cargo area next.
And on to Ryanair's corner of the field. As a home base, they really need a newer and more spacious terminal. Something JetBlue finally did at JFK. I hated that old terminal.
The hangars are very well modeled and textured. None open sadly but all well represented perfectly nonetheless. Drzewiecki Design, the pioneers of photo texture buildings would be pleased.
Heading out to the midfield, there is still much to see including the GA and CityJet hangar areas and control tower. No laziness can be seen anywhere throughout the scenery. A good place to park the upcoming bizjets from Carenado!
The lead-in approach light structures are very unique! Lots of quality airport fencing too! No complaints! Also note the mild grass work. Looks freshly cut giving a nice and clean look.
One of the most impressive aspects of the scenery is the ground image. No doubt expensive by the looks of it. Click the right arrow and start with the ground textures up close and zoom back. Not only are the textures strong and crisp, but they blend seemingly perfect with FTX IRL. If you look closely enough, you can see that there are several layers composing the ground textures. In order to see it, you need to be in the sim and move the eye-point to just the right angle. Here, all is seamless.
Lets switch to night textures and zoom back in.
The accuracy of everything in the scenery really shows the amount of effort that went into this project. I was also pleased with the night lighting.
Overall, the quality standard is very good. Now would I go so far as to compare the work here to FlightBeam or FlyTampa, Taxi2Gate and the like? Of course not! Every developer has their own methodology and development premise and skill. As a reviewer, it's also seemingly impolite to infer inferiority by comparing projects between developers. What is important here is that the quality reflects accuracy and good quality detail which Dub here obviously does and has. It's more than good enough to stand on it's own two feet.
Now with all these lovely shots and good comments of mine about the work. Should I suggest this scenery has been delivered in a perfect fashion? Sadly, no. In fact, this product is almost plagued with issues as can easily be found in the Aerosoft support forum ranging from autogen issues to runway lighting, to terrain problems, to performance loss and dreaded OOM's.
Now quite naturally, as with any product that goes to market, different users may have different experiences and some may not experience any issues at all. But as I am the one delivering this firstlook, I must at the very least, list my issues with the scenery and obviously as updates roll out, my comments here will be amended.
As already stated, there are major terrain issues east of the airport and large autogen exclusion zones on all sides of the airfield. As for performance, at high settings and full Ai, I did not experience any OOM's. When dumbed down to my usual settings, I found that the scenery performs quite nicely.
With the Aerosoft A320 Extended (the only aircraft I used here) frames ranged from as low as 23 and as high as 38. This is not bad for my put put golf cart rig. So as much as I want to tell you to go get Dublin now, you should be aware of these potential issues you could face. With Aerosoft's level of customer service, I would not bee too concerned.
With that said, the airport is beautiful and met all my expectations and standards. But why no AES lite on the airfield? It is supposed to be included but I never saw it. Ah that's right! I am using Prepar3D. Oh how I miss AES!
The first update was just released fixing the following:
- LAUNCHER Uninstall issue corrected
- VistaMare (DLL) in FSX issue corrected
- FIXED RUNWAY 16 CENTERLINE LIGHTS
- FIXED AES LITE ISSUES
- IMPROVED MANUAL
Okay so that was quick. Obviously, more updates are on the way.
Latest 1.10 Update:
-FIXED POLLBEG SIZE
-FIXED LIGHT EFFECTS
- FIXED Z-FIGHTING AT JETWAYS
- FIXED MISSING AUTOGEN
- IMPROVED VAS USAGE
- IMPROVED AFD
- ADDED CIVIL CARS IN OWN BGL
Based on my own observations, the updates applied resolve all but one issue being the elevation plateaus and ditches to the east of the airfield as seen in my shots below. With the autogen issue corrected, all looks much better indeed performance has been improved too.
As for this talented development team, I do hope to see much more soon! Perhaps more Irish airports?