ADX FirstLook: ImagineSim Shanghai!
FSX/P3D. The next stage of evolution. This is without a doubt the best way to describe the latest development from ImagineSim. To be honest, I have always considered Imagine Simulations presence in the flight simulation community to represent a sort of niche market. Quality that was not bad per say. But far from the best. If I purchased ImagineSim products in the past, it's because they were sort of good enough. Good enough to say, their airports were worth the price and represented their corresponding real world airports with the thought of FlyTampa or the likes doing it much better.
Then ImagineSim released their Mega Airport Atlanta v2 back in 2012 and for the very first time, I saw real potential in this developer. The scenery was not perfect, but it surpassed my expectations. It became evident to me that this developer was putting a greater level of effort into his product. But still, there were several areas that were still lacking with the ATL scenery that needed serious improvement. So I went to work picking apart every corner of the product and when I was done, I composed my thoughts in the form on something I like to call "Our impression." or more to the point, my impression.
Now in writing that review, things could only go one of two ways. I could be completely and brutally honest and piss off the developer, or try to only point the good aspects and piss off the reader. I choose the former, and laid out a platform of everything I felt was holding back the quality of ImagineSim products. The response was one that I did not expect. The developer got in contact with me thanking me for the review. He took serious notice to my observations and assured me that these areas, the areas I noted that needed improvement, would be improved.
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
Now the last time I had to be brutally honest in a review, I was covering an airport released by FranceVFR. The result after publishing the review was the developer expressing he wanted nothing to do with me or the ADX brand. Well so much for honesty. It's not like as if I ripped the project to shreds. When I see something I feel is not up to par, simply saying so is not acceptable. I need to explain why and attempt to offer some sort of constructive feedback as to what I feel needs to be done either better or differently.
Another case of this is with the airport we are departing from today via a special charter flight on Starflyer airlines. Here at Tokyo Narita, Japanese developer WingCreation took on a major undertaking as their second ever airport project. Perhaps a little too big. For the quality and price, the representation was far below my standards. No doubt I took to saying so in my review. It's not that they did a bad job, it's just that they charged $50 bucks in my opinion, is only worth about $18. Out pricing developers such as FSDT or FlightBeam is cheeky. Damn Cheeky. But guess what? It remained Simmarket's best selling product for almost 2 weeks in a row and maintained the top ten for several weeks after.
The bottom line? At the end of the day, the people want what the people want. The best I can do is keep to my honesty and give an accurate assessment of a project. What the reader chooses to do afterward is entirely up to them. But one thing is for sure, you all are reading.
So in getting back to imagineSim, the following airport project: Charlotte NC was indeed better than ATL, but not by much. Indeed some of the areas I pointed out in need of improvement were improved, but many areas were not. With all the new developers appearing on the scene and all current developers pushing their skills and developing new visual and performance technologies, I began to feel as if this development company would get left behind. Then something happened.
Let's push back from the gate.
No doubt, even for it's quality, WingCreation Narita serves a very major purpose in the world as one of Japan's major airports. I had hopes that the Overland JP company so known for all their Japanese airports in FS9 would return and continue their legacy in FSX. Sadly, they are pretty much done with flight simulation with their last preview being more than two years ago. In that time, no one has really stepped up to tacle japan and indeed, there is a huge demand for Japanese airports. So when WingCreation arrived on the scene, there was no doubt why so many purchased Narita at such an inflated price. No doubt, this development team has potential and they are showing no signs of quitting.
After the release of Charlotte, I really found myself thinking about what this team needed to do in order to remain not only viable in the FS marketplace, but to do so while also being held in higher regard. Then one day, I get an email from Cal. It's a download packed for files to test. His latest project was getting close to completion. Very casually, I downloaded the files and manually installed them into FS9. Activated the scenery, restarted the platform and waited for it to load. Ocean. I was looking at an ocean. Hmm. An afcad issue maybe? I tapped the slew button and turned my eyepoint. Slowly the ocean moved out of view being replaced with an airfield. Then it came into view. The next thing I remember is my wife coming downstairs asking me who it was I was so proud of. Without realizing it, I had been loudly saying "I'm really proud" repeatedly.
I was staring at what was obviously terminal 2 at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. And it was good! Damn good! Almost instantly without even seeing the entire airfield, I knew ImagineSim had stepped up its game to so great a margin, my concerns regarding it's future was instantly wiped out. So much so, that I began to wonder if it was even ImagineSim. As horrible as it is to say that, the work truly is that good.
I spoke with Cal shortly after and he was clear, Shanghai was by far the most grueling project he has ever taken on. I can honestly say the quality is highly reflective of this. This is ImagineSim's finest work ever.
Runway in sight, let's get ready for arrival.
I remember when I posted the very first exclusives on ADX, I decided not to name the developer. I decided to just let the community figure out things on their own. As many of us know, there are some real asshole trolls in this community always looking to put someone or their work down. I have seen these trolls attack ImagineSim over the years and felt it was best not to create a from of prerequisite for them to start up again.
The responses were amazing. Of all the guesses I read and speculations submitted on ADX, one thing was clear, everyone loved the quality and only a few guessed and actually believed the work was from ImagineSim. Once I revealed the name, the responses quickly went in a direction that that meant people were already changing the way they felt about this developer. For those who were closed to ever purchasing another ImagineSim product found themselves questioning their decision. No doubt, ImagineSim had stepped up. So let's take a closer look.
Now whereas the work is stunning in comparison to previous projects, I should not leave the reader to ponder that there is no room for improvement. There is. Let's start with the airport entrances. Pudong in real world meets it's arriving passengers with a nice man made lake of sorts. In the case here, it was disappointing to see the lake was not water masked leaving a matte representation instead. Besides this, the parking lots were all left empty. But on a positive note, I really liked the billboards in the area which were a nice touch. The hotel looks nice also. Shanghai Pudong has some amazing architecture and ImagineSim captured it all perfectly. Let's go ramp side for T2.
I can honestly say that everything I pointed out back in Atlanta has been not only greatly improved, but reworked from scratch. We now have all new jetbridge objects and ramp vehicles with out the flashie lights yielding a much more realistic environment. The fencing is nice as well. But if I were to state what I would like to see changed in the future, is the trees. We basically see the same exact species of tree in every ImagineSim scenery. Consider this one of the last lingering components of the old ImagineSim. Even the company logo and website has changed but not those trees.
The shading and texturing is the area where I was most impressed and no doubt most improved. It seems the team is getting on the interior texturing bandwagon as well. One area I wished followed suit was the passenger bridges connecting the terminal to the jetway. The matte glass appearance somehow seems out of place. That said, even to this day, i'm impressed this is the work of ImagineSim.
Off to Terminal 1
I recall many ADX readers determining this work to be from FlyTampa when I released the first shots. One look at terminal 2 and its east to see why. Just look at that texturing and shading work. It's all very impressive. I'll let the screenshots do the talking while I que up the tower, hangars, and cargo sections. I can say now, there was no lack of efforts in any of these areas.
Totally digging the firehouse. There is 2 of them in fact. But where are the fire trucks??
Wondering what this large vacant area is for? Well with all the Chinese getting their giggie on, the massively growing population is going to require more terminals in the future. See below:
Anyone think ImagineSim will be back to complete that half? I sure hope so!
I really like the inclusion of the hotel. Nice touch. Next up is the ground textures, photoimage, and FTXG compatibiliy. I will say this, the ground textures did appear sharper in FS9. As for that wankie coastline, I did quite a bit of research and can say, that is more or less how it looks in real life. Wankie indeed.
Let's drop the Sun and see how everything looks all lit up at night.
If nothing else, forget or ignore all the words I have stated today and simply let the screenshots stand on their own. This is the testament that ImegineSim are primed and ready for the future. Still a few things that can be improved such as those trees but overall, if you depart from an airport developed by Taxi2Gate, or FSDreamteam, you could arrive here in Shanghai and nothing would at all feel out of place in terms of quality and performance.
All of ImagineSim's airports prior to Shanghai are considered legacy products and have been discounted.
Now going back and thinking abut that Narita by WingCreation, imagine ImagineSim taking on Narita with the above quality? Or how about Osaka Kansai? I can honestly say I am very proud of the work represented in Shanghai and there is no doubt that wherever ImagineSim heads next, not only will it be good, it will be better. Oh wait, that's right, it's Austin. If you have not discovered Shanghai yet, check out the product page and hit that purchase button.
Still not sure? Check out the demo version here: http://imaginesim.com/zspd01.htm
I did my part, now do yours! Lots of airports popping up in China and FS is quickly moving to catch up. You already have many destinations to choose from.
Great job ImagineSim, you did it!