P3Dv2.3. Knowing where to start. Knowing how to begin. And more importantly, knowing where to end. Now for me, pertaining this analogy to flight simulation reviews, the latter is by far the simplest component. The former, typically is driven by common sense. But the middle... well... that's where many review readers tend to get lost. Sometimes the opening statement and concluding summary is enough. Admittedly, even I, a review composer, am guilty of following such idiosyncrasies when reading reviews on other flight simulation websites. This thought process has led me to ponder. When it comes to scenery development, what is the mechanism of which developers use as a trigger process in determining where to start and when to end. But more importantly, determining the scale of a project.
I have seen a great number of developers fail when it comes to the inability to adequately organize this process. As a result, projects do not reach completion, multiple projects are started without a preconceived end means. And projects, where the developer realizes the project process as carried out was flawed has to perform many fixes, or abandons it altogether. It happens more often than you might think. Not having a clear researched game plan prior to beginning product development regardless of rather it's a flight simulation product, or otherwise, can mean loss of focus, lost money, time, or worse, self esteem.
So when it comes to formulating a project on a large scale, bringing this formulation to fruition, and delivering it to the public is in and of itself something to admire beyond the actual product.
So what exactly the hell am I talking about?
Well... When I see projects like FlyTampa's Dubai and Hong Kong, or FSDG Thessaloniki, Taxi2Gate Mexico City, and Orbx' FTX regions, I am amazed at the scale of which these developers set out to take on. The notion of creating something that will take thousands of man hours and hundreds of days to complete all the while keeping track of the processes and not losing focus is admirable. But finally completing these projects. That. Well that is worthy of praise. So when it comes back down to those like me who will scour every last square inch and then scrutinize these works be it positive or negative feedback, how one goes about it is very important. And in my opinion, a review should not only stand to serve the potential consumer it should also stand stand to serve the invisible 900 pound gorillas who are responsible for delivering these projects. No offense developers...
The majority of reviews I have read over the years (actually read) conform to convention so vehemently, so objectively, that the developers themselves are not praised for the works they do. After all, if not for them, we would not have these amazing products. Now ideally, I would like to believe all reviewers are huge fans of flight simulation, but there is nothing in many of the reviews that I have read that actually suggest the writers are actually fans. They proceed on course with the template and stick to the heading. But shouldn't a review be something more than that? At least for the developer? Now don't get me wrong, short and sweet is a great thing. I do it all the time and give a special name for them so the readers know what to expect and so that I maintain some sort of consistency. But in the case of projects large in scale such as the Manila project from Pacific Islands Simulation, a short review is almost insulting. It's like professing your love for someone, and the response you get back is: "Ok".
For the very first time, this developer set out to deliver a project on a scale so massive, it is essentially larger than all his previously released products combined. To commit all that effort into one project and complete it in a timely manner is outstanding it's... remarkable.
He created a game plan. He knew where to start, how to begin, and where to end. He determined the scale, the level of quality it would encompass and researched every aspect, every angle, every component, and as if this were not enough, every detail. Details that many of you may never see. This is because many flight simmers will never depart from the comfort of their virtual cockpit to discover what is really out there. A bunch of buildings great...
So the purpose of this review is not just to serve you as the consumer, it's also to serve and praise the developer. To say "hey, we truly respect not only the project you delivered to us, we respect and admire your hard work, your dedication, and your versatility. Because in looking at what Graham has created here, to simply say I am thankful is not enough. To simply purchase the product is not enough. And no matter how extensive this review is, in comparison to the effort put into this project, it's practically nothing.
But nevertheless, I shall start this journey, and only for those of you who will stick through to the end with me, I will say thank you. Thank you for making my efforts worthwhile. And if you have already truly explored the scenery, aside from arriving and departing again, then you have made the developers efforts worthwhile.
But for the rest of you. Those who have never considered purchasing a product from PacSim, or have never heard of then, or perhaps are simply unsure whether to purchase, worry not, my effort stands to serve you too. Hopefully by the end, this developer may this truly talented developer not get the credit he deserves, but hopefully PacSim may take its rightful place among those we consider the elite of flight simulation developers.
Or is he really this deserving after all? Is this project really that good? Or is it a wad of crap? Just because a developer puts a lot of effort into something does not mean it will be good. Believe me, I could name names. So are my efforts worth it? Is your hard earned dollar worth it (or your parents hard earned dollar if you are not quite into adulthood yet) well that's exactly what we are here to find out. So for those of you who are interested in this journey, I will see you out on the ramp. Wheels up in 5.
[Note: For format purposes, some images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
A quick note before we begin, unlike most reviews that go into the installation processes, and Wikipedia copy and pasting, I tend to skip all that mumbo jumbo and get straight to the scenery. You may also notice, I am not objective like many reviewers. As I fan off flight simulation and its products, I write as a fan. Thus, this review long as it may be, is driven by my passion. If it's good, I will say so and tell you why. If it ain't, I will say so and tell you why. But you will have to read the entire thing to find out what was good vs bad. No summaries here. I do not conform to rules like those set by other sites because I make the rules here, and there pretty much aren't any.
I should also note that as this scenery product is large in scale, so is this review. As such, in an effort from losing your attention or boring you to death, I have broken up the review in segments and subsegments. You can come and go as you please and not lose your place. I have taken heaps of screenshots as well in an effort to show you as much as possible in my own way. Obviously, this is not one of your round of the mill Mutley/Avsim/Flightsim style reviews so there is no pre set format or layout. None of my reviews conform to anything but my own craziness so know that when you come to ADX, you are getting a completely different experience. So when you see references to sex, hot chicks, foul language or worse, simply know this is how I roll. So if you have no sense of humor, or are easily offended, please, PLEASE! Board another flight.
In fact, you can read these reviews instead:
Because I don't want your emails and comments telling me how filthy and pathetic I am. Believe me, I already know this. So now that nearly everyone has closed the browser window, for those of you with bravery to stick around, let's go!
last year, for the very first time, I had discovered PacSim. Unlike many developers I follow, I was not around in the beginnings of PacSim's conception. I did not get to experience the increase in talent and quality over PasSim's growth. This is largely due to the fact that I was still pissing around in FS9 refusing to accept FSX and its massive list of fucking bugs, issues, and half-ass fixes and frustrations into my life. But when our savior and lord Lockheed Martin swooped down from the heavens and promised a better virtual life in flight simulation, I got down on my knees and gave thanks.
I thought what is this P3D crap and this insane EULA nonsense? Some mocked up assbackward version of FSX? Well, I first said "screw you" to that insane and hard to understand EULA, and then with all hopes that the FBI would not come rapping at my door, gave P3D a chance. The results were so damn good, I had one last good screw with FS9, then ran off to honeymoon with the new platform and let me tell ya, she took me everywhere. So when PacSim had released their Rarotonga scenery, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to see what this developer was all about.
Was I impressed? Well... see the below review.
Here was my first impression with PacSim though.
This developer really lives up to its name and this was a very tropical looking product. Did all PacSim sceneries have this look and feel? I certainly can see why Graham choose this as his company name. Besides covering many places in the Pacific Ocean's many regions and countries, he was also covering destinations that were highly sought after that were of no interest to other developers.
A good business model indeed. And if Orbx developers Tim & Ken have shown us anything with their Papua New Guinea scenery released a few months back, it's that there is much interest in the Pacific.
I can imagine other developers who previously overlooked this part of the world are raising their eyebrows now. I know Orbx will be back for damn sure.
As my first time getting my hands on a PacSim product, I was thoroughly impressed! The way he captured the tropical feel, the look, it was almost as if I was actually there. What Graham had delivered was in my opinion representative what makes flight simulation the very best thing anyone could ever install on a computer. To travel anywhere in the world and experience a place you have never been. A place you may never visit, and get a feeling of actually being there. The ability to discover something new without leaving your chair, any developer who gives me this feeling is top notch in my book and PacSim accomplished this on day one where other developers have had to warm up to me over the course of years. So yeah. I was impressed.
But alas, we're not here to discuss Rarotonga. I did that already. We are here for Manila, another destination on another Pacific Island. So let's get our tropical looking airplane ready for arrival. And yes, I know AirCalin does not fly from Rarotonga to Manila, I just picked it cause it fits the look I was going for. To the point of uploading a CLS model and let me tell 'ya, it's nothing to call home and tell mom about... Upon completion of the review, it got whacked from the hard drive. But we will just pretend I had a good time which aside from the buggy airplane, I did.
Now on the day of release, as I always try to do with new products, is perform a live stream showcasing the product. I can say without a doubt, it was a shocking experience. This scenery is not big. It's huge! Covering the surrounding areas near the airport is one thing. But the entire Metro Manila region recreated the way it was is simply breathtaking. Regardless of which direction you approach from, the environment is incredibly immerse from every direction. This is easily one of the best approaches in the whole of FS. Except where the land ends on both shores, the scenery seems to stretch out to the horizon. The approaches in flight simulation are becoming more realistic and immerse than ever.
After all, shouldn't a simulation represent reality as much as possible?
On the approach, I became nervous that my performance would grind down to a halt or worse, my VAS would go Bruce Lee on my ass. As the coast came closer and more and more buildings began to appear the more I began to get nervous. Over the coast now and over already what seemed like thousands of hand placed autogen beneath my landing gear, keeping an eye on the task at hand while keeping my other hand on the FPS counter saw FPS go from 60 to 45. Now just over the piano keys, the FPS dropped to 40. Well that's still pretty high considering my high 4098 settings and AI activated. Impressive. I brought the A330 in for a smooth touchdown. No stutters, no hangups, a smooth transition from altitude all the way down to the gate. If not for the FPS counter, I would have never noticed a difference. Looks like the developer knew exactly what he was doing when he set out to virtually create an entire city.
Now taxiing to the gate, I tried my best not to look around and focus on my duties. But already I was impressed. And that tropical feel I was immersed with back in Rarotonga reintorduced itself here. I really like these tropical vegitation object libraries PacSim delivers. The rigt vegitation can really make all the difference. And in realistic photoreal quality too! Am amazed at how well everything comes together.
Making a scenery look good is one thing. Making a scenery perform good is one thing. But making a scenery feel good? This is an aspect in and of itself. It's the hidden feature you don't see on the project pages. For many of us, flight simulation is a form of therapy. And for those of us who use FS as a means of meditation, stress relief or discovery, getting a good feeling at the end of a flight can mean everything. But side effects may apply. Contact your physician so see if flight simulation is right for you.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Manila. The local time is 12:45 pm. Weather is a warm 75 degrees humidity factor at 15%. I wish you all a good day. Now get out.
Knowing where to start. Knowing how to begin. And more importantly, knowing where to end. Now for me, pertaining this analogy to flight simulation reviews, the latter is by far the simplest component. The former, typically is driven by common sense.
At least this is the case with most reviews.
With my FlyTampa Dubai review, it was all very simple, start with the airport, then start with Sharjah and make my way west. After all, all of Dubai is situated along the coast. But with Manila, this was impossible. The coverage area is 10 times the size of Dubai and spreads to both coasts. My initial thought process was to divide the capital metro area among it's various cities and review them independently. But one look at the massive size and I thought "screw that". That's just too much work.
But then I was met with the thought that someone had actually created this "too much" work. Imagine all that had to be done to create all this. I truly wanted to give it all proper justification. I really wanted the developers hard efforts here to be represented keeping in mind that many who may read this review may consider purchasing this product whereas they otherwise may not have. But I also don't want to bore you all either. Last thing I need is for you to start skipping sentences.
But the truth was, I simply could not approach Manila in the same manner that I approach all my other scenery reviews. For once it seems, I did not know where to start. So I puzzled over this for like an entire day. Then I reached my decision.
You see, like interior modeling, there are many fans within this community who fail to see the point of implementing airports with city sceneries on grand scales. Couple this with the heavy demands FSX and P3D places on user systems plus memory limits and it's easy to see why they might feel this way. But it's also my belief that scenery developers keep these concerns in mind when increasing and expanding their talents. Nevertheless, implementation of these large cities along with large airports is something I back and stand up for. Clearly the development community has discovered a way to get all of this done while not only hurting your experience, they actually improve your experience on a grand scale.
And I think the point of all this is that when you are focused on departing or arriving your aircraft nose deep in its operations and you take a moment to look out at the horizon, you actually forget, if only for a moment, that all of this is not real. Because let's face it. Many of you will never fly a 777 or A320. Hell, many of you may never even obtain a pilot's license. And that's okay. This is what the simulation is designed to do. Or as Morpheus adequately states:
"The simulation is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your V or when you turn on your APU. You can feel it when you rotate... when you encounter turbulence. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. That you are a slave. Like everyone else who loves this hobby, you were born into bondage. A bondage of flight. It's in your blood. A prison that you cannot taste or touch. A prison for your your eyes. For your mind..."
Okay maybe he didn't say it exactly like that when he was referring to the simulation of the Matrix but it sort of hits home. The bottom line here, as long as the developers are able to stay within the limits of the simulation while increasing the realism, quality, and scale, the better for us. The more realistic for us as well. Because if I was Neo, fuck fighting Agent Smith all the time and trying to destroy the Matrix, i'd be flying all day and turning Smith into my bitch co-pilot.
Looking out over Metro Manila here, I am hit with the thought of just how large the scale continues to grow as it pertains to 3rd party developments. The ability to connect entire cities across the globe. This is something only reality and flight simulation can offer. And the fact that the virtual world increasingly continues to look more and more realistic, the fact that it continues to feel more realistic. But it's not a prison for us, it's a virtual world of freedom. Would you agree?
Every object you would expect in a city project is present here. The docks complete with cranes, marinas with their boats and yachts, cargo vessels and cruise ships can be seen off shore. As for the autogen, they are not placed randomly. All the autogen houses and buildings are placed accurately allowing for the roads to pass through. Nothing at all appears at random. Parks, golf courses, and monuments were all included as well.
Also included in the scenery is Danilo Atienza Air Base and the entire peninsula it sits on. When approaching RPLL 06, it's clear off to your left. This developer has included everything you need to experience exactly what real world pilots experience when conducting operations at Manila. A tremendous feat.
Another feature of note is the watermasking. Throughout the city there are rivers and lakes. All of which were included in their proper color. Some appear bluish where others.. well... some of the rivers depict coloration of human waste pollution. And when I say human waste, you know what I mean. So if you go for a dip and happen to see Mr. Hankey floating by... Hidey ho.
Oh yeah, so the decision of where to start first. Sorry about the tangent. My decision has gotta be obvious by now anyway unless you have poor internet and the screenshots are still downloading like porn on a Windows95 dial-up connection. "I can see the forehead! In two hours I'll be able to see the neck!... oh yeah!"
So in deciding where I would start with this project, I had chose to focus on the city first. To show readers, this is how much better your experience will be when developers create an entire city to surround your airport as opposed to just the airport itself. I think we are moving into a realm where the airport itself elevates from becoming the impetus, to the centerpiece of product developments.
But as this is several cities combined, it's better to just call all of them by one name. Hmm... how about: Metro Manila? Yeah, that works.
And rather than try to educate you on the various cities here, I deemed prudent simply to show you what it all looks like as simply one entire city just like the Matrix. But remember, just like the spoon, there is no city. Well... there is. And much unlike cities like Los Angeles, Frankfurt or Paris, there is no city center. Metro Manila sort of follows the Asian principle of Tokyo, or Bangkok where instead of just placing all the skyscrapers in one general centralized location, they just built wherever the hell the developers wanted. So when at the perspective of the airport, you see these towers from the north, north of the north, and the southeast and southwest. The fact that Graham choose to add them all just amazes me because much of it is not even viable from the airport.
The autogen coloration and type matches the photo image so perfectly, that the patches where there was no autogen, at an elevation of just a few hundred feet, it was almost difficult to tell the difference.
In this Google Earth overhead shot above, it's easy to see just how accurate the look is in the sim. The coloration and style of the autogen is spot on.
Some of these city center locations are several miles away from the airport and the only way to truly see it all to grab your favorite helicopter and adventure to the edges of the scenery coverage area. A coverage area that is 246 square miles! That's 638 square kilometers. As seen from the screenshots above, I only captured a small portion of it. It's my true hopes that you consider exploring it all on your own as well. All of these buildings had to be hand created, painted, modified for night lighting, and correctly placed into the simulator. Then add the things like billboards, building logos, and the thousands of houses and vegetation, it just boggles the mind when it comes to the efforts that go into creating something like this.
Simply to fly over it in your 747 does not truly justify the efforts put into this creation in my opinion.
Virtual Metro Manila really deserves more of your time.
Okay, chopper down, let's see the airport. This is exciting!
When it comes to the airport, once again I find myself at a crossroads as to where to start. The layout of Manila is odd at best. It has four terminals and a rather large GA area complete with several hangars. So after some consideration, I have determined how to break it all down. Let's get to work.
Cargo / Maintenance/ General Aviation
What I found that stands out the most to me is the quality of the textures. Much of which seems photoreal in appearance. Besides this, the level of accuracy of each building leaves me to wonder if the developer had an on-site photographer with airside access. Even the smallest hangar shows its proper signage along with signs of improper facility maintenance. It all looks very real. Besides this, there is a clear difference. Take the Lufthansa maintenance hangars for example. Well maintained and clean textures. But the moment you mosey on down to the hangar areas on the northwest end of the airfield, it's a completely different picture.
Also included is Villamor Air Base home of the Philippine Air Force. It's primary use today besides a museum is the Philippine Air Force's transport/helicopter base and is also the facility used by the Philippine president when departing/arriving on domestic trips.
One little gripe I have in this area is the lack of static aircraft. Seen below, you can clearly see historic aircraft retired out on the dirt. In fact you see them above as well. The issue is as this an important representation of the airport, I really would have loved to see these aircraft as static models. Besides this, this area looks far too "clean" and empty as the Google Earch shot below will tell you,this is indeed a very busy component of the airfield.
Not much detail in the Nayong Pilipino - Clark Freeport Zone. However, I was impressed to see the duck ponds fully watermasked as well as the abandoned Philippine Plaza Hotel included. If you have never visited the Philippines and have an interest in their pre colonial history, this would be a good place to start your visit. Although as I understand it, the majority of tourists spend their time in Manila switching flights to and from the more tropical and beautiful destinations such as the islands.
Lots of detail everywhere I looked including many static ramp vesicles, GSE, helicopters, and billboards. I always love billboards in sceneries. Plenty of vegetation surrounding the airfield as well. Even the areas where there are small lakes and rivers were completely watermasked and of correct color. Very impressive.
But there is a downside here and that is airport perimeter fencing. It's present in some areas and completely nonexistent in others.
Well... my opinion anyway... I think my wife wants to kick her ass... let's head on over to terminal 3.
I am sort of going in a counter clockwise motion across the airfield here so we will start with T3 which is not only the newest, it's also the most controversial part of the airport in recent times. In a city where its public works problems tend to get paved over with temporary solutions that never really go away, the government managed to conceive of and develop a new terminal. A process which spanned nearly 2 decades. And from what I seem to understand about the Philippine government, corruption runs rampant as did this project. Everything from illegal contracting, to contractors performing sub-par work and pocketing the difference, to illegal investments on behalf of Fraport. Wait. Fraport was involved in this? Infact, Fraport was heavily involved in the project until a court injunction ruled their investment in the project illegal forcing the german company to part with hundreds of millions rendering the terminal only half completed for several years.
The details of all this is far too deep to do into here and I am sure you don't really care anyway. But what is perhaps the funniest component in this disaster (this is what I was told) that due to non payment of the jet bridges at T3, they remained non operational for years forcing passengers to have to board using the bridge stairs. Now this review was published on August 31, 2014. The terminal itself, did not reach its full completion till August 1st the same month after nearly a decade in operation. Well no kidding!
Oh and yes, the jet bridges are now in operation...
I really need a new AI package but so far the AFCAD's are accurate. Although, a number of airlines are or have just switched from T1 to T3 so someone will need to provide an updated file. The terminal quality represents the real deal quite accurately. Usually I would poke at the quality of parking lots etc but given the overall scale of the project, I'll skip that whining. I did like the use of transparent glass.
Ah now things Zesty! Previously known as the domestic terminal, now that AirAsia Zest added a number of Airbus 319's to the fleet, they have been flying internationally out of this shack. As such it's now known as Terminal 4. The airport operator is in the beginning stages of planning a terminal 5 solely for these LCC's. Back in August of last year, (2013) AirAsia Zest had its entire fleet grounded and air operator certificate suspended due to a crap load of violations. I'm serious folks, be careful who you fly with.
Among the violations were:
- No qualified Accountable Manager
- Failure to check aircraft logs, flight manifest, weather, etc.
- Failure to present to the CAAP the airman license (Aircraft Mechanic License) during ramp inspection
- Series of occurrences that affected several flight operations
- Refueling with passenger on board involving RP-C8989
- Excessive flight duty time case under the enforcement and legal service
Holy crap. The airline is currently operating again. Looking at the quality done here, the developer performed a great job. I really like the ramp textures. Nowadays, just imagine a fleet of A319's parking out there. That little building was just not meant to handle the kind of traffic it's currently getting. In the fourth shot, note just how close the squatters villages come to the airport. Also note the water masking and coloration. I really love this scenery. It's so damn realistic.
Not pretty. Not aesthetic. But authentic.
Now like T4, this terminal is known for another name as well: The Centennial Terminal apply named for the centennial year of the declaration of Philippine's independence from Spain. And much like Fraport's hand in terminal 3, terminal 2 was designed by Aéroports de Paris along with a 30 million franc loan and an additional 18.12 billion yen loan from the Japanese government . Collectively still far less than the than the some 250-300 million loan for T3 on behalf of Fraport. Money that appears to have been scattered to the wind because they are not getting the money back. Obviously a lot of European influence down here.
Philippine airlines enjoys full exclusivity to T3 with its 2 wings divided between its international and domestic flights. But for some odd reason, my Philippine AIrlines AI is refusing to make an appearance today. I did catch a couple Dash8's but that's it... I gotta look into that.
Plans are currently in the works to expand the terminal down to T1 with the cargo and fuel complex to be demolished.
Speaking of the French design, I thought something about this terminal looked oddly familiar. If you compare it to the satellite wings of CDG's terminal 1, you can really see the similarities.
Graham's efforts in this area have been pulled off in a splendid manner and as such, Terminal 2 is my favorite work within the scenery. The terminal architecture really appeals to me and I love the transparent glass. Like many developers, PacSim has consern to experiment with the internal modeling concept and this terminal just would not have been anywhere near as good had he chosen to bake the windows instead. The only downside here is the interior itself which can be compared with the shots in the group of shots above and the shot below.
As you can see, the interior could have used some seats and perhaps some of those odd looking airduct pillars on the interior. Instead it looks a little too empty. But with that said, I see this as a great start for branching into this new feature for the developer.
Besides this, I felt the landside portion left something to be desired on a detail perspective but again, as with T3, I almost don't really care giving the overall scale with the scenery. As far as the airside is concerned, great modeling with the jet bridges, ground texturing and paint, and I like the look of the bushes. My wife who was born in the Philippines thought it was odd to see the vegetation on the ramp area like that. But then again, she has never flown Philippine airlines. So she has never seen it. Cathay and Singapore is what floats her boat. As for what else could make this area any better? Perhaps animated vehicles. But that's it. And of course my AI. Where are those damn planes?? Let's make our way to T1.
And here is where it all began. What is now known as terminal one, was in the beginning the only terminal building or rather, the beginning of what is now a major world international airport. It all started here. Now whereas I respect going with a local architect, I really wonder if I would have gone a different way. That cold dark concrete look is not really inviting to be honest. But as a 60's design, perhaps one could assume this was top notch architecture of the time. Looking at my home airport LAX, we were still using those halfass terminals from the 50's and guess what? we are still using them! The most obvious is LAX T3 which is finally slated to be torn down and rebuild next year. So looking back here, it seems Manila was better off than we were for it's time.
But unlike the outdated terminals at LAX, RPLL T1 has failed to adapt with the ever growing trends in commercial aviation and make out on its capacity over 20 years ago. It's been operation for over it's capacity ever since then.
A plan in underway to finally revitilise the old terminal and hopefully, will become a much more welcoming component to the growing airportat a time when airlines are fleeing like rats on a sinking ship to the newer T3.
Here is the new design concept above. Looks like PacSim will have a lot of catching up to do once all these airport improvement plans come to fruition!
The terminal has very accurate modeling and as with T2, it comes complete with transparent glass and miled internal modeling by way of 2D imagery. The gorund textures as with the rest of the airfield are sharp and realistic leaving only the roof looking a bit blurred. As with all 3 terminals, again, the landside leaves something to be desired buit there are a few cars and trees.
This terminal building is not by any means a "looker" in fact, I would so so far and be so bold as to say it's quite ugly in my opinion. But that said, what I respect is the realism PacSim has managed to achieve and at the end of the day, that is what really matters.
Now is the time to focus on a part of the scenery that I have been more or less trying to avoid. It's the unavoidable part of the scenery that is also the largest and most noticeable not only in this scenery, but in Manila. And when it comes to placing focus on the immediate airport surroundings, it's impossible to move forward with this review without touching on this particular subject. It's a component I can not ignore and as when it passes beneath your landing gear, you should not ignore it either. It's easy to ignore the poor and many of us do. But this time around, in order to make this scenery as realistic as possible, their world has come into ours. The shots below depict the fusion between those who have plenty and those who have little and just how closely they coexist together.
In this last shot, I can not possibly understand what it must be like to have aircraft after aircraft pass just feet above a home. Especially one that is built like this. Sure, many of us as lovers of aviation might love the experience to stand here for hours watching the aircraft come and go. But as a living condition, not so much. This represents the reality of Manila. A reality that is quite accurately depicted in this scenery project.
Airport Evening Appearance
I really had to decide if the airport looked better during the day or at night. The night lighting looks great and with the city in the background, it all comes together perfectly. But by all means, don't take my word for it. These shots speak for themselves. The taxiway center and edge lighting was not too bright or dim and can be perfectly seen from the VC perspective. The lead-in chase lighting is also physically supported and do not just hang in the air or sit on the ground. Some overhead lights also have halo effects. The ramp lighting effects also appear to be quite accurate. If only we had the technology to actually light up the aircraft itself. Bummer.
Creating a project of this size is one thing. But rendering for it's night appearance is completely different and takes about twice as long as simply creating one texture set and importing into the simulation. As we all know, flying by day and flying by night offers two completely experiences and both are equally as important. Some tend to gravitate to mostly flying by day and some then to mostly only fly at night. In order to appease the masses, both must be done correctly. Looking at these night shots, i'd say all was done perfectly. With all the different color variations, I must say this place looks lit up like Vegas. Looking good. Really good.
We had a beginning, one hell of a middle, and now it's time to end. I simply can not express enough just how well PacSim has pulled off this feat. This is a scale of work we expect from legacy developers like FlyTampa. But I actually credit 9Dragons for the inception. When 9D created their Hong Kong scenery all those years ago, what followed has a huge fan base of flight simulation enthusiasts wanting to experience the checkerboard approach. Something that in real life, will never be experienced again by anyone. It's my contention, that it was the popularity of the 9Dragons freeware scenery that led FlyTampa to embark on their largest attempt ever by making Kai Tak into the largest and most detailed scenery ever made for its time. Dubai followed several years later along with a number of developers who saw the potential in creating projects of this scale. Pacific islands Simulations in my opinion have now joined the ranks of the elite when it comes to Manila.
So much detail was implemented into this project it's outstanding. But by no means is it perfect and it comes with its visual flaws. But in comparison to all that was done right, the flaws are not a real issue. I just can't imagine what it must have been like hand placing all that autogen. There must be thousands of hand placed objects out there. Not to mention recreating every building, and implementing the night lighting effects. By now, the US cities projects almost seem like ripoffs. No detail, no night lighting, poor performance, and you have to pay for it. Here for the average price of $37 bucks for an airport, you get an entire capital city boot.
This project cements where PacSim is going and it's about high time everyone started taking this developer much more seriously. When Manila was first announced, my initial thought was " hmm... I wonder if that airport is too big for them..." Well I was proven wrong. And now, there is now no doubt in my mind that there is no airport or city combination PacSim can't take on. If you do not own anything from PacSim, I truly hope this review will motivate you. If you are uninterested, I hope this review has swayed your opinion. If you simply have no interest in flying into this part of the world, I hope this review inspires you to broaden your horizons. Flight simulation has so much more to offer than flying an airplane. Let it take you on an adventure. let it help you discover someplace new. You would be amazed on what you might find. And if nothing else, I hope my efforts here will give this project the true credit it deserves.
Keep your eyes on PacSim, they are bringing a whole new feel to flight simulation and they are doing a terrific job at it. You can purchase Manila here: http://islandsim.com/pacsim-store.html Support the developer and purchase direct.
As for my next sortie, well there are still a number of PacSim sceneries I have yet to discover. Looks like more new beginnings for me as well.
Stay Safe & Happy Flighting.