Taxi2Gate İstanbul Atatürk Havalimanı
P3D. Warning. Large scale review incoming! When you see just how well done this project is and how much it covers, you will quickly understand why. As many of you well know, I don't screw around when it comes to my reviews and Taxi2Gate's LTBA is no exception. What is perhaps most amazing about this product is not that we finally got the high quality rendition of LTBA that we all have been waiting for so many years to get, we got it in such a short period of time! It's the first large scale project on record to have ever been delivered in just 3 months! This at a time when it takes FSDT over year to complete just 1 airport. How was this possible? What I can tell you is Taxi2Gate is quickly working it's way to being one of the largest and best flight simulation development teams in the business. A team hardly anyone was paying attention to a year ago. T2G has come a very long way over the past 5 years and it's very easy to see in the depth and quality of their most recent projects just how hard these guys are working. I even feel just a little bit of pride having stuck with and promoted this team over the years. It's very easy for me to see the where serious potential lies even very early on. Thus, I am extremely excited about today's destination.
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
These days, It's not enough for developers just to deliver the airports in heavy demand, they are delivering these airports with their surrounding city environments as well. Realism in flight simulation scenery and aircraft developments are more realistic today than ever before. When you get down and close up, you see just how much effort is going into Taxi2Gate projects. From the transparent interior modeled terminals, to the crisp ground textures, to the high resolution photo images, it's no wonder why the community now holds their expectations much higher for this development company and consider them among the very best in the business. Come with me to one of the world's most unique and cosmopolitan cities and together let's discover what makes this project, this team, so damn good.
Ever since FSDG Thessloniki was released and AirDailyX announced Taxi2Gate would be developing Ataturk, I have dreamed of doing the LGTS-LGTA sortie. Back in the early days of FS9, this was a route I flew on a regular biases with the popular freeware LTBA and LGTS from the Greek Airports Team. Actually, LGTS marked a midway point for me bouncing between GAP's own Athens airport. I hated long flights and much preferred shorter flights that kept me working with the limited time I always had at the computer.
Back then, enjoying the 3 freeware airports was plenty for me to get my FS jollies. How could I have ever imagined what the future could behold? Looking now at FlyTampa's Athens, FSDG Thessaloniki, and now Taxi2Gate's Istanbul, it's hard to imagine our little niche flight simulation hobby going anywhere but up.
Back when Microsoft announced the end of FSX support and subsequent termination of the ACES development team, I found myself very worried about the future of our little hobby. I began to accept the thought that FS9 would have to carry me the next 15 years. The thought of me migrating to FSX, (what I consider to be a half completed platform), always felt out of the question.
I even briefly began to allow myself to assume that FS developers would eventually stop developing all together and move onto other games where the real money is. A sort of tapering off of high end payware scenery developments. I even believe Aerosoft became a bit freaked out by Microsoft's announcement as they shortly thereafter began to cement themselves into bus and train simulators in an effort to somehow remain a viable publishing company. It was when they announced the development of their own Aerosoft flight simulator, did a beacon of light start to shine through. But alas, it would be short lived as the publisher bean to align itself with X-Plane instead. X-Plane. A platform so beyond me, I would rather create a cardboard box cockpit and fly by the seat of my imagination. That was mean. I know. I do respect X-Plane fans, I just don't understand them.
So FS9 it was to remain for me with it's many, many, many various freeware and payware addons. But by all means, don't allow me to speak in too much of a past tense manner. I still love and use FS9. But as addons continue to improve to the limitations of FSX, the least attractive FS9 looks and ultimately, it's FS9's uncompromising performance that keeps me gravitating back to the old platform time and again when P3D pisses me off with it's often bitchy OOM personality.
But the ultimate truth has arrived. The worlds best developers are getting tired of developing for FS9. As a result, many of us able to enjoy the more advanced platforms have to make serious compromises. No ai traffic, minimum water settings, and typically zero clouds. The funny thing is, it's not our systems struggling to generate the simulation, it's the simulator limitations that are killing our flying experiences.
Which finally brings me to my point. Let's hope Lockheed Martin can and will continue to improve upon the Prepar3D platform. Because our developers are delivering better and better quality products each and every year and there is no sign of them going backward. They need a better simulation foundation to build on. And if one does not come, they will have to begin limiting their own efforts and abilities thus essentially stunting the growth of new and more improved technical and visual features.
The golden days of top quality freeware mega airports are passing behind us. The future holds entire cities, entire regions, and entire continents. If Taxi2Gate's LTBA is any proof of what the future of flight simulation holds for us, we are in for a very promising future for this hobby.
It's very hard to look at thses modern scenery projects and not feel proud for the hobby. The more projects I see in development, the more hope I have for our future. Lots of great developers have gone. Many great developers have stuck around, and several new developers are arriving.
I have run my mouth just long enough to complete the programming ,checklists, and taxi. We are now ready to depart the very short hop to LTBA. Like I said, it's the short hops that keep me working that I most enjoy. After all, the long cruise sorties can pave the way for the idle mind to become the devils playground and there is nothing like your wife catching you playing with yourself out of autopilot boredom. Not that that has ever happened to me. Let's get going.
A quick note before we get started for those who may be new to my awful review style.
My reviews tend to defy convention and thus do not conform to the standard format you may be used to. I sometimes go off the deep end as you just clearly saw. I will not be getting into the download and install processes or the Wikipedia histories. I assume if you discovered this review, then you are more than intelligent enough with the wherewithal to figure all that out on your own.
I also do not summarize the pros and cons at the end of my reviews. This just allows lazy folks (you know who you are) to skip all my hard working thoughtful gibber-jabber nonsense and skip right to the end for the bullet-points. All these words you find in here were written for a reason. It's all a true effort to give you my honest finding of the product while also entertaining you a bit in the process. After all, I am a FS fan just like you and I get excited about this rubbish just like you.
If you want to know what was good vs. bad, you are just going to have to read the entire review. The developers worked very hard (in this case, just 3 months) delivering these products, they deserve reviews that reflect their efforts. Which is why my full reviews typically contain between 100 to 200 screenshots instead of the typical 30-40 shots you might see elsewhere. Needless to say, I take this shit seriously. So with that said, let's discover the destination everyone voted for.
As I began my approach focusing on my cockpit duties, something out the window caught my eye off in the distance. A glint of light out on the horizon just beyond the Sea of Marmara near the airport. What I saw were the objects I did not expect to see. As I got closer, the more refined and plentiful they became. Closer, denser.
Are you telling me they also developed the entire surrounding areas? I was not expecting this. usually, I like to teleport directly to the airport, smack that slew key, and look around. But this time, I choose to fly in and re-live the experience of flying into a new airport before looking around. Seeing the large coverage area, I felt a rush of excitement. Excitement is rare for me when I am flying in P3D as typically an OOM could occur at any moment.
I knew the team was developing the airport, but this was a true treat. My excitement quickly dissipated with this new discovery however. Would all these buildings kill what memory I had left? After all, Thessaloniki is no joke on the RAM and VAS. I decided to mentally cross my fingers and get back to work on the task at hand. I have an aircraft to land.
Besides, my wife always makes a point of being nearby when I am on final just in case the sim should decide to take a shit and flash the desktop sending me into a type of Jack Nicholson "The Shinning" rage at my computer. That's the kind of nonsensical maniacal behavior that can get your ass divorced real quick. I am sure many of us have OOM/CTD anger management issues we face. Perhaps we should start a support group. I can see it now:
"Hello everyone. My name is D'Andre and I am a flight simulation maniac."
Anyway, my wife has become accustomed to comforting me in potentially stressful times like this while simultaneously ensuring I don't do something stupid like smash my 30 inch screen. As I approach the threshold of both the runway and the usual OOM freakout point, I found myself holding my breath. Touchdown. Yes! At least I got to land it! Okay, locate my turnoff. I was amazed at how good everything looked. By now, I was taxiing to the gate and feeling much more relaxed. I didn't even realize the hands massaging my shoulders. Yep, this scenery is so big, even she was anticipating the OOM.
What was most impressive however was the fact that I never had time to notice the performance. I am sure many of you will agree, when you don't notice performance, it means everything is running smoothly. At my typical settings, I was seeing frames in the 30's.
Now parked at the gate, girlie had gone and I began to get a look around. It was a beautiful morning in Istanbul and I was feeling mighty damn good. I helped myself out of the aircraft and out onto the airfield. No security to stop me. My arrival was expected. I took a good long breath, took a good around taking it all in and got to work with the first set of pictures. I had waited for this airport and damn... it looks very good.
It indeed was a very busy day at Ataturk. Almost every aircraft at the gates had their APU's running having either just arrived, or preparing to depart. The airport was extremely busy with activity. Perhaps nothing was more visually more prominent than the sharp blades of grass surrounding the airfield. Look above the grass and the next thing to grab my attention were the hotels, housing blocks, and office buildings just outside the airport perimeter fences.
This is some of T2G's best work yet and Orlando in and of itself was an incredible feat. The depth of the texture baking processes is evident. In areas where texturing wasn't used, full high resolution photo textures were present. Did Taxi2Gate have a man on the ground? The accuracy here is very impressive on all the buildings. I also noted all the equipment and typical airport objects cluttering the ramp areas including many animated ramp vehicles coming and going.
Another feature to quickly catch my attention was the inclusion of interior terminal modeling. Something that used to be avoided by many developers is now a staple in mega airport scenery development. It's the depth in the building objects like this that really add to the immersion and realism. Add the environmental reflection on the glass and it all comes together perfectly. I also love the fact that transparent glass rendered surfaces was used in every area that glass is supposed to appear. I can imagine it can be easy to get lazy and decide to just paint a "glass look" onto the surfaces.
I was also very impressed with the quality of the ramp vechicles. All bearing their proper liveries and logos. Very well moddeled. But what also captured my eyes were the jetbridges. Damn were these modeled in high detail. I can almost see the cooling fans spinning. If you ever stood near one of these, they are bloody loud but keep the aircraft cabins nice and cool. Also note the hanging the GPU cables. All that is missing is AES. But sadly not for me. I use P3D. If a FS9 version ever comes, i'll take it!
In many parts of the airport, the nearby included towers and townships can easily be seen. The color of the rooftops are accurate as well. I am aware many simmers can't afford to operate this airport with full ai but I went on ahead and included them here anyway. This place looks great when all is busy. I still cant get over just how well everything was textured. There is just something very oddly realistic about this place in the same way FSDG Thessloniki, FB Phoenix, and FlyTampa Dubai is. The ramp concrete is so crisp, you can even see the groove patterns.
Now this is what I call "happy hour" at the pub. All of these aircraft stacked like a bunch of blokes standing at the bar in a pub waiting for their favorite draft on tap. Lots of red tails in there. Not only are the terminals modeled in great detail, so are the other facets of the airfields such as the cargo and catering wherehouses and offices. I also like the detail of all the taxiway signage. In these areas, there is more of a representation of photoreal texturing. The quality of the trees are also of worthy note. Trees are extremely difficult to model and many developers can tend to get lazy with the trees. In my opinion, the better the quality of vegitation, the more realistic and immersive the scenery. No complants here. Also note the different vechicle liveries denoting the many and vast vendors serving the airport.
Question: How many control towers does an airport need?
Now I have been searching the internet trying to determine this thing is in the above shot. Of all the junk people post on Google Earth they all missed this. No mention of it on Wikipedia either. Perhaps a reader can clue me in. Either way, it's here in FS and it's represented very nicely in the sim. It's as if the development team left no rock upturned. This is a heck of a lot of research to do in such a short period of time.
The above heliport area and Turkish Air Force museum is also included in the scenery. But in looking at the area in FS, it's hard to determine what this building and accompnying ramp area is for. It's quite empty. If we have an overhead look in Google Earth, we get a much better idea of what is actually out here:
Whoa! That's a lot of retired toys out there. Now I would have really liked to see all these static toys in the scenery much like how FSDG and LHSimulations added retired display aircraft to their sceneries. But let's not forget, this baby was built in 3 months. So i'll count my blessings.
TAV, the airport's operator proudly showing off it's corporate logo on the roof. This is also a great opportunity to show off some of the roof and ground texture work. Roof texturing is typically an area I tend to stress in my reviews. Many developers tend to overlook areas like roof texturing. In my opinion, roof textures are almost as important as ground textures. Besides, why go through the trouble of doing such an immaculate texture job on a terminal building just to pixellate the roof?
Getting another closeup look at the terminals. You can see the multi-level interiors inside complete with advertising on the interior walls. You can even see the ceiling tiles. All that is missing is perhaps a few static figurines standing and staring out at the air traffic. It's all seemingly empty inside. Perhaps something to consider for future projects. Nevertheless, well done. I also like the baked shadow work and textured windows below.
Moving over to the much older domestic, terminal we see what appears to be more of a photoreal representation. Very nicely detailed and realistic looking. I also like the little details of the jetbridge interior modeling. Sometimes the smallest details make the biggest difference. And there is yet another ramp tower. With this many towers, there is absolutely no excuse for a ground incursion here.
Doing my best, I am encountering a bit of difficulty in attempting to ascertain information on some of the buildings and areas of the airport. Thus, I assume this little facility above is the State Guest House. According to the airport's official website, the State Guest House provides accommodation to foreign officials and commissions visiting Turkey.
Accommodation is only offered to state and government presidents, members of parliament and commissions, chiefs of general staff, presidents of high level judicial bodies and their committees, ministers and undersecretaries, armed forces commanding officers, vice presidents and chairmen, presidents and vice presidents of international enterprises, foreign governors and mayors including the commissions accompanying them. In addition, other individuals who are approved by the Ministry may be offered accommodation at the State Guest Houses.
In other words, if you get to chill out in here whilst you await your departure flight, you must be an important bloke.
Moving on to some of the other important parts of LTBA, it becomes clear there is good attention to detail everywhere. From the k rails and barriers to the ramp clutter and hangars. It seems nothing was left out. Although, if asked what might I do differently in some of these areas, I might have cracked open a few hangars for a look inside for either the user to park an aircraft or for visual purposes i.e. static aircraft undergoing maintenance. As someone who spends several hours in an aircraft hangar 5 days a week, the feeling never gets old.
I also liked the appearance of the GA terminal and the various colored hangars. Nice touch!
The atmosphere with the surrounding included neighborhoods really add to the experience. The developer could have easily kept development to the airport itself. But let's face it, many airports are only as good as the approach into them and the more realistic, the better. Hard to believe I ever had so much with that old freeware all those years ago.
And finally we start to get a look at the areal shots giving us the bigger picture. You can clearly see just how large the coverage area is. I can also tell you that the custom buildings are very accurate. The only thing to note is the terrain. Very odd the way it flows. I do know the airport is elevated but somehow, some of the terrain elevations here appear somewhat odd. You be the judge. Otherwise it's all well done.
Another area of note are how well done the ground texturing and paint work is. It all looks quite complex. As for the roof texture work, very sharp. It all comes together very well.
The next area I am going to get into is the part of the airport many developers tend to relax on. Naturally, it's very understanding why. How of many of you plan to walk around the car parks and ticket counters when you arrive at LTBA? Not many of you I am sure. But nonetheless, it's areas likw this that are in my opinion still a very big deal. and as they are still a piviotal part of the airport in real world, they should be given proper attention in the sim. I really respect the attention to detail that went into these areas complete with advertisement billboards, photoreal texturing, and all.
Obviously not the best cars I have ever seen but they don't need to be too detailed. I would have liked to see more variations of colors for the vehicles though.
I think the control tower glass is a bit too dark. Now unlike Taxi2Gate's own Mexico City project, the scenery area does not stretch to cover the main city of Constantinople. With that said, if you are using Orbx FTX Global + Vector, you will find that the city area is actually represented quite nicely complete with landmarks and all. Thus even though the city is not a part of the airport coverage area, I decided to include some shots in the review anyway just to give you an idea of how the entire area comes together. It's almost seamless and looks great! Come along and spend the day with me in Istanbul and we will return to the airport later in the evening.
Night has finally fallen and I can honestly say the buildings really do look lovely lit up at night. Again, the control tower glass is too dark. In fact, it doesn't appear to even be lit. Either of them. This needs to be corrected in a future update.
Getting closer to the terminal it's very nice to see the depth and detail in the texture work.
A nice shot from the GA terminal hangar area. As we get more bizjets, I can imagine many of you will be arriving here.
Jetbridges nicely textured at night as well.
Here we are looking at the older domestic terminal, we see that those lovely day time terminal photoreal textures did not carry into the evening. as you can clearly see, the textures are quite urred and yuckie looking. I will likely avoid parking here at night. Besides, the only domestic flight I would be doing is to and from Aerosoft's own Antalya.
Full custom night lighting. How it should be done.
And of course, the custom photo terrain area is well lit at night denoting major and minor roads.
Taxi2Gate has without a doubt outdone themselves yet again with another major project delivered in under a year. In fact, if we look at their YTD performance, the dev team has released: LTBA, LZIB, KMCO, TLPC, TVSV, and MMMX. Of those six airports delivered within a year, 3 of them are mega airports. Of those 3, one of them is also a mega city project. I'd say that is very impressive when it takes in many cases, 2 years for some developers to complete just 1 project.
With all the many things done right in Taxi2Gate LTBA, there were just a few things that could be improved and I say that's not bad for a project that was put together and completed so damn quickly. Besides this, it also makes me wonder how quickly the next project will come along. Will this be a regular thing? As it sits, this review was published in less that week after LTBA's release and already the developer is beginning the process of starting the next poll for the next project.
AirDailyX readers voted almost unanimously for LTBA among several airport choices for the next T2G project back in November of 2013 and the team delivered in March of 2014. That is simply unprecedented in the history of flight simulation. I wonder how this activity will shake things up in the development community.
There is nothing about this project that says it was rushed in any way. Taxi2Gate has done an amazing job with LTBA and the only way you can truly know this is to see it for yourself. And if you think I am kidding, look at a few of the other reviews from verified purchasers:
You can collect Taxi2Gate Istanbul via the link below and I wish you many fun and exciting hours as you arrive and depart from this exciting new destination.
All I can say about this development team for the future regardless of what you vote on or what they decide to develop next: BRING IT ON!