Posted in: FS2004, FSX, Reviews Tags: , , , , ,

Review: Tropicalsim Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao Airport Sceneries

On the whole, there are two places in the flight simming world that are all but forgotten: Europe and the Caribbean. Aerosoft has made loads of sceneries for Europe, and also has been doing stuff for the Caribbean. However, there are other developers out there, too, that, when hearing the name, are linked to those sunny beaches, clear, light-blue water and small airports. One of these is Tropicalsim.

Tropicalsim is a developer of airports that lie in the sunniest regions of our earth. Many of them are in the Caribbean, but they also did airports for Portugal and Brazil, for example. In this review, I will take you to the Netherlands, though. “But isn’t that in Europe?” you ask. Yes, it is, but the Netherlands consist of more than just that tiny country in Western Europe. There are three islands in the Caribbean that also belong to the Netherlands: Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. These three islands are known as the “ABC islands”. However, what you’d probably expect, is not true: Aruba is, since 1986, no longer part of “the Netherlands Antilles” (to which Bonaire and Curacao do belong, together with St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius). These three islands can be purchased as one pack from Simmarket, and it is this pack I will be reviewing.

Review structure

This is an unusual review, because I will be doing three sceneries in one review. So, I intend to first of all work my way down the alphabet and I will conclude one scenery before moving on to the next. Thus, you’ll notice that in effect there are three chapters to this review: each scenery has its own. And now, without further ado, let’s move on to the first of the group: Aruba

Aruba

First island in the alphabet is Aruba. Part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, but functioning as a country within this unity, it isn’t very big, and this has some consequences for the airport, which, indeed, also isn’t very big. However, don’t be fooled by small countries: Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands is one of the most complex and biggest airports in Europe!

The airport of Aruba (Reina Beatrix Airport, which means Queen Beatrix airport, named after the current head state of the kingdom of the Netherlands: Queen Beatrix) has but one runway, and several gates, of which about half seem to have a jetway. The others are at the other end of the apron and seem to be sued mostly by turboliners. In this review, I flew across it several times to take the screenshots, but I will discuss the airports in a more structured manner, going from one end to the other in a logical manner. So, let us start with an overview:


Overview of Aruba Intl. Airport.

Overview at night.

As you can see, the airport isn’t more than a runway and a very long taxiway, with some gates at one end. Let’s go there now and see what we can find.

The runway markings are a bit blurry.

First we turn our attention to the ground. You’ll notice that the runway markings are quite blurry when you stand on top of them. Doesn’t seem like a good start for a review, does it? Luckily, it gets better.

Objects close to the gate.

One of the gates.

The gates at night.

At the gate side, we first run into some very nicely modeled cars and other objects. The lamps also look good, and I like the texturing here. If we go a bit forward, we fly past the gateside of the terminal. A lonely Jetblue Airbus is sitting at one of the gates, which all look pretty good. Well modeled, with what seems to be a docking signaling system. It’s a pity those look a bit blurry, though. At night, everything looks very good from this side, too.

Terminal entrance.

Above the terminal.

Aruba’s control tower.

Going to the other side, we see a very detailed, and very nice representation of the real thing. I like the modeling of all the cars, but what’s better is the detail that was put in the pavements, lamps, and the buildings themselves. The texturing is equally good, looking quite sharp. I generally like what I’m seeing, although I know that I probably won’t ever set eyes on this side of the airport when operating my planes (I mean, I’m not going to park my aircraft at the carpark, am I?). At night the terminal entrance looks as good as in daylight:

Terminal entrance at night.

Cars adjacent to the gates.

Some buildings.

Fire department.

Moving on, we pass some very nicely detailed cars. I especially like the looks of the Volkswagen van, although the details on the trolley and the other cars are also very nice. The texturing is, again, very good!

Next thing we encounter are some offices and warehouses. These look very nice too, being nicely modeled and textured. Especially the long office building with the yellowish/brownish roof looks very nice.

Finally, we arrive at the fire department’s building.  Many fire trucks are standing half outside the building, so you can clearly see them. I’m not sure what the yellow trucks are supposed to be, but seeing as how they share the same looks as the fire trucks, I’m inclined to think these are fire trucks too. As always, the texturing looks good, and the modeling of the buildings itself ahs been done nicely.

Some buildings at the other end of the airport.

And some more…

Night shot.

We have now arrived at the other end of the airport, where, frankly, there isn’t much to see. Several small buildings with more of those good-looking cars, but that’s it. The night lighting of these buildings consists mostly of yellowish lamplight and some brighter lights around doors and such. Seems pretty realistic to me. Though this is the other end of the airport, it doesn’t mean we have seen all of it! Going to the other side of the airport (meaning, opposite of the gates and terminal buildings), there are still some more buildings and stuff to look at there:

Some cars on a rather blurry underground.

Very nicely made fuel storage tanks.

Some more buildings with cars.

Taxiway misalignment?

As you can see, it’s not much on this side of the airport. What’s nice is the fuel “station”, with a wooden (3D! No ground texture here, sir) platform at which the fuel trucks can park to load the airport with the ever so necessary fuel. I really like how this ahs been done, with a lot of detail. What’s nicest here, is that it will be seen by us when we land and takeoff, as it’s not on one side of some big terminal building.

However, this concludes Aruba. I think this is a very nice representation of a very nice location to fly too. Next up is Bonaire!

Bonaire

Concerning the airport of Bonaire, I always wondered what came first: the name or the airport. You see, the airport’s name is “Flamingo”. That rather big, pink bird, that tends to move around in big flocks and stands in the water on one leg? Well, the airport is also pink. Completely pink. Everywhere. Pink. So, I was wondering: did they name the airport “Flamingo” and then painted it pink, or did they paint it pink and then called it Flamingo? I’ll probably never find the answer to that. I can, and will find the answer to this question, though: Is the scenery any good? Well, why wait? Let’s find out!

Overview of Flamingo intl. Airport.

Overview at night.

This must be one of the smallest airports I have in my scenery library. Without many gates and a rather small terminal building, there actually isn’t much to see, and to be honest, I managed to do all of these screenshots in only two runs. I needed four at the least with Aruba and Curacao. Not trying to say that small is bad, of course… Let us looks at the airport from closer by now.

Some office buildings.

Bonaire’s fire department.

The first half of the built-upon area of the airport consists of some offices and the fire department’s buildings. The building looks very nice, and the same cars as on Aruba are used (which is not bad, since I really liked those). There are some custom trees here, too, which look very nice and give a Caribbean feeling to an airport that, frankly, seems like it’s built in the middle of nowhere. No seriously, look at the overview shots: there is absolutely nothing in the near vicinity of the airport. Seems weird to me, but I blame the default (and badly outdated) scenery of FS2004. In FSX it might be better, but since it runs so badly on my computer, I didn’t even try this scenery in it…

The older apron of the airport

The terminal building. Pink. Everywhere.

Terminal entrance.

This is what I suppose is a newly made apron for bigger planes.

The main terminal area of Bonaire’s airport consists of three part: The old, smaller apron, the new, bigger apron, and the terminal building itself. As you can see, it’s all rather small and, indeed, horribly pink (I hate pink, you see). That’s not to say that the detail isn’t sublime. I love how everything is modeled and textured. The lovely little trees in front of the terminal complex liven up the building, and the control tower, with very detailed steps on the blue stairs leading you up to the control room have been very nicely done. All in all, I really like how this has been replicated.

Looking at the other side, we see 3D pavements and nice lampposts, which, for me at least, does add some character to the airport. Although I know that chances of seeing this side of the terminal aren’t that big, it’s still very nice to know it’s there. And really, if that FPS impact isn’t big, then what does it matter to you if it’s there or not? Fact is, you get detail without FPS hit, and that’s what we ultimately want.

The carpark is almost empty. This would be a reason to complain for me in most cases, if the case were not that the airport is stuck in the middle of nowhere, and hardly any traffic seems to pass through. In that light, I think these three cars are quite accurate.

There is a second, larger apron, too. However, there isn’t a lot to be seen there, unfortunately, but plans are to enlarge it so that two widebody aircraft, such as the MD-11, which KLM operates between Amsterdam and Ecuador and stops at Bonaire for fuel, can park side-by-side. Currently, this is not possible.

This concludes Bonaire. All in all, it’s a very nice airport scenery, and I’d like to fly my Boeing 747 or, when I get myself a nice model of it, a KLM MD-11, into that airport. And now, time to move on to the last airport: Curacao.

Curacao

The final airport in the package, International airport of Curacao and the biggest airport of three airports included, is Hato International Airport. It really is quite a big facility, and there are quite a few airlines that have regular flights to this airport. Not just Dutch airliners, but numerous European and American, even South American operators regularly visit Hato intl. airport. The size of the airport is also a witness of the relative business at this airport, because aside from numerous gates with jetways, there are a lot of “normal” gates, which the passengers will go to either by bus or simply by foot.

Overview of the airport.

Overview at night.

Numerous things are of note: firstly, contrary to the other airports, the buildings stretch along almost the entire runway. Secondly, while still one of the larger airports in this region, it still has but one runway. Finally, the surroundings are quite arid, as you can see from the sandy underground of the airport and it’s surroundings. It’s this underground I want to start with, mainly because I don’t like it. I do not believe this is how it looks. It just seems to “simple” for my taste, and I wonder if it couldn’t have been a bit more detailed. And indeed, after looking at Google maps, I can safely say that anything would have been better than this drab, brown underground. I’d rather have a blurrish photo undeground than this desert-like thing…

The drab undergound looks rather depressing, and it doesn’t play well with the FS2004 ground textures (note I have Ground Environment Pro installed).

At night you can clearly see that the airport ground textures are laid over roads, without offering anything as a replacement. It leaves you with a  road that looks like it ends in the middle of nowhere.

I must confess, though, that the FS2004 scenery that is given to Curacao is very bad, though. The airport is close to built areas, unlike what is suggested in the screenshots. FS2004 tells you that you are in the middle of some desert, but this is completely untrue. Luckily, products like FSGlobal enhance this!

Buildings and cars.

Wooden hangars.

Starting at one end of the airport and going all the way back, we first encounter some buildings and hangars. All nicely modeled and textured, with the hangars clearly made out of wood. The textures used for the wood are very clear and look very good, too.

Some more buildings

The first set of gates.

Again the gates, but from the other side.

The control tower.

Behind the hangars, we stumble on some other buildings, presumably warehouses and office blocks. These, too, are nicely detailed. But the actual “meat” of the airport, starts even behind these buildings: we arrive at the terminal buildings, gates and the control tower. Some drab brown and grey buildings are built along the apron, where multiple rather small gates have been made. These gates won’t be able to cater for anything bigger than these MD-82’s of Insel Air, or a lonely American Airlines Boeing 737, which you will notice on the night shot of this area. Before I show you these night shots, though, take a look at these gates. There are all kinds of objects here, like cars and baggage trolleys. All nicely modeled and textured, just like the buildings. Basically, this looks very good!

Gates at night.

Control tower at night.

See that Boeing 737 I told you about? I guess you’re having a bit of trouble with that — I had too. The problem here is that it’s all rather dark (“Well duh, it’s at night…”). I get the point, night is supposed to be dark, but this is so very dark… This is because of the patch of apron right in front of us. It’s usually dark. So dark, that I’m not sure if it really should be that dark. That said, the night lighting of the buildings, surrounding aprons and other buildings looks very good.

Here the passengers walk onto the apron.

But if they’re lucky, they can board their planes from a gate with a jetway.

I love the fountain.

View of the entire plaza in front of the terminal’s entrance.

The main terminal building is rather big. It is probably smaller than what Aruba had, seeing as it has fewer gates with jetways, but it seems to do the job fine. As you can see, there is a total of three jetways available. If passengers aren’t so lucky, they’ll have to walk down the conveniently placed stairs (very detailed and love how the roof has been truly given a round shape), and go by foot to their plane.

The terminal itself, both from the front and from the back, is quite beautiful. The detail, again, is very good, and I think overall the terminal has been well executed. Yes, the terminal looks very good. On the other hand, the parking area looks a bit bare. You’d expect some marking, right? To guide cars on and off the parking, right? No such thing here. But, let’s be honest: you sit in your Boeing 747 or whatever; will you release notice the fact that there are no markings on the car parking? No, you won’t. So, I think you can hardly blame Tropicalsim for not drawing any.

The gates at night.

Terminal entrance at night.

At night the terminals looks just as good as by day. Doors and windows are lighted, as you’d expect, and the rest of the buildings is mostly dark. The apron here, too, has a golden light “sprayed” all over, which looks rather good.  The important thing here is that, even in the dark, you can still see what you are doing. That is the case, for as far as I’m concerned.

At the other end of the airport: a small overview.

The same, at night.

We have now reached the other end of the airport, and what we find is another small apron, with small hangars, some buildings, and fuel tanks. We shall now look at it in a bit more detail.

Fuel tanks.

Hangars.

Probably warehouses.

Some more offices and such.

Scattered around the apron, there are all kinds of small buildings. Some looks rather old and depressing, while others seem to be in better condition. Regardless of their age, they all look rather good. Sometimes slightly blurry from close by, but unless you fly VFR and will want to park your plane on this apron, you probably won’t even come that close to these buildings. Suffice to say, that this all look rather good, although I’d wanted to see more objects around the buildings you see in the screenshot with the think, red-and-white pole (I’m not sure what it actually is. Is it a chimney, or something concerned with radar?), like vans and cars.

This already brings us at the conclusion of the Curacao scenery. I will now proceed with some performance, AES support and a conclusion.

Performance

The most important aspect of a scenery despite how it looks, is how it affects the framerates of your sim. Generally, the more complex a scenery is, the more it affects framerates, although this isn’t necessarily true for all sceneries: Flytampa’s St. Maarten scenery is very complex, yet always returns very high FPS. This means that the developers are masters in their trade. They can cram a lot in a small space, and they can do it in such a way that the framerate does not drop significantly.

I have tried to show you the relatively high amount of detail. I won’t go as far as saying it’s like Flytampa’s scenery, but there is quite an amount of detail. Many small objects are scattered around, at least at Aruba and Curacao. I found that generally, my FPS were not affected a lot, which is good news. In FS2004, where I have my frame lock at 24 FPS, I got between 23 and 24 FPS (although it possibly could have been higher than 24. Because of the lock, I wouldn’t know). This is a well-performing scenery, and that’s commendable, given the amount of detail.

AES support

I love AES. I tend to select sceneries based on them having AES support or not. Curacoa and Aruba both have AES support, both in FS2004 and FSX. They both cost only 1 credit. Bonaire wasn’t so lucky though: No AES support. Not in FS2004, nor in FSX. I can understand it, though: it isn’t as important as both Aruba and Curacao, and not many people probably ask for it. Still, with 2 out of 3 airports supported, we have a relatively good score.

In conclusion

I have taken you on a small tour across three airports in the kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. All are very nicely detailed, with well-modeled and well-textured objects. Performance is very good, and 2 out of 3 airports have AES. What’s more, I didn’t encounter any bugs or problems with this package across the entire testing phase. I should say, though, that I disliked the underground of Curacao, but a great part of the problem is FS2004’s landclass which is simply outdated. FSX’s is way better, but it’s still very much outdated. Ultimately, I think this package is a very good scenery package, giving you very good and very nice reprsentations of the real airports. It retails for 45 Euros, making it quite expensive, but at 15 euro per airport, that price suddenly sounds a lot better, doesn’t it? I sure think so. Note that you can get these sceneries as loose packages also if you don’t want all the sceneries included in the single package.

Important details

  • Developer:                                                     Tropicalsim www.tropicalsim.com
  • Medium:                                                         Download
  • File size:                                                         122MB (Combined FS9/FSX)
  • FS version:                                                     FS9/FSX
  • Price at the time of writing:  36 euros + VAT where applicable
  • Purchase: http://secure.simmarket.com/tropicalsim-abc-islands.phtml


Reviewed by Benjamin van Soldt


My systems specs:

  • Macbook pro with:
  • Windows XP 32bit
  • 4GB RAM
  • Nvidia 8600GT
  • 300GB Hard disk (dedicated FS9 disk)
  • Intel T8300 2,4 gHz Dual Core processor

About Miguel Blaufuks

8 comments to Review: Tropicalsim Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao Airport Sceneries

  • mad dog

    “On the whole, there are two places in the flight simming world that are all but forgotten: Europe and the Caribbean”

    Benjamin you have to be joking, There are more Payware sceneries per square mile for Europe than anywhere else in the World.
    Probably more Freeware too.

  • darem

    I think these airports are expensive. They look like BluePrint airports plus too much color. Maybe it’s the screenshots, but they are below par for me. Which is a pity, because I liked their airport for Trieste.

  • Hi Darem.
    In fact, the way the screenshots were taken by the reviewer, making use of wide zoom to show more things was not a very happy decision, as everything looks very far away and the details can`t be properly visualized (even so, we thank him for the very nice review, indeed).
    As you are already our customer and know our work, I invite you to visit our site and the links for the sceneries, where a lot of normal taken images are available for your judgement.
    Aruba and Curaçao are colorful, sunny tropical airports, placed on colorful and warm places, we could not give them a cold greyish severe visual, so usual on those boxy style megahubs/giant airports easily found on US and Europe. The Caribbean is full of colors.
    About Bonaire you are right. We could have done it a bit less colored for sure, but it`s hard to reproduce a pink airport (I think it`s the only pink airport in the world lol ). It would be nice thinking on an future update to reduce that amount of pink, of course lot loosing its own personality.
    Thanks for your comment.
    My best regards,
    Carlos Pereira.
    http://www.tropcalsim.com

  • Benjamin van Soldt

    Only saw just now the ability to post stuff here, so here goes!

    mad dog: if you read closely, you’ll see I wrote “all but forgotten”, meaning there are lots and lots of sceneries for both the Caribbean and Europe!

    darem: it depends, really. As it is now, it’s 15 euros per scenery, since you get three airports in a package for 45 euros. When including the detail (which I think is rather good and are not in the least comparable to Blueprint sceneries), I think that’s not that bad a deal. Plenty of objects, nice texturing… It’s no Aerosoft scenery, but then again, most current Aerosoft sceneries tend to cost 25 euros.

  • darem

    And thanks for your response, Carlos. It’s appreciated.
    Bernhard

  • Benjamin, the phrase “all but forgotten” means just the opposite of what you think. It’s another way of saying “almost forgotten” or “nearly forgotten”. I must admit that when I first read this line, I chuckled a little as well. Still, a good review. Thanks.

  • Benjamin van Soldt

    Oh… Whoops… I’m not a native speaker, so I guess I misinterpreted that thing a long while ago and always remembered it the wrong way. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • John M

    Interesting review regarding the coloration of the underground at Hato on Curacao, I used to work there for KLM and I lived on Curacao for fourteen years and I remember it to be very desert like in colour if anything the northern part of the coast is very rocky and has the colour of grey basalt rock ( with very sharp points as a result of the constant battering of waves against the rocky shore)this does not mean that I expect the sharp points to show :) :) :)
    Regards John