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

LatinVFR’s San Jose de Costa Rica international airport

intropic

In the previous LatinVFR review I wrote, we flew into Honduras’ Tegucigalpa intl. Airport. Enveloped by hills and mountains, the approach into that place is exciting to say the least. This time, we are going to a place much less eventful, but not at all inferior to Tegucigalpa: San Jose de Costa Rica. The main airport in Costa Rica, it is also one of the busier airports of Central America. Due to its relatively easy position, no doubt, for airports like at Tegucigalpa and Guatamala City are surrounded by mountains, making flying into those airports quite difficult. In this review, I’m going to look at this airport by LatinVFR and see how it holds up against those other airports by LatinVFR. Note that this scenery is by no means a new scenery. It was released some time ago, and as such I can’t really compare it to LatinVFR’s latest releases, the “age gap” is just too big for that.

Installation and documentation

Like with all LatinVFR sceneries, installation is very straightforward. The installer you get can simply be executed. You go through the usual steps of picking the FSX folder and license agreement, and the installer does the rest for you. It also enabled the scenery in the FSX scenery library, so you have virtually nothing to do. There was an update available for this scenery, which I also installed, but for some reason the uninstaller of the update is labelled “LatinVFR Cayman Islands patch uninstaller”. I’m quite sure this was a patch for San Jose, MROC, not for the Cayman Islands!

The documentation is fairly standard. It offers some basic information and such, but it’s a nice read that you’ll have finished with soon. There is a list of features, system requirements and contact address, so basically all you need to know.

 

The terminal

real-world

The real world terminal, courtesy of Richard Brownrigg.

 

The most important part of any scenery is, for me personally, the passenger terminal. Since I tend to fly passenger aircraft, the passenger terminal is always both the end and start of my flight, and if the detail is mediocre, it could spoil my flight or simply lead me to uninstall the scenery. Fortunately, we needn’t worry with LatinVFR MROC’s terminal, since it looks very nice overall. The above photograph, courtesy of Richard Brownrigg, will be used as reference for the gate area.

 

airport-overview

Airport overview

 

The above shot shows the entire airport. The terminal is obviously the large building with the red roof. There are jetways and overall looks like a modern building. For the rest we see a cargo apron and maintenance hangars, and it seems LatinVFR also modelled some of the entry roads. Let’s get a closer look.

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Terminal overview

 

The terminal building in this scenery looks really nice, although I’m sure it is helped by the architecture of the real thing. I like the red roof, maybe because I’m Dutch (It seems the Dutch are probably the only people out there that like red roofs and bricks, instead of white plaster and such). The combination with the grey walls and large windows on the front are also a great idea. The texturing of the replica in this scenery looks good, although parts of the white roofs are blurred, but it all looks good where it matters. The detail isn’t extraordinary, but it’s good. Something that I quite like here, is the fact that it’s all very cramped. As a result, the gates don’t look “empty” like with some of the other LatinVFR sceneries I saw. Of course, this is also to thank to the real life structure.

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terminal-gate-detail-jetway-2

Extra gate detail.

 

If we zoom in on the gates and jetways especially, we see several things that are worth mentioning. The windows on the terminal building look like stone tiles from close by. Not to say it looks bad (I quite like the look), but it doesn’t look very authentic to me. Further more, while overall the jetways look very nice, if we go look at the details, they seem a bit weird. The extensions to which the jetways themselves are connected look good, but the jetway looks very thin. Almost so thin as a matter of fact, that you wonder if people can walk through it without bumping their heads. Then the cab is roughly three times the jetway’s thickness, which also looks peculiar. Judging by photographs found on the internet, this makes the jetway quite inaccurate. While all the texturing and such is pretty good, the modelling thus drags it down. This is an enormous pity. As for the rest of the terminal, it all looks pretty much like the real thing, although the accuracy could have been higher. Overall the texturing is quite good, however, and the overall realism is quite okay.

The ground equipment around the terminal area looks fairly good, though. It’s more or less the stuff you see in many a LatinVFR scenery. Here, too, the modelling is good and the texturing is also good, although the texture mapping onto the airstairs looks a bit strange. There could have been more of it around the gates, though.

ground-equipment

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Ground equipment at San Juan Santamaria intl, MROC.

 

The last thing to look at on this side of the terminal, is the control tower:

control-tower

The control tower.

 

The control tower looks fairly good. The texturing is, as always, great, and modelling gives a good sense of the real thing, but, as always, could have been more detailed and more accurate. I do take issue with the column of windows you see. Look carefully at the edges, and you’ll notice that there aren’t just two rows of windows, but there is a sliver of windows too, as if there would be a largely “invisible third column” which is quite wrong. It’s these tiny things, this attention to detail, that I find a bit lacking.

Now we’ll go to the landside of the terminal. Here we see an elevated parking lot of sorts to drop off passengers I suspect, but it’s very basically modelled. Of course you can hardly see it from the airside of the terminal, so in that sense it helps to conserve FPS. I wish, however, that more care was taken with object placement. Also, see the bus? It’s driving practically next to the road. It’s a pity that these sort of small issues should occur.

terminal-landside

terminal-landside-parking

Terminal landside.

 

So this is interesting: until now, MROC appears to be that type of scenery which looks really nice when you look at it, but as soon as you zoom in on the details, it starts to fall apart a bit. We’ll see how the rest of the airport fairs.

 

Cargo and maintenance areas

cargo-apron

The cargo apron

 

The cargo apron, sadly, contains some blatant mistakes. There are two that can be easily spotted, and one that is hidden. The first you can see readily is makred with the red circles. See those road markings? They either don’t flow into each other to form a continuous line, or they are overly long, resulting in a rather sloppy looking road. What a terrible pity! It vould have looked so much better if just a little more care was taken.

The second issue that is easily seen, is the AFCAD. I have searched high and low for AFCADs that might interfere with LatinVFR’s AFCAD, but I couldn’t find any. It seems the AFCAD, as you see it here, is simply incorrect. Here’s a better shot:

afcad-problem

AFCAD Problem?

 

The cargo aircraft in the above shot are parked completely wrong. The ABSA Cargo plane isn’t even near the yellow marking. This is another such issue that would have been easy to remedy, but was never remedied for some reason.

The third problem is at the NASA dome you see on this apron. From the front, there really is no problem to see (except that the real thing is much more shaped like a rectangle than a semi circle), but when you look front the side, it’s apparent that the sign isn’t really stuck to the dome, but hanging a bit loose:

nasa-dome

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The NASA dome’s NASA sign is hanging a bit loosely.

 

Lastly, we take a look at the warehouses. These look mostly good:

cargo-warehouses

Cargo warehouses.

 

The modelling is okay, and so is the texturing. Placement and such leaves something to be desired, as is the fact that it all stands on the grey apron ground texture. While in itself it looks good, it doesn’t look good to see everything standing on it. When looking at Google maps, it’s immediately apparent that we’re, again, missing out on lots of intricate details that could have made this apron look much better.

If we now move over the maintenance area, we see a variety of all kinds of hangars, offices and warehouses. Overall, it all looks okay, but the placement of objects could have been more accurate. Part of that problem stems from the fact that it’s all too far away from the apron’s edge. Looking at Google maps, the hangar that stands closest to the edge, should have been placed tightly along the edge, not some distance away from it. With that comes a problem that we actually miss a whole host of small structures along the apron’s edge, and the small warehouses/hangars you see in the screenshot really aren’t that accurate.

hangars-2

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The hangars of the maintenance apron.

 

Finally, behind the maintenance apron, are several more hangars. I guess that GA aircraft are mostly stored here. The same problems of the previous hangars apply here, too. See the screenshot below:

hangars-1

Hangars behind the maintenance apron.

 

I’m afraid I have to take issue with the placement of virtually all objects here. It’s all just roughly correct. Looking at Google maps, virtually everything is wrong in some way, and that’s just such a pity. You can look for yourself at everything I mentioned here if you wish, and you’ll see for yourself how much objects are actually inaccurately placed, and to what extent it’s inaccurate. The more I look at this airport, the more I feel that it was rushed towards release.

photoground-overview

Photoscenery coverage.

 

So what about the surrounding area? All in all, it’s pretty nice. The photoscenery has decent coverage, and due to it having roughly the same colour as the FSX ground textures (provided by Ground Environment X), the border between the photoscenery and ground textures is relatively heard to spot. Sadly, the photoscenery is a rather blurry when not in the direct vicinity of the perimeter fence, but it’s okay nonetheless. A nice touch is the addition of 3D models for the various bridges and roads of the “Pan American Highway”, which runs along the airport’s perimeter fence and gives direct access to the passenger terminal. Sadly, the roads don’t always correctly match the photoscenery, so object placement is again a bit of an issue. The roads and all look a bit basic, but when you are taxiing you generally don’t even notice it, nullifying the general importance of the look of the highway. It’s basically just nice that it’s there. Below are some shots.

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Shots of the Pan American Highway.

 

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Surroundings of the airport.

 

Now there are some other small things that I wish to show. Number one is the detail of the ground textures. I have already said it in just about every review I wrote of latinVFR sceneries, but the ground textures are simply superb. The aprons, runways and taxiways all look stunning. The only usual problem which keeps cropping up is the way the variuous textures “flow into each other”. I’m happy to report that in this scenery this doesn’t seem to be an issue, though. All in all, good work!

runway-detail

taxiway-detail

Runway and taxiway detail.

 

The second and final tidbit, is a small problem with the trees along the runway. As you can see on the below shot, they sort of disappear partly. You can see all kinds of “half trees” standing around.

tree-problem

Slight tree problem.

 

This concludes this part of the review. Overall, it’s okay, but due to inaccurate object positioning, much of the airport fails to mimic reality in a satisfying way. Its all just “good” when it could have been “great” if more attention was paid to details.

 

The airport at night

The airport at night looks nice overall. The entire apron has night lighting, although I’m not a fan of the lighting used at the cargo area, because it’s so bright. The lights at the terminal and the streets outside the airport perimeter fence are very nicely done however. The surroundings also look fairly nice. Here are some shots:

night-approach

night-surroundings

night-landside

night-terminal

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Shots at night.

 

Performance

Performance at MROC is very good, fortunately. My external FPS limiter was at 30, and I havce FPS values of 25-26 in the Aerosoft Airbus, so I’m very pleased with this. At night the performance was much the same. If flying with default aircraft, count on much the same values for the default 737 and default A321, but the Cessnas and Trike Ultralight would have given 30+. Aircraft such as the CS757 turned over worse FPS, but that was to be expected. Overall, I didn’t see FPS fall below 22-24 so it’s a rather easy airport on the frames.

 

Conclusion

I once was at a form where they said of LatinVFR: “I have never seen a developer release so many sceneries”. That person was right. LatinVFR releases airports one after the other. On the one hand I congratulate LatinVFR with this amazing effort, but on the other hand, I deeply regret it. Why? “Speed is of the devil”, is a saying in Israel. It’s very true, also for LatinVFR. In the past few weeks I have reviewed four LatinVFR airports, and I own many of their airports. The theme is always the same, it seems: terribly inaccuracy, low on detail, but the texturing of the ground textures is always very good. The sad part? I’m positive that if LatinVFR would work twice as long on each of their airports, the scenery would be a 200% better. As it’s now, it looks rushed, and as a result, it looks poor in certain areas. Also, blatant mistakes that could have easily been taken out, are there, and they spoil a lot in my opinion. Now, San Juan Santamaria intl is in general an okay scenery. Overall, it looks okay, and the price seems right. However, it could have been much, much better. The cargo area and maintenance area are chock full of inaccuracies and problems that, when looking at Google earth are so blatantly obvious that I simply do not understand how come they still exist in the scenery. This spoils a lot. And let’s be honest: let’s look at the very top of scenery designers. FlyTampa and FSDreamteam have few releases but each release is exceptionally good and has been praised into heavens. And what about OrbX and Aerosoft? These also make high quality stuff, yet they release lots. This is because they have lots of development teams, but each team takes a very long time to complete their sceneries. For example, the OrbX Canberra city project has already been taking 2 years to finish! The result is absolutely spectacular.

My final verdict: The scenery is okay for the price, and is nice to fly into. Even with all the criticism I give about blatant inaccuracy in object positioning, I still will fly many times into this place. Why? I think it’s because of the colours. The darkish green surroundings contrast nicely against the red roof of the terminal, and the region is simply beautiful, very green. I still wish that LatinVFR had taken much more care with object placement; referring to Google maps all the time to make sure that everything is correct.

Now, before you get an opinion on LatinVFR sceneries in general, please let me remind you that MROC is not at all a recent scenery, and from what I have seen, their recently released Key West KEYW is excellent. Much of the problems that feature so prominently in MROC, are hardly present in KEYW. KEYW is LatinVFR’s future, and I hope they stick by it for many years to come.

 

Scenery details

Developer: LatinVFR

Price as rated: €17,84

Purchase link: http://secure.simmarket.com/latinvfr-san-jose-costa-rica-mroc-juan-santamaria.phtml

Platform: FSX/FS2004 (FSX reviewed)

Media: Download

 

Test machine details

27” Apple iMac:

i5 processor @ 2,8gHz

ATI HD Radeon 5750

4GB DDR3 RAM

Windows 7 SP1 64-bit

 

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