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LATINVFR – BERMUDA TXKF for FSX review

Bermuda is a British overseas territory. Made up of a group of 181 low lying islands, it’s located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the United States, approximately 1,000kms west of North Carolina.

L.F. Wade International Airport, ICAO: TXKF; formerly named Bermuda International Airport, is the only airport serving Bermuda. The airport has one runway, one passenger terminal, one cargo terminal and only eight aircraft stands but is capable of handling the world’s largest passenger airliner the Airbus A380. Very popular as a tourist destination, the airport has a capacity to handle in the area of 900,000 passengers per year. The single runway is: 12/30 @ 9,669ft.

Installation and Configuration

Installation is very simple; you run the executable, add your registration number and let the installer do the rest including adding it to the FSX scenery library. During the installation process there is a screen where you can choose to enable volumetric grass and also to install a single static aircraft. To make changes to either one of these choices you will need to rerun the installer.

Documentation

The product comes with two documents; LatinVFR_Manual_TXKF and TXKF_SOP.

The LatinVFR_Manual_TXKF is a 10 page product manual used for both the FSX and FS9 versions of the scenery. In the manual they list the scenery’s features, give a brief description of the airport including a list of airlines and their destinations and then provide some basic tips and FAQs for making the most of the scenery. The information provided is rudimentary.

The TXKF_SOP contains technical information about the airport including charts, routing information, frequencies and the various procedures that can be used when flying in and out of the airport. There was lots of good information however it is dated.

Scenery

The scenery is a detailed depiction of the L.F. Wade Airport and the group of islands which are collectively known as Bermuda. This review is of the FSX version of the scenery. To give you an idea of just what the developers have done I’ve included the feature list provided by them on the product page.

We have completed for both FS versions (FS9, FSX) an entire island archipelago of this British overseas territory, with thousands of hand placed objects.

TXKF (BDA) airport completely modeled with significant attention to detail.

Texturing in HD mapping for all buildings and ground polygons.

Surroundings extremely detailed, most mayor hotels in the area, and other important landmarks.

Hundreds of hand placed static boats and ships.

All islands covered with photo scenery with hand placed autogen, featuring the entire island chain, and photo real water in FSX.

High resolution ground textures / Custom runway textures

Fully AI traffic compatible.

Volumetric grass

Static private jet on the GA apron

Excellent night effects.

Excellent frame rates.

Inclusion of manual in PDF format.

Birds (FSX)

Native vehicle animations (FSX)

Ground Textures

For the airport they use photo scenery textures as the base which adds some surface detailing. When viewed at low altitudes they did appear blurry and also showed details that weren’t recreated with discrete objects. An example of this would be vehicles and  shrubs that can be seen near the arrivals area of the terminal.

In those areas where you have hard surfaces such as the runways, taxiways and aprons they added separate textures and the quality of these was quite good.

Buildings

Beginning with the main terminal which stands out due to its size. From a distance the developers have managed to capture its look including the multi-faceted roofline and light pastel colours that greet passengers as they arrive. The colours are soothing and really give one a sense that this is a place where you can relax and unwind.

However, the structures at the airport have been recreated in a simplistic manner and there are problems with the modelling that become apparent on closer inspection. When looking at the terminal building it appeared to me as if they had taken a bunch of smaller geometric shapes and assembled them to make a much larger structure. I also noticed that some of these pieces didn’t quite line up and parts of the building looked disjointed.

Also comparing it with photographs I did notice discrepancies such as the orientation of the small skylight at the arrivals area. It should have been rotated 90 degrees. Although problems like this actually don’t have an effect on the scenery performance or the enjoyment one gets from using the scenery it does say something about the developer’s eye for accuracy.

Other buildings found at the airport include the large Longtail Aviation hangar located at apron 3 and the freight sheds and refueling and airport maintenance buildings near the main terminal. There are some other small structures just outside the airport’s perimeter at other end of the airport near apron 4. Again, if you looked at them from a distance the quality appeared to be good but up close I could see that they suffered from the same types of shortfalls seen with the main terminal building.

Objects and Vehicles

The quality of these was inconsistent, I thought that many of the objects and vehicles looked as though they might have been ported over from FS2004. Many lacked the detailing and quality found in other FSX scenery addons currently being released. Several examples are the windsocks and service vehicles parked on the apron.

 

Moving away from the quality issue the variety in object and vehicle types was good and they were placed in such a way to enhance the overall feeling that there are various activities taking place at the airport.

Beyond the usual array of objects they also included the Welcome to Bermuda sign as well as an interesting mile post located just outside the main entrance of the terminal.

The Islands

As was the case with the other aspects of the scenery I had mixed feelings about what they’ve done with respect to the islands. Looking at them from above you can see the accuracy of the coastlines, the inclusion of the many small islands that make up the Bermudas, their use of photo scenery as the base and the realistic water masks. These characteristics together give it a very realistic look when viewed from afar. If you look at this product and compare it to the FSX default the differences are striking. It made all my approaches seem much more realistic. Having Bermuda come into view as I made my approach it felt as though I was there.

The problems here like with the airport became apparent as I took a closer look; things just didn’t look quite right. If you were hoping to find an accurate reproduction of the islands you will be disappointed. The base textures are comprised of photo textures so you can make out roads and other visible features such as golf courses but there are problems.

You will notice in the screenshots that there is texture tearing along some of the slopes and also some of the textures don’t match the underlying terrain elevations. I tried different settings in FSX but didn’t see any improvements to this problem.

They’ve populated the islands with autogen which is great but most of it appears to be standard FSX autogen with some custom objects added. Unfortunately because the custom structures are few and far between they are often difficult to find. I was able to identify a few, such as; St David’s lighthouse, the Causeway bridge, several island resorts and probably the most obvious, those found near the cruise ship docks where the likes of the Commissioner’s house and the Bermuda Maritime Museum are found.

I noticed during my low level flights that a large portion of the autogen did not line up quite right with the underlying ground textures. Also in those areas where you had sloped terrain some buildings could be seen hanging out in mid-air or partly buried in the ground.

Night

One thing about flying at night is that many visual problems that exist during daylight hours often disappear in the darkness. That happens to be the case with this Bermuda scenery. Many of the issues I described earlier were either no longer visible or were less obvious. Overall the night time depiction was very good with good light levels in areas such as the aprons and ground lighting used for approaches and along the runways and taxiways. Building lighting was also well done.

The main problem I saw with the night time had to do with the surrounding island scenery and not the airport itself. There were bright spots on the photo textures. In quite a few places there were bright yellow, orange, blue and red blotches that stood out in the darkness. I suspect some of these were pools lit up at night but some of the others I’m not sure what they were. Unfortunately I don’t think they added any positive value to the night time scenery.

Final Thoughts

There are problems with the scenery but I still found my experience to be an enjoyable one. The scenery does provide a much more realistic depiction of Bermuda than you’ll get with FSX. If you find yourself wanting to fly to Bermuda and can look past the scenery’s pitfalls you will want to give this addon serious consideration.

My Ratings

Installer:  Very good, simple to use, adds scenery to FSX.

Documentation:  Good, they include both a product manual and charts.

Modelling: Good.

Extras:  Entire island chain modelled.

Download Size: FSX 525MB, FS2004 40MB

Price: EUR 16.99 without VAT

Developer Homepage: http://www.latinvfr.com

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/latinvfr-bermuda-txkf.phtml

Test System:

Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 12 Gb RAM, EVGA GTX560 Ti w/1.2 Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES, GSX.

Richard Desjardins

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