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Aerosoft – Olbia X Review

A couple of weeks ago, Aerosoft released a new scenery product which will be the subject of this review. Olbia X is centered around the city of Olbia on the Italian island of Sardinia, and covers the main buildings of the city, the port with its ships and of course the airport, Olbia – Costa Smeralda Airport. Let’s take a look!

The city of Olbia is a city of over 56000 inhabitants in the northern region of Gallura, on the island of Sardinia. It’s the economic centre of that part of the island, as well as a popular tourist destination.
The Olbia – Costa Smeralda airport serves the city of Olbia and the surrounding area, including the popular Costa Smeralda tourist area. The airport was opened in 1974, and has one runway, which is oriented 05/23 and is 2445m or 8025ft long. The airport mainly sees charter traffic in summer months from all over Europe, but also has more regular connections to several European countries. Most of these regular flights are to the Italian mainland, flown by Meridiana Fly, which is headquartered at the airport.

Installation:

This is an Aerosoft product, so installation should offer no surprises, but you first have to buy the product of course. At the time of writing, it sells at SimMarket for €20,94 (or €17,60 without VAT), and it’s available only in download version. That download comes in the form of a 298MB zip-file that includes both the FSX and Prepar3D versions in one installer. I’ll be covering only the FSX version in this review, but the experience in Prepar3D should be similar.
Upon downloading the zip-file, you have to run the installer, which is the usual  .exe file. First of all, the installer warns you that the installed files will be personalized during installation (to discourage piracy of course). Following that, you have to agree with the EULA, and enter your email address and the license key you got upon purchase, which will be checked via the internet. Now the only thing left to do is select whether you want the FSX or the P3D version, and then wait while the installer does its work. The latest version of the Aerosoft Launcher is included as an option, but not required for Olbia X.

Documentation:

Upon installation, a manual is also installed on your PC. It’s available in both English and German. The manual covers some general information about the airport, a copyright notice and credits, and information about installing and uninstalling. It also has some information about the optional Aerosoft Launcher program. There’s not much to say about the manual. It’s no frills, short and to the point. This is not the kind of product that requires a long manual, so Aerosoft kept it as short as possible, which is fine by me.
Apart from the manual, Aerosoft (as usual) also included a pdf file with up-to-date charts for use at the airport. Thank you Aerosoft! They’re very clear and detailed color charts, covering everything from Airport information to SID’s and STAR’s. While charts can be found in a lot of places, both free and for a fee, I definitely like that they are included.

Scenery:

Let’s start big, and work our way down to the details, shall we? The first thing you’ll notice when flying over the airport at high altitude, is the photo coverage. Not only the airport itself, but a decent amount of the land around the airport is covered in photographic ground textures. Apart from the area around the airport, the western part of the city itself is also covered, in both day and night ground textures. It’s all in a resolution of 60cm/pixel, which means it’s quite detailed, but not extremely so (therefore limiting the download size), and that you get the same amount of detail both on the airport and in the city, at least in the ground textures. There are some negative remarks as well though: mainly that there are small uncovered pieces of ground next to the water, between the airport and city coverage. You’d expect photo ground textures here, but there aren’t, which stands out and looks odd.

What stands out next, apart from the airport, is the port of Olbia. Especially with those large and colorful ferries alongside. I certainly like that it’s included in the scenery. And for the rotor heads: most of the ships have helipads you can land on. It’s a nice detail if you like taking out a helicopter once in a while.

Let’s take a small detour over the city before moving on to the airport itself. In the city of Olbia, the part covered in this product at least, custom buildings are placed to line up with the ground textures. The buildings look good. Because the photo real ground textures aren’t extremely sharp (60cm/pixel is good, but not extremely accurate) the buildings don’t always line up perfectly. The lineup is good enough not to bother me though. In the end, I won’t be flying over the city low and slow and in awe, that’s not the goal of this product. But the inclusion of the city in this scenery product does add to the value of the package, so it certainly wasn’t a wasted effort.
One thing that does bother me, and not in a small way, is the quality of some the trees and bushes. Honestly, FSX default trees look better than some of  those included in this product. It’s just one aspect of this product, but it is one that’s very visible, and is a quite hit on realism and immersion.

But let’s move on to the main object of this scenery product: the airport. The first thing I noticed about the airport, and still the aspect I like most, is the quality of the runway and apron textures. Every concrete ground surface on the airport is gorgeously textured, good looking, very detailed, and very realistic. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hurling down the runway, or standing at a gate or one of the many parking positions, the ground textures were done very, very well. The one remark I do have here, is about the parallel taxiway. Here, it’s a little too obvious that the pattern in the concrete is a repeating, computer generated pattern. But in total, I consider that a small defect in an otherwise very good aspect of this product.
Of course, there’s some 3D stuff at the airport as well. Actually, there’s quite a lot: terminal buildings, maintenance hangars, light posts, taxiway signs, and both static and moving ground vehicles. Even taxiway lights are modeled in 3D. On top of that, there’s a couple of static Meridiana aircraft, both in the hangars and on the ramp (They’re labeled as DC-9-51 in FSX, although I failed to find any reference to Meridiana flying that type in real life). About all that 3D stuff located on and around the airport, there is only 1 small detail I don’t like, and small it is. While the Meridiana hangars are the 2 most noticeable buildings after the main terminal, the Meridiana titles on them are blurry. I know it’s just a small detail, but it’s one that stands out. Apart from that, the 3D work is great. There ‘s lots of it, it has lots of details, and it looks good.
Now, let’s talk about how it looks at night. Not bad, let me tell you, I actually like this product better at night. When it gets dark in FSX, this scenery really lights up. There’s lights all around the airport. From the expected taxi- and runway lights, over the buildings, down to the vehicles. What surprised me, is that even most cars in the car park across the main terminal have their lights on. I don’t know why though, I don’t leave my cars headlights on when it’s parked, but it looks nice.

Finally, there are 2 more aspects of this scenery I want to talk about: performance, and the overall ‘atmosphere’ of the scenery. First, performance. Now, I’ve got a pretty good system (I’ll include the specifications at the bottom of this review) and I’ve got FSX setup to my liking as well. So, my system might not be the best one to judge performance by. But nevertheless, I’m very pleased with performance at Olbia. When using aircraft which are easy on resources, my framerates at Olbia X didn’t move significantly from the locked value, which is 30fps on my setup. When using performance heavy aircraft, I do get a reduction in frame rates, but they stay smooth, without noticeable drops or stutters, so I hardly notice the fps-drop. So I get great performance out of Olbia X. I hope it’s the same for everyone else.
Now, to end this review, a word about the ‘atmosphere’ of this scenery. No matter how good or bad their work is, every developer’s work has a different feel to it. What I mean is that (for example) both FlyTampa and Orbx (just to name two) produce awesome add-ons, but it’s easy to see which is Orbx and which is FlyTampa, because their work just feels different. Now, why do I talk about this? Because I personally don’t particularly like the atmosphere of Olbia X. But, and that’s why I try not to emphasize this, this is really a personal observation. You might  feel the same way I do, or you might love it…

Conclusion:

The general feel of the product is different from the products I prefer, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. Once I was able to look at Olbia X objectively, I liked what I saw. What I like best, by a large margin, is the looks of the aprons and runway. Very good. The 3D objects, especially the buildings and light posts, are also a very good.  On the negative side, I’d have to name the quality of the ‘greens’ around the airport, trees and bushes and the like. Also, some details could have used a little more attention. Besides that, Olbia is a nice product, and I’m glad to have it in my library. It’s worth the €20.94 (that includes VAT, it’s less if you live outside the EU) it costs, certainly if you like flying around the Mediterranean.

Like:

  • Great apron and runway textures
  • A lot of 3D objects on and around the airport

Don’t like:

  • The quality of some of the trees and bushes, especially those next to the main terminal and in the seaport.

Links:

Olbia X on SimMarket

My system:

Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4×3.3GHz (stock speed)
8GB RAM
MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II
Windows 7 64 bit
FSX Deluxe + Acceleration

Add-ons used: (in addition to Olbia X)

Active Sky 2012, REX Essentials, Aerosoft Huey, Dodosim 206 and several other aircraft that aren’t in the screenshots

 

About Lars

Virtual pilot and Simflight.com reviewer. Hobby photographer and occasional aircraft spotter. Student of aviation technology, and all-round aviation lover with some limited experience in real life gliders.

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