Review: Aerosoft – Mega Airport Paris Orly for FSX

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Paris Orly airport, LFPO, originally opened in 1932 and was known as Villeneuve Orly Airport. It straddles the communes of Orly and Villeneuve-le-Roi which are located approximately 8 miles south of Paris. Up until the opening of Charles de Gaulle airport in 1974 it was the main airport in Paris. Occupying almost 6 sq miles of land it is the busiest airport in France in terms of domestic traffic and second overall in passenger boarding’s with just slightly less than 26.5 million in 2007. The airport has two terminals Orly West and Orly South and three runways; 02/20@7874 ft long, 06/24@11975 ft long and 08/24@10892 ft long.

Installation

In typical Aerosoft fashion the installation is extremely simple.  You are required to put in the registration information provided at the time of purchase and confirm the path of your flight simulator program. You are then given the option of installing static aircraft.  I use Ultimate Traffic 2 so I chose not to install the static aircraft. After making your choices the installer will continue and complete the process.

The installer also creates the program group Aerosoft with the sub group Mega Airport Paris Orly X.  Inside you will find links to the following:

  • Charts
  • LPFOTraffic
  • Manual
  • Season-Tool
  • Download size is of the product is only 286Mb.

Configuration

Once the installation process is complete you will be presented with the LFPOTraffic tool.

*LFPO X Traffic configurator screenshot*

It is here that you can decide what animated traffic you want to have active by either checking or un-checking the available options.

You will also have access to the Season-Tool, here you can decide on the appropriate season for the trees in the scenery.

Documentation

The airport comes with a 38 page multilingual German-English-French PDF document.  Charts are not included but a link is provided to access and download them.

The first page lists the recommended system requirements for FSX and FS2004. I’ve listed their recommendations for FSX below. After having experienced the airport I personally believe that those of the CPU and graphics card should be treated as minimum specs at best and may be inadequate if you expect to run with full AI and supplied animations.

  • FSX with Acceleration or SP2
  • Windows XP/Vista or 7
  • 3.0 Ghz processor (Core 2Duo Intel recommended)
  • 600Mb hard drive space
  • 2 Gb RAM
  • 3D graphics card with 256 Mb, recommend 512 Mb
  • CD-ROM

After providing you with this information they then go on to describe the installation process and how you would go about uninstalling the scenery. In the next four pages they give some history of Orly airport, a few statistics and then list technical details like runway lengths, frequencies and geographic coordinates.  The final two pages are under the heading “peculiarity”. What they have done here is anticipated some questions the users will have and provided answers. The first question has to do with the slow drawing of buildings or black surfaces. They state that if the settings suggested in the manual are too hard on your system to turn down the scenery complexity and autogen settings. As far as suggested settings go I was not able to find any other than what I read in this paragraph. The point they bring up is not rocket science.  Items such as 3D clouds, water effects, shadows, AI and static aircraft do have an impact on frame rates.  So if what you experience is less than ideal you will need to look at your game settings and adjust them accordingly till you come up with what you consider as a satisfactory balance between detail and fluid game play. They mention that it is not DX10 compatible and that if you have Ultimate Terrain Europe installed that Orly airport be a higher priority otherwise you may have some visual anomalies. There are also several other items discussed that have to do with some aspects of the airport such as the PAPI lights not being installed on every runway and the visual docking system only available at 16 of 91 parking positions.  Little gems of knowledge such as these are often found in product manuals and unless you read them you may not be aware they exist.

Scenery


FSX Paris Orly Default

Aerosoft Paris Orly Scenery

*FSX default and Aerosoft Paris Orly comparison screenshots*

*Scenery area of coverage screenshot*

There are so many elements to this large and complex airport I decided to break it down into sub categories.

Structures

Paris Orly airport has many buildings spread out over it’s 6 sq mile area. Scanning around it was easy to see that there was quite a variety here from the very simple and small to the very large and intricate. The most prominent cluster of buildings would be the main passenger terminal complex that consists of two terminals; Orly West and Orly South. They are centrally located within the airport grounds and can be reached by road or rail.  This scenery includes the raised rail links to both terminals. The terminal buildings are multi storey structures with lots of glass, exposed metal framing, ornamental structural ribbing, intricate walls, complicated roof lines and of course the multiple jet ways that are found along the entire length of both terminals. I am sure they were a challenge to recreate but they have done a great job in capturing them no matter what your viewpoint happens to be.

To the east and north of the passenger terminals you have a huge area made up of freight and maintenance hangers. There are some huge hangers here as well as some other buildings that have unique features and the variances in colours and textures based on the different building materials does go a long way towards portraying these realistically.

They put the same degree of effort into the other buildings found around the airport. No matter if it is the fire hall or control tower or a small open shed. They are all done to a level that gives them a real world feel and look.

Weathering is another important aspect when it comes to how objects look and can make a huge difference in how believable you find the scenery to be. You will see that such things as metal roofs showing signs of rusting and painted surfaces appearing to be chipped or peeling are all here in an effort to enhance the sense of realism.

[slideshow id=78]

Ground textures

For the ground they use high resolution photo scenery textures over the entire airport area.  This provides a very realistic base for the myriad of structures and objects found within the airport.  The textures are crisp and clear and colours very true to life. I found this to be the case for the hard surfaces such as the runways, taxiways and aprons as well as the soft grassy or dirt surfaces found elsewhere within the airport perimeter. The hard surfaces appear weathered and dirty with some slight discolouration in areas where you find higher volumes of aircraft and vehicle traffic. Painted markings are well done and here again they appear to be accurate; colouring is very good, not too bright and easy to read.

Paris Orly is a very busy place with a large passenger terminal complex and several areas for freight handling. All of this generates vehicle traffic and they all need roads and parking areas.  Everything is rendered in high resolution photo textures that look very good and quite realistic; the roads leading to and from the airport, the roads within the complex of buildings that make up the South and West terminals including the rail lines and then all of the parking lots that surround many of the buildings found within the airport grounds. Even flying at low altitudes the textures were crisp and clear and there was no blurriness.  The look is quite convincing. The only downside here is that there are no vehicles populating any of these areas so it can look flat depending on how you are viewing them.  I suspect that if they had added 3D vehicles to these areas there would be the potential to cause users more problems in being able to run the scenery at frame rates high enough to be able to enjoy the product.

Objects

Being a very large airport with lots of activity it only stands to reason that there would be a large quantity and variety of objects here to support the traffic. The vast majority are concentrated in and around the apron areas because that is where you have the most activity. Everything you see appears to have been done with an eye towards bringing as much realism to your experience as possible. So what am I referring to? Lamp posts, blast fences, the perimeter fencing, mobile air stairs, baggage carts, cargo containers, safety pylons and fire extinguishers. I’ve named some of the different items you’ll find here at Paris Orly but there are quite a few more. As I examined them I came to the conclusion over and over again that they were well made, detailed and appropriately placed.  The only time I really noticed things were not where they should be was with the FSX generated vehicles and this is beyond their control.  You see this in many airports where the FSX pushback vehicles for example may be imbedded in a building or in the middle of a roadway and the dynamic airport traffic passes through them as if they were not there.

Dynamic Traffic

From the moment you arrive at Paris Orly you can’t help but notice that there is a great deal of activity going on. After my installation was complete I opened up the LPFO X Traffic tool and chose to keep all of the options checked enabling all of the dynamic road and airport traffic.  With these options enabled you will see all manner of vehicle traffic; the trains that make their way along the raised rail lines to both of the passenger terminals, the vehicle traffic on the nearby highways and finally you will see buses, fuel trucks, pushback tugs and service vehicles driving around the various parking areas and aprons. All of these contribute to making this airport appear to be the very busy place that it is.  The vehicle models are very good and include company logos such as Air France.

Surrounding Area

To further enhance the sense of realism they have included an area of photo scenery around the airport. It is populated with autogen and many custom objects in sufficient quantities so that when you are approaching or departing the airport you get a sense that the airport is in the midst of a densely populated area.  The photo scenery also helps the airport to blend in with the adjacent FSX scenery.

Night Textures

I have mixed feelings about the night time rendering.  The buildings I thought had been very nicely done and you were seeing them as they would appear in real life. As I examined them I noticed that not all windows were lit up and the ones that were not all of them seemed to be lit up the same.  This had the affect of making it seem as though there may be some activity going on in certain areas but not others. A small but important touch. The lighting affects on the walls were also well done, again you had the impression that the outside lighting was shining on the walls. This was also true with how the ground textures were illuminated near the various light sources. The intensity varied according to the distance from the source and there were differences in the colour of the lighting depending on which type of ground texture was being illuminating.

[slideshow id=77]

I didn’t care for how the ground textures that represented the illuminated parking areas and roadways looked. I found that in comparison to the aprons and building lighting they were way too bright and there seemed to be too many of these bright spots.  Perhaps part of the problem had to do with the fact that there were no lamp posts in any of these areas so the look was very one dimensional. There are no 3D objects so it just seemed to amplify the fact that they were simply photo textures.

Final Thoughts

This airport is big and it’s busy. There is so much to see! Be prepared to have your system put to the test if you decide to enable all of the animated features along with AI traffic. Despite having issues with frame rates being lower than I am accustomed to I was still happy with how the scenery performed and very happy with how it looked. Whether you are a plane spotter or enjoy flying the big jets I am sure you will find this to be a fun airport with many different aspects to peek your interest and keep you coming back for more.

My Ratings

  • Installer: Excellent. Simple to use.
  • Documentation: Good but could have provided suggested scenery settings. Charts are available through download only.
  • Modelling: Good but will put your system to the test.
  • Extras: Season-Tool and LPFO X Traffic configuration tool included. AES Lite brings life to the airport.  LPFO X Traffic and Season-Tool included.

Publisher: www.aerosoft.de
Download Size: FS2004 90MB, FSX 286MB
Price: EUR 20.96
Purchase Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/aerosoft-online-mega-airport-paris-orly.phtml#mce_temp_url#

Test System: Intel i7 920 OC @ 3.9 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, EVGA 285 GTX w/1Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX overdrive, UTX Europe, AES 2.08

Richard Desjardins

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