Europe has always been the place to be for FS enthusiasts. Just about any country has at least one airport modeled for it, but most have multiple, especially in Western Europe. Flying to the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, you will always find a place to land your plane. Germany and The Netherlands undoubtedly get the crown of airport availability. Both countries are unusually well represented, Germany thanks to its extensive German Airports and related products, The Netherlands thanks to NL2000’s magnificent freeware scenery. Iceland is a new arrival for which only just now about all airports have been released in one big package, save for Keflavik, available seperately. However, what about that other continent? What about the USA?
The USA is not at all forgotten, but has received much less attention. For as far as I know, there are simply less Americans that buy FS addons, or that’s what Aerosoft has always said. Whether it’s true I don’t know of course, but their statistics say so. Still, it is by no means forgotten. Companies like FSDreamTeam, FlyTampa and recenly FlightBeam churn out American airports almost all the time.
There is another company that does many American airports: ImagineSim. Their latest release is Denver international, KDEN, and I will give it a look in this review.
Installation and documentation
ImagineSim has a slightly more complicated installation procedure than most developers have. In principle you need to know three things: where you bought the scenery, under what email address and the order number. The installer will then contact the store and check if such an order exists for that name. If so, you can continue and you can install the product, but beware that you’ll get a UAC screen that asks you if you can confirm the validity of the installer. Of course you can, and then installer installs the airport scenery.
The documentation is a fairly standard thing, offering same info on the real airport and the scenery, and it includes a rather big FAQ section for newbies that have hardly any experience with installing airport sceneries. This FAQ is sort of standard though, and you’ll find it in many ImagineSim products.
The scenery: passenger terminal
It’s time to go look at the scenery itself. First of all, let’s take a look at the passenger terminal. From my experience, the ImagineSim airports are relatively detailed, but lack a bit in the texturing department. These seem hardly ever to be actually photoreal, and especially the windows tend to look a bit fake.
Well that’s a harsh way to start a review, isn’t it? Fact is that Denver really isn’t very different. Some developers are quite poor in modeling but good at texturing, others are the opposite. ImagineSim falls in the latter category from what I have seen. Let’s go over the airport now.
First of all an overview shot of the terminal. This part of the terminal is where the entrance and exits are, and the paring areas are located. The white canvas roof is supposed to remind one of the Rocky Mountains, on which doorstep KDEN lies. I think it’s a beautiful design, and I think ImagineSim modeled it well in their scenery. Let’s move a little closer.
Front of the terminal.
From up close the texturing becomes a bit clearer. It is indeed a bit fake, those windows, like I already suspected. They seem hand drawn, and I generally do not like that on sceneries. On planes it can work very well without a problem, but sceneries should probably have photoreal textures. The modeling is rather good, however. The canvas roof looks good, and so do the parking lots surrounding the terminal, as seen below:
I really like two things in this parking lot: The use of photoreal textures, and the fact that at every spot where a car is parked, a 3D car was placed. This adds to the realism, because you don’t have strange 2D cars plopped onto the garage’s surface. The modeling of the garage isn’t that special though, and it might have been nice if the ramps would have been modeled, like for example Aerosoft did in their Anchorage X scenery, or FlyTampa in their Tampa Rebooted scenery.
KDEN has three big concourses, placed in the middle of a large rectangular asphalt apron. The concourses stretch from east to west on this apron, and have jetways on both sides of them. Concourse B, the United concourse, is undoubtedly the largest, while Concourse C would be the smallest and is also the concourse with the big control tower. Let’s take a look first at the bridge that connects the terminal to concourse A.
The bridge to concourse A.
This bridge is one thing that KDEN would be known for, the other thing being the canvas roof, and another thing probably the interesting runway configuration to which we will come later. A Boeing 737 can pass just under it, but anything bigger will have to go around concourse A. It has jetways on both sides, and services a number of airlines. The modeling of the bridge and terminal-side structures is pretty nice, and the texturing is okay, having this hand drawn feel over it that I don’t quite like.
Concourse A is of intermediate length. The nice thing is the amount of modeled detail. Everywhere you see chimneys, pipes and whatever modeled, which gives a very nice impression of the real world terminal. Also note the huge amount of ground equipment on the side of concourse A. These are also scattered in quite big amounts around the gates, but of course less frequently than what you see in the above shot, or otherwise you’d have no place to park your plane. The texturing tends to be less good than the modeling, but it is okay. Later we’ll give the gates a closer look at the other concourses. They are all the same, so I elected to leave that to a later opportunity. We will now move on to concourse B.
Concourse B is the biggest concourse at KDEN. It’s main operations are by United, so that’s what you’ll mostly see here. United is the biggest operator at KDEN and indeed it has a major hub here at KDEN. That’s not such a big surprise though, since KDEN is located very centrally for lots of airports. That’s also a reason I really like KDEN: everything seems close by. With 1:20 of flight time, you can be at KLAS, KDFW or KDMW, and if you fly a bit longer you’re at KSFO. Anyway, how did ImagineSim fare with concourse B? Let’s take a look.
The above shot gives something of an overview of concourse B. First things that catch my eye are the rather nice modeling of the concourse itself. All kinds of stuff seems to be included, for example some air fans on the roof. Secondly, the texturing isn’t my favorite, again. Also, the amount of ground equipment is again huge, and finally, the ground textures appear rather blurry from this point of view. We shall go and look from closer by now.
Concourse B, more detailed shots.
The above shots show concourse B in some more detail. Overall, the modeling is rather good. Although not everything is modeled, much is, so that textures are mostly just to give the models a real appearance. As always, the wall textures of the concourse are not the best, giving a very hand drawn appearance (and as you can probably dream by now, I don’t really like that). The roof is a lot better, and I know why. For the roof, they cut out pieces of the photoreal ground texture and used it as a texture for the buildings. Therefore, the roof does have a photoreal appearance and the walls not. Note that I do not mean to say that I hate the hand drawn textures, but I think they could be improved upon by using photoreal textures.
What about the ground photoscenery? From higher up, it seemed blurry and not so good, but now that we are closer to the ground, its apparent that it doesn’t matter that much. As a matter of fact, due to the layer of ground detail and taxiway markings, it looks quite nice.
The best modeling and texturing here can be found in the jetways for as far as I’m concerned. Not only is the modeling really detailed, the texturing looks good too. It looks very real, which is something that I won’t say as quickly about the concourse and terminal walls. Note the details of the air vent on the jetway’s cab, note the intricate modeling of the cab, especially the part that connects to the airplane fuselage.
Now also look at the ground equipment. I have already mentioned these in the context of the ImagineSim Singapore Changi WSSS review, but I keep being amazed by them. Not only is their modeling really nice, their texturing is often crisp. It’s a pity however that the scenery complexity slider has to be set to at least very dense to see them, and then they appear by the hundreds, slowing down your computer. Still, they are very nice and I love to have them around. They are also driving around the concourses on the designated roads, but they don’t stop for your airplane like the AESLite traffic does.
Concourse C overview.
On to concourse C now, and it’s the smallest of the three concourses. As you can see, it facilitates operations of Southwest, for one. Much of what would have been concourse C is actually a large parking area for ground equipment, and ImagineSim made sure to place lots of it. I really like that, because it gives you a very good impression of what the area is used for. That said, the texture quality of this area really doesn’t seem very good, although the roads you see laid out halfway the grass do include some nice details, including white markings. So, the resolution should be okay. I’m therefore not really sure what constitutes the blurry look of the grass. We will now go to look at the concourse from closer by.
Close-up view of concourse C.
I really like the modeling I’m seeing here, it being detailed. There is all kinds of stuff to be found. Not only do we see air vents on the roofs, we also see different layers of walls, and lamp posts and such. It looks very good, and thanks to ground equipment and the well-done jetways, it also looks filled. It’s just the textures which look hand drawn and a bit simplistic. That’s a pity, because if there would have been photoreal textures for the walls (and the roof, in this case), the appearance of the terminal would have been twice as good. Not that it’s bad – not at all! I really like the appearance of concourse C – filled and lively, with nice detailing. It could have been better, is all.
The control tower, positioned on concourse C.
On top of concourse C, we find the main control tower. It’s a tall and very standard structure, of the same type as at many US airports (hey, if it works well, why change it?). In all honesty, it’s a pretty dull structure, but the modeling is god and the texturing is actually also pretty nice. I don’t like the flat, black windows, though. These could have been better. Mind you, its not fully accurate. The dimensions of the various parts of the tower are not really correct. The black band should have been thinner, for example, and the diameter of the control room should have been a bit bigger. It’s a good approximation, though.
This is the terminal area then. I have shown you pretty much everything. My conclusion is that it’s a pretty good representation of the real thing, although it is not fully accurate. The actual modeling is really nice, but the texturing is here and there rather flat and lifeless, and I think this is because it’s all hand drawn. The jetways really are very good however, and the apron itself looks nice. Some bits of the photoscenery seem blurry, but it’s not that bad. The abundance of ground equipment is also a welcome addition. It’s now time to go over the cargo area and some other buildings scattered around the airport premises.
Cargo and miscellaneous areas.
KDEN’s passenger terminal and concourses are concentrated on a relatively small area. Below I included a shot of the whole of KDEN.
Overview shot of KDEN.
As you can see, the passenger terminal is like a spider in a web of taxiways and runways. What’s so good about this however, is not so much the fact that the terminal is at the center, but the way the runways connect to it. As you can see, the runways are positioned thusly, that one end of the runway is always about halfway the terminal’s apron on each side. This means that no matter where you take off or land, the time needed to taxi to the gate or to the runway is always relatively short. This is much better than at, for example, EHAM, where the fifth runway (the Polderbaan), is a good 15-minute taxi away, and depending on traffic volume and gate of departure can be even longer. This is also the reason I like KDEN so much: the airport layout is very efficient.
The cargo terminal is not at the center however. While the layout works very well for the passenger terminal, the freight traffic ends up being thrown in a corner. For where is it located? In the above shot, it’s the big apron at the most southern edge of the airport.
KDEN’s cargo apron.
KDEN’s cargo facilities serve various well-known cargo carriers, such as FedEx, UPS and, apparently DHL (DHL isn’t mentioned on the wiki page, but it’s not the first time their info was complete). In the above shot hardly any plane is present, but it can get pretty busy. Fortunately, there are even parking locations, and the various big warehouses seem big enough to handle the cargo operations.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what happened in ImagineSim’s representation of the cargo apron, because when I reference Google Maps, I get a rather different picture of the area (Google maps image data from 2011). While the positioning of the various buildings is in broad terms okay, there is one little building in ImagineSim’s KDEN that I see nowhere, not on Google Maps and not on other photographs. Perhaps I couldn’t find an up-to-date photograph, otherwise I can’t really explain the addition of this little building.
As for texturing and modeling, overall both are okay, although they are not as detailed or as accurate as they probably should be. They seem to be more of an interpretation than a true-to-life replica, albeit very good interpretations. I do like the amounts of ground equipment, although these are not really positioned where they should. Looking at Google Maps, they should be positioned at other places, at least positioned elsewhere in the quantities displayed in ImagineSim’s KDEN.
We will now proceed to look at some other buildings around the airport. Not all of the, just a selection.
One of the most prominent buildings besides the terminal, is the really big United hangar you see in the above shot. The modeling is good overall, and the texturing is also okay. Notice the details, also: the ladder along that silo (wish the silo was rounder), and the fences on the roofs. That said, it isn’t too accurate. Look at the ground scenery, and you see a big white square with black around it. The black is usually a shadow, signifying that there should have been something here, yet we see no building modeled.
Hangar and silos.
The above shot shows some silos and a hangar in the background. While everything looks okay, the placement of the silos is completely wrong. It is easy to see this due to the ground textures. This kind of problem always pains me because it’s so easy to correct. I also am no fan of the modeling of the silos. They should have been made more round, since they are very angular right now. Texturing is okay though.
The above buildings show much of the same problems as was already mentioned. While the modeling and texturing is overall okay, although a bit simplistic here and there, their placement isn’t as accurate as one would want to see. The first shot’s building the placement inaccuracy is more pronounced, for the building is placed to some extent on the parking lot, for example.
In the second shot the problem is mostly visible with the cars. I do not think that the placement of these can or should be 100% accurate, but take a look at the cars parked to the right, the smaller ones parked at an angle. Everywhere you see yellow spots on the photoscenery, so I wonder why these cars were placed on a place that does not feature the yellow spots. It might have been better to place them where you see yellow spots on the photoscenery. Most of the cars are placed fine, however.
Finally, the third shot again shows some building placement problems. It’s a pity that here no cars at all were placed, also, but I guess it saves some FPS.
Overall, it is readily apparent that the less important parts feature much less detail. Buildings haven’t been accurately placed, and the overall modeling and texturing is less precise. It’s a pity, but it’s also somewhat understandable. Still, in light of developers like Aerosoft, FlyTampa and FSDreamTeam, that do have accurate buildings all over the scenery, I wish ImagineSim would have taken more time to get their scenery more detailed.
One thing I want to look at before we turn off the light and look at the night lighting at the airport, are the ground textures, including taxiways, signage and runway textures.
Photoreal groundscenery, taxiways and runways.
On first sight, the photoreal scenery appears blurry and not that good. Especially the taxiway’s dark sides don’t look that good. The taxiways, runways and signage itself does look rather good however. The groundscenery texture overlays are crisp and clear and the various hues provided by the groundscenery give the taxiway a nice look, instead of being completely “flat” with only one color. So overall, it is quite all right. On approach the photoscenery does its job okay, and only when taxiing around doe sit sometimes seem a bit blurry.
The airport at night
I myself am not a night flyer, preferring the day because then I can see the terrain around me and enjoy it, plus I get better FPS at daytime. Knowing however that there are many people that do like flying at night, I have included a host of shots of the night version of this scenery.
to be honest, I have seen better night lighting. The night lighting at this scenery is the sort that lights up everything, even walls. The lights on the lamp posts having also don’t clear effect. It’s there, you just have to look a bit for it and you’ll see there’s a lighting difference. it should probably be more obvious. As for the walls lighting up, the entire terminal seems a bit bright at night (see screenshots below), as if the walls have a soft fluorescent glow. Some structures, like the big United hangar, do have better night effects. Also the cargo apron has relatively nice night effects that actually look rather genuine (although the buildings are also weirdly lit). I just wish that the passenger terminal would be of the same quality.
As such, I’m not that impressed by the night lighting. It’s okay, but could have been better. The screenshots will give you an idea of what I’m trying to say.
Screenshots of the night lighting of ImagineSim’s KDEN.
A not unimportant question is how the scenery performs. In general, my computer has somewhat of a hard time with big airports, but overall, with ImagineSim airports, I tend to get between 12 and 15 FPS. With the PMDG 737NGX at KDEN and somewhat clear weather, I get about 12 FPS facing the terminal and 18-20FPS when not facing the terminal, which is the expected rate. Given the amount of 3D modeling and amount of ground equipment, this doesn’t really come as a surprise, although, when looking at the overall quality of the airport, I would have hoped for a higher rate. people with better computers should not have trouble running this airport on their computers, though.
Note that there were some complaints regarding terrible performance at night because of the PAPI lights. A similar complaint was raised regarding their KATL scenery, but since I hardly ever fly at night, I never experienced these problems. ImagineSim does not have a forum, so if you wish to hear other’s complaints and get more information, I suggest opening a new topic at either Simflight’s or Avsim’s forums, and people will be gladly of assistance to you.
After looking at all of KDEN, I have somewhat of a mixed feeling regarding this product. On the one hand I value the amount of ground equipment, the good looking jetways and the overall nice modeling of the terminal. I also like, and I have always liked, KDEN as an airport, also without ImagineSim’s scenery. Something about the layout of this airport has always attracted me greatly.
However, not all is good here. The texturing often strikes me as a bit fake, probably because it is hand drawn (or at least seems like it’s hand drawn). The modeling isn’t always as accurate as you’d wish, and outside of the passenger terminal area, ImagineSim has taken some liberties with object placement.
Overall, KDEN is a nice airport scenery, but not especially good. KDEN lovers will probably want it, but if you do buy it, make sure to use Simmarket’s deal: buy at least 3 ImagineSim airports and get them for 12,95 Euro each. Note: at the time of writing, this discount does not include KDEN yet! It includes all ImagineSim airports, except the newest release, so you’ll want to wait a bit before getting KDEN for the discount price. At 12,95 Euros, it’s a very fair deal. Also note that you buy the FS2004 and FSX versions separately!
Price as rated: 25 Euros
FS Version: FS2004 and FSX (bought separately)
Simmarket product link: http://secure.simmarket.com/imagine-sim-denver-intl-apt-kden-fsx.phtml
Apple iMac 27” containing:
- – Intel i5 Quad Core
- – 12GB DDR3 RAM
- – 1TB hard disk @ 7200RPM
- – ATI 5750HD Radeon
- – Screen resolution of 2560×1440
- – Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
- – FSX + Acceleration
Addons used: REX, GEPro, UTX USA, FSGenesis mesh, MyTraffic X