AVSIM Commercial FS9/FSX Scenery Review

Guatemala

Product Information

Publishers: Latin VFR

Description: Scenery add-on.

Download Size:
107 MB - Scenery
1.5 MB - Update

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 / FSX
Reviewed by: Arjun Murthy AVSIM Staff Reviewer - March 7, 2011

Introduction

La Aurora International Airport is located in Guatemala in Latin America. Recently, there has been an upgrade to the Passenger terminals and the airport now accommodates passenger aircraft, the Military and General Aviation.

This scenery created by Latin VFR shows all aspects of the airport and makes a worthwhile destination to any flight simulation enthusiast wanting to fly somewhere that’s realistic.

These are the settings that were used in the screenshots throughout this review. NOTE: Autogen fully down. The city will look a bit “flat”

Installation and Documentation

The installation for this product is relatively simple and straight forward. It is a simple step by step installation requiring a product key. This means all the unnecessary hassles are kept out of the way and you can have the scenery up and running in next to no time. The installation does however require you to manually add the Scenery Files to the Scenery Library. This is explained and should not cause any problem to a user.

The documentation is also relatively simple with a mere 8 pages. This includes a lot of information about the Airport, the airlines and about the scenery including a little FAQ. This makes it relatively simple to understand the product to be able to use it as designed.

LatinVFR have also included all the Jeppesen Charts for La Aurora airport with the scenery which is a great additional document for the IFR fanatics in our virtual world. This data is from March of 2008.

The Buildings

The buildings in the scenery are greatly realistic with regards to location, shape and number. The number of General Aviation buildings in La Aurora Intl. is simply immense. There are countless hangars on either side of the main runway stretching for almost the full distance. Some of them have open hangar doors with scenery data for the insides and some of them have closed doors. Unfortunately, the doors do not have opening/closing animation but it can still be good fun.

Military hangars can also be easily identified by their rounded shape. They are in the same location as in real life, once again showing the accuracy of the scenery.

The main terminal is very large and in great detail. The windows look fantastic and the construction looks utterly realistic. The terminal building was one of the parts of the scenery that made my eyes bulge when I first saw them. The textures on the glass make it look very good and the jetways have great detail in them. Unfortunately, the jetways do not operate in this scenery and are merely a visual aid.

There are also other buildings included in the scenery around the city. These include some major high-rises within a few miles of La Aurora Intl. There are also numerous trees, some town center type buildings, residential buildings and commercial shops (including Hungry Jacks, a Peugeot dealer ship and a zoo). All of these additional buildings build a sense of realism to the scenery and increase satisfaction when flying around the area.

Peugeot and Burger King
General Overview
The Zoo

One disadvantage in all these buildings however is that regardless of your Auto Gen setting, the scenery buildings in the city and airport buildings still exist. The Scenery Complexity sets the buildings on the airport and unless it stays at the lowest setting, you will see the same amount of buildings. So the option for the buildings is either “on” or “off” which doesn’t give you much of a dynamic option when it comes to performance (explained further below).

The Ground

The “ground” in general throughout the whole scenery area is the best part of the scenery, in my opinion. The mesh is very life like, the grass textures and some parts of the city seem to be directly from a satellite picture; the taxiways look fantastic, the grass in the area is 3D and the ground details on the tarmac with all the line markings and surface details is of a high quality. The objects on the ground also add more sweetness to the candy. This includes the VOR, PAPI, Taxiway lights (which look amazing at night), flowers on the grass, etc.

One thing I would liked to have seen is a larger area of the ground satellite image. As you can see from the set of screenshots below, not all of the airport’s surroundings are special satellite images like the scenery.

The downside to this however is the placement of scenery objects and the ground data. Aeroplanes from the real satellite picture can be seen in some areas on the grass, the VOR can be seen in 3D as an object and on the picture beneath, the PAPI light objects do not line up with the actual light from the scenery. Finally, although minor, the intersection of yaxiways or taxiways and runways could have been done in better detail.

There are some areas where the taxiway overlaps the runway or there is a small gap between taxiway intersections. This lack of detail is in many cases minor, but it is clearly distinct in some aspects resulting between perfection and “very good”.

Taxiway cuts over
PAPI and lights don’t align
Taxiway’s aren’t “straight”
Planes show up
More planes (fortunately, these have a feel of being parked)

Extra Goodies

This scenery has many extra little goodies here and there that make it one step better. It adds a lot of eye candy and in many cases doesn’t seem to cause much of a performance hit. There’s a road just off the end of the runway with moving cars which adds a special extra “real pilot” feeling on final approach. There are company names on most of the commercial buildings making it easy to identify a hangar, there’s a static Sky Chef and other airport ground vehicles, there are cars and aircraft parked in particular spots and there’s a little entrance to the airport with taxis parked along the side. Most of these features certainly do bring a smile to your face when you’re flying past them.

Night Scenery

The Night Scenery in this product is also fantastic. The highlights are the runway lights on the ends and the terminals. These look very welcoming and the lights are actually on 3D pins. The taxiways lights also show up very clearly while taxiing. They’re very realistic and remind me of the moments in real life where I’m sitting in the passenger seat taxiing for departure. These are also 3D pins so the effect is further enhanced.

Performance

The performance of this scenery is very abstract. Before I explain what I’ve seen of it, please keep in mind this is my own personal experience tested on only one computer and you may get a different result.

Test System

Intel Core2 Duo E8400 @ 3.0 GHz
2.00 GB Ram
Nvidia Geforce 9800GTX/9800 GTX+
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Flying Time:
10 hours

When I first started using this scenery, the performance issues on my computer made no sense. What helped to fix it was turning all the autogen off. On my computer, this made a significant difference. Autogen even on the lowest setting created a significant enough performance issue to make flying “annoying”. Autogen had to be turned off for smooth flight.

The buildings couldn’t be manipulated at all since the only option for them was either “on” or “off”. It was possible to change this on the Scenery Complexity. If it was at the lowest setting, then all the buildings and much of the ground data disappeared. If it was even one setting higher, it was the same as the highest settings.

This was made even more abstract with the fact that for the first few seconds after you spawn a flight or change views, the simulator lags before smoothing again.  It’s a bit like driving on sand and then onto a concrete surface. It’s very “rough” or slow or laggy in the initial few seconds while the scenery loads and after that, the flight is as smooth as ever.

Sometimes in the Virtual Cockpit (VC) of an aircraft, the lag starts randomly. Switching to the outside view seems to smoothen it again so when you re-switch to the VC, the flight is smooth. The smoothness also varies upon aircraft. Most aircraft fly smoothly after the initial few seconds of hesitation. There are some cases where no matter what you do, there is going to be a performance hit in the VC (this happened on the default Bell Helicopter in FS2004). Also, keep in mind that if the Autogen is on, the above doesn’t happen and it’s always “rough” regardless of how long you wait for the scenery to regenerate. (at least on my PC)

The main performance hit with this scenery seems to be from the large amount of GA hangars included in the scenery. Lots of these hangars have open doors with more scenery textures on the inside. Each one seems to drink a bit of your computer juice and when there are a lot of buildings in one airport, the juice needs to be re-filled quickly so as to not run out. I suspect my video-card may be the one delaying the loading speed of scenery.

With the minimum requirements indicated on the product, you may have to turn autogen completely off and some of the sliders down to have a smooth flight. You will still probably feel some “hesitations” before it gets smooth, but once it does get smooth, it is definitely enjoyable.

Summary / Closing Remarks

This is one of those products that have both good and bad mixed together. The good obviously outweighs the bad with much room to spare. The extra eye candy provided is definitely worth it and makes you feel accomplished as a pilot.

Although my performance description might be partially off-putting, when the scenery does work smoothly, it’s a very nice feeling. I can tell you that Guatemala’s La Aurora International will now be one of my “go to” destinations when I’m searching for a flight to do without an airport in mind.

A general look over the whole airfield

REVIEWER’S NOTE: “Real Life” just means that the scenery was compared with Google Earth/Maps

 

What I Like About Guatemala

  • Stunning Buildings textures
  • Stunning Ground textures for Taxiways, Runways, Grass areas and Tarmac
  • Good frames (if the right combination is used)
  • Static aircraft/cars brings a felling of “life”
  • Extra goodies packed (Hungry Jacks, Moving cars)
  • Free charts included

 

What I Don't Like About Guatemala

  • Intricate detail
  • Performance Hit in some cases

 

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Guatemala

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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