Usually, before a country, region or continent gets any attention from developers, there has to be somebody good enough and with enough determination to actually set out making sceneries. If there is nobody who is good enough or has enough determination, nothing will happen. The interesting thing is that this pattern can be seen everywhere. Some good examples are UK2000, FlyTampa, Aerosoft, TropicalSim and LantinVFR.
UK2000’s Gary Summons is a very talented scenery designer, and people everywhere agree on this. He has both the skill and determination to set out and make sceneries for FS and he has continued to do so. Thus, almost on his own for all I know, he has transformed FS’s Great Britain into a FS enthusiast’s paradise, not only catering for the tubeliner addicts by developing sceneries of airports such as Heathrow and Manchester, but also for the GA freaks by releasing a series of VFR sceneries that are equally good.
You see the same thing in Germany thanks to Aerosoft. They have created sceneries to cover great parts of Germany, and with their series of VFR Germany sceneries, the entire country is covered. LatinVFR and TropicalSim have done and keep doing the thing for the more exotic locations. LatinVFR focuses on South and Latin America, for which already many sceneries have been developed and even more are coming. TropicalSim has made tens of sceneries, spanning half the globe (yes indeed, for they have made sceneries in the Caribbean, Europe and South America).
It seems that we made another scenery developer to the ever-growing list of what I’d like to call “Pioneers of FS design”. Not so much because they present us with new technologies, but because they make commercial scenery of places previously entirely or almost entirely unseen in FS. This new developer is Eiresim and they focus in Ireland: another one of those places that have been somewhat neglected by commercial scenery developers.
In this review I shall look at their Dublin 2009, Shannon Ultimate and Cork Ultimate sceneries, all of which represent medium sized airports in Ireland at their respective cities of Dublin, Shannon and Cork.
This is a multi-product review. In it, I review multiple products, instead of just one. In this particular review, I will discuss the airports one by one, in a chronological order (first released is discussed first). This way I hope to make clear how every airport by Eiresim gets increasingly nicer and more functional. To give a global idea: Dublin is okay, but Cork is awesome. You’ll soon see why.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is somewhat straightforward. In an email you receive a password for the zip file and a serial key. You must also remember the email address you used to buy the sceneries; you’ll need that during installation. So after you download the relevant zip files, you use the password on the zip files to extract them. You then find an installer, which is a rather straightforward affair of simply filling in the necessary details.
Once that has been done, the installer contacts the Eiresim server (I assume) to “inquire” whether the details you entered are okay. You can afterwards proceed with the installation, which does not take long and is fully automated. You only need to manually add the sceneries to the scenery library, but this is easy to do. For those that have never done it, the manual explains very clearly, with screenshots of the FS interface, what to do.
Speaking of the manual, it’s a well organized, neat and easy to understand booklet. It contains some installation instructions, performance enhancing tips and more such stuff that might be handy to know. I recommend skimming through it, just to know what’s in it.
With every product release, I found the manual to get better. Shannon and Cork both have a very nice story about the history of the airport, which is a good read. It also seems that the functionality of the airport increases, with more working jet ways and such. We’ll soon see how it all looks.
Dublin: The terminals and gates
Dublin International Airport has two terminals. The older terminal 1 is what we will be looking at first. It has several piers, most without any jet ways Terminal 2 is still under construction and is supposed to have 19 gates, and will be able to handle 15 million passengers. First we will take a look at terminal 1.
The very first constructed terminal is the building in the screenshot above. As may be seen, it was heavily inspired by the big ocean liners of the time. As old as it is (it was built in 1941), it is still a remarkable and beautiful building that is now a listed building, protecting it from demolishment. Its replica in Eiresim’s scenery is very nice. The modeling is quite good and the texturing is really razor sharp, which is something I don’t see as often as I’d like in even the best available scenery packages by Aerosoft.
Following bigger and bigger volumes of passengers that Dublin airport had to handle, a new pier was built: pier A, seen in the above four screenshots. The real building looks pretty much the same as in the four screenshots above. The scenery could have been a bit more detailed, especially in the texture department as it would have been nice if a little more care were taken. Don’t get me wrong: the textures are very crisp and look great, but the scenery lacks a bit of depth, and I think that’s mostly because of the lack of shadows. Many sceneries today have shadows “baked” into the scenery, with lighting differences between ground, wall, roof, et cetera. All of that is missing here and I think that’s a bit of a pity. Nevertheless, it looks rather well as it is.
Because the amount of passengers kept growing, it was time for expansion once again. Pier A was extended at its base and pier B was built. The connection is what you see in the upper screenshot, screenshots of pier B are shown below.
The above screenshots show Pier B. It was the first pier to have jet ways and as you can see these have been replicated well. Overall, pier B looks very good. The modeling is fine and the texturing is very good. It’s only the dark windows on the rotunda part of pier B that has some tiny errors. If you look closely on the screenshot at the bottom left, you may notice some window frames on the corners not making it all the way to the top. Instead they are “cut off” about halfway. For the rest though, there isn’t a lot to complain.
Let me make another remark of the lack of depth: although the texturing and modeling is very nice, shadows and such really make the scenery look far more basic than it is. If you look at Aerosoft releases, you’ll almost always notice shadows under the jet ways While not always perfect, they do make the scenery feel more alive, and it’ll have far more depth.
In the manual, a link is provided to the chart databases of AIP Ireland. After a bit of searching you’ll find charts AD 2.24-2, which shows the layout of the terminals. It’s a nifty map, but it seems they have made a mistake: where is pier C? It turns out pier C has been closed. Once upon a time, pier C will have extended from what is now the main entrance to terminal 1 from which also pier B extends.
In the above screenshot you see the sad remains of pier C: only two gates are still in place and the jet ways have been removed. So what has happened to pier C that it had to be closed? What happened was terminal 2. In 2005, the Irish government ordered for an extension of Dublin Intl. airport, and in 2009 the plans were made public: Dublin was going to have a new terminal, aptly named “terminal 2”. We will soon get to this. First we move all the way back to give terminal 1’s pier D a look.
But first, the back of terminal 1. Here you see the road and a huge parking garage with some pretty nifty architecture. The modeling is quite good and the texturing is as good as always. Nice and crisp, but with a lack of depth (also as always).
On the above screenshots you see the walk bridge leading to pier D, followed by pier D itself. The walk bridge sports some truly beautiful architecture, which is nicely represented in Eiresim’s scenery. I will not go as far as saying that’s it’s perfect; it does its job well, although to me it still looks a bit basic. I think that’s because it’s not really photo real, rather hand drawn. While that’s not bad, you can spot the difference and I like photo real textures a lot better. This is a personal preference however and I know people who prefer hand drawn textures.
Pier D itself has been modeled well. The texturing is actually quite nice here, and together with the effective modeling the structure conveys a good sense of how the real, built in 2007, building looks. It is a modern building, although you’d be hard pressed to call it an airport’s pier. It looks like a factory honestly, and this is no surprise: it was built with low-cost airlines in mind. Later on I will shown screenshots of pier D at night and you’ll be amazed by the amount of Ryanair planes docked here, at pier D!
With terminal 1 one done, let’s go back to where we were previously, which is where terminal 2 is located.
Terminal 2 is connected to terminal 1 via the old pier C. You can see a pipe-like structure running from terminal 2 to 1, and there are several buildings in between the two terminals. I’m not a fan of the texturing. It is all hand drawn and strikes me as rather basic, as if not much effort was done to get shadows, reflections, and the lot. It’s all rather stale. I can excuse this by saying that the pilot will never see this, of course…
I am a bit confused as to the state which terminal 2 is currently in. The scenery suggests it is not yet in use, but aircraft are parked at the scenery’s terminal 2. For all I know, in real life it is not yet in use. The modeling of the building is okay, but the texturing, while really crisp, still is a bit stale and I will keep saying this, but shadows would have made all of this look a lot better than it currently looks. It now simply looks a bit basic. It looks good, but it could have looked better. In the future, the scenery will be updated to keep track with the real terminal’s state.
This concludes the passenger portion of the airport. I will now move on to show you some hangars and areas other than the terminal area. These include the west apron, north apron and cargo area.
Dublin: Hangars and offices
I will now give the hangars and offices scattered around the airport a look. First up is the cargo area, located next to terminal 2. It’s not very big, but I guess it’s enough for the volume of traffic it handles.
So the cargo area is pretty small. There are various storage facilities and one large cargo terminal, shown in the top right screenshot. It is this area that I think looks pretty good. The modeling is nice and the texturing is very good here. The textures look quite realistic, instead of the hand drawn look of many of the buildings, especially terminal 2 and the walk bridge connecting pier D to the rest of terminal 1.
On the north apron we find a whole lot of hangars, most of them of SR technics. Moving away from the terminal, you can see on the above screenshots what hangars we pass. The modeling of all of these hangars is good. They are detailed enough without looking basic. I am of the opinion that it’s the texturing that ends up making most of the difference. Whereas some of the terminal’s piers seemed basic or without depth, these hangars looks very nice, with crisp texturing that still looks pretty realistic. I like the way this looks, and the only thing one could moan about is the ground, which still looks a bit basic. More about this later.
Over at the west apron, there are yet some more hangars. If I may believe what the sign says, these are owned by “Aer Lingus Commuter”, a regional subsidiary of Aer Lingus (as the name suggests…). The hangars themselves look pretty good; both modeling and texturing has been done well. It’s the ground that I don’t like (again). It looks, yes indeed, basic.
The parking lot, while a nice addition is devoid of cars and the hangar is standing on it. It’s not a surprise that there are no cars, however. I mean, how could they have gotten there without a road? Look closely at the shots: there is no road leading to the parking lot, so there is no possibility to place your car at that parking lot.
It’s these details that I think the developers should have thought about, never mind the “depth” problems and staleness of some of the textures. This is a pity, because the terminal area is bustling with life. There are ground vehicles parked everywhere, and one may notice cars driving all around the piers, which truly is a nice addition.
Before moving on to the next chapter, here are some screenshots of offices and hotels modeled in the scenery. What the big building is in the top left screenshot, I do not know. It is huge, it is ugly and doesn’t look inviting at all. I simply call it an “office”, not knowing what else it could be. It seems to be too dreary to be a hotel.
Anyway, the building, from a reviewer’s perspective, has been modeled well and the texturing is very nice, being seemingly photo real (which I like). The same applies to the building with the SAS logo in the top right screenshot. The office-like building shown in the final two screenshot looks fine, really, but there is a problem. The radar dome (that’s what I presume it is) is floating in the air without a pole to hold it. That said, the shadowy effect on the dome is rather nice.
Dublin: At the control tower
Now that we had the hangars and such, we go back to the west apron, where we find the control tower.
The above screenshot shows the interesting part of the west apron, namely the control tower, fire station and the hangars we have already looked at. For the rest, the west apron doesn’t have much to show for itself for it is mainly a big, flat, concrete slab with taxiway markings on it. You will see enough of those shortly.
The fire station doesn’t look too shabby. The texturing is nice, but I do not really like the basic character of the small tower on the roof of the fire station. Besides the fact that you can look through its floor, as the top right screenshot shows (the tower has been placed thus that at one end you can look through the floor and see the fire station’s wall), it looks very stale.
The windows are just blue, without any hint of life. No reflection, nothing. In that case I’d prefer it to be simply solid and have a proper window texture, like many other scenery developers do. If you absolutely want see-through windows, then put some guys in it, to make it seem as though there actually is something alive inside the building. The same goes for the control tower, seen below. One other thing I do not like is that there is no road leading from the fire station to anywhere. This seems highly unrealistic to me.
The control tower and the building it is connected with look fine. The texturing has been well done and the modeling makes it look like the real building, but like with the fire station’s tower, I do not like these windows. I’d rather have seen solid windows with textured reflections, much like can be seen on the windows of the pier A rotunda.
Dublin: Final tidbits
This is the chapter where “the rest” goes. I am not going to describe each screenshot in much detail. I’ll stay with expanded captions.
Dublin: The airport at night
Before moving on to Shannon, I will first show some screenshots of how the airport looks at night. I personally think it looks very nice, and whereas many sceneries have ground lighting that causes these textures to look “washed out”, here I find the lighting to be very good and very realistic. The only problem I found is with the lampposts themselves. When moving through the air or over the ground, I found that the lights “flicker”. I think this is a conflict between the 3D object itself (the lamp post) and the light “effect”, which is a golden orb placed “inside” the lamp posts. This is probably something that should been fixed, but I wouldn’t know how that should be done.
Dublin: Final word
I have now shown you all of Dublin airport. In general, it is an okay looking scenery and I like what I have seen. There is no unnecessary detail that bogs down frame rates, but here and there the scenery does tend to look a bit stale, or light. This is mostly because of the lack of shadow effects, reflections and more detailed ground textures around the terminal buildings.
In part, this is all probably caused by the lack of an aerial ground image. Fact is that the developers would have liked to have an aerial ground image, but they couldn’t due to copyright issues. I have heard there are plans to redo all of this airport and when that happens, an aerial ground image will be added.
So, there is a bright future for this add-on to make it even better than it is now. Finally, here is a table with some FPS values that I found while testing. Overall, the scenery performs extremely well, and frame hit was mostly caused by GEPro’s lights, which sometimes took away 1 or 2 frames.
Beware of a rather big error, however: there is an invisible object, or wall of sorts, on runway 16/34. You’ll need to switch off crash detection for it to disappear. This is an issue that will be fixed in a new version of Dublin that will also add satellite ground imagery.
And now, on to Shannon!
Shannon: A tiny introduction
Shannon is a city located on the west coast of Ireland. Nearby this city, lies the airport of Shannon: Shannon Airport. After Dublin, it’s the busiest airport of Ireland, followed by Cork Airport. This somehow sounds strange, because it’s not a big airport at all, although it has a huge industrial park.
The scenery of Shannon Airport by Eiresim covers not only the airport itself, but also the industrial park and some other buildings on what seems to be airport premises, including two big houses and an oil storage facility. Furthermore we see the introduction of roads with traffic driving over it, which is a welcome addition. There also some flocks of birds over the airport, which looks nice.
Shannon: The terminals and gates
First things first: the passenger terminals. The passenger terminals of Shannon look nice, although we do not see marked improvement in texturing since Dublin. That said, the buildings look good and like the real thing. Modeling is okay, and despite the “depthlesness” of the textures, they still are crisp and nice to look at. Still, I’m a fan of photo real stuff. Hand drawn is okay, but I like it less for it tends to look a bit flat if not done very well. That said, there is one thing here that I find admirable: the jet ways
These look good, with very crisp texturing and great modeling. Besides that, all jet ways move if you tune your NAV1 radio to 112.000. What’s also nice is the VSDG (Visual Docking Guidance System). It works, and it works well. My 767 was directed into its parking position with ease, although when I got close it was hard to see what the signal said, although this could as well be an issue of the VC’s eye point not being at exactly the right place. Mind you, this is where TrackIR comes in handy, for you can duck a little bit and look at the signal that way. Now, for some screenshots:
And two screenshots of the jet way, together with an overview of a typical gate:
Basically, the quality here has improved in terms of modeling. Also texturing seems generally better, looking less “flat”, but it’s not a huge difference. Still it’s better than Dublin. The ground could still use some work, with more detail and items like shadow effects.
Shannon: Hangars and offices
Shannon, like every airport, features a cargo area and there are some hangars scattered around. As I previously said, there are some other buildings here and there, which I will show you.
Shannon: At the control tower
Shannon has two control towers: a smaller one, placed on top of the terminal buildings, and a larger one, placed more in the vicinity of runway 35. It seems to me that this larger one was built later: as the airport grew, parts of the airport got obscured by the terminal buildings and so a new tower became necessary.
Alternatively, one can also assume one tower is used for ground and one for aerial operations. Anyway, let’s continue with some screenshots:
The second control tower is, as I said, bigger and stands at a very different place. We are moving our view more in the direction of runway 35, where we see the control tower:
The control towers are markedly better in this scenery. Much better than in Dublin. I can truly say that the quality in this department has been improved quite a bit!
Shannon: Final tidbits
Here I will show the rest. Basically, that’s the industrial park at the north end of the airport, the buildings and parking lots at the south end of the airport, the radar beacon and some other stuff I found noteworthy.
The above buildings all stand around the passenger terminal. These are hotels and offices where passengers can go before flying to wherever or vice versa, go to when they have just landed. I like their modeling and texturing, but it’s the placement I sometimes find weird.
For example, look at the construction barracks on the bottom right screenshot. I know, they are construction barracks but this looks a bit messy. I think the problem is simply the fact that there is no satellite ground imagery, so that buildings like these look very out of context.
There are two houses included with this scenery. Question is: who the hell wants to live so close to the airport?! All in all, the houses look very good, and the detail of the second (brown) house is quite exceptional. Look at the intricate modeling of the stairs, and you wonder why the same accuracy can’t be found on the railings on the control towers. It seems that there is no lack of ability.
These screenshots show some ground detail. As you can see, this looks pretty good. Good textures that give a very nice and accurate sense of how the ground is supposed to look. I still think the terminal area could have been improved a lot in this department. The concrete tiles are the same as in Dublin, with the consequence that Shannon too, looks a bit flat.
I have already mentioned the industrial park several times. The above screenshots finally show this industrial park from some angles. It’s noteworthy that there are birds over flying this area and cars are driving around, which adds a nice atmosphere of quiet business.
We now jump back to the passenger terminal area, where we find the parking lots. The interesting thing here is that one parking lot is filled to the top with blue and white cars, and the others are completely empty. At least some textured cars would have been nice.
The booths at the entrance have a nice touch: they open and close. That’s nice, although it’s a bit weird that they open and close for nothing. There is no traffic. Still, that’s me being nit picky. It’s nice they have an animation, but it would have been nicer if it would have been a truly functional animation (meaning, not just for there just being an animation, but it having a function too, in the scenery as a whole).
These final shots show the oil tanks I already talked about, and a radar beacon. The beacon’s radar moves, which is a nice addition.
Shannon: The airport at night
Shannon, of course, has night lighting. In general it is good and looks quite convincing. The problem I mentioned at Dublin, with the “orbs of light” in the light masts sometimes flickering, was visible here, too. This is a pity and I wish it’d be corrected at some time. For the rest, it looks as good as Dublin.
Shannon: Final word
Shannon Ultimate is a very nice rendition of the real airport. The buildings are all well modeled, but the same texturing “flatness” and “depthlesness” is present here, too. I think this is because of the lack of actual satellite ground imagery, and if this were added, with existing roads and such being removed, it will all suddenly look much more lifelike.
As it is, it is still a very nice airport scenery and shows a marked improvement over Dublin 2009 in various departments. Now for the FPS, which I found to be a bit low given the overall detail of the scenery.
Cork: A tiny introduction
The final scenery I will be looking at in this review is Cork Ultimate. Cork is the third-busiest airport in Ireland, and, unsurprisingly, is not far from the city of Cork. Eiresim has made its own Cork Airport scenery, and here we have a sudden and very big leap in quality from Shannon Ultimate. The biggest improvement is the appearance of satellite ground imagery, as this screenshot shows:
For the rest, we will soon see what has improved and what has not.
Cork: The terminals and gates
The terminal is a big, interesting building. Downstairs we have the arrivals and main entrance to the terminal, while upstairs we have the departures. From here, passengers proceed to the gates and into the jet ways What makes the building interesting is the all-glass appearance and the wavy roof, which has been very well replicated by Eiresim. To top it off, they have made it all transparent. Yes, transparent! You can look into the terminal building, where you see some particularly good-looking chairs, TV screens, vending machines and such. It seems one of the most important things have been forgotten, though: passengers! Still, this is a marked improvement from previous sceneries. Now, screenshots:
The above screenshots show the old terminal of Cork Airport. The dark windows feature nice textures that seem to be hand drawn, but the roof is a photo real image. The modeling is good and seems to be solidly done. I’m not very fond of the black windows, to be honest. They look flat and lifeless, which might be caused by the fact that there is no reflection textured into these windows.
The control tower looks okay. I guess that’s the way it looks, but I’m not very enthusiastic about its appearance. This is again because of the windows. I think they are too dark, and should have been more blue-ish. In fact, I’m not sure why this control tower does not have transparent windows, like the towers at Dublin and Shannon. The rest of it looks just fine, and so do the other buildings in the vicinity.
The new terminal, however, is work of art. Its design is great. It seems Eiresim has done a marvelous job capturing the essence of the building, for it looks new and “hip” in this FS2004 rendition. The textures are sharp, the modeling is well done and it’s a pleasure to look at it. There is nothing bad to say about this terminal building. It simply looks great.
Finally, here are some shots of the gates themselves. The setup is the same as with Shannon and Dublin, so there isn’t much to say. The objects at the gates are nicely done and they seem to be more precisely textured since Dublin, with more detail and sharper textures. The jet way seems to be the same as the one in Shannon, which is okay: it’s a great looking thing!
This concludes the terminals. We now move on to non-passenger related stuff.
Cork: Hangars, offices and the control tower
Cork Airport does not have huge maintenance hangars, industrial parks or big cargo terminals. If anything, it is all rather modest. Here we find some very nicely textured buildings with some great modeling. All in all, the appearance of this part of the airport is great: very detailed and accurate. You’ll notice on some shots however, that some buildings don’t seem to be placed at exactly the right spot, with them standing halfway over parking spaces and such. I wonder therefore if the buildings have been made a bit too large.
So that’s the “cargo area” with some of its warehouses. Here’s a shot of the control tower:
We now move away from airport premises, and give the various buildings that stand outside of the airport a look.
The buildings in the above screenshots all look great. The modeling is only good, but the texturing is great. I love how these buildings have been textured. All textures are nice and sharp with (finally) shadows “baked into the texture”. It’s a pleasure to behold all of these buildings. It simply looks terrific, and also their placement seems very accurate. A good job done here!
Cork: Final tidbits
Now we come to things I couldn’t really fit in anywhere else.
All screenshots are self-explanatory. But I want to highlight one thing: the satellite ground imagery. I rarely see this terrific quality of satellite ground imagery, To be honest, the best imagery I have seen until now was on NL2000’s scenery, which has a 1m/pix resolution.
This scenery’s imagery comes very close, and offers some great quality imagery that is not only precise and with a very high resolution; it also has some great and vivid colors to top it off, as the soccer field clearly shows. A great “grassy” dark green that looks absolutely stunning.
Cork: The airport at night
The scenery of course has a rendition of nighttime Cork Airport. This is shown in the screenshots below. I found the night scenery to be very pleasing. The buildings all look very good, and the lighting of the parking lots, roads and non-airport buildings are also very nice. I especially like the lamp posts along the road, which add a significant amount of pleasant atmosphere. The new terminal looks at night as great as it does at day.
Basically, the whole scenery is as beautiful at night as it is during day. Another job well done!
Cork: Final word
With Cork Ultimate, Eiresim has shown their true potential. In short, this is the very best scenery of all currently released Eiresim sceneries (which are the three reviewed here), improving over Shannon Ultimate by leaps and bounds in a way that caught even me by surprise.
The terminal looks stunning and the satellite ground imagery is among the best I have seen, with car traffic driving over it that looks convincing. All the other buildings show a pattern of nice modeling and texturing. Eiresim has set itself a high standard with Cork Ultimate; one that I hope it can maintain with all future sceneries. Now for some performance values:
Summary / Closing Remarks
In this review I have shown you three Irish airports developed by Eiresim. Starting with Dublin 2009, their first released, we went through Shannon Ultimate and Cork Ultimate, in that order.
The difference in quality between Dublin and Cork is mind blowing. With great texturing and good modeling and one of the best satellite ground imagery I have seen in pay ware scenery products, Eiresim has set themselves a high standard that is absolutely worth every penny of Cork Ultimate.
Dublin 2009 and Shannon will both be getting an overhaul to get them up to par with Cork, and this is good. For now, I think one is best off waiting for these overhauls, but you can’t possibly go wrong with Cork. It’s a great-looking airport scenery that deserves attention of all those flying into Ireland regularly.
What I Like About The Sceneries
What I Don't Like About The Sceneries
Tell A Friend About this Review!
All Rights Reserved