AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

FSDreamTeam

New York JFK

Product Information

Developer/Publisher: Virtuali/FSDreamTeam

Description: New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

Download Size:
71.1 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 & FSX
Reviewed by: Colin McFadden AVSIM Staff Reviewer - November 12, 2008

“Where America Greets the World”

New York’s JFK Airport started as a $60 million project with only 1,000 acres of permitted use named Idlewild Airport, before being renamed Major General Alexander E. Anderson Airport after a Queens resident who commanded a Federalized Nation Guard in the South. In the same year, JFK was again renamed New York International Airport, it operated its first commercial flight on July 1, 1948.

World Port for Pan Am, a new terminal (now Terminal 3) opened in 1962, and included the world’s first jetways, allowing for easier access and departure of the airplane for its passengers, instead of the air stairs that were previously used. In that same year, the TWA Flight Center (now Terminal 5) was designed by Eero Saarinin as one of the most distinguished terminals in the world, creating an abstract symbol of flight. However, with the demise of TWA came the demise of the TWA Flight Center. JetBlue will be taking over the beautiful Terminal 5 in the coming years.

However, one month after the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, the already beautiful New York International Airport adopted a new name; John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK) in his honor.

By the mid-80’s, JFK had overtaken Newark Liberty Airport to become New York City’s busiest airport. To celebrate JFK’s 50th Anniversary in 1998, the Port Authority gave the airport a new slogan, which resembled JFK Airport in every way: “JFK: Where America Greets the World.”

So, you may be wondering, how did FSDreamTeam capture this airport’s rich history in the Microsoft virtual skies? I would like to say perfectly, but there are a couple things keeping it from being a Gold Star rating which we’ll talk about later. For now, let’s take a look at the airport’s features as listed by FSDreamTeam:

• Fully customized ground and runways in high resolution, both in FSX and FS9, DX10 Compatible
• Ground terrain seamlessly integrated with Flight Simulator.
• Native animated inverse-kinematics based jetways in FSX.
• AES support in FS9
• Many animated custom ground vehicles.
• Use of the advanced material properties in FSX, like bump and specular mapping.
• Fully 3d taxiways lighting.
• Intensive use of LOD techniques in order to offer the best possible performances.
• Vegetation that reacts to seasonal changes, with customized snow-covered trees in winter.
• Photoreal ground with seasonal variations.
• High resolution building textures.
• NEW ParkMe™ feature: working A-VGDS docking system with automatic airplane recognition, with parking accuracy evaluation ( FSX only )
• NEW YouControl™ feature: custom airport actions with easy on-screen menu to trigger animations, events,etc ( FSX only )

Installation and Documentation

The installation and documentation part of this JFK scenery is pretty straight-forward. So this is going to be a very short section, as I assume most readers have a basic knowledge of how to follow directions; at least I hope so!

First, you go to the FSDreamTeam website and download the scenery from the product’s page. From there, run the installer, that’s it. Now, go to you FS root folder (Usually: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9/X) and find a folder labeled “FSdreamteam.” Inside that folder you’ll find the installation instructions, as well as the instructions for all the features included in the scenery.

Once you download the scenery as instructed above, go ahead and fire up FS 2004/X, choose KJFK as your airport, and go! By default, it will be a demo version, reappearing as the default FS scenery a few minutes after use. If you like what you see, press “alt” on your keyboard, go to the scenery’s drop-down menu, and purchase it right there! It is an easy process, and it’s nice to be able to try it before deciding to make the purchase.

Again, the documentation (a must-read) is included in the “FSdreamteam” folder located in Flight Simulator’s root folder. You will find it explains everything in great detail!

Buildings and Terminals

The buildings, without doubt, are the most beautiful aspect of this scenery package. When I first received the product, I roamed around JFK for about an hour, getting familiar with the airport and inspecting its quality. While the taxiways plain stink (more information below), you can tell the buildings were FSDreamTeam’s primary concern, and they succeeded with flying colors.

Besides the buildings and terminals being visually pleasing, they are also functional. That’s right, the FS9 version is AES compatible, and as stated in the documentation, FSX uses the default docking system. However, two of the most exciting features in this scenery are the ParkMe and YouControl functions. Before I get into anymore detail, let’s take a quick look:

Some of you may be curious as to how accurately FSDT modeled the two most “exotic” terminals at JFK; the TWA Flight Center (Terminal 5) and WorldPort for the former PanAm (Terminal 3). I’m proud to say I was quite impressed. I wasn’t exactly sure if they would do a great job with the WorldPort, as it seems like a pretty complex design to master, but they did it! Check out some shots of both terminals below.

ParkMe and YouControl

Now that you’ve seen the design aspect of FSDT’s JFK, let’s take a look at the functionality of the scenery. This is another impressive and highly anticipated feature of the new engine FSDT has created. FSDT says this has almost endless capabilities in FSX, and many are excited about the future of this scenery publisher. Anyway, let’s hand it over to my friend Will Miller who helped me in evaluating both the ParkMe and YouControl features of this package.

ParkMe is the result of FSDreamTeam’s new simulation engine technology. According to FSDreamTeam, ParkMe and YouControl is just the beginning of several more enhancements to be produced in the future. As the tile suggests, ParkMe enhances the process of parking aircraft at gates with A-VGDS docking systems.

ParkMe is extremely simple to use and only requires you to select your desired gate form the ParkMe menu. Once the gate is selected, the gate will become “active” and the A-VGDS will activate. After the aircraft has been guided into the gate, ParkMe will also rate your parking job by stating whether the aircraft has been parked too far. The documentation covers the use of ParkMe in more depth. Here are some screenshots of ParkMe in action; we’ll be using the giant Emirates A380 for this demonstration!

First, you must select your desired gate. As the green bar at the top states, your selected gate has been activated for use! Routinely lining up with the gate.
The system recognizing your aircraft. And the countdown begins! 40ft! 20ft!
Aaaand, Stop! I did “OK.” As the green bar at the top indicates, I parked “A bit too far.” Now, dock up and send your passengers on their way!

Now, let’s take a look at the YouControl feature:

Along with ParkMe, YouControl is the second feature born from FSDreamTeam’s new simulation engine technology. Currently, YouControl allows for the doors of various maintenance hangers to be opened by selecting the hanger in the YouControl menu. While it may not be as impressive, it’s still a great feature and adds that extra amount of realism! Again, we’ve provided screenshots as we enter a JetBlue hangar via a beautiful A340-300!

First, select what hangar you need opened Open Sesame!
Now that she’s parked, choose to close the hangar door. Now you see it… ….Now you don’t!

Alright, so far everything is sounding pretty darn perfect, right? But, before you go out and buy this scenery package, you may want to take a look at the following section (Tarmacs and Taxiways) before you make a final decision. Nonetheless, I'm extremely pleased by the quality of the buildings and the extra bout of realism that the ParkMe and YouControl features provide!

Tarmacs and Taxiways

This is my deepest, darkest dislike of this scenery. The taxiways, as well as certain tarmacs within the scenery, are absolutely atrocious. It seriously looks like they went onto Google Maps and copied/pasted the textures into this scenery. I find this absolutely unacceptable, as the taxiways didn’t have this problem with FSDT's Chicago scenery. Now that I’ve vented, let me show you what I mean!

Just a mess of horrible textures. Horrible tarmacs as well.

Fun fact: If you look closely, you can see that the sign above has an arrow pointing right to “Your Mom’s House”, “ Your Dad’s New House & New Family”. Just a humorous bit in an otherwise irate section I thought I’d share!

IMAGE CURTEOUSY OF GLEN ULLMAN.

What’s more, how come they only chose bits and pieces of the scenery to include as detailed ground textures?

So, it looks like FSDreamTeam decided to “waste” time for nice quality only on important terminals, such as Terminal 5 (former TWA Flight Center). Perhaps I’m out of line for bashing this aspect of the scenery, as I’m no scenery builder, but to me it just makes no sense.

I would have rather waited a month or two for detailed ground textures instead of the near-mush included in this version of JFK. Enough about this though, let’s go to another topic before I go insane! Hopefully they will fix this problem in their upcoming versions of McCarran International Airport (KLAS) and Geneva International Airport (LSSG).

Performance

At this time, I have a so-so computer, and this scenery hurt my frame-rates pretty hard. With the detailed buildings and nice lighting of the airport at night, it’s a demanding scenery.

I was hoping there would be an option to remove certain aspects of the scenery such as vehicles, certain animations, etc, similar to FlyTampa and some other publishers. A medium to high-end computer is definitely recommended for smooth performance.

Summary / Closing Remarks

Overall, I’m really enjoying this scenery; on a scale of 1-10, I would give this scenery a 7/10 mainly because of the taxiways. It’s a great add-on though, with a lot of neat features as well as quality buildings that’ll keep you drooling!

The obvious weakness is the ground textures, but if you can get over that shortcoming, than it’s 100% worth it. My favorite aspect of the scenery is the ParkMe and YouControl which go a long way in the realism department.

On a quick note, I’d like to say the forums over at FSDreamTeam are quite helpful, and most questions are answered in a timely manner, and quite accurately. Even though they could have done a little better on this package, I think FSDT did a great job and deserve a pat on the back; I can’t wait for future products to see what they can do, not only with their scenery designs, but with their new simulation engine.

 

What I Like About JFK International Airport

  • Superb Quality of Buildings.
  • A couple of the tarmacs are of great quality as well, crisp and clear paints and textures.
  • Awesome night lighting, as well as runway/taxiway lights and signs.
  • ParkMe and YouControl features add a new level of realism and control.
  • A380 Docking system is something special, very cool if you fly the A380 much.
  • AES Compatible
  • Default FSX Docking system for FSX users.

 

What I Don't Like About JFK International Airport

  • Completely unacceptable taxiways (as well as some tarmacs); seems as if they just copied and pasted textures from Google Maps – they only look good from above.
  • AI problems – many have reported AI aircraft landing to the left/right of the runway.
  • Inconsistent ground textures (some good, most bad) create a really annoying feeling overall – much more effort could have been put into it.
  • Pretty hard on the frames; not the worst I’ve experienced, though.

 

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