Drzewiecki Design - UUEE Moscow Sheremetyevo X
A review by Maxim Pyankov
Moscow Sheremetyevo airport (Sheremetyevo-1 and Sheremetyevo-2) is an international airport located northwest of Moscow. It is now the second-largest airport in Russia, after another Moscow airport - Domodedovo. In 2013, the airport handled more than 29 million passengers.
Having personally flown both through Sheremetyevo-1 and Sheremetyevo-2 airports (essentially two different airports sharing the same set of runways), I was excited when Drzewiecki Design studio released Moscow Sheremetyevo (IATA: SVO, ICAO: UUEE) scenery package for FSX. This package is available through various retailers as a download product for about $25USD, or EUR 20€. This product can be previewed as a demo first, although I went straight to the full retail version. This review is based on the scenery version 1.2.
Purchase, Install, and Manual
The download file of the full product is about 850MB. The installation process is straight forward and requires that you only select your Flight Sim platform (FSX, P3Dv1.4, or P3Dv2) and click button 'Next'.
During the installation you will also be selecting scenery features which you want to install or to remove. By selecting any individual option, the right-hand panel will explain what the feature is, and how it impacts your FSX experience. If you want to change any of these settings later, then you will need to rerun the installer again.
On the first post-installation run of the FSX, you will need to give it permission to run a certain module as 'Trusted' software, which is a fairly common step for many of the more complex add-ons.
So, what do you get straight out of the box? The screenshots below display the stock scenery as it appeared prior to the installation of the product, and the post-installation representation of the same area.
You will notice that, besides the airport and its immediate surroundings, developers have also included vast areas of actual geography which were clearly missing from the stock scenery. Most obvious of all is the presence of the forests around the airport (for example the Sheremet'evskiy Les forest, on the northeast side of the airport), as well as the water canal running on the southeast side of the airport (and eventually running into Moskva Reka river), which was completely missing from the stock installation.
You will get a Drzewiecki Design folder group in your All Programs folders, where you can access two PDF files which you get with the installation - the charts (UUEE_CHARTS.pdf) and the manual (UUEE_SHEREMETYEVO_X_MANUAL.pdf).
The charts document is four pages long and includes the general aerodrome chart, parking chart, and two pages of ILS approach charts. There are no departure or arrival charts. The manual is an eight-page document, which includes 4.5 pages of double column text covering Russia, its history, and the history of this airport! This is by far the lengthiest document I have read for an add-on scenery yet! The document also provides links to some navigational charts, general explanation of how the scenery works, as well as a little handy table which tells you where to park, size-wise, depending on the aircraft you are flying. Generally speaking, it is worth reading, especially since it tells you how to operate the jetways (Shift+D).
Airport Features and First Impressions
The actual airport scenery, while smaller footprint-wise when compared to some other airport sceneries, contains a lot inside, especially for its' size. This is explained by the fact that, as I mentioned above, this package in effect contains two different airports - Sheremetyevo-2 (international) with terminals D, E, and F, south of the runways; and Sheremetyevo-1 (domestic) with terminals A, B, and C, north of the runways. The two independent airports share the same (and only) set of parallel runways.
We will start the analysis of the scenery with the ground textures. The textures, especially those used in and around the gates, are one of the strongest characteristics of this package.
The yellow markings, delineating where the aircraft needs to stop, blend naturally into the tarmac; they are weather-worn, and show unmistakable signs of wear and tear. The texturing is very good, and leaves you thinking that you are looking at a real, used daily, airport tarmac.
The tarmac itself looks great, with all of the blemishes and imperfections superbly modeled. You will find multiple examples of rubber marks, of the puddles, and of the stains, which truly make the parking areas stand out as something special not only within this package, but across other products as well.
There are also some really impressive (and scary!) tarmac cracks. There are quite a few of them throughout the scenery, and taxiing over one of these will make you wonder if it safe for the aircraft, and whether you should be heading back to the gate for additional gear and suspension inspections! These cracks can be found around some of the gates as well.
Majority of the taxiway signage is pretty clean and does not convey the same sort of wear-and-tear story. I am not sure whether it is representative of the "real world" UUEE taxiway signage, but a few more scratches and signs of wear and tear would not have hurt.
Runways look good. There are a couple of things I would like to point out - the runway entry points do display sings of worn off paint and weather damage, and the runways themselves clearly show signs of usage.
Next - the terminals of the airport.
Full disclosure - my initial review of this airport was (accidentally) done on the buildings with the 1024x1024 textures, as opposed to the 4096x4096, as I intended to do in the first place. This was pointed out to me after the initial version of the review was posted, and I thought it would be necessary and fair to go back and update this section (and the conclusion) of the review appropriately. The difference is like night and day. Apparently, while the scenery installer provides the high-res textures, any changes to the FSX changes thereafter change those settings to 1024x1024, which makes a huge difference in the look and feel of the product.
There are at least six major terminal buildings (A, B, C, D, E, F), as well as some of the airport towers.
My personal favorite building, in this scenery, is the tower located next to Terminal B. Not only is it modeled superbly, but, as a bonus, you can get inside the tower (upper level) and get an idea of what it looks like from the inside. Notice the people working inside the tower! Nice touch.
The texturing of the terminal buildings, in the 4096x4096 resolution, is superb. The colors are bright, the lines are smooth, and the terminals look good both from afar, and from up-close.
There are enough details around the gates to provide the atmosphere of realism and immersion. Upon closer look you will see things like power control boxes and light fixtures hanging under the jetways.
I think some other miscellaneous objects, like trash cans and fire extinguishers, would have helped, but overall the areas around the terminals look very good as is. The jetways look and function well. Different terminal buildings come with different jetway systems, and they are all well modeled.
You can activate the jetways by using the Shift+D keyboard combination. In my case, this combination was already used by the EZDok software, but I was able to remap it within EZDok to something else, and continued using Shift+D within the UUEE scenery.
There are a lot of different airport vehicles that can be found in this scenery - you will find everything from the pretty generic tow trucks and luggage dollies to highly modeled authentic static models of the refueling trucks, service vehicles, and even lines of people waiting to board the shuttle to be taken to board the aircraft.
The modeling of these objects is done very well and provides an authentic and busy look throughout all of the airport grounds.
The scenery also includes some other objects that are very welcome and which, while present in many real world airports, rarely find their way into the sceneries. See the last screenshot, with construction in the background, below.
There are a lot of vehicles modeled outside the airport as well, including full parking lots, emergency vehicles, and buses.
Night Light and Seasons
The lighting of the scenery, in the night hours, looks good. It is not out of this world, but it gets the job done. The light fixtures do not radiate the light, and the lighting looks fairly static. At certain times of the day (mornings and evenings), parts of the airport look "too red" to my liking, and I am not sure if it is a matter of my video card settings, or the setup inside the scenery. I have not observed a similar effect in my other sceneries.
During the night approach the airport runways are well lit and easy to spot.
The airport comes with multiple season textures, like it should. I was able to display three different seasons - summer, fall, and winter. The seasonal textures follow the overall FSX season and do not require another tool to 'set the season'.
To test this scenery, I made a number of flights in and out of the airport (mostly to and from Helsinki). During the first couple of flights I experienced stuttering whereby my sim would pause for 3-7 seconds prior to resuming. This problem was occurring during the approach phases. I did a little bit of research on the forums, and was able to find a solution by removing a certain XML file from my system. Other than the stuttering, I experienced no issues at all, and the overall performance of my sim, using this scenery, was smooth.
The forest, during the final approach, is immersive and fun to fly over. I do wish that there was a highway modeled with moving vehicles. As such, all that we have to enjoy is a photo of the motorway.
This airport offers a window into Russia via Moscow, and as such is a welcome addition to my add-on collection. It is a very strong product, especially when running in full 4096x4096 resolution textures! There are certain aspects of this package which I really liked - the overall improved and realistic geography of the area, the tarmac and building texturing, and the authentic and local objects in the airport. There are definitely areas for improvement - like the static highways around the airport and lightless light fixtures (during the night); overall I would recommend this product for anybody who wants to add another interesting and well-done European destination to visit on their flight calendar.
What I Liked
Terminal textures and the tower by Terminal B
Geography of the area
Authentic and local vehicles throughout the airport
What Needs Improvement
The highways around the airport, especially on the approach course, need to be roads with modeled vehicles moving on them
The lettering on the buildings would have added another layer of realism if it was modeled as full 3D objects
System Specs Reviewed On
Time spent on the scenery: 10 hrs
Intel® Core i7-4770K @ 3.5 GHz, Overclocked to 4.4 GHz
Installed RAM: 8 GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Running on Windows 7 Home Premium, Service Pack 1