Reviewed By: Benjamin van Soldt
Format: Download (83MB)
Aerosim remains a largely unknown developer. In the past I have reviewed several of their add-on packages, most of them being aircraft, but more recently I have looked at their Fukuoka airport rendition. This time, I will give another scenery package of theirs a look, namely Kansai International airport.
For those that aren’t familiar with Japan, Kansai is only the name of the airport; it’s not the airport of “ Kansai City” or anything of the kind. Like Schiphol airport is the international airport of Amsterdam, Kansai is the international airport of Osaka. What makes this airport interesting is the fact that it’s one of the Japanese airports that sits on its own island.
Such artificial islands, specifically made in order to place an airport on it, seem rather common in Japan, but much less so in other parts of the world. For example, Kobe’s International airport, which sits opposite Kansai International airport in the same bay, is also constructed on an artificial island. This is no big surprise of course.
Japan is a country that is full. If a surface is flat, chances are high that there’s a house on it or has crops growing. Things like airports, which cause air pollution and take up a lot of space even though it’s mostly just concrete and nothing else (well, one needs a runway to take off, right?), are then the ideal candidates for being built off-shore as opposed to other structures and facilities. Outside of Japan, you can find such islands in Hong Kong, for example.
Aerosim has recreated the Kansai artificial islands, the airports that sits on it, and even included some scenery for the city of Osaka. In this review we will see how well they did their job. It might be good to point out that Kansai International seems to be one of their first sceneries for FSX.
Installation and Documentation
The scenery is provided as a downloadable zip file. In here you find the scenery manual and an installer. Installation of the scenery is straightforward and works like any other add-on. The installer is fully automated and can take care of the entire installation.
All folders were correctly made and were placed where necessary and according to my wishes. Something to keep in mind however, is that the installer really only installs the scenery, and nothing else. Stuff like the manual is contained in the zip file, which you get, and isn’t copied to the scenery’s folder upon installation. The good thing about this is that, unlike some add-ons, you can read the installation instructions while installing. It would have been nice if afterwards the manual had been copied to the scenery’s installation directory, for easy finding.
The documentation consists of a PDF document containing basic information on the airport and various charts. It also includes instructions on how to install the scenery, but due to the straightforwardness of the installation procedure, I doubt people will run into trouble.
First a short intro to this specific scenery add-on. One thing I have seen previously in Aerosim scenery add-ons, is that the photoscenery coverage is remarkable. They not only include the airport, or the airport with immediate surroundings. No, they include at least half the city in which the airport lies. In Kansai International’s case this is hardly possible of course due to it being on an island, but nevertheless, you do get more than the airport itself. See the shot below.
Overview of Kansai International scenery
As you can see, the bridge between Kansai International and Osaka is also modeled. The modeling of the bridge looks very good and it’s a really nice sight while approaching the airport. Even more remarkable is what you see when you end up at Osaka: there is extensive photoscenery coverage here.
While approaching the airport, you will actually see Osaka as it is in real life, at least the way it was when the photoscenery was made. I greatly value this. It adds a new layer of immersion. Do keep in mind that because the distance between Kansai International and Osaka is rather large, that the resolution of the Osaka photoscenery isn’t as high as you’d want to see. As long as you don’t fly right over the city, it should not be a problem.
Judging by the charts supplied with the product, there are no arrival and departure routes located over the city anyway, so unless you knowingly deviate from these, you will indeed not fly directly over the city.
Kansai International can be divided into two discrete parts. There is the fully built, fleshed out part where the various terminals are located and then there is the half where there’s nothing yet (below). This half is, for as far as I understood, to be built on in the future. It is “part 2” of the Kansai International plan, and on it will be built, amongst other things, a second passenger terminal.
The populated half of Kansai International.
The empty half of Kansai International.
For obvious reasons, most of this review will be about the populated half of the airport. It would be nice if, when the time comes, Aerosim will release an update to this scenery, to get it on par with the then-current state of the airport. That is, however, an issue for the future.
Kansai International airport in its current state, features one large terminal building. It has a central building with two wings, which have jetways on both sides. See the shot below.
Overview of the Kansai International terminal building.
The terminal building is a modern glass and metal structure, with a wave-like roof. Over the wings drive small, red trains that have multiple stops along each wing, enabling passengers to quickly reach their gates. And all of this is modeled in the scenery. We will move a bit closer now.
The terminal and its jetways.
There are a couple of things to be noted in the above shot. First of all, note the ground textures. These look to be at least similar to default (note that I use REX!), although there is a huge array of custom ground markings, which all looks very good. The relatively high resolution textures make up for the defaultish look of the ground.
Something else is the detail of the modeling of the jetway, which we will soon look at more closely. With regard to that, it should be noted that there is no ground equipment whatsoever. It makes everything look really empty; some carts, trucks and cargo containers would have been a welcome addition. The terminal itself, because of the scarcity of detailed objects, looks a little bland, even if the modeling of the roof is good and the texturing has an authentic look to it.
Trains on the terminal roof.
On the other side of the terminal, we can see the trains drive up and down the two wings. About half of the wings feature a flat roof, with two distinct “gutters” in which the trains drive. In this scenery, these trains actually move, and stop at their respective stops. This is a very nice touch and sure is a welcome addition in an otherwise rather static scenery.
Kansai International features only one type of jetway, unlike Fukuoka, which sports at least two types. It’s a very good-looking model however. The texturing is very detailed and adds a level of detail to the model that in principle isn’t there. For example, the texturing makes you believe that the jetway has wavy, metal walls, like on shipping containers. This is however not part of the model; it’s just the texture that makes it look like that. Finally, these jetways move by pressing Ctrl-J, which is of course a welcome addition: it’s possible this way to make it work with FSDT’s GSX.
Entrance of the terminal building
Passengers have to get in and out of the terminal building. The entrance is located at the big, middle structure. Here we find two pick up and drop off locations: an upper one for dropping off passengers for departures, and a lower one to pick them up from arrivals (at least, that’s what I assume. At most airports, that’s the way it is). You can see that both levels have been modeled, although the upper one is more detailed, featuring roofs and busses. The modeling here is okay, although it’s more simplistic than the rest of the terminal. It shouldn’t be too surprising, as you won’t really see this anyway during most operations at this airport.
So this is what the terminal area looks like. Overall, the modeling is good and the texturing is very nice also. I find that some more ground equipment could have certainly helped the airport to look busier. Right now it seems a little empty.
The cargo apron as discussed here will include more than just the apron itself. There is a rather large area at Kansai International that is devoted to cargo and the relevant operations, so to just discuss the relevant apron seems a little short-sighted. As such, all the warehouses, company buildings and like areas will be discussed here too. First, an overview:
The cargo area at Kansai International.
The cargo apron is large and takes up approximately a third of the entire apron at the airport. It doesn’t seem like it has that many parking stands though. Again, we see a lot of what appears to be default apron textures, but with lots of good-looking, custom ground marking. The various cargo related buildings can all be found adjacent or close to the cargo apron. Amongst these are various companies’ headquarters, some large warehouses and several hangars.
The cargo apron
The cargo apron itself is, sadly, as empty as the passenger terminal’s apron. There is no ground equipment of any kind, leaving only the lamp posts and the ground markings, which ultimately makes the whole area feel really empty. The various warehouses you see along the cargo apron look okay, but they seem a bit bland. The textures seem hand painted, which in essence is no problem, but here it doesn’t look that good. Perhaps if the buildings were more detailed, like at Fukuoka airport (reviewed previously), the textures might have looked better too. I’m also not sure what’s going on with the large, dark patches. I assume these are shadows of the buildings, but the black seems too “solid”, making the shadows loose some of their realism.
Some distance away from the cargo apron, we find several buildings with clear signs as to what company they belong. As such I have dubbed these “companies’ buildings”. They seem to be primarily belonging to the Kansai airport authority, with names like “Air Catering”, and “KIC”, which I assume stands for “Kansai International Catering”, or perhaps “Kansai International Cargo”.
The modeling of these buildings is rather simplistic. The texturing makes them look more detailed than they really are due to some clever use of effects, such as textured gradients. Everything you see appears to be hand painted; it’s been some time that I have seen such uniform and clean buildings.
A final thing that I wanted to show at the cargo apron, are these antennae. These are a testament to the kind of detail you can come across at Aerosim sceneries. At Fukuoka airport (reviewed previously) the amount of detail seems significantly higher, but you can see that Aerosim has learned much since doing Kansai, for Kansai already shows much of the ideas and skill of the Aerosim team, and these antennae show them particularly well.
The whole metal construction has been accurately brought into the sim. Although most of it doesn’t actually consist of true 3D models, at least the actual details are there. From a distance you can’t say whether these thin beams are 2D and 3D, making true 3D beams a bit of an unnecessary luxury. Plus, these 2D surfaces provide much better FPS because the computer doesn’t have to perform as much calculations when showing 2D surfaces as opposed to 3D surfaces.
Seems like an efficient solution without losing any of the necessary detail! On a sidenote, the radar dish you see on the antenna in the background spins: also a nice touch!
Miscellaneous areas are those areas that weren’t featured before. Stuff like the non-populated half of the airport, the ATC tower, the airport entry road, that kind of stuff. First, a quick view of the runway textures used.
These runway textures in essence look really nice, but I wonder if they are the default textures or not. The detail of the texture is remarkable, leading me to believe that it is in fact not default, plus the ground markings, which are more detailed than the default textures, would feature. I think it’s safe to conclude that the textures are not default, but I do find it a pity that no more variation was introduced to these textures, by which I mean that all taxiways and runways look identical.
There are no repairs and such to be found anywhere, which is the kind of detail I tend to welcome. Still, even without it, the textures look really nice and especially the runway textures which feature a level of detail that more airports should have.
Since Kansai International is built on an island, there is no room for the lead-in lights on the land. So, they have built these kind of metal structures on which the lead-in lights have been placed. The attention to detail is really good, showing all kinds of metal crossbeams and such. It’s a pleasure to fly over them!
On the populated half of the airport, we find this off-shore array. It’s a metal construction, similar to the lead-in lights, on which there are some small buildings and antennae. I’m not quite sure what it’s supposed to do, but I do know that the level of detail is quite remarkable. The very structure and pattern of the metal beams and grids has been reproduced, in the majority of cases it being transparent where necessary so that you can see the water flowing under it. The texturing of the buildings is a bit bland, though.
The ATC tower features some interesting architecture. The round core in which the control room sits is supported by four pylons, one on each corner of a square ground plan. Its representation in FSX is good. I won’t say it’s exceedingly detailed, but the modeling looks nice and the texturing is rather good also. I find the texturing of the concrete, white base a bit bland, and the building behind it, with its array of antennae, also looks a bit bland. I guess that’s the drawback of non-photorealistic textures.
Kansai International is entered by means of a very large bridge. At the start of this bridge we find a rather tall building, a train station and a large highway intersection, all somewhat faithfully modeled. For FPS reasons I guess, the highway intersection doesn’t look as smooth as one would probably hope, but unnecessary detail can only slow the computer down. It’s nice that it has been modeled, even if it’s not at a very high level of detail. Also notice all the autogen in the background. This was added by hand onto the photoscenery!
The entranceway also has a wide highway on the top, with rail tracks suspended from it forms a long, straight line; the sole connection to the main land. The modeling is okay, although the texturing of the roads is on the blurry side. Still, the amount of detail, which extends to individual lamp posts being modeled, is very nice. I will add that that this detail doesn’t extend along the entirety of the bridge – probably to save some FPS.
Once you get off the bridge, you find yourself on a big road, curving around the passenger terminal, crossing under a road. On leaving the airport or entering it, you pass various booths. I suspect this is either to pay toll, or for security reasons.
The photoscenery is a bit blurry, sadly, but the nice modeling makes up for it to some degree. The addition of the booths and the trees add a lot to the overall atmosphere and makes everything look rather nice. Also notice all the streetlights that have been placed along the roads; this is a further testament to the eye to detail already seen in some of the other structures around the airport.
Along the entry road, there’s a multitude of small and medium-sized buildings, possibly occupied by various aviation-related companies. Overall the modeling and texturing of these buildings is really nice, which is to be expected since it’s right under the approach path of one of the runways, like the entry road that was looked at above. Everything looks really good, but the uniform appearance of the taxiways detracts a bit from the varied appearance of the buildings. I have discussed this earlier, but I will mention it again: it would be good if in future sceneries, the taxiways show more wear and tear, and thus variation. Right now, the taxiways are the same all over the airport.
The road continues towards the passenger terminal. It curves around the big hotel, which is located just opposite of the passenger drop-off point. I find that the scene in the above shot looks very nice. The photoscenery used for the roads isn’t too blurry, so that you can clearly distinguish the various road markings, although if you look closely, you’ll notice that the photoscenery is of a lower resolution under buildings and such.
I can understand the trade-off, also because high-resolution photoscenery can be significantly more expensive, but it does lead to iffy situations in some areas of the airport. The above shot is not an example of that, but in the shot that shows the entry road, together with the bridge, you might have noticed the lower resolution at the location of the antennae and surrounding buildings. As a matter of fact, the coastline in the above shot is also a good example of it.
There is a car park along the road, behind the hotel. It features the same resolution photoscenery of the roads and the multi-leveled car park features to physical levels, with rather thin-looking pylons to keep it up in the air. The upper level also features several well-modeled cars. The nice thing here is that any cars that were imprinted on the photoscenery (like in so many sceneries) have been removed, leaving us with empty spots if there is no physical, 3D car placed on top of it.
The scenery at night
Of course this scenery features a night rendition too. In principle, all buildings are lit to some degree and all runway and taxiway lights have a light effect. The runway lights aren’t that visible from a distance, but the taxiway lights sure are, as can be seen below.
The reason for the great visibility of the green taxiway lights is purely because of their proximity to each other and the number of them. Plus, the layout of the taxiways make for a pattern in which many taxiway lights seem positioned right behind each other, so that you get these “orbs” of green light at some runway entries and exits even though there are big patches of blackness between them.
You can see the same kind of pattern for the blue taxiway edge lights. And if you look very closely, you’ll notice some rather dim runway edge lights also. You’ll need to get a lot closer to really see the individual lights, which is what we will be doing now.
The terminals and other buildings are generally well lit, save for some of the structures. Windows tend to be lit and some of the hangars and warehouses feature lit signs and lamps on the walls, but these are actually a minority. The aprons are lit with a gold/yellow lighting that makes everything look a bit dark. Nonetheless it looks nice, but I think that Aerosim’s Fukuoka scenery fares better on this topic. Overall, the night lighting is nice, but a bit dark. See the shots below.
Kansai International is a big airport, and as such, good performance isn’t something I’d be expecting. To my delight however, the scenery returns quite good FPS, possibly by the somewhat rigid control on where to put detail and where not, a consideration which I sometimes find to be a bit lacking with other scenery developers. However, detail isn’t constructive when you can’t see it. As such, too much detailed at an airport’s core where you will never get to with your plane, seems a bit redundant. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, most notably OrbX airports.
Aerosim’s Kansai International airport is a good performer. Sitting on the end of whatever runway at Kansai International, I usually got a FPS count of about 18. Note that I had all sliders pretty much all the way to the right and I was using the PMDG 737NGX. When flying in and out of Kansai International, the FPS fluctuated, but always stayed within 16 and 22 FPS (I have an external frame limiter set to 22, which is why it never came above 22). As such, I had a smooth ride at pretty much all times, and if I were to drop my display sliders to more normal values, I would have gotten much higher FPS.
Yes, Aerosim has done a good job on the performance front!
Summary / Closing Remarks
Kansai International is a nice scenery add-on that performs rather well. It represents the real-world counterpart very well, and many of the passenger terminal-related buildings look good and seem detailed. The jetways look really nice, and the fact that these move, like the default FSX jetways, is something I wish more developers would do.
At night the passenger terminal looks good too, but I wish the night textures would be brighter. Much of this area actually seems rather dark at night. Some more light sources would have been most welcome, although the gold apron lights look pretty good. Finally, there is no ground equipment at all, which results in a very empty looking apron. The addition of these would have been a great plus.
The cargo area is of a lower quality. The buildings are less detailed and as a consequence these can look a bit bland here and there. This is especially true for the buildings that aren’t positioned directly along the cargo apron. All in all though, what applies for the passenger terminal area also applies to the cargo areas: at night it’s a bit dark and more ground equipment would have resulted in a less “empty” atmosphere.
It’s great that so much of the surroundings were covered with photoreal scenery, and that important landmarks like the bridge that connects the airport to Osaka have been modeled. All in all, there is some remarkable attention to detail in the areas close to the bridge, which is logical considering the fact that it is right under the approach path of one of the runways.
Concluding, Kansai International is a very nice scenery. It offers detailed buildings, good texturing, coupled to good performance. The problem and its main weakness is the price: $50 for a scenery is very steep. You’ll have to think for yourself whether you find it worthwhile. If you’re an avid Japan flyer, you will find that it probably is worthwhile. If not, you might want to look at other sceneries.
Test Time: 7 hours
What I Like About Kansai International Airport
- Relatively detailed modeling.
- Nice texturing.
- Nice night lighting, though sometimes a bit dark.
- Moving jetways.
- Huge photoscenery coverage.
- Good performance, considering the size of the airport.
What I Don't Like About Kanasai International Airport
- No ground equipment makes the airport look empty.
- Texturing of some buildings a bit bland; could have been “dirtier”.
- Ground imagery of higher resolution would be welcome in more places.