Reviewed by: Benjamin van Soldt
A long time ago, there was a series of sceneries for Japan. These were made by Overland, also known because of their more recent scenery for Seoul’s Incheon airport, and their Airbus and Boeing aircraft packages. Sadly, the sceneries they made for Japan, while comprehensive and very detailed for their time are now getting old and they are not supported in FSX. Where are we going to get out FSX Japan sceneries then?
One of the more unknown developers in our hobby is Aerosim. I have reviewed various aircraft packages made by them before, all of them for Avsim. These included their Classic Airliners volumes 1 and 2, and the Propliners collection. Aerosim doesn’t only do aircraft, however. They have been known to also produce sceneries, although they were never really marketed or distributed as discrete programs. They tended to be a nice “bonus” included in the other packages. For example, one such scenery was included in the Classic Airliners Volume 1. A nice addition, but not the focus of the product by any means.
It seems Aerosim has changed this habit: lately. They have been producing sceneries as discrete programs. Up until now, they have made Kobe International, Kansai International and Fukuoka International, all relatively big, international hubs. In this review we will give Fukuoka a look. In a subsequent review we will see what Kansai International is like.
Installation and Documentation
Installation of Fukuoka International is rather straightforward. You get an executable, which installs everything that’s necessary to get the airport up and running. You need to enter a serial key to get it all working, and I didn’t have any problems – it’s a fairly standard procedure in this day and age.
The documentation is rather good. It gives general information and a whole bunch of charts. The layout is rather good; it’s always clear what you are looking at and the use of screenshots and figures is done well. It’s an easy read too, although it’s noticeable that the writer is not an English native speaker.
The Airport: Domestic Terminal
Fukuoka has two terminals. The domestic terminal is the older-looking structure, while the international terminal is very modern, an all glass and metal building, opposite the domestic terminal. We will look at the domestic terminal now and at the international terminal later on.
Overview of the domestic terminal.
The domestic terminal (partitioned into domestic terminal 1, 2 and 3) is one long structure without any concourses like we know them from airports like JFK, O’Hare or Schiphol. At one end of the terminal we see a large, brownish structure. This is the control tower. The more you progress to the left, the newer the terminal seems to become, with at the very left some really big gates with double jetways so as to provide access to aircraft like the Boeing 777, which are in regular use on domestic routes in Japan. Something pretty much unheard of in Europe.
The control tower.
We shall now give the control tower a closer look. We zoom in on its back side, and are greeted by a spectacle of details. Fences, stairs, air conditioning fans, antennae, you name it. The detail is extraordinary! It’s rare to find such great-modeled detail. Also, the texturing is rather well done. While the roof appears a bit blurry, the walls look rather crisp and are a great sight to behold.
|Domestic terminal 1 sports a rather modern looking type of jetway among a frenzy of beautifully detailed fences.||Domestic terminal 2 sports a rather old-looking type of jetway.||Domestic terminal 3 has double jetways.|
For the entire domestic terminal, regardless of the terminal number, it’s clear that the detail is rather high. Look at the roof of domestic terminal 1 for instance; the fences, stairs and other objects on the roof give it a pretty spectacular look, even if the textures on the roof aren’t especially great. These seem a bit blurry, which is contrasted by the relative higher quality of the textures of not only terminal walls, but also of the jetways. The textures for these are especially good in my mind. They are crisp and very detailed. The modeling of the jetways is also very good, showing much of the smaller details.
I think that much of the niceness of the domestic terminal comes from domestic terminal 3, though. It feels roomier and its white walls seem more inviting than the harsh and crowded grey walls and roofs of domestic terminal 1 and 2. The double jetways also look very nice. The type of jetway is in principle the same as those of domestic terminal 2. While the jetways in real life are really not that good-looking, Aerosim has a done a remarkable job of replicating them, and I think the texturing is the main part that should be commended. It seems very crisp and detailed. Of course don’t forget the modeling of domestic terminal 3 itself, which looks great and sports some very nice detail.
One thing I miss is ground equipment. Some ground equipment would have heightened the quality of the scenery even more. But by modeling and texturing the details on the roof, they have shown that they are more then adequate when it comes to making small, complicated forms.
Finally, I like the ground scenery, although I do have the feeling that it is mostly default. That is, the photoscenery beneath the airport scenery is not default, but the overlying textures seem to be. This is a bit of a pity, but the overall effect is really nice.
Roof of the domestic terminal.
Above is just a quick close-up of a part of the roof of the domestic terminal. The red roofs where passengers can stand and watch the movements of the traffic on the apron, looks really nice. I really like the detail of the glass fence. Notice the black rims in the middle of the fence, where the glass is supposed to be lodged into it. It’s this kind of detail, neatly modeled and textured, that so far has made this scenery rather extraordinary.
|Parking at domestic terminal 3.||Parking at domestic terminal 2.|
The domestic terminals all have their own car parks. Like with the domestic terminal buildings themselves, the car parks sport some high levels of detail. The photoscenery is, sadly, rather blurry and could have definitely been improved on. I wouldn’t say it’s bad per se. You can see many of the details rather well, but everything appears rather “big”, due to the blurriness of the textures.
As a result, road marking appear much thicker than they probably are. On the other hand, the detail of the cars, busses and other objects is very good. The modeling is really nice and the texturing of these objects is very crisp overall. Also notice the commercials on the signs. These add a terrific atmosphere, and some of them aren’t static: the background color may change to white, than change back to the original color, which greatly enhances the feel of the airport scenery.
In summary, the domestic terminal and the related car parks are really looking good. Some more ground equipment would have made it better, but as it is, it’s a frenzy of beautifully detailed structures.
The Airport: International Terminal
The international terminal of Fukuoka airport is surprisingly modern, when compared to the relatively old-looking domestic terminal. It’s all glass and steel, with a round curves to the roofs and front wall. See the overview shot below. Overall, it’s an example of modern Japanese architecture.
Overview of the international terminal.
We give the terminal a closer look, and especially the gates with the jetways. There aren’t too many of them, emphasizing the first and foremost domestic role of Fukuoka airport. The detail on this building isn’t as extensive as on the domestic terminal, which is primarily because there seems to be less detail to model.
There is no multitude of air conditioning fans, antennae or fences. The all metal roof shines brightly in the summer sun thanks to a dynamic shining effect, although that effect doesn’t seem really present on any of the lower wings that fan out to both sides of the apron. What is present, however, is a multitude of jetways which we will a closer look.
|Jetway and stairs. Note the transparent windows in the bridge leading up to the jetway proper.||The same type of jetway, seen from the other side.|
The jetways are of a relatively modern type, it seems. The texturing is great. Notice the metal walls, their structure and form, and how they interact with the small windows. There is a true sense of depth here, presumably thanks to the use of bump and specular maps. The smaller details like the stairs on the jetway have been done very nicely, as is the fence around the light poles.
What I like most, however, is the bridge leading down to the jetways. These have transparent windows, and as such you can look inside and see a very nice red carpet and lines of columns that keep the roof in place. A remarkable bit of modeling that adds atmosphere, I find.
Overall, the international terminal is less detailed and less spectacular then the domestic terminal. Partly because there simply is less to model, but also because the texturing of the terminal seems a bit unrealistic in a way that I find difficult to put my finger on. The textures are nice and crisp, but seem rather flat from close by, and very uniform. This would be due to the windows being rather bright, very large and still not showing anything from the inside of the terminal. This makes it all seem rather flat. When viewed from a greater distance (see the overview shot) this “flatness” is much reduced and the front windows seem remarkably 3D.
|International terminal parking lot.||International terminal parking lot.|
The parking lot at the international terminal is very large. A large road gives access to it, and to a heightened road that gives access to the terminals departures area, typically the second floor of an airport terminal. Sadly, like at the domestic terminal, the photoscenery is rather blurry. You can still recognize everything rather easily, but a crisper, high-resolution imagery would have made everything look much nicer. That said, the modeling (cars, booths, etc) help to considerably liven everything up.
In summary, while the international terminal seems to have less of a “wow-factor” then the domestic terminal, it still is a very nicely modeled and textured structure. It’s the gripes of the domestic terminal that also apply to the international terminal though, being the lack of ground vehicles and the rather low-resolution photoscenery at the terminal’s parking lot. Also the windows seem rather “flat” up close. All in all though, it’s a very nice representation of the real thing, and especially the beautifully made jetways are a high point.
The Airport: Miscellaneous Buildings
Besides the old-looking but typical Japanese domestic terminal and imposing, beautiful international terminal, there is a whole host of other buildings on the airport grounds. A plethora of hangars, airline offices, typical airport facilities such as beacons and radar towers, and large storage warehouses can be found pretty much all over the place.
Here I will discuss some of these, which in most cases look just fine. Sometimes a bit less fine, but more often than not the modeling and texturing is of a level that I dare say quite some developers could draw inspiration from.
The airport and its immediate surroundings are not the only thing that is covered in this scenery package. A very big part of Fukuoka city, including some of the surrounding mountains, have also been included as can be seen below:
Coverage of the photoscenery included
The photoscenery isn’t of the same quality everywhere. Directly under the airport the quality and resolution are the best, but the farther away you get, the lower it becomes. This is of course logical, but I would have liked to see the resolution be higher, further out then it is now. You can see this down below. The closer you get, the better it looks.
That’s not to say that low quality further out is always a bad thing. Take a look at the mountains, for example. in the screenshot below. Because of the relatively big distance, the mountains look gorgeous with this photoscenery and truly give you the idea of being there. They stand rather stark in contrast with some of the mountains that are not covered with this photoscenery. Of course, on approach to landing from the side of the mountains, you’ll quickly see a big difference in resolution between the mountains with photoscenery and those with default textures.
The mountains are covered with good-looking photoscenery.
|Toll booths||Highway entries and exits.||Multi-storied highways and exchanges.|
The Scenery at Night
The scenery isn’t all about daytime of course, and also has a perfectly useable night version. Overall, I was delighted by the night rendition of Fukuoka airport. The light effects of the runways, taxiways and aprons are really quite good, although they might be a bit too bright for some.
The texturing of the buildings looks very nice, although the low-res areas of the photoscenery look a bit messy. The billboards with their flashing commercials that change colors periodically look even better at night than during daytime. See the shots below.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Aerosim has made a very nice representation of Fukuoka airport. The buildings, especially the airport terminals, are of a very high quality. The modeled detail is amazing at some places, with entire fences accurately depicted. Not only is the modeling very good, so too is the subsequent texturing of these models. The textures look great and seem accurate. Also at night they look really nice. On top of that, the performance is good too.
But one of the things I actually value most in this scenery product is the detail of the surroundings. There is a reason I have been churning out these “Ultimate City” reviews/articles: I don’t want just an airport, I want a city. When I fly into a destination, I want to see the skyline; I want an accurate depiction of the surroundings of the airport, not of just the airport itself.
With many sceneries that you buy these days, you tend to get no more than an airport, possible with some restaurants along a highway on the approach path of one of the major runways. While that is fine by itself, flying into, for example, KJFK is an experience that goes way beyond KJFK itself. It’s about seeing the Manhattan skyline; about seeing the Statue of Liberty. If not for these iconic landmarks in the environment, the difference between landing at KJFK, EHAM or WSSS just isn’t that big in my opinion.
Aerosim has, I think, understood this. In this scenery add-on you don’t only get a beautifully detailed airport, you get some really great coverage of the city of Fukuoka itself, with photoscenery extending all the way to the mountains, which gives a spectacular view when you are approaching Fukuoka from the water instead of the land. As a plus, they have added 3D models of all major highways, which as you maybe know, are elevated highways (very typical of Japan, I must say!). This adds a great sense of realism to this product.
The downside is that the photoscenery is rather blurry. The blurriness starts, sadly, not too far away from the airport and the only truly high resolution photoscenery is at the airport itself. Still, even with this con in mind, I love the existence of the photoscenery – I’m quite sure that it would have made less of an impact on me without it.
I personally think that the biggest downside of the scenery is the price. 50 dollars for a scenery (at the time of writing) really is a very steep price for any scenery add-on except for premium designers that put extensive and innovative features into their products. Flight Simulator DreamTeam (FSDT) charge 45 dollars for their scenery of KLAX – a steep price, but justified by the amazing detail and truly amazing performance (my opinion, of course…). Sadly, Aerosim doesn’t offer these kind of features.
In the light of the beautiful modeling, texturing and extensive surroundings, I conclude that Aerosim’s rendition of Fukuoka is good and is a worthy product to have for any lover of Japanese routes and airports. But, you have to be willing to pay the steep price that is coupled to it.
Is it worth it to you? Only you can decide that of course, but here’s a hint: if you find yourself often flying into Japan and would like to have flights in and out of Fukuoka, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this scenery.
What I Like About Fukuoka International
• Very detailed airport buildings.
• Nice texturing of airport buildings.
• Good performance.
• Large photoscenery coverage.
• 3D highways around on the photoscenery covered area.
• Nice light effects.
What I Don't Like About Fukuoka International
• Photoscenery very blurry, already close by the airport.
• Placement of buildings on photoscenery looks a bit random and unrealistic.
• Very high price for a scenery add-on.