by Maxim Pyankov
Purchase, Install, and Manual
Welcome to my review of Aerosoft's (developed by Sim-Wings) new scenery - Mallorca X Evolution - which is Spain's third largest airport, after Madrid and Barcelona, and which becomes one of the busiest airports in Europe during the summer months. As the summer approaches, it is only appropriate to review this very popular summer destination scenery!
First of all, when you purchase this product, you get the whole island of Mallorca, which is the largest of the Balearic Islands archipelago in the Mediterranean. In addition to the main airport (Palma - LEPA), you get a the smaller airfield, Son Bonet (LESB). If general light aircraft is your thing, then you use the smaller airfield! Those of us who fly both FSX and P3D will be pleased to get both installers in one purchase, which is great deal. Having said all of the above, it is no surprise that the size of the download file, should you buy a download version, is over 4GB. Just be aware of this, depending on the network connection you have wherever you are. My review covers LEPA specifically, on FSX.
Once you download the file, the installation process is uncomplicated and the wizards will guide you through the steps. There are a couple of choices you will be prompted to make (for example, FSX vs. FSX-SE vs. P3D), but otherwise the process is uneventful and very straight forward.
Once the installation finishes, you can start exploring what you got. In the scenery folder you will find three important files - airport charts, scenery manual, and the traffic utility tool, which you can use to manage the amount of moving traffic in and around the airport, the sea traffic (ships, yachts) on the sea side (West) of the airport, and the ability to enable the DX10 preview mode. You will find the same in your Windows Programs launch menu.
Both documents are of high quality, and contain good information. The charts document is a 42 page PDF file which contains high quality SID, STAR, approach, sectional, and parking charts. The manual PDF is a 27 page document, split about half and half in German and English languages. The manual contains a variety of useful information, ranging from technical settings advice, notes on running in DX10 mode, notes on running the airport scenery without the island scenery (why would you want that?), to a brief milestone history review of the airfield. Thank you, Sim-Wings and Aerosoft, for putting effort into meaningful documentation!
Airport Features and First Impressions
I have used this airport now for about five weeks, and I report that I am very, very impressed by airport and the surrounding areas. Still (at the time of review) on version 1.00, I have not experienced or seen any odd behaviors. The approach and departure phases seem more "real" and engaging due to the scenery surrounding the airport - from the local rooftops of the villages, to the yachts peppering the Western side of the airport, to the giant cruise and cargo ships lurking (or sleeping) in the docks to the North West of the airport!
But I don't expect you take my word for it. Let's take a closer look at various elements of the scenery.
We start by looking at the modeling of the jetways, which is done superbly. There are a few aspects I would like to draw your attention to. One of them is the quality of the 3D modeling of the jetways themselves. When you look up close, you will notice quality and degree of the intricate detailing of the grooves, steps, individual panels, and other components which make up any airport jetway. I did not see any shortcuts taken by the developers and designers in development of the gates. This level of high quality also extends to the textures, applied to the gates.
When we zoom in even closer to look at the objects around the gates, we continue to observe the same level of attention to detail and quality. The 3D models are sharp and well defined, the texturing is high resolution and high quality, and the overall impression left is that of honest effort and dedication to quality expanded on this product (do note that, according to the manual, if you choose to install static jetways, then you will get jetways that do not move towards your aircraft, but are "a little more detailed").
Around the gates, and all throughout the airport, you will find a multitude of various mobile and stationary vehicles. As mentioned above, you can use the Traffic utility to configure how much traffic you want in the airport. These vehicles come in all shapes and colors, and range from what appears to be fuel tankers, to buses, passenger shuttles, to light sedans, aircraft tugs, luggage dollies, and other varieties.
During the approach you can observe moving cars, buses and trucks, along the highway, which snakes around the airport. That always adds to the realism of the sim. The front of the airport (access to airport arrival and departure terminals) is also very well modeled, both in terms of the access roads, the signage, and the vehicles on these roads. Of course, unless you flew a helicopter, or specifically wondered into that area, you would not see it from the cockpit of the plane, or from the passengers windows. However, the fact that it is there, well modeled, continues to contribute to the overall theme of quality.
The ships and yachts are also considered to be ground traffic. You can manage some of moving yachts via the Traffic tool, and enjoy others marooned at the docks.
Overall verdict on the traffic modeling and traffic textures - excellent!
Next, let's examine scenery buildings. I say scenery, and not airport, because there are so many different buildings to examine - terminal buildings (referred to as Modules A, B, C, and D), gas stations, maintenance hangars, and surrounding area buildings.
Some of the buildings impressed me more than others, although I must report that the overall quality of the buildings is very good. I was impressed with the buildings that, besides good 3D models and textures, display a good bit of natural wear and tear - such as cracks, and stains, and washed out color. The buildings in the screenshots below do not have cracks, but do display washed out color, and overall look well used.
I was also impressed by the piece of art replicated in the center of the airport (arrivals/departures area), as well as by the attention paid to various other buildings (gas stations, airline offices) on the outskirts of airport territories.
A lot of the what appears to be newer buildings lack any signs of wear and tear and look too clean, and almost sterile. I was able to find some pictures of the actual buildings online, for comparison reasons. My ultimate verdict on this subject is this: in real airport these buildings also look fairly dull from the point of view of character, color, and wear and tear. However, whatever little wear and tear these buildings do show in real pictures would have been great, if replicated in the scenery. Especially the washouts on the conical rooftops. Just a nitpicky observation, that's all.
The rooftops of the buildings look fine and exhibit the right kind of level of detail, depending on which building you are looking at.
Ground textures exhibit a variety of different compounds and cement used in different parts of the airport. You will see a lighter, panel-like cement used for aircraft parking, and a darker compound used for taxiways and runways.
Ground texturing is of high quality, and it shows in individual man-hole type covers in the ground, parking markings, and overall ground navigational signage. The directional and awareness signage, on the roads, is not limited to taxiways and runways; you will also notice it along the vehicle-only roads which hug the various airport terminals.
There is some signs of tarmac wear and tear that I was able to spot - for the most part these signs are limited to what looks like washed away spill spots, and various cracks on taxiways and the runways. I really like the effect on the taxiway and runways, as it looks real provides an added sense of realism.
Personally, I would have liked to see a few more elements of realistic wear and tear added to the tarmac textures. These could include a more pronounced leakage stains on the ground, a worn off/faded signage on the ground, and a few more signs of the hot rubber marks on the tarmac.
Before I move on to examining the airport at night, I would like to share a few things, in general, about the island of Mallorca, as it is presented to us in this product. First of all, the coastlines around the island are a beautifully modeled sight to encounter either on your departure, or on your arrival. The shore lines are crisp and well defined, with ground textures looking great and very realistic!
Another point to make is the texturing on the ground - be it the patches of trees, the mountains, the hills, or the villages with the roads streaming out of them and connecting them all together - the quality of the textures is superb and, once again, contributes to the sense of realism when flying into or out of Palma de Mallorca.
Night Light and Seasons
The airport looks fantastic at night. The terminal buildings light up and gain character, runways and taxiways illuminate, and even the passenger shuttles, running up and down the airport, light up with passengers packed inside.
My favorite part about night lights, however, are the tall ground lights which produce lighting that cuts through and dissipates into the night air; these light effects look great, and observing the scene with these lights is a pleasure to behold!
On a clear weather day, the airport is quite easy to spot in the night sky for a vector or a localizer intercept, or even for a manual landing. Once on the ground, there is enough ambient light to guide you to your parking spot.
I have done a number of inbound and outbound flights during my review of this scenery. Performance wise, I did not have any issues at all - frames, stuttering, or flickering.
The airport offers two great approach and departure experiences, especially considering all the extra effort that went into modeling of the Mallorca island. One - into or from the sea, and the other - from above the ground, or up and over the mountains. Due to the high quality of textures, all of these experiences are quite breathtaking and fun.
On the ground, whether you are preparing for departure, or navigating to your parking spot, there is more than enough eye candy and movement on the ground to both elevate your level of realism, and to simply provide a beautiful scenery.
This product is great in all aspects. Consider what you get - a whole island of Mallorca, beautifully modeled, a third largest (in the summer months) airport in Spain with routes all across Europe, a beautiful setup for approaches and departures and, on top of that, a second airfield, if you are a fan of general aviation. Yes, the developers or texture designers, in my opinion, should have spent a little bit more time on the wear and tear effects for the buildings and the ground, but this omission is only minor.
On top of that, if you, like I do, sim both in FSX and P3D, then you get both installers in one package! That alone deserves great applause, as I am starting to see various developers split their products into separate FSX and P3D packages with separate pricing.
I greatly recommend this product, especially if you do a lot of European routes. A beautiful scenery to fly into, and, after all, it is holiday season - so why not?
What I Liked
Well modeled 3D objects
Variety of vehicles in the airport
The island of Mallorca
Light illumination, from the tall light fixtures, at night time
Overall, a fun place to execute a final approach into, or to depart from
What I Would Improve
Buildings and tarmac
Would have added more signs of wear and tear on building textures (stains, washed out color)
Would have added more signs of wear and tear on ground textures(faded paint, oil stains, rubber marks)
System Specs Reviewed On
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