Narita International By Wing Creation Inc.
A review by Marlon Carter
Formerly known as the New Tokyo International Airport, Narita International is the predominant international airport of Japan which handles the vast majority of international air transport. While Narita may be very popular, it is still the second largest airport after Haneda which now handles the domestic and some international markets. Given the fact that Narita handles the majority of international travel, within the world of Flight Simulation it is quite understandable that having a highly detailed rendition of this airport will have a far greater appeal for those of us who love long haul flying to new destinations. Given the fact that Wing Creation is based in Tokyo, it is no surprise that they ceased the opportunity to create the highest quality scenery for Narita to date. For those of you who are not familiar with Wing Creation, they aren’t necessarily a brand new developer since they were founded in 2012 and have already released 5 high quality add-ons for Japan. As far as Narita International is concerned, here is a listing of some of the features we can expect.
From the features listed above, it would seem that this scenery product offers some of the basic things we all look for in an airport add-on. While the feature list include the things we enjoy, it’s quite obvious that some features such as volumetric grass, surrounding custom autogen and Self Shadowing are not present. Does this mean that this product isn’t up to par with the rest? Well let’s have a closer look to find out.
Installation & Documentation
The installation of this product for both P3D and FSX are quite simple and we need not waste anytime delving into the specifics. What may be of greater concern to customers is the documentation that comes along with the product. The manual for RJAA is a 15 page PDF document that nicely outlines the feature of this product and the recommended setting for the best visual experience. Also included in this document is an insightful history of the airport and the numerous changes that has been made over the years. At the time of the development of this product, many changes were made to the real world Narita that were not captured in this product. The developer didn’t conceal this fact and they nicely outlined some of the updates they were able to capture as well as those that they did not. In the event of any issues, there is also a FAQ section of the manual that addresses issues such as AI disappearing in the daytime and Jetways not connecting to the aircraft. For users of DX10, please keep in mind that it is not recommended that DX10 be used with this product since some default library parts may disappear at night time. Ultimately, the documentation provided in this product is sufficient and it is written in a manner that is easy to understand.
At first glance it was quite evident that a significant amount of research when into the development of this airport. The layout of the airport is very detailed and it sufficiently represents the terminals and surrounding buildings at the time that this product was developed. While the level of detail is high, I think it’s important to mention that there are a few features missing from this product. For example, there is no animation for the shuttle system and there are a few missing details in the taxiways and Cargo 5 and LCC terminal. If you are familiar with the present day Narita, you will also notice that the new terminal 3 and the relevant taxiway and apron changes are also missing. While this may seem to be a shortcoming of this product, it is quite understandable that keeping up with airport development can be a challenge that requires compromise. Despite the challenge however, Wing Creation has done an outstanding job with the layout of the airport.
After taking a closer look, it was clear to see that the modelling of the terminal buildings were very detailed in their general appearance and this can especially be seen at terminal 1 and 2 with their unique and very detailed design. The detail that’s missing however, is that the terminal windows are not transparent and most of the details are texture based. While some of us may not see this as a problem, I am sure that many who have grown use to the detail of other airport developers may be a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, one can still appreciate the fact that a significant amount of work went into ensuring that many of the details of these terminal buildings were sufficiently captured.
Other interesting details on the terminal buildings include working Jetways which is a must have feature for any airport product these days. After testing this system with various aircraft such the 747 and 777, I found that the Jetways are fairly accurate in lining up to the doors on the aircraft. If you experience any issues in this regard, the manual discusses possible solutions to this.
The airside areas of the airport were also very detailed. In this case one can clearly see that Wing Creation (WC) made good use of aerial photos to ensure that the markings and general look of the apron was captured. Aerial images were also used for much of the ground texture work that covers parking lots, grass areas and roadways. While using aerial images has its advantages, I thought that it may have been better if these images were used as a reference for more detailed custom texturing and 3D modeling for the airport surroundings. Despite this fact, the aerial images that were used are all high resolution and this certainly helps to improve the overall look of the airport environment over the default FSX/P3D airport environment.
For users of FTX and GEX, the textural compatibility might be a bit of an issue since real world textures are often very different in appearance. As a suggestion to the developer, perhaps having optional textures for compatibility with FTX and GEX will result in a more natural transition between the two textures.
While discussing the airside of this airport, it is also important to note that products such as GSX work just fine if you want to have a true to life experience when using this airport. If you commonly use product such as WOAI, you can also rest assured that there will be more than enough parking spots for other aircraft. To ensure that cargo and passenger aircraft park in the correct spots, you may want to read the FAQ section of the manual if you are experiencing any issues. In the end, I think that WC did a good job with accurately recreating aprons and taxiways of this massive airport.
The final three areas we will consider is the surrounding terrain, night time environment of the airport and performance. One of the features of this product that was most welcome is the addition of seasonal textures. Given the fact that the entire environment of an airport can change dramatically at a specific time of the year, it’s unfortunate that many developers neglect this feature. Thankfully however, WC saw this as a necessary addition to enhance the realism of this airport. In this regard, custom textures were added to enhance the look of the airport at different times of the year. Other aspects of the surrounding such as roadways and grass are all textural and to the disappointment of many, there is no volumetric grass or use of speedtrees in the case of P3D.
At night, the airport takes on a completely different atmosphere and the custom night textures and lighting create an authentic experience which may not be perfect, but is surely among the best available. Personally, I would have enjoyed the night time experience more if the terminal windows were transparent and more use was made of 3D lighting effects. Ultimately, Narita is still a very good product and when used with other 3rd party products such as FTX, UTX and even the addition of the default FSX vehicular traffic, the environment truly comes to life. Here are a few more screenshots showcasing the night time environment.
Finally, when it comes to performance, this scenery product is very balanced. By default, the textures used are all high definition and this can have an impact on performance depending on your PC specs. If your PC doesn’t deliver high end performance, WC has also included an optional texture folder than will increase performance without sacrificing too much of the visual quality. After testing both texture sets, I can say without a doubt that both work quite well, with the lower resolution textures having the best performance.
In conclusion, I think that this is a very good product that nicely represents Narita airport. While the quality may not be on par with some of the more popular scenery developers, I think that everyone will be quite pleased with what WC has offered. The price (EUR 41.65 or 35.00 excl VAT)may be a bit more than we typically pay for a scenery product, but one has to understand that the developers would have spent a considerable amount of time and money in visiting the actual airport and gathering enough data to make this product as true to life as possible. Given this fact, it’s understandable that the price would be slightly on the high side. If the price is an issue for you and you are interested in purchasing this airport, I would recommend taking advantage of any sale discounts which are often offered by WC.
Overall, I think that Narita is a product worth having since it creates an immersive environment with custom landclass and seasonal textures. The addition of moving Jetways is also a plus since some developers do no offer this in many of their scenery products without the aid of other ground service products. Finally, adding optional textures for better performance was a most welcome option to customers who are concerned about frame rates. Wing Creation has certainly proved that they are capable of producing high quality work and we can only look forward to seeing bigger and better products from them in the future. On that note, Wing Creation is already busy with their Haneda Airport project with a v2 of Narita planned thereafter. These future products will no doubt see many new features but in the meanwhile, their current Narita airport is a fine addition to your simulation if you enjoy flying long haul flights to new and interesting destinations.
- Custom landclass textures and seasons
- Animated Jetways
- Docking System
- High resolution textures
- Night Textures and lights
- Countermeasure for Frame rates
- This product is incompatible in DX10 preview mode.