by Marlon Carter
Pacsim is by no means a new developer and they have released numerous scenery products over the years. Some of you may be familiar with their stunning Manila scenery and even more recently their Nagasaki &Omura scenery product. This time around Pacsim has released a new and surpassingly stunning scenery product that features RCTP. For those of you not familiar with this airport, RCTP is located in Taiwan and it is the country’s main airport best known for international air travel. The airport is located about 40km west of Taipei and is also the main international hub for China Airlines and EVA Air. With 2 main terminals and a 3rd and 4th planned in the future, this airport proves that there is a high demand for international travel in this region and this opens up many possibilities to flight sim enthusiast who are looking for new destination in the virtual world of FSX/P3D. What can we expect from Pacsim’s latest offering? Here is a preview video that showcases the airport and surrounding areas
Accurate terminal (1 and 2) buildings concourses, hangars and airport layout;
Taoyuan and Dayuan cities/districts and suburbs represented;
Updated/extended runways 05R/23L and 05L/23R and connecting taxiways. Added HD custom runway and apron/tarmac textures;
Custom vegetation and objects;
3D grass throughout airport area;
High resolution (7cm-30cm pixel) photoreal textures covering over 1026 sq mi.;
Color-corrected ground and water textures to reflect real-world land and water colors;
Accurate hand-placed autogen that conforms with city, town, district, and farm grids;
Major landmarks and high-rise buildings;
Custom night light effects and street lighting throughout the airport and surrounding areas;
Animated windmill farms along coastline;
Animated Skytrain (behind concourses);
Static local ground service equipment, cars and planes;
AI ground vehicle conforms with real-world road grid;
Fully optimized for steady/smooth simulation experience. All autogen can be set to the 100% with very little impact on FPS....and more.
From the features listed above, it is clear to see that this product is packed with detail. The most interesting feature is that autogen can be set to 100% with little impact on FPS which should make everyone smile. In this review we will be examining these features to determine whether or not this airport may be worth adding to your simulator. Before we begin however, I thought I would find out some additional information from the developer in the form of a short interview.
Why did Pacsim choose RCTP as their latest scenery offering?
We chose to do RCTP for two fundamental reasons. First, there has not been a proper rendition of the airport (and its immediate surroundings) since Flight Simulator 10 (FSX) was first released on October 10, 2006. Like many other international, regional and local airports in the Asian-Pacific region, RCTP was never a choice for developers simply because the market for Asian airports just wasn't attractive. We felt the same way despite many flightsimmers plea for us to take on RCTP three years ago. We were proven wrong however, when two of our popular best-selling releases (prior to RCTP) - Ninoy Aquino Int - Manila (http://islandsim.com/ninoy-aquino-int---manila.html), and Nagasaki &Omura airports (http://islandsim.com/nagasaki-int-and-omura.html) did quite well sales-wise.
Second, and most importantly, we just wanted to take on the challenge of creating another exotic destination. RCTP is the home of China Airlines and Eva Air and it is the 11th busiest airport by passenger count and 5th-ranked by freight movement.The real-world airport is expected to double in passenger and cargo capacity with two more terminals planned for the immediate future and so we couldn't resist developing it.
Were there any challenges in developing this scenery?
In the grand scheme of things, it was not much of a challenge developing RCTP since we had all the resources we needed to accomplish the project. We have had constant stream of information and pictures from real-world RCTP Air Traffic Controllers, airlines engineers, pilots, and Taiwanese flightsimmers that helped ensure that our RCTP project replicate its real-world counterpart accurately. From the specificity stand-point, hand-placing individual autogen buildings and objects throughout the entire coverage area was very tiring. That part of the project took us about 3 months to accomplish.
What special features of RCTP differentiates it from your previous products?
We have, in this product, introduced more animation. The Skytrain moving between concourses was a first. I am in my 50s, retired and doing this for a living to pay the bills, but I get super excited when I try something new everytime. (I am like a kid at a lolly-pop stand when it comes to keeping up with already known techniques). But, I am no programmer by any stretch and must admit that I still cannot really understand all the insides of the FSX engine, especially jetway animation, etc. I guess, I am too old for learning at this stage compared to the much younger developers.
Nevertheless, for those who are familiar with our usual modus operandi, we tend to place more emphasis on product optimization so that the simmer has a smooth stutter-free and OOM-free experience from our products. We try to improve this technique with every succeeding products and RCTP, in that regard, is a step up from the previous ones.
With RCTP expected to add two more terminals in the future, will Pacsim revisit this airport in the future to add any updates?
Yes, we will update the RCTP product in the future when its real-world version undergoes major changes and/or improvements.
What can customers expect from Pacsim in the future?
We are currently working on our new project, Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC) and Salt Lake City/surburbs. As many already know, Salt Lake City is where we are based and KSLC, of course, is our home airport. We have developed many exotic airports in the Asia-Pacific region and we thought it's about time we return and develop our airport and city. Flightsimmers can access our Facebook page here; https://www.facebook.com/islandsim to view current and future progress work.
Installation & Documentation
Purchase and installation of this product is quite simple. My only bit of advice is to ensure that you copy the key correctly without any spaced before and after the key itself. Other than this small detail, the installation was easy and the documentation provided was sufficient to understand all of the features and setup recommendation for this product.
At first glance I was very impressed with how much detail was packed into a single scenery package. The layout of the airport was very accurate when compared to real world images and this also included the surrounding terrain and buildings! If this wasn’t enough, Pacsim also included Taoyuan and Dayuan cities/districts and suburbs, windmill farms and a functioning skytrain. These details truly added life to this country and it was an absolutely pleasure to view from the air.
Other features that were of interest included static models of cars and planes that had no impact on performance at all. Here are a few screenshots showcasing the layout of the airport and some of the features you can find in this product.
RCTP has two main terminals that cater to International flights and flights to the mainland and while they are not very flashy in design, they are unique in many ways. With the Pacsim RCTP, the integrity of these terminals were perfectly replicated and one can easily see that the developer spent quite a lot of time reviewing photos and other data to ensure that the airport was recreated to a high level of accuracy. The textures on the terminal buildings were also very detailed and they gave a convincing appearance when compared to photos of the real airport.
My only disappointment with this airport is the fact that the gates are not functional. While this may not be a big issue to some of you, for those of you who frequently use products such as GSX, having Jetways that can be operated is a huge advantage in creating that “real life” environment. Other than this small detail, you will be quite pleased with the overall look and layout of the terminals along with the cargo and maintenance areas.
As we look closely at the ramp area, we can see that the textures are very realistic since it portrays a worn look which is typical of a busy airport.
Moving now to the terrain and surrounding areas, it’s clear to see that attention to detail was a major focus with this project. Some of the details that were included to create a realistic appearance were custom vegetation, 3D grass, high resolution photoreal textures and textures that were colour corrected to reflect the true colour of the land and water. For those of you with scenery products such as Ground Environment X, the transition from the RCTP ground textures to the GEX textures can be clearly seen and this means that they do not blend very well. This may be a be a bit annoying to some who enjoy having eye candy throughout their FSX experience, but this is to be expected whenever photo based textures are used or combined with default textures. Possible issues with FTX Global are covered in the manual and it provides an easy fix should you need to.
On the positive side of things, the area that is covered by photoreal textures is quite large and seeing where these textures blend with your default ground textures isn’t always noticeable depending on your direction of flight.
Another interesting feature of this product that enhances the overall look of the terrain and airport surroundings is the hand placed autogen. This custom autogen conforms to the city, town, district and farm grids that you would expect to see in this region. Also included were most major landmarks and places of interest were also included to give the final touches to your flying experience in Taiwan. A final highlight of this scenery product is the fact that the night time environment was perfectly captured with the addition of street lights and other custom lighting effect.
In the past, the night lighting at many airports has always been a hit or miss. In this case however, Pacsim did a remarkable job in recreating the night time atmosphere of the airport to a convincing degree. What made this even better is that the detailed night lighting also extends to the surrounding high rise buildings and other autogen features.
Here are a few screenshots that showcase the terrain, surroundings and night lighting.
When it comes to performance, this scenery is very balanced. When using high quality aircraft in addition to having high scenery and autogen settings I barely noticed any change in my FPS.
Another test that I usually do is to test the scenery during bad weather conditions and at night which for some reason has an impact on performance at times. Some of you may also notice tha some of the screenshots show vehicular traffic on the roads in and around the airport. It has always been recommended that vehicular traffic should be limited to increase your FPS. In this case I was quite pleased with the performance of this scenery even with a moderate level of road traffic.
In the end, I don’t think any of you will have any issues with this scenery as far as PC performance is concerned but if you do, you can always remove vehicular traffic or adjust the autogen settings to meet your needs. As a reference, here is some information on the recommended settings that will deliver the best performance
From the Manual:
Frame rates from scenery complexity and autogen settings were averaged at 30fps. This includes moving sliders 100% to the right. Lower settings yielded much higher frames, but our recommendation is Dense to Extreme Dense for exceptional rates. Since the scenery is 15/30cm/pixel photoreal, it is highly recommended that Mesh Resolution be set at 1 meter within FSX Display Settings (slider 100% to the right). Texture Resolution should also be set at 30cm and above (or slider 100% to the right).
Recommended Sea and Road AI Traffic settings:
There are AI boat traffic throughout the coastal waters of the Taoyuan and Dayuan areas. To maintain exceptional level of FPS, it is recommended that leisure boats be set at 30% or less.
AI road traffic should be set at below 25%.
In conclusion, I think this product is absolutely amazing. The overall quality truly stands out and what I appreciated the most is that the quality was not compromised outside of the airport area. For the price of $35.00, this scenery is well worth it, and I would encourage anyone to look into it.
Some may still be a bit skeptical about buying scenery for a somewhat isolated part of the world and I don’t blame you. It’s no secret that one of the reasons or perhaps the main reason why most of us tend to fly in the U.S or Europe is that the default scenery throughout the world can be atrocious at times. However, since the release of a few high quality scenery add-ons covering the Middle East and Asia, the lure of flying in these regions has grown significantly. For example, Pacsim’s Manila scenery was hugely successful and many users enjoy flying to and from this destination.
As far as the new RCTP scenery is concerned, after doing some research I realized that numerous airlines fly to RCTP including Emirates, United, Delta, Turkish airlines, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Cargolux, DHL, FedEx, Polar Air Cargo, UPS and much more! Seeing these options changed my perspective on flying in this region (since I typically fly in the US/Caribbean) and this scenery gives an added incentive to fly to and from this amazing airport with a vast array of airlines. If you own long haul aircraft such as the iFly 747, PMDG 747/777/MD-11 or even medium haul aircraft such as the 737, you will definitely be able to make use of these aircraft on routes to and from this airport. If developers such as Pacsim continue to develop other parts of the world to this standard, flying to new destinations around the globe would be much more enjoyable and we may eventually change our view of flying in one region.
That being said, thanks to Pacsim, Taiwan has now been added to my list of airport destination for long haul flights and I am sure you will do the same after purchasing this scenery.
Well done! 9.5/10