When flight simmers think of Hong Kong, the famous checkerboard comes to mind, and the cramped and curving Runway 13 approach in many YouTube videos of crosswind landings by big jets right into the heart of the city. Kai Tak is history, though. Flying into Hong Kong now means a straight approach to the luxuriously long, wide and comparatively boring runways of Hong Kong International Airport, known as Chek Lap Kok for the island upon which it was built. It opened in 1998, replacing the legendary Kai Tak. It being our simulation, we can have the best of both worlds if we want, of course, the world under review being Imaginesim’s interpretation of the modern airport, Chek Lap Kok, VHHH.
Hong Kong International operates one of the world’s largest passenger terminals, and its gates are the 12th busiest in the world. It is the second busiest airport for cargo flights. It holds the record as the most expensive airport project in history, partly because much of the land had to be reclaimed from the surrounding sea.
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, operating wide bodies on international flights. Dragonair runs smaller airplanes throughout the region. Many other airlines fly in to and out of the airport, making VHHH a perfect terminus for choice of carrier and equipment.
Installation and Documentation
Download and validation are simple, the latter requiring the mere cut and paste of a code. My antivirus software alerted on the file for spyware, but I installed it anyway, and have yet to have anything go wrong. Since the developer says this is not a known issue, I am going to chalk it up to an oversensitive checker.
Installation is really as simple as answering the prompt. The only wrinkle is that a “sleeping file” with a .zzz extension has been included. If you want to unlock more graphical detail at the cost of a greater challenge to your system, you may change the extension to .bgl and see what happens. In this case it was more static vehicles for a very modest frame hit. AI aircraft behave nicely and inspection reveals no anomalies in the scenery.
Documentation is on the skimpy side. There are a few obvious pointers to improve performance, and an airport diagram. That’s about it. There are no charts or detailed setting recommendations. There is also an explanation of how to use the docking guidance system.
Wide Open Spaces and Busy Terminals
Like an atom, Chek Lap Kok seems to consist mostly of empty space. This contributes to the sense of newness: there just hasn’t been enough time for a lot of new growth, perhaps. Lights along the extended centerline of the runways march out into the surrounding sea on pylons.
Flying in from the end farthest from the terminal, you pass some nicely done cargo warehouses, and that’s about all until you taxi closer to the terminals, then things get very busy quickly. Imaginsim’s product compares favorably with aerial photographs of the real deal.
In addition to the buildings, numerous airport vehicles both static and in motion add to the ambiance. Long baggage trains and boarding busses are at the ready, and many of the vehicles have flashing lights. Jetways are modeled in detail, but are not animated.
Occupying one corner is the huge AsiaWorld-Expo, the venue for Coldplay’s Hong Kong stop on their Viva La Vida tour. Even bigger is the terminal building, which looks something like a Chinese character from the air – probably the one for “big” -- is sprawling enough to warrant its own internal mass transit system. From the busy end of the island trailing down the land-side coast are various other buildings. A fire station with a training hulk is present nearby. Dominating the scene is the massive control tower. It is all… big.
If your fleet includes a car, this is a fun airport to drive around. You can really appreciate the details from ground level, including fixtures like 3D lighting, parking areas with guidance systems, and lots and lots of moving vehicles of various types.
Night lighting deserves special mention. The taxi lighting is beautifully subdued and pinpoint sharp. The lights over the highway are illuminated, just as you would expect. Overall, the lighting looks great at night.
It will come as no surprise that you will once again have to tap into your frame rates account to pay for all this. I was able to turn off autogen and turn water down to x1 Low with no apparent loss of graphical goodness. This doubled my frame rates.
Starting at 50% traffic and moving down, I settled on 33%. My tweaking gave me a fully realized, busy Hong Kong International with acceptable frame rates.
It may not be Kai Tak, but Hong Kong International at Chek Lap Kok is a big, interesting and beautiful airport with practically unlimited choice of carrier and equipment. By day or night, Imaginesim has a winner here.
What I Like About VHHH
What I Don't Like About VHHH
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