The Spanish airport of Alicante, LEAL, was originally opened in 1967 and is sometimes referred to as El Altet. The airport is situated next to El Altet and 9 km from the city of Alicante in the province of Alicante which is on the Mediterranean coast.
In 2009 slightly over 9 million passengers passed through its gates giving it the distinction of being the sixth busiest airport in Spain. The majority are passenger flights, nearly 80 percent are international. The main carrier at the airport is Ryanair followed by Easyjet.
The file size for FSX was 128 Mb so I wouldn't consider this to be a large file by today's standards.
Installation of this scenery was simple. You will be prompted several times for such things as the registration info provided at the time of purchase, the path of your FSX directory and also a confirmation as to whether or not you want to install what they refer to as "clutter". I will discuss this later in my review.
Once you have made all of these choices you are asked to confirm one final time and then the scenery is installed. The last step in the install process will open up a DOS box asking if you want to activate the scenery in FSX. The scenery is now installed and active in FSX.
After all of this is done you will find a new program group titled "Eiresim Alicante Ultimate".
The scenery comes with a 12 page manual in PDF format and is divided into two sections; introduction and technical.
The introduction section is further broken down to system requirements, installation and uninstall. They list both the minimum and recommended specs. The minimum requirements are listed as: Intel P4 2.8Ghz, 220 Mb hard drive space, 1 Gb RAM and 3D video card with 256 Mb.
Recommended specs are: Intel Core Extreme 3.4Ghz or AMD 64 X2 Dual Core 6000 3.0Ghz, 220 Mb hard drive space, 4 Gb RAM and ATI 4800 HD 1 Gb or NVidia 8800GTX 512 Mb.
You might want to make note of these and see how they compare to your system as this scenery will tax your system resources. The next three pages go on to explain the install and uninstall routines. They provide a number of screenshots on how to locate the scenery library and add the scenery manually should it not be done by the installer.
The technical portion of the manual is sub divided into airport selection, performance, animations, interesting features, charts and history of Alicante.
Airport selection is merely a screenshot of the "Go to Airport" screen in FSX. For performance they begin by stating that it will vary from system to system and suggests you adjust both the scenery complexity and AI traffic setting to get the best performance. So far nothing too complex or overly technical. They do however follow this up with what may be a piece of very useful information for some people. This airport contains many objects which they refer to as clutter.
When you first install the scenery, one of the questions asked was if you wanted to install this clutter. If you said yes and later decided that it may be a cause of poor performance, they provide you with the names of three optional files and their location. I will talk about this more further on in my review and how it impacted my performance.
The next page is a short description of the animated vehicles you will find in and around the airport. There is a brief one liner under the title "Some interesting features" that mentions flying flocks of birds. I noticed that in the airport charts they do indicate that there is a bird hazard at this airport.
Charts are not included but a link is provided where you can access them. The final few pages of the manual gives a brief history of the airport and then the credits.
When I first loaded the airport I was impressed by what I saw. This is a large airport and you immediately get a sense that this is a very busy place. Comparing the Eiresim version to the FSX default is like night and day as you can see in my comparison screenshots.
I'll start by commenting on the ground textures, they are 20cm/pixel and are indeed very detailed, crisp and clear. This airport happens to be surrounded by quite a few parking lots making it ideal to have used such hi resolution imagery. It allows you to fly at low altitudes and still not be affected by that nasty blurriness that is all too common with many scenery packages. The ground textures within the airport perimeter are just as detailed.
To enhance these very detailed ground scenery textures they've added weathering and soiling as appropriate. Parking spots, runway touchdown zones and areas of high traffic all show the wear and tear and dirt stains you'd expect to see in such a busy place. The paint markings are also extremely well done and also very realistic.
For those of you who like to see an airport that has objects everywhere, this is an airport for you. There are many and they are everywhere. In fact you'll be hard pressed to find some place that hasn't got some type of object, either static or AI. The developers recognized that this could potentially be a problem for users with PCs that do not meet their recommended system criteria.
As mentioned back in the documentation section of my review there are three files that can have an impact; clutter.bgl, clutter_1.bgl and clutter_2.bgl. These are found in the Eiresim Alicante Ultimate \LEAL\scenery directory. By removing or renaming these files it is possible to reduce the amount of objects found mostly in and around the apron area.
During the course of my flights and landings I unfortunately did not see any significant improvements in performance. My suggestion would be that if you are experiencing stuttering and performance issues with your set up try removing these files and see what kind of improvement you get.
What are all of these objects? The ones that these files pertain to are such things as the static airport vehicles, cargo containers, tow bars, baggage carts, baggage tractors and assorted freight. They also include some AI vehicles, mainly pushback tugs and buses that are predominantly found in and around the apron area as well.
There are so many more objects over and above what I just described. Looking out at the end of the runways you'll find detailed approach lighting and the ILS and VOR/DME systems. If you look closely enough you'll also notice the anemometers just off the south side of the runway. You also have all of the runway and taxiway lights and markers.
On the other side of the terminal complex you'll find a whole other variety of objects. Here we see highway signage, trees and vehicles moving about the roadways.
The airport is surrounded by a perimeter fence, however as I followed it around I did notice that it stopped abruptly for no reason and then reappeared and continued on further away.
When it came to vehicular traffic this airport was very busy. On the outside you had cars and trucks moving about the roadways that were near the terminal complex and around the perimeter of the airport. On the other side, adjacent to the apron and tarmac, you had everything from large passenger buses to small pushback tugs driving around.
The good part was that it added a dimension to the airport and is clearly meant to enhance the impression of this being a hectic place. With the amount of steady traffic visible they have certainly done that. Cars, buses, push back tugs, fuel trucks, catering trucks and more, they have covered all the bases here. There were however a few small problems.
I'll pick the buses for my first example; you can see them driving along the road that is between the terminal buildings and the aircraft parking areas. When they get to the end of their route they whip around skidding through the turn. They are clearly going way too fast. I mentioned the buses but I observed this same behavior with other vehicle as well.
My other observation was with the traffic driving on the road next to terminal 3, they were driving against the arrow on the wrong side of the road. This was only noticeable when I was right up close otherwise I probably never would have seen this.
This is a large busy airport and as such has many buildings. With passengers in the millions going through its facilities every year there is a requirement for a large amount of terminal space. In reality there are two terminals with the third set to open soon. Eiresim have included all three terminals in their release. So as far as buildings go the major structures are terminals 1, 2 and 3, the fire hall, control tower, several freight hangers and fuel depot.
There are two buildings which I felt were architecturally different and worth mentioning. The first, the control tower actually consists of two towers. The main tower has the controller's pod and a 360 degree open balcony with exposed structural supports at the very top and below it is a second smaller pod again with an open balcony and exposed structural supports. Next to this main tower is a narrower shorter tower that has two glass enclosed walkways that cross over and join to the main tower.
Looking at some real world pictures I noticed that in actuality the two towers are much closer together and the top walkway is incorrectly placed. It should have been situated lower so it connects to the section that has the circular windows and not as shown. I am not sure how this could have happened with the abundance of available photographs.
The other structure that I thought noteworthy was the new terminal building referred to as terminal 3. Even though it hasn't been completed yet EireSim has chosen to include it in their release. It is an impressive structure with its multi-domed blue roof that gives it a distinct look. The curves are well done and they've also included the railing that runs along the outside edge of the roof top.
Overall the building is quite good however there are several aspects of it that I thought weren't quite up to par with the rest of the airport. This mainly has to do with the adjacent multi-level parking garage and the roadway leading up to the second level.
For the roadway I found the textures to be unrealistic, too clean and dark in contrast with other roadways. I realize that perhaps there may not have been an abundance of available photographs as it is a new building but they could have chosen better textures. The difference in quality between these and those used for other parts of the airport are significant. The second had to do with the rooftop parking texture of the adjacent building. It looked as if it was taken out of FS2004 and sub par compared to the remainder of the buildings and textures used throughout the airport.
In addition to what I refer to as the major airport buildings, there are many other smaller buildings located on the north side of the terminal complex and comparing the scenery to aerial photographs, I saw that most were modeled. I found the covered parking areas to be the most noteworthy as the roof tops have an intricate pattern and standout.
Those of you who enjoy flying airliners will probably find this airport to your liking. It has a variety of arrival and departure routes available depending on the runway and route chosen. I flew a number of different ones and found them to be interesting as well as challenging.
Night time brings in a whole new dimension to the scenery you are flying in. I found the night lighting at Alicante to be very well done. As you can see in the screen shots the ground lights were not too bright and the apron lighting was realistic and didn't flood the entire area in that washed out yellowish glow.
The areas that appeared lit up coincided with the lamp post placements. The building interiors I thought were really good. It was as if you were looking into the actual buildings. These types of details made night time flying enjoyable.
This is a busy airport with lots to see and is a major destination on the Mediterranean coast. In spite of several minor issues, if you are looking for an airport that can handle the heavies or somewhere new to check out than you should give Alicante serious consideration.
What I Like About Alicante Ultimate
What I Don't Like About Alicante Ultimate
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