Zurich airport is located in a financial city in Switzerland. Zurich airport is the hub to the countries national carrier, Swissair and Edelweiss. In 2003 a major expansion project was completed. The expansion included a new parking garage, a new midfield terminal and an automated underground train ferrying passengers between the existing terminal and the new terminal. As of the 27/11/2011 approx. 70 airlines operate out of Zurich airport.
Aerosoft have taken on the challenge of recreating this huge international airport. Aerosoft have created the airport as it will look like in 2012 so it will be ‘future proof ’. Now let’s give this product a detailed look and find out whether you should purchase it or not.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is quick and easy. Once you have downloaded the file, unzip it and launch the installer. Once the installer is started you will be required to jump through some hoops. Upon clicking next at the initial screen you will be asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions, and then you will have to enter your e-mail address and the serial key that came with your purchase to activate the product. The installer automatically detects the location of your FSX installation. Installation will then begin. Upon competition of installation, the Aerosoft Launcher app will open and you will have to re-enter your e-mail address to activate the product again!
Also bundled with the product are two PDF files. The first one shows you all the maps and charts for in-bound and out-bound flights. This is extremely useful if you want to make your experience as real as it gets. Each chart has great detail on how to perform the task of following them. Some of the approaches are more difficult than others.
The other PDF file is the manual. The manual is written in English and Dutch. The first half of the manual is in Dutch which isn’t surprising considering that Aerosoft is a German company. The manual provides information on Zurich airport itself and how to optimize you FSX settings to make sure that you get the maximum visual experience from the scenery. I consider the manual one of the better manuals available with any flight simulator add-on.
My initial impressions were this scenery looks alright but lacks the ‘wow’ factor other Aerosoft sceneries have. I based my opinion by starting on the active runway. The reason for my opinion of the scenery looking average is because I could only see photo textures and a runway. In many ways my opinion was wrong but also on some occasions correct. I guess it is time to discuss this scenery is detail.
The ground textures are of high resolution. They appear crisp and clear. All the taxiways and apron textures are concrete. All of the apron and taxi textures had the correct markings according to real world images I have seen. I saw no ‘match up’ mistakes where the ground textures don’t align with each other properly. The concrete has no cracks but yet it looks as if it has had its fair share of wear and tear.
The runway textures are not good. They look nothing like what the real runways look like at Zurich according to images from airliners.net. The edges of the runways in Aerosoft’s rendering are a light grey and the runway is a deep grey/black.
In the real world the whole runway is a light grey with no drastic color change from the edge of the runway to the center of the runway. The grey included with Aerosoft’s version is also too light. I am rather disappointed about this. I would have thought that Aerosoft would check these things prior to release. I hope it is something which they can fix in a service pack. The grass textures at the airport seem to be of a lower resolution when compared to the rest of the ground textures.
Buildings and Objects
This add-on scenery comes with hundreds of buildings and miscellaneous objects. Just about every building that is there in the real world is in the simulated version of this airport. All the main objects are presents. There are fuel trucks with BP texturing which can be found driving themselves around the airports along with buses shuttling passengers to and from the airport. The texturing quality on the vehicles is good. I did notice that on the BP fuel trucks it did not carry the actual text ‘BP’ but just carried their logo. All the buses and other vehicles are well textured. There is also a moving fire truck included which tends to drive back forth from the ‘aircraft fire training’ facility.
Most of the gates have jetways which are very well modeled. I did notice that the jetways did not function so these are basically decorations; this is a major disappointment as the default FSX scenery had moving jetways. Costumers should not be made to purchase AES (Airport Enhancement Services) to get a default function.
At the main apron there are also baggage containers waiting to be loaded onto aircraft, which is a neat feature. I did notice that there was a push back tug at some gates which is animated; so when you request pushback, the tug moves.
The tower deserves a mention in this review. I found the detail on the tower disappointing. Aerosoft have got the basic shape of the tower, but that is about it. The texturing of the tower is rather bland and not of high quality. I did notice that depending on what light conditions were present, the color of the tower can be slightly different to the real color of the tower. In my opinion I do not think the tower was made of photo textures.
The night lighting is, for the most part, good. I think the lighting could be brighter. The light color was slightly off according to real world images I saw. The color in the simulation is white; however images show it as a yellow/orange color. When flying approaches I noticed that on approach the runway guidance lighting did not work. It looks as if all the light bulbs were blown. I really hope they can fix this issue. Another issue I noticed is that during daytime, the lights seem to have white rays coming out of them.
The airport contains different textures for each season. I found that the seasonal textures were realistic. In the winter the ground is covered in a layer of snow and in the summer the grass was lush and green. I did notice a bug when I changed the season in the Season tools panel; the tree textures did not change. It looked weird having green trees in the middle of the winter. I hope Aerosoft can solve this minor problem.
The frame rate impact of the product is normally the deciding factor as to whether you will purchase the product or not. Developers often try to maximum the frame rate as much as possible. My definition of a frame rate friendly product is one which is full of visual goodies but doesn’t affect performance to such an extent that it is unusable. I found that there was a frame rate drop of around 12-18FPS compared to default scenery.
I believe Aerosoft could have better optimized the scenery. Aerosoft, was it really necessary to have the wheels on the push back tug and the baggage carts almost round? What is wrong with them when they are hexagon like? Think of the frame rates this could save.
Summary / Closing Remarks
This product is a nice rendering of Switzerland’s main airport. The product is good in isolation but compared to other companies’ versions of Zurich it doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor. Volumetric grass is becoming increasingly standard on all sceneries for FSX, but however Aerosoft have omitted this feature.
I am disappointed by this product. I feel that the FSDreamteam version of Zurich is a much more polished product, although it may not have the latest changes to the airport. The product is not bad; it is just that there is better. I highly recommend you read this review of the FSDreamteam Zurich.
Overall it is an average product. It fails to reach the dizzying heights other Aerosoft products reach. Before you purchase any version, I ask you to seriously consider the competing products.
What I Like About Mega Airport Zurich 2012
What I Don't Like About Mega Airport Zurich 2012
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