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German Airfields 1 – The Review by Keith Hackett
I do this because I hope that by the time you have finished reading this review you will see that you won’t want to delay getting your order in progress!
The product on review here is Aerosoft’s German Airfields 1-Island Hopping. This is the start of a new scenery series from this acclaimed developer specifically designed for FSX. Eventually the series will cover the whole of Germany and will amount to 11 parts in total. Even though this series will cover just the smaller airports Aerosoft say they are going to need eleven parts due to the amount of detail they wish to pack in, and some detail it is..
The scenery is based mainly upon the Frisian islands which stretch along the north east coast of Germany and extend into the coast of The Netherlands. The German islands are covered here along with a couple of smaller mainland airports too. There are 15 airfields in total and a bonus landing strip on Pellworm, a nature reserve.
Most of the islands are protected wildlife areas and you can see when flying over them why they would be attractive to birds, with marshlands and unpopulated areas as habitat.
Enclosed in this boxed version on review is the installation disc, a printed manual split into German and English language and a book of AIP charts covering all of the 15 airfields on offer. What you also get is full update support from Aerosoft. I mention this because I also have in my locker MyTraffic X and the support I have had from Aerosoft has been superb. Installation was a breeze and took a mere 5 minutes to complete using the auto-installer routine. (I do hate software which expects you to delve into file structures to get going).
The system requirements specify you must have FSX Service Pack 1 installed and 600mb free disk space. I am running it with FSX Acceleration installed with no issues.
If you own any other Aerosoft sceneries for Germany there is no need to worry because German Airfields is designed to run alongside those and if you install over German Landmarks it will even enhance it by overwriting with a better version of some of the objects.
Installed along with the scenery is an FSX mission designed to take you through the islands. Unfortunately this is offered only for German speakers. My German is not up to scratch so I elected to load up a Cessna, grab my trusty world atlas and go for it. I got an unexpected surprise when choosing the plane when I noticed an additional livery had been added to my list. Very nice it is too, as can be seen from the screenshot.
The islands stretch out along the coast so the best route is to start at one end and fly along the chain. They are close enough together so that the next one comes into view before leaving the one you are over. The beaches look stunning and you can make out the marshlands and sand dunes, all of this enhanced by the very detailed mesh included. Around some of the airfields is what looks to be a flood barrier, a raised bank of earth as protection.
Flightsimming is a great way to enhance your knowledge of the worlds geography I must own up to not knowing of the Frisian islands until installing this package. Perhaps we could tell schools to drop boring geography lessons on rock strata etc and just let the students fly the world using FSX, I am convinced more would be learnt that way.
The area is a great place to start this scenery series, not just because the Microsoft default version is practically non-existent but the size of the islands allows the developer to include full photo textures as well as accurate coastlines, individually placed autogen and a plethora of buildings and other structures specific to the area.
Look out for the sightseeing cyclists on the fence lines at some airports, I put on a bit of an aerobatic show for them but they didn’t seem overly impressed! You get snow coverage on the mainland airfields but not on the islands, this is realistic due to the warm surrounding sea water. All this details adds up to a very convincing “feel” to the islands which makes you want to reach for the travel brochures.
There is a nice mix of airport types here, some with tarmac and others with just grass runways. Taking off at Wyk can be a challenge if you try it with anything requiring a longer runway due to the pine trees surrounding the field. On other islands there are virtually no trees, the North Sea winds have kept the islands fairly barren but Aerosoft have made up for that with plenty of houses on view and harbors & marinas full of tourist boats. There are a few gull flocks flying around adding to the holiday atmosphere and you can even hear them – a great inclusion because some of the airport charts list this as a hazard to beware of. All we need is some salt air now for the picture to be complete!
The photo-textures are 1 meter per pixel resolution which means they look great for VFR flight right the way down to 1000ft altitude. This is a big improvement over FS2004 and at 2500ft and above they are pin sharp. The manual gives recommended display settings, which when reading them makes you wonder what your frame rate is likely to be. Scenery Complexity and Autogen is set to max which is not usually a setting I would use to get the best from FSX but seem to work perfectly well for this scenery with smooth flowing action. This is probably helped by the size of the islands and the lack of trees. That said, even the airfields included on the mainland work fine with frames in the low twenties or above. I do notice an increase in texture load times and when I zoom around the views from VC to outside then my machine sometimes struggles to keep up, but this is the norm when photo-textures are involved.
Local AI traffic has been included in the package too with specific liveries for the area. I saw plenty of AI action even at the smaller islands, probably more than they would get at this type of field but it all helps to bring the islands to life.
The scenery objects themselves have been expertly crafted and stand up to close inspection well. There is a mention in the manual that they were unable to get the windsocks to work correctly but this is a minor thing in my view.
I hope I have made you glad you ordered first as I feel that German Airfields 1 represents excellent value for money. There is just one last thing to mention. Now that you are eagerly waiting for the box to arrive, make sure you fully read the manual when it drops onto your doormat because there is an Easter egg in there waiting for you……I’ll say no more!
System Specification of PC used for this review
Intel Core2 Duo E6600
NVidia Geforce 8800GTX 768mb
2 x 250Gb HDD (one purely for FSX)
24 inch Dell LCD running at 1600×1200
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