29Palms Design Samos: The FSElite Review

29 Jul 2016 00:00z
DEVELOPER 29Palms PRICE €23.95
PUBLISHER 29Palms / Aerosoft BUY FROM 29Palms / Aerosoft

I remember the days when 29Palms was new to the Flight Simulation world. I remember thinking that they were an extremely talented developer, because of their rich attention to detail and their ability to blend realism with a stylised approach, perfectly suited for flight simulation. Eventually, I decided to buy one of their first sceneries, which was the fantastic Mykonos X. Merged with perfect location and appeal, it was an instant classic and put 29Palms Scenery Design on the map.

Since then, they’ve worked with various developers on combined projects, including LimeSim, Orbx, and FSDG. Regardless of who they partner with, the quality is always of the highest standard, combing great visuals and excellent performance.

Now we advance to 2016 where development tools have really progressed, we have an impressive new simulator taking advantage of newer technology and developers are really getting to grips with new hardware, allowing us to take our sims to the next level. Due to the success of their previous work, 29Palms have continued to improve and develop on behalf of the community to bring us even more excellent products. Their latest, Samos, takes all of their development experience and they’ve given us the chance to experience one of their best looking scenery packages to date.

Located 420km east of Athens, Samos is located on the outskirts of the many Greek islands; Samos is home to one of the most difficult approaches, not just in Greece, but in all of Europe. With no ILS, no navigation equipment to guide you in, this is truly a visual approach all the way down. You’ll be using visual references from local piers and sand areas at altitudes of just 400 feet. It’s certainly a challenge and it was for this reason I was so drawn in by the scenery.

Upon downloading, you’re immediately given the option to change some of the settings with the easy to use 29Palms Scenery Design Scenery Configurator (mouthful!). Everything from animated birds, 3D people and FTX Global integration can be selected here. I think it’s a really nice touch to add, and gives the user the ability to pick and choose based on their system’s performance. Thanks to my beasty machine, I turned everything up to max and away I went.

It may have been only a single building that 29Palms had to design, but they’ve done a great job at ensuring it matches the real life counterpart in full. From a distance, the building looks excellent – sharp corners, perfect placement of signage and beautifully textured walls and rooftops. Every single element of the terminal is pure quality and not a single corner was cut in replicating it. The magic really begins as you get closer.

The airport itself is relatively old, has to endure the elements of weather and is situated right on the coast, meaning lots of salt water effects and the corrosion of the terminal. In real life, you can see the wear and tear, the cracks and where designers saved a few euros by missing lick of paint here and there. In pure 29Palms fashion, this level of detail is present. It really is remarkable how detailed they’ve created what should be a dull and boring terminal building.

As you explore the airport, you’ll see a full living ecosystem within the Samos area. You’ll be able to see everything from aircraft fuelers and despatchers working on the static aircraft, to road sweepers and business travellers wondering around the outside perimeter. If you’re the exploring type, I recommend you take the Avatar mode out for a spin (if you own P3D), as you’ll also be able to see people on balconies, sunbathing and plane spotting. It’s hugely impressive to see the island come to life in this level of detail within a Flight Simulator. Had anyone suggested that we would see this 5 years ago, they would have been nuts, but 29Palms have really outdone themselves this time.

Visually, seeing Samos is spectacular. However, visuals can only go so far to immerse you into the scenery. As a result, 29Palms have also included the use of sound to further suck you into this impressive island. If you chose to have it switched on, you’ll be able to hear the sound of birds chirping as you cruise around the harbour area, or even the sound of the waves clashing against the cliff sides. This level of immersion is unprecedented by any other scenery out there, and it really made me feel like I was there.

I’ve spent literally hours performing touch and go landings at Samos, relishing in every single detail of both the airport and the surrounding area. It was with this practice, that I was able to really appreciate the difficulty in pulling off the full visual approach. As you can see from the video, the visual clues are pretty small and relatively non-distinctive. It presents such a challenge to both simmers and real-world pilots, and for me, this is where the value of the product lies. 29Palms, as I have said, have done a fantastic job of the airport, but it really is the surrounding area where they really capture the essence of Samos. By providing such detail, the visual approach feels both challenging and rewarding. Knowing you have mastered something that requires plenty of practice and patience will keep you coming back to Samos again and again.

As the dawn sets and the nights turn on for the final wave of flights, it’s worth your time just sitting on the apron watching the sun eclipse over the mountains, whilst the airport lights up. The lighting techniques used are second to none, with not a performance dip in sight. The soft shadows, the subtle lighting and the indulgent haze really set a great atmosphere. I hope my screenshots really show off just how impressive it really looks.

I am literally blown away by how staggering the scenery looks. The performance is what you would expect from 29Palms, with no dips or issues. You may have to turn down some settings to get it to run as smoothly as possible one your machine, but thats the beauty of the flexibity the scenery configurator tool gives you. It blends in perfectly with FTX Global, and you can be sure they’ll continue to support the product for some time to come.

[wp-review id=”1473″]

In This Article

Content Director
Calum has been an avid fan of Flight Sim since the release of FS2000 and has developed his love for aviation ever since.
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