This review took me somewhere completely out of my comfort zone to a destination I’d only glimpsed at in luxury travel magazines. You may know from my previous reviews that my preferred flying style is inter-Europe -mostly short hops not exceeding 4 to 5 hour sectors. Aerosoft’s Bali X really pushed the boundaries of my concentration and stamina for that long haul flying.
Without further ado may I introduce Bali or more specifically Ngurah Rai International Airport. The airport serves the city of Denpasar and is one of the busiest airports in Indonesia. Just last year the airport was credited as being ‘The world’s third best airport (15-25 Million Passengers each year). Bali International is also the hub for several notable Asian carriers including Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia Air Asia and Wings Air. Other operators include Lion Air, Singapore Airlines, China Airlines, Qatar, KLM, Air France, Delta and JetStar to name but a few. The tourism industry in Asia at the present time is booming so as you can imagine the airport is finding itself under increasing pressure to expand.
Due to heavily populated areas adjacent the airport itself expansion unfortunately is not possible and while extending the runway may seem like a viable option this does not help improve capacity. With about 12-15% passenger growth each year, a forecasted 20 million passengers are expected to visit the region in 2017 alone. Thus a new site has been identified in northern Bali to help take the strain away.
Bali X was developed by A-Flight and published by Aerosoft earlier last year. It is available for purchase from simMarket £22.50 and comes as a standard no fuss Aerosoft installer of around 724Mb give or take. Installation is very straight forward, click point etc and takes mere minutes to complete. So what do you get for £22.50? Well you receive the required charts valid from the 10th of November 2016, a handy configurator which I’ll go into more detail soon and a user manual. Not to mention a highly detailed almost life like rendition of this stunning airport.
Some features include:
- 0.40 m/pixel aerial imagery for the airport and immediate surroundings
- High detailed custom ground polygons
- High detailed airport buildings with high resolution textures
- Custom modeled surrounding area of the airport for a true Bali look and feel
- Static objects, buses, trucks, carts
- SODE animated jetways (optional)
- 3D PAPI lights
- AI compatible
Going back to talking about the configurator. This airport despite not being frame intensive, has the potential for FPS/VAS to run away. With this in mind there are a few options that may cause your frame rates to dip if you’re running a slightly less powerful system. These are full density vegetation, which as you can imagine, Bali has a lot of and 3D Grass. The other options to that you can configure are the approach lights and the SODE Jetways. You configure the settings to what suits you. For the purposes of testing and because my setup is quite powerful I enabled all options. Performance wise I was able to operate the 2nd sector of my trip in the PMDG 747 from Doha to Bali without a hitch. Although I was getting tight on VAS as I arrived on stand, this was anticipated due to the long nature of the flight and I have no doubt that the scenery itself played little part in the VAS increase. Throughout the descent and approach phases FPS remained stable in the face of a few active thunderstorms that served more as an irritation than anything else. I experienced fantastic frames on final approach even as I closed in on the airport and the immense detailing became more obvious.
Everything about this scenery is modelled in great detail and the attention to detail that the developers have given this product is outstanding. As I mentioned briefly in the introduction the new terminal was constructed in 2014 with traditional Indonesian influences, I was eager to see how that was interpreted in the sim. The developers have really blown me away with how much work has gone into this terminal alone and they’ve done a marvellous job of capturing the Asian influence. Looking at side to side pictures, there’s little to no difference, Even the colour matching has been painstakingly recreated to give you that immersion we crave for.
To fully explore the airport, I took our avatar for a stroll around the airfield. Exploring the architecture of the facade and courtyard area was breathtaking. I found it to be more like watching a video of a tour than anything else. It’s the dedication of the developer that really stands out here. For example, unless you were to take a helicopter or avatar around the airfield instead of remaining in the virtual cockpit of the 747 you wouldn’t even notice half of the work the blood sweat and tears that went into creating this beautiful creation. Every inch of this scenery has been covered in immense detail, the way the individual terracotta tiles contrast with luscious green foliage just portrays this luxurious image of tropical paradise. Of course, there’s more to the scenery than the new terminal but that was probably the highlight for me.
So, with regards to the other buildings they are modelled in the same way; with care, breath-taking attention to detail and passion. I was very impressed with the 3D terminal interior which is a far cry from the default. It was disappointing to see that it was only a feature of the domestic terminal however in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really detract from the overall feeling of immersion. The airbridges are modelled and functional which is a nice touch and becoming the standard with a handful of developers that choose not to do this by default. I’d like to mention that it would have been advantageous to include external air conditioning pipes to the airbridge given the tropical weather again this is just a personal thing and only adds to the aesthetic.
To highlight again the lengths the developer has gone to even the main road – Mandara Toll Road with the aforementioned toll booth has been included something I only noticed while on approach. The general aviation terminal has also been created in the same levels of detail for those of you who may prefer general aviation. Fauna has been modelled to the nth degree, it’s very tastefully done and I think it was clever of the developers to have some ornamental plants and fauna to enhance the holiday vibe.
Textures are sublime and really help to envelop you in this sense of immersion. The textures have a lifelike baked look and I can tell that the developer took great care in ensuring that the correct level of wear was strategically placed to give the user a most accurate feeling of how busy this airport really is. There’s nothing worse than a scenery feeling too clean or the markings too crisp. On the contrary, the developers at A-Flight have done a stellar job. The surrounding area has been modelled also which provides some fantastic eye candy on climb out. Under the custom buildings however there’s high standard photo scenery. I have mixed feelings regarding photo scenery, from above or at height it looks great but up close is where, like most things you notice faults. Of course I’m aware this is a simulation so ill not focus on it too much it certainly didn’t draw my attention away from the work that’s gone into this scenery.
When I operated my flight from Doha to Bali on the Queen of the Skies, it was steadily approaching dusk. Of course with hours of darkness come lights! The lighting here is vast and immersive, not to mention in great detail giving off just the right amount of light. I particularly liked the way the approach lights to Runway 27 Pulsate as they appear to race my rapidly approaching 747. The reflections are also lifelike and beautiful. It was almost as if you could feel the warmth from that tropical amber glow as the sun sets on the horizon.
I think this is the epitome of replay-ability. Not only is this one of the most beautiful regions of the world to fly to but there’s an exhaustive list of carriers and operators that fly to this oasis so your options really are endless. Coupled with the fact that this scenery in my opinion is just phenomenal. As I said at the start of my review, this type of flying is way beyond what I would usually be comfortable with but I genuinely can’t stress how fantastic it is. Just to see how ASN and ASCA interpret the weather themed textures is enough to make me want to head back to Bali.