When we consider development time within the Flight Sim community, we always think of aircraft taking a considerable amount of time to develop. Similarly, aircraft often go through long beta phases, lots of ‘extended development’ and so forth. So it’s very surprising to think that Mega Airport Prague was actually announced to be in development, along with screenshots, back in 2013 – nearly 3 years ago! Back in my Cabin Crew days, I remember how excited I was to fly into the airport, because it meant I could simulate one of my favourite routes / sector patterns. Just to highlight how long ago we found out about Mega Airport Prague, it was heavily used to promote Aerosoft’s Airbus A319 series. Heck, they even made a promo video for the scenery years before release!
As the excitement grew, as did expectations, and as a result of new development techniques, delays were encountered. Although we should be used to them, it slowly became forgotten about and drifted through the back pages of the Aerosoft forums. Fans asked, the community begged and hopes were slipping away, but, almost out of nowhere, Aerosoft started the ball rolling again. Before we knew it, previews were coming thick and fast, as well as information and concrete news on a possible release date. With anticipation levels back at an all-time high, Aerosoft finally released Mega Airport Prague onto the simulation world, and it has certainly delivered.
Located in the Czech Republic, Prague, it is now one of the busiest airports in mainland Europe, with frequent visits from easyJet, Emirates, and of course Czech’s own airline Czech Airlines. Over 11 million people travelled through the airport in 2014, and that number grows each year. With 2 long runways, Václav Havel Airport Prague, can handle even the Airbus A380 with no issues, meaning that in Flight Sim, we have a huge variety of routes that we can explore with Mega Airport Prague.
Without a doubt, one of my favourite features of the scenery is the way it blends in PERFECTLY with a variety of scenery packages. Whether you use Orbx’s FTX Global, OpenLC Europe or just default, Mega Airport Prague syncs in perfectly. It’s a major criticism of most scenery packages and completely destroys the immersion factor, when scenery looks out of place compared to the rest of the surrounding area, but Mega Airport Prague gets this right. I am in love with the way the beautiful green fields during the Summer compliment the airport surroundings, rather than distract. During the wintery months, again, trees, buildings and other autogen suit the area just perfectly. Regardless of which approach you’re making into Prague, the animated windsocks and moving traffic will further immerse you into the airport.
After the wheels touchdown, you’ll then begin to feel the quality of the product really come to life. The runway textures look excellent, as you begin slowing down to a full stop. There is a high level of detail within the texturing, giving you a glimpse into the frequency the runway is used – everything from cracks, scratches, tyre marks and more. As you turn off and begin your taxi way to the airport, you then start to notice the minor details the team have put into the product.
When taxiing to airports, as a pilot, we’re extremely focused on staying on that yellow line, and ensuring we’re on the correct taxi path. However, this can be pretty difficult at Mega Airport Prague, thanks to the level of detail surrounding the airport. You can see the car-parking zones (complete with billboards), airport roads with interlinking bridges and motorways, and the extremely detailed aircraft hangers and airport hotels. Even the signage above the buildings is crisp and clear. You can tell that the developer has spent a great of time accurately placing autogen appropriately, and this has no impact on the performance of the airport.
This level of detail is what defines the immersion factor for me. Taxiing for most pilots is a chore, but when ground movement occurs in Prague, you’ll be impressed by what’s on offer to see.
Of course, no product is complete without ensuring that the terminal buildings are up to the high standards that we now expect in our community. The buildings are accurately modelled, and look detailed thanks to the HD nature of the texture work. In today’s standards, it falls short of the WOW factor. Admittedly we have been spoilt by other developers, but ‘pre-textured’ windows are an old technique, that soon needs to be eradicated. With as many years in development as Mega Airport Prague has been in, I expected some more interior development to have taken place. It probably comes back down to VAS and frame rates, but other developers out there are now taking advantage of the technology, and I expect Aerosoft to start doing the same soon.
Despite the complaint, the work that has gone into the buildings is still very usable, and the quality certainly doesn’t impact the immersion. You will still find dirt and rust between the pipework, the iconic staircase and the detail in the varying different roof styles helps breath life into the airport.
Prague truly has some interesting weather. Whether it be thunderstorms, snow, or hot sunny days, pilots can never be too sure what to expect. Thankfully, the developers have taken into consideration and have ensured that seasonal texturing is in place, dependant on the time of year. Again, it blends in beautifully with the surrounding scenery. During low visibility, the correct procedure is all in place, meaning that even in dense fog, you’ll be able to see the correct lights in the correct places.
As day turns to dusk, and dusk turns to night, Prague transforms into a clean looking and fresh airport, into an ominous and tranquil airport, far away from any city lights. The developers have really captured this within Mega Airport Prague. The runways and approach lighting in particular look great, with lights that don’t overpower the area, but also aren’t too underpowered not to see where you’re flying. Each taxiway has the standard green lighting to guide you to the widely lit apron. Again, this is when age-old techniques really start to show their age, with the textures ‘inside’ of the terminals looking dated and flat.
Despite all that’s going on within the airport, performance seems to remain mostly unaffected. Comparatively, this is one airport that doesn’t eat up all of your frames, and the impact on VAS is as minimal as possible. There are a few blurry textures scattered around, which probably contribute to the low impact on frames, which is perfect for those seeking a balance. Yet again, there’s very few options for users to tinker for their machine, which in this day and age, is almost unthinkable.