Cologne or Köln is a 2000-year-old city in western Germany that sits on the edge of the Rhine river proudly displaying its high gothic architecture. Situated around 45 kilometres southeast of Dusseldorf and 25 kilometres northwest of Bonn, Cologne is the largest city of Germany’s most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The airport is very busy, being a two terminal, triple runway international airport and cargo hub. It features daily flights operated by major European airlines such as Lufthansa, KLM, TUI, Ryanair, Norwegian, Eurowings and more.
Initially a release from Aerosoft’s German Airports 2-2012 package for FS2004 and FSX, Cologne/Bonn (EDDK) has been remade for Prepar3D v4 in order to omit VAS issues from the advanced features.
According to Aerosoft, “this new scenery developed by Jo Erlend Sund sets new standards in the level of detail for P3D V4”. A bold statement from a big company that so many of us rely on for decent sceneries. Let’s see what magic Mr Sund has developed for us P3D users.
Upon downloading the scenery, installation is a straightforward process which directs the scenery to your main P3D folder. After the initial install is completed, you are presented with a configuration manager with a pretty substantial amount of options including enhanced rain and snow effects, terminal passenger density, ambient occlusion and more.
SODE jetways are not included in the initial installation. In order to get the SODE jetways working, an extra file is required to be downloaded and manually installed into a specific file path. This is a slight inconvenience and something you wouldn’t expect for the price, but a well-instructed readme file will guide you in the right direction.
A brief but clearly written manual is also included.
For the purpose of this review, the settings in the configuration tool are all set to the highest settings and all available features are enabled.
First impressions are everything and give you a very good idea, very quickly, of the standard of scenery you have purchased.
Spawning into Gate B10 and looking through the aircraft windshield you are greeted by animated ground crews and vehicles casually going about their daily business. Some ground staff are walking around and some are standing and moving slightly suggesting a conversation is taking place. Instantly you feel like this airport is alive and to very good effect.
Looking towards the terminal building you notice shaded transparent windows and silhouettes of passengers waiting for their flights. Upon further inspection, you realize very quickly that the terminal building is alive with animated passengers. When you are sat watching this from the flight deck, the immersion factor with these animations is something quite special. Even in your peripheral vision, you will spot something to capture your gaze. Looking through the side window the static aircraft are parked at the gate. Nothing really ground-breaking I agree, that is until you notice the animated passengers are actually boarding the aircraft from the apron. What is this sorcery? It’s like having a scaled-back version of GSX Level 2 for free.
The level of detail of the buildings inside and out is exceptional. The inner workings of the building’s architecture are clear to see. Every level of the terminal buildings has been modeled with precision and a lot of time and care has been put into this. The glass windows are modeled very well and the real icing on the cake is on the inside of the terminal when shards of light catch the structure and reflect onto the glass itself.
The high-resolution textures give a crisp and sharp look to all of the buildings. The ground texturing around the apron is very good but not the best we have seen. At the stands, you see oil spillage which is a nice touch but other than that you don’t see much of the airport looking used and weathered. Other high-end developers have included tire markings on their taxiways and it wouldn’t be out of place with this scenery package. It all looks a little bit too new and unspoiled. Aerosoft has put its attention to detail in other areas though, the grass growing in the cracks of the apron tiles gives the airport an aging atmosphere and is beautifully done. The paint on the ground markings looks very realistic with a natural textured finish which catches the sunlight to satisfying effect. With seasonal textures and animations, this really helps bring the texturing to very high standards.
The change of seasons brings this scenery into a league of its own. An eye-catching addition is the inclusion of build-ups of snow around certain parts of the airport during winter months. To complement the snow effects an option of a blowing snow effect from the configuration tool gives this airport prestige. Dynamic reflections of wet weather around the apron and taxiways is another nugget that makes the airport feel so much more alive than most sceneries out there within the same price bracket. With a winter scene, the wet textures mixed with the sunlight produce a marvelous illusion of ice on the taxiways. The grass textures surrounding the whole interior of the airport is another nice touch and with it brings depth and more life to the airport. Mr. Jo Erlend Sund, you have my attention.
With all of these wonderful animations and enhanced texturing eating my PC alive, it is inevitable to have significant performance loss. It isn’t the smoothest experience but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the sim was performing to an acceptable standard. This throws up a couple of points. One is that you know that the performance will not get any worse, and two, with tweaking the configuration tool you can get this scenery to run as smooth as butter. I can confirm the latter.
Dynamic lighting is very impressive with this scenery. There is no noticeable performance decrease and it all runs very well. The only gripe I have, and this is with most Aerosoft sceneries, is that the lighting on the taxiways and runways could do with more realistic looking night lighting. What we seem to get are oversized lights used mainly with primary colours. It still looks pretty but they could do with taking into consideration that most users have Orbx night lighting and terrain packages and sometimes these airports can look a lot like a fairground in a field from a certain distance. However, the use of lighting around the apron and the internal structures of the airport are first class and are lit realistically with a warm white effect. The terminal building at night time is a wonderful thing to look at and yet again adds many positives to the immersion.
The surrounding area looks very impressive and blends beautifully with Orbx packages. Around 1000 km² of scenery has been modeled using photorealistic textures and 3D models. This is complimented greatly by the smooth animation of vehicles on the landside and airside respectively.
The first thing I have to mention here is for users currently using an HDD for Prepar3D. This airport with maximum settings applied takes quite a long time to load into the sim especially if you are using high-end aircraft add-ons. If there weren’t so many features packed into this scenery I would be very concerned and I would probably raise a support ticket. The frames per second questions are of course system dependent but my overall experience was pretty solid with a few sluggish moments at certain points of the airfield. Taxiing was a varied experience, depending on what was in view at the time. Taking off was fine and external views of the aircraft looking back at the airport were also acceptable.
The approach into the airport was a little heavy on performance, but I stress, the settings are set to the highest level for the purpose of this review. Taxiing to the stand was also a significant hit on performance and it did not dissipate until I was parked.
Playing around with the configurator tool is your best friend with this airport. I managed to get this airport performing very well on my system and the whole experience, in the end, is truly a marvellous one. Passenger animations I found were the biggest draw on my system. For the best results, most of my settings were eventually set at a medium level which made everything feel so much better.
This scenery package packs pretty much everything you could ever need into a reasonable mid to high range price point. Aerosoft are known for their premium price “Professional” range of products, but this scenery gives you a lot, and sometimes, a lot more for less money.
Compared to other highly popular developers and their price points, Aerosoft’s Cologne/Bonn gives you as much quality but at a cheaper price point.
A lot of work has clearly gone into this project and for this price point, this airport scenery is of excellent quality and for a price you would expect to pay.
The developer for Aerosoft, Jon Erland Sund has quite possibly given us an airport scenery that competes with the very best of Prepar3D developers. As with all of the marquee developers, quality comes at the cost of performance. With this scenery package, finding the right balance with the settings configurator to suit your hardware is vital. The experience can go from being frustrating to joyous within a click of a few settings.
- Detailed internal and external modelling of the terminal buildings
- Night time environment textures
- Seasonal environment textures
- Configuration tool with a host of advanced features
- Animated passengers boarding aircraft
- Manual installation of SODE