Located amongst numerous Caribbean Islands, Barbados is known for its lush tropical landscaping, year-round sunshine and charm. With plenty of beaches, vibrant festivals and an enriching history, Barbados is a popular tourist space. Travellers from around the world visit the island each year for that tropical getaway or to start their cruise around the numerous surrounding islands. As such, for simmers, it’s a great destination to visit in the sim if you’re looking to escape to your virtual paradise.
Imaginesim first created this Barbados scenery for a commercial contractor, but has since received permission to release it to the general public for use in Prepar3D v4. Whilst other scenery exists for Grantley Adams International Airport, Imaginesim is known for pushing the boundaries on large airports. With Grantley Adams much smaller in scale compared to others from Imaginesim, it’s exciting to see how they implement features into this Caribbean delight.
Installing the product from the Imaginesim website was easy enough. However, it got a little more complicated when adding the animations from SimWorks Studios. If you already have an Imaginesim product installed with the SimWorks Studios Live Scenery package, then you don’t have to do anything else. That said, if you need to install it, you will need to do so from the SimWorks Studios website. You will need to make an account, validate the email, download and then install the package. Once you’ve done all those steps, you then need to open up the Imaginesim Operations Center and then enable animations. I felt like this step is overly complicated and could be made much easier had the installer been packaged in. Not even a prompt during the installation indicated you needed to do this, but instead was only mentioned on page 8 of the manual.
The aforementioned Operations Center is a neat tool that enables anyone to change settings to adjust to their machine. If features such as PBR, animations or 3D grass hinder your performance, then you can easily adjust it via the control panel. Other features you can turn on/off include ships, runway edge lights, dynamic lighting and also passengers. Each option is automatically saved and applied when you load up the sim next. For this review, I had all the options switched on.
Immediately striking to me was the main terminal building. Having visited the airport in recent months, the tent-like shapes and foliage surrounding the entrance from the airport apron was very much on par with my recollection of the airport itself. With the hot climate and humidity, the airport has been designed to stay as cool as possible, so seeing the open spaces nicely modelled is also great work from Imaginesim.
Looking closer at the airport’s terminal I was also pleasantly surprised at other seemingly small details such as fire escape signage, advertising banners and even the colourful signage which pays homage to the carnival culture of the island. This being present adds a nice touch of personalisation to the airport.
Whilst manoeuvring around the airport, I very much liked how much detail had been placed into the ground texturing. This is particularly true when packed at the various parking stands. The yellow taxi lines are slightly weathered in appearance, but the quality of the texture is crystal clear. The way various floor types looked as well was very well done. The concrete looked lifelike with cement gaps between adding to the realism. Even the drainage system is there full of detail. Obviously this type of texture work is superficial, but the details help to separate Imaginesim’s Barbados from its competitors.
Whilst I disliked the installation method of the animated models, the animations themselves are truly next-level. Seeing trucks, baggage carts and buses move with such life-like animations is rather cool. Wheels turn with an appropriate radius when taking corners (no more static wheels) and the way the beacon flashes adds a nice touch of ambience – especially when the sunsets. As for human animations, I particularly liked how the skeleton model moved; it all looked very fluid. A far cry from other animation models I’ve seen in the past.
Historically, Barbados served as one of the few destinations for Concorde. The supersonic jet carried royalty, celebrities and other lucky people across the Atlantic in record time to reach Barbados. When the bird was forced into retirement, Barbados was gifted G-BOAE, which now sits proudly in the Concorde Museum. Whilst it would’ve been amazing had Imaginesim modelled some of the interior (or the bird itself), the building has been included, along with various other buildings nearby. For example, the fuel farm is visible, along with various maintenance hangers on the south side of the airport.
Beyond the airport, a small area of photoreal scenery has been included, which helps to blend in the airport with the surrounding environment. Whilst this was adequate for the scenery package, it would have been even better had Imaginesim included a larger area or even the full island itself. That said, what is included looks good and compliments the airport itself nicely. Coastlines look great to the south with the waves crashing against the sandy beaches.
In terms of features, Imaginesim has included SafeGate Docking, animated 3D birds and of course PBR materials. There are some nice effects with the use of PBR especially when it rains or when the sun is low to the ground. Light reflects wonderfully off the ground surfaces off of the apron, whilst rain makes the floor look soaking wet – just as it should after a tropical storm.
When it comes to performance, Imaginesim has fairly balanced details with maintaining excellent performance. Despite all the boxes ticked in the Operations Center, I was achieving silky smooth frame rates, even in the most complex aircraft. That said, once the dynamic lighting turned on, I noticed a small performance hit. Mostly normal, but a little more noticeable compared to daytime. However, whilst performance took a slight hit, the overall look and atmosphere of the dynamic lighting I felt was excellent. Lights were added in appropriate places with a subtle use on nearby houses and hangers to add to the feeling of life.
I would say that the Imaginesim version of Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport far exceeds that of Richer Simulations’ edition. It has much higher quality modelling, texture work and includes features such as PBR and advanced animations. Imaginesim has done a great job at creating the Caribbean Island airport for Prepar3D with lots of attention to detail.
- Really detailed ground texturing and good use of PBR
- Advanced animations are very impressive and adds a new level of detail to the airport
- Wonderful modelling that captures the essence of the airport
- Great smaller details such as surrounding fuel farm and Concorde Museum
- Installation of the SimWorks Studios is far more complicated than it should be
- Dynamic lighting at night has a slight performance impact
- Would like to have seen full island coverage for the photoreal scenery