Olbia from Orbx finally breaks the trend of developing airports for FSX and legacy versions of Prepar3D. Olbia has been developed and created specifically with Prepar3D v4 in mind, and it really benefits from this. I have been seeing a common trend in other Orbx products that they are starting to feel hampered by the restrictions of development on other platforms. However, as Matteo has been able to develop solely for a more modern simulator, we’re seeing a marked improvement on overall quality and features. Let us find out how this then translates into his most recent product Olbia Costa Smeralda (LIEO).
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport sits on the island of Sardinia and sees regular traffic from all over Europe. Whilst primarily a hub for Air Italy, lots of other airlines also use it for frequent routes to the UK, Germany, Spain and beyond. The airport has gone through extensive work in the last 15 years and has a capacity of 10 aircraft at gates at any one time. Five of those come with jet bridges (which are SODE compatible).
Exploring the airport itself is a real treat. Matteo has clearly had a lot of time to practice and perfect his development skills with Olbia. The main terminal building itself, complete with lime green roof, look great. Some beautifully textured walls, glass windows and more throughout, which have a nice Italian vibe and feel to them all.
The control tower and surrounding office buildings are really well done. The shapes which make up the building have a great sense of depth and quality to them. The wooden roof and even satellite dishes are nicely done, with some nice finishing touches.
Beyond the airport are some great looking hangers for Air Italy, some general aviation huts and more. Going a little further, sitting just behind is the current car park, which is full of 3D cars. There are also road signs and other visual queues for the areas more frequented by workers than visitors. There are some nice touches such as lamp posts, foliage and advert boards, but I felt the quality of the photoreal scenery could do with some touching up with flat cars and other road markings appearing quite blurry.
Heading back into the airport and you’ll find that the ground markings are vastly superior to the textures outside of the main airport area. There are some nice touches including cracks and 3D grass throughout. The texture quality is sharp and crisp throughout. One of the cooler aspects of the ground is the inclusion of specular effects on the ground. These effects essentially give you a nice sense of depth. For example, one area of the ground may have multiple layers on top to give you that feeling of wear and tear on the ramp markings and also the sense of it being real material. Some of my favourite elements are how the ramp markings look worn away with weathering and aircraft tyres.
Another area which dips below the usual Orbx quality I would expect was the fact there were some terrain issues. In certain areas, there are some odd spikes where the mesh doesn’t smooth out to match the height of other terrain. It had zero impact on my experience with the product – so consider this more of a nitpick than anything else.
Whilst I did have some minor issues with parts of the airport, there was still much for me to explore. Included with the scenery is 130 square kilometres of custom coverage. This is hugely important for Olbia airport as the views on the approach are mesmerising. Regardless of whether you’re approaching runway 05 or runway 23, you get to overfly some of the unique buildings on the island. Out in the distance, you’ll be able to see the docks and harbour – complete with ships and terminal buildings.
Further afield, you will be able to explore the city of Olbia with its characteristic buildings, churches, swimming pools and more. Usually these are areas in which developers tend to reduce the overall quality, but Matteo has done an excellent job at finding a good balance between performance and detail. The buildings look great, nicely coloured and have a lovely sense of charm. With some buildings dirtier than others and each positioned nicely on the underlaying 30cm/px photoreal scenery.
During the day, the whole package looked stunning. With the sun shining down and through the few clouds in the sky, it’s incredibly picturesque. That Italian flare certainly existed thanks to the terracotta roof and creamy structures throughout the custom coverage. At night, the use of Orbx’s technology and dynamic lighting meant that things continued to look vibrant. The aforementioned docks and ships look magnificent with the light reflecting into the water. Street lights in the town lit up and gave a real buzz about the whole place. In equal measures, the night lighting at the airport itself is very well done. Not overpowering and the dynamic lighting being used appropriately to light up the apron effectively.
One of the biggest advantages I felt from the single-sim development is performance. Whilst Orbx airports are as friendly as possible on frame rates usually, I did notice a remarkable difference in the smooth and silky nature of Olbia. Being developed purely for Prepar3D v4 means that only techniques suitable for that sim are used. No shortcuts to support older sims and no legacy code. Even with all the settings turned on, I was able to enjoy a smooth experience from approach to take off.
As for overall value, it’s a solid product with a lot of use if you enjoy travelling in Europe. There are no real-world long haul flights (nor does the airport have the capacity), but with plenty of short-haul to do, there’s no shortage of routes. The stunning approach and 130 square km of scenery to explore means you could even take time to explore in your favourite GA plane. It’s a top-tiered Orbx product, but certainly packs a punch for value.
- Great colouring on all of the texture work
- Ground textures on the apron are superb
- Silky smooth performance with all the options switched on
- Great modelling of surrounding area to give stunning approaches
- A few terrain issues outside of the airport