Without a doubt, Croatia is one of the most beautiful regions in all of Europe. The pleasant temperatures, the untouched nature, the wonderful architecture, and the miles and miles of coast make it simply divine. It’s no wonder then that the popularity of the country is increasing each year. I have had family members visit the attractive locations around the country and it’s on my list to visit in the real world soon. Pula is certainly up there for places I wish to visit in 2018. Fortunately for me, I can already experience the sensation of flying into this wonderful place thanks to Orbx, and more specifically, Misha Cajic and Rasha Tucakov. These two developers are known for their attention to detail and incredible landscaping. Between them, they have created a wonderful airport worthy of your time.
Let’s start with the airport itself. Sitting just a few kilometres away from the city centre, the Croatian airport has risen to be one of the most popular airports in the country. With nearly half a million passengers travelling through each year, the airlines are regularly adding more and more capacity. Low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair frequent the airport, but now even legacy airlines are beginning to understand the interest people have in Croatia. Sadly, Pula is very much a seasonal airport, so if you’re looking to fly there realistically in the winter, you will be disappointed. But hey – it’s a sim, so anything goes, right?
Because of the proximity to the city centre, Misha and Rasha have spent time diligently recreating many parts of the stunning looking towns, harbours and so forth. This is really important as the approach into the airport overflies the entire city. So from coast to airport, you’ll be enjoying 80 square kilometers of photoreal terrain. Included in the terrain are, of course, plenty of objects to immerse you into the product. The city’s football stadium, Stadion Aldo Drosina, has been faithfully recreated, as well as nearby docks, houses, apartment blocks and the shipping port. Each is packed with detail, which is now the expected standard from any product carrying the Orbx branding.
While the buildings and points of interest are brimming with nice details, I can’t say the same for the ground textures. Despite boosting a 60cm resolution, flying low and slow over the city shows some blurry and ugly looking texture sets. I followed the instructions set out in the user guide, but I just couldn’t get the textures to the point where they would ‘wow’ me. Of course, I imagine the majority of users will spend their time flying jetliners over the city at speed, at which point it’s not even noticeable.
Sadly, my experience with blurry textures didn’t end there. Upon landing in Pula, I noticed that the grass textures between the runway and taxiways were pretty low quality. This is surprising considering the past products of these incredibly talented developers. Again, I checked and adjusted my settings according to the manuals, and nothing changed. Of course, I’m just being picky as the rest of the airport is pretty good.
Textures on the ground are clean and well done with plenty of detail. There is plenty of dirt, cracks on the apron/taxiways, and other environmental effects that added a clear sense of wear and tear. Ground markings match up with real-world photos that I could source, including smaller details such as speed limits and road markings.
While elements of the texturing disappointed me, the 3D models are fantastic. One of my favourites is the air traffic control tower. The detailing in the building is so full of life. The rust in the metal sheets is apparent and you can even see each piece of the window blinds. The satellite dishes on the side, the shrubbery and antennas all add to the immense detail the guys have gone into. Other well-done areas include the fire station – complete with fire trucks – and the military hangers towards the other end of the airfield. Not only did the buildings get love and attention, but so did the static models.
The terminal building is also rich in little quirks that remind you of the care and attention that developers under the Orbx brand put in. The airport signs are clear and present, gate areas are evident and the baggage area is full of detail. There is even a cute outdoor patio area for the passengers to wait whilst aircraft filter into the airport. It’s a cute airport and the developers have captured this feeling. Again, some of the texturing falls short of my expectations especially on the glass surfaces. It’s not a big deal, but something I felt worth noting.
In typical Orbx fashion, the landside area of the airport has been modelled with a full car park, advertising signage and even benches outside the airport café. Once more, it emphasises that relaxed Croatian spirit this airport needs. Of course, there’s plenty of airport clutter scattered about, including baggage carts, lighting and blast fences. Pula Airport uses Orbx’s ObjectFlow technology to display 3D humans doing different actions and to animate other elements.
With this in mind, the airport performs really well. Orbx have well and truly mastered the art of finding the balance between detailed airports and great performance. If it doesn’t perform to your expectation, you can always just head into FTX Central V3 and switch off a few features.
Without a doubt, some of my favourite screenshots were captured during the evening period. The low sun, change of colours and excellent lighting help make Pula look extremely pretty and appealing. There’s no real impact on performance here, meaning you can have your usual settings within the sim. The dynamic lighting in P3DV4 bounces off the ground nicely, and continues to make you feel immersed into the airport.
At $39.95AUD, for some it may be seen as quite a costly airport. On the other hand, Pula Airport only requires FTX Global to be installed, meaning the overall cost of owning the airport is lower than that of those that require the regions. You are getting an airport that has a lot of coverage with plenty of detail in a very unique place in the world.