I am a complete sucker for all Caribbean destinations. Ever since I was a little kid, I have travelled to a variety of the islands, all of which look more and more stunning each visit. I remember feeling that rush of heat when the doors of the 747 flung open. I remember the long lazy days by the swimming pool watching days go by without a care in the world. I remember the taste of my 20th cocktail of the day. I don’t, however, remember the night before… but that’s beside the point! It’s an incredibly relaxing place to visit, but for a pilot, seeing these islands on their rosters must cause their hearts to skip a beat. The islands are comparable to the Greek islands in Europe; they provide some of the most scenic and challenging approaches in the world. Whether it’s a low approach over a busy tourist beach, or avoiding complex mountain ranges, you’re always going to find variety when flying in the Caribbean. As a result, when a new developer releases a new Caribbean island, you can be sure I will jump at the chance to try it out.
Relatively unknown developer Runway Simulations 26 have been developing Owen Roberts International Airport (MWRC) for a while now, providing snippets of information and screenshots for quite some time. Until their release announcement, I personally have never heard of them, but immediately, my first impressions were rather positive.
With so many of the islands boosting scenic approaches, I decided to first use MWCR by approaching the airport from the east, going-around and flying some circuits low and slow in an Airbus. What was immediately striking is the level of detail that Runway Simulations 26 has gone into, not just with the airport, but the surrounding area as well. The lush green fields, and tropical palm trees and sandy beaches are all accounted for here, really giving you that Caribbean look and feel.
As I continued to fly around, I noticed that the nearby towns and docks were also modeled, complete with custom auto-gen and cruise ships. From a distance, these looked great, but as you flew closer, you start to notice that they are low-poly. Although this doesn’t really affect your flying experience, it does mean that performance isn’t compromised. For a new developer, the detail is staggering and the fact they’ve managed to cover a large area of the island means that the experience is seamless, which is also helped by the fact that it blends in well with Orbx FTX Global / openLC NA.
The airport itself has also received a great level of care as well. Owen Roberts International Airport is only a small airport, with a single use runway – relatively long for a Caribbean airport. Flying in the small jets is easy, but once you take the 777 for a spin there, things get a little more challenging, and parking the aircraft on stand also provides its own issues! The beautiful approach over the coast looks fantastic, with the waves almost crashing over the numbers! At first I thought this was an oversight from the developer, but looking at Google Maps, this is actually accurate! I can only imagine the pilot’s fear during stormy weather.
What I really admire about the developer is the small little details that they’ve included. The poor conditions of the runway are clearly visible, with worn away markers, faded paintwork and dirt down the sides of the strip. Again for me this has a real rustic Caribbean vibe, which sucks you in. With a small apron and limited taxiways, manoeuvring around the airport is relatively easy. As a result, the developer has had chance to really stick in lots of small details to admire. Everything from signage to parking stands is correct, with details showing signs of use. Unlike the surrounding area, the buildings at the airport are high in texture resolution, with plenty of polygons showing off every curve of the wonderful aircraft hanger. Just when I thought the airport was alive enough, I looked up to see a congregation of birds flying around, clearly in search of any food left lying around! Even with all these details, frames stay high and VAS remains low.
As the sun sets over the Caribbean sea, the night lighting begins to switch on. With all my praise for the day-texture set, it’s a shame I can’t say the same about the night textures. The airport itself is poorly lit, with very limited lighting to guide you in to the airport. Some of the textures themselves on taxi-way signage bleed away from the object itself. The approach itself also suffers due to the low resolution. The ‘lighting’ used, when close up, looks like yellow circles on the ground – a far cry from how detailed the texturing looks during the day. From the research I did, this isn’t so much the fault of the developer, as the airport itself is dim at night. However, the opportunity could have be taken advantage of. Since there is only limited lighting, I would hope that what lighting is available, it is made as detailed as possible. It’s passable, but a shame considering the quality of the rest of the airport.