TechnoBrain is a name that I can really connect with. As a self-professed computer geek, I feel like I can’t go wrong with a product that comes from the likes of people, who by virtue of their name, are both technological and smart. When TechnoBrain quietly released their take on Tokyo International Airport (RJTT), it was bound to be a product that ticked all the boxes. After spending some time with this scenery, I can confidently say that while the product is smart, it’s not a technological marvel.
Originally available only for FSX (and only in Japan), RJTT is not a new product. Rather, it’s a port of a product that has been available for years to Japanese pilots and any other pilot resourceful enough to get their hands on a copy. Serving an arguably under-serviced simulator geography, having the ability to add Tokyo to your list of destinations in P3D v4 or FSX is an appealing prospect.
Adding RJTT to my simulator was easy. A self-contained installer meant that I didn’t have to search around for hidden folders and file structures in order to make the scenery work. Nor did I have to change scenery orders or ask other installed scenery packages to play nice with this new airport. I credit the easy installation to the fact that I have relatively little in the way of add-ons in that area of the world.
Included documentation was clear, concise, and well-written. I didn’t feel like I was reading a poorly-translated manual and I was able to follow the instructions without trouble. Included airport charts added a nice touch and made the whole documentation package feel like it was not just an afterthought.
Blowing the dust off an old product isn’t always a guaranteed win. Developers must optimize products to make them compatible with advances taking place in simulator platforms. Lighting, textures, buildings, are all things that require attention. The goal of any developer is to squeeze every last frame out of their scenery to provide a smooth and stutter-free experience to even those pilots relying on the most basic of computerized cockpit setups. RJTT definitely delivers in this area.
I admit that I run a fairly robust system – a 1080ti GPU with an over-clocked i7700K processor. I know what you’re thinking and before you dismiss my assessment of RJTT’s performance, you need to know that I run my settings on the high-end of the suggested optimal setup scale. This can sometimes result in lower frame rates and stutters at less-optimized airports.
RJTT was a silky-smooth experience, even at higher settings. Buttery performance during the day, on taxi, take-off, and approach. When night fell, and natural daylight gave way to frame-eating dynamic lighting, I found that my experience was still stutter-free (and extremely visually appealing). Hats off to the folks at TechnoBrain for finding that sweet spot in performance.
While performance is a key component when experiencing a piece of scenery, performance doesn’t matter if the scenery doesn’t look good. No one wants to taxi to a gate that looks like it was cut out of a magazine and then scanned into the simulator at low-resolution; it’s a quick way to ruin immersion.
Visual appeal is where RJTT falls short. Textures are basic and dated. Stationary objects look like painted cardboard boxes, with blurry textures and muted, washed out colours. While taxi lines and pavement markings are present and well-done, the pavement itself looks flat and lacks the wear and tear that one would expect at a busy airport.
While visually the airport may be lacking, runways and buildings are modelled accurately and placed in precisely the right locations. A comparison between a Google Maps satellite view and the airport in a top-down view show an almost exact match.
Autogen around the airport isn’t great. I attribute that to the fact that there really isn’t a lot of scenery and texture support for areas around Eastern Asia (read: Orbx). This takes away from the overall package, but you can’t add what isn’t available. However, the developer has paid close attention to buildings and landmarks that appear close to the airport, and these are well-placed and representative of their real-world counterparts. If you are at all familiar with the real-world airport, a flight into or out of the airport should give you a handful of familiar sights.
Jetways are activated using CTRL-J, and this adds an important piece of immersion. The airport is vast and has multiple terminal buildings and parking options. Having the ability to connect a jetway to your airplane is an important feature.
Night lighting at the airport is definitely well done. A key area of focus for the developers at TechnoBrain when they brought this airport to P3Dv4, the dynamic lighting picks up where the modelling falls short. Well-done taxiway and runway lighting add a vibrancy to the airport that makes night-flying appealing and immersive. Expertly placed, the lighting does not overpower the surrounding scenery, and the orange glow of the sodium vapour lighting is the perfect touch. Cargo haulers will appreciate the lighting as they keep packages moving while the world sleeps.
It is important to note that this scenery is expensive. At 39 Euros ($47 USD), I am trying to compare this airport to others available at the same price point – and there aren’t many. FlyTampa, ImagineSim, Flightbeam, LatinVFR, and many more sceneries can all be had for less money, and in the opinion of this writer, are of better quality. Many of the aforementioned developers have built their scenery specifically with P3D v4 in mind, and they offer much more visually appealing and immersive environments.
The performance of this scenery is on-point, the installation is easy and included documentation is great, but TechnoBrain falls short when it comes to a lot of the modelling and some of the more basic visuals – which is the core of any piece of scenery. If this product was 15 Euros cheaper it would be a steal. But, if your bank account is sitting a few extra points into the green and you are in the mood for some Far East flying, RJTT might be the destination you’ve been seeking.