TropicalSim seem to have a knack for being able to release multiple sceneries for FSX and P3D almost every month. With the release of P3D v4, they went back and took a look at some sceneries that could do with a well-needed update for v4, and this is where we find Porto. With the previous version of Porto released in 2014, compatible with FS9, FSX and P3D v2, a P3D v4 update was greatly needed.
Porto International Airport is currently the second busiest airport in Portugal, located in the municipalities of Maia, Matosinhos and Vila do Conde, just 11km northwest of Porto itself. The airport has an array of interesting routes, with airlines including Easyjet, Ryanair, TAP Air Portugal along with its subsidiary TAP Express. This means that LPPR hosts a wide variety of flights around Europe from short-haul to medium-haul length. Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport has a modern, spacious terminal, which has ranked within Europe’s top three airports numerous times.
The airport is positioned in very close proximity to the Costa Verde coastline, with surrounding greenery on one side of the airport, and the sea on the other. I especially recommend doing the 17 approach over the city, with the coastline on your right hand side, allowing for some charming views.
My initial thoughts of Porto were very positive. I was very impressed with how the airport is compatible with my Orbx products, blending in with the surroundings splendidly. The general texturing at Tropicalsims’ airports has been undoubtedly improved, and this is evidently clear at Porto, and the runway and taxiway texturing makes the airport look that bit more real, providing another level of immersion. Another advancement in Tropicalsim’s scenery development is their modelling of buildings. It is clear that this is an area they have worked on, and the terminal is much better than the previous version, but there is a need for interior terminal modelling with today’s demands from scenery developers. Furthermore, with the odd texture mishap here and there, it falls below the level of top quality scenery modelling and texturing. Overall, I would say that the terminal has been well done, with the additional help from SODE to host your animated jetway needs!
The optional 3D lights and grass, as well as dynamic lighting and the native materials custom ground option, makes this scenery much better. I would highly advise that if you are running this scenery on a medium to high spec computer that you certainly want to turn these features on as it makes the airport look even better, especially at night. With close to no FPS impact at all. The only extra feature I would ask for is the need for some animated vehicles scattered around the airport. These days they are developing a lot of medium to large International airports, where you would find automobiles running around the airport all the time. It also provides some life to the scenery, which is a problem I find as I do not use AI traffic software, nor does the scenery have any static aircraft.
Around Porto there is some good texturing and modelling, especially on the cargo side of the airfield. However there are some missing things here and there. These include realistic taxiway and runway signs. Currently there are default-looking signs which decrease the immersion level significantly. Second, the terminal and jetway texturing is good, but I would ask for there to be some interiors modelled, as everything looks like a mirage and there’s no differences to be found in the windows. Another area of the airport that needs to be improved is the rear side of the terminal where the parking area is located. The texturing really falls behind, with constantly buggy texture flashing. This is a real disappointment to me because the rest of the airport is pretty much spotless and then I run into these kind of bugs.
Porto also has some good additional features that makes it very relevant with the sceneries we already have in P3D v4.2. For instance, the already mentioned SODE jetways and 3D grass are very attractive on a scenery’s feature list because not every scenery developer has implemented SODE jetways or 3D grass. These two features along with wet ground surface effect and dynamic lighting make this scenery very appealing. It is for this reason that this is certainly a much better than average scenery in Europe.
Performance at Porto was outstanding. I have now performed multiple flights in and out of Porto with both the FS Labs A320 and the PMDG 737, and my frame rates were marvellous, with the frame rates consistently staying in the mid to high 30’s and never dropping below the 25 fps mark. During nighttime flying, I saw no large decrease in my frames-per-second (FPS) which is a surprise considering the scenery features dynamic lighting. Overall I was very happy with the performance to be found at Porto.
Night-Lighting at Porto is good. My first impressions of the night lighting were that it was very realistic looking. The use of stand lighting on the apron area is very effective, looking very good when you have dynamic lighting enabled in your sim. However, the runway lighting is slightly lacking for me. The lights are too small and don’t give off enough light in my opinion. Another bizarre issue I have with the night-lighting is the fact that some buildings, such as the control tower, are lit up, which makes them look slightly weird and pale. Another weird issue with this night-lighting is the 3D grass that appears to be radiant at night time when looking at it closely. This, along with the control tower being lit, sadly reduces the amount of immersion at night. Nonetheless, the night-lighting is better than average, but I wouldn’t put it up there with the best on the market.
Porto is a very easy install and the installer will detect your sim location and adds to your scenery.cfg automatically. No need for any manual installs, which is very useful. Additionally, Porto comes with an exe that can be run, called “AutogenConfigurationManager” which if you run will automatically configure the airport’s autogen to suit your simulator. This is especially convenient if you have any Orbx products such as Global, Vector or Europe OpenLC. This scenery also comes with a neat PDF explaining information about both the scenery and the airport.
When it comes to price, Porto is a very good value for the money. At just under 20 Euros, you’re going to get an airport that suits a lot of people’s flying habbits. This is also great value considering Porto’s calibre, with the amount of features it comes with and its good performance. With the way the flight sim scenery market is going, you will struggle to find many good quality International airports around Europe for around 20 Euros. I look forward to seeing what TropicalSim has to offer in the future.