It hasn’t been too long ago since UK2000, known for making amazing British scenery packages, released their Manchester addon. This addon is a complete overhaul from the previous version and is thus appropriately named version 2. So was this the overhaul Manchester deserved? And does it stack up to its competitors? Let’s find out!
If you have read my previous reviews, you know I like to start with a little bit of history. Manchester Airport started construction in 1935 and was opened as Ringway airport in 1938. It was then used as a base for the Royal Air Force during World War 2. After this the base was turned into a civilian airport and quickly became the busiest airport after London Heathrow. More recent years have seen less fortunate times for the airport however. Some big operators have scaled down flights to various regions around the world. The future of Manchester airport looks a bit brighter with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic amongst others opening new routes both domestic and foreign. Furthermore, the airport is seeking to increase its cargo capacity and some expansions of the airport have already been planned for this.
Alright, enough of that, let’s get into the scenery itself. The installation for UK2000 is relatively easy. You open the installer and let it detect your FSX or P3D installation folders. You can also customise these if you so desire. The installer might give you a warning to update the UK2000 libraries which only requires you to click next and select an install folder. After installation you will be presented with a control panel that you can open at any time from the installation folder. This is the same place where you can find the manuals and the charts which are very comprehensive and detailed. Here you can select numerous options to customise the airport to your liking. There are options for installing static jets or AFD files with airline codes, animated traffic and added details. There are also options to select which ground scenery you might be using (Orbx FTX Global, FTX England) or photo scenery. Furthermore you can select to use default runway lights if you’re running Prepar3d. A lot of options which is always a plus for people that want to change the experience to their liking (or performance).
I am running Manchester without static aircrafts, with animated traffic, details and I use Orbx FTX Global. My performance was generally very stable. VAS usage is very acceptable and shouldn’t leave you worried at all. My FPS was very nice, but would occasionally take little hits. I might have been able to solve this by turning off the extra details, but as I like those too much, I left them on. The control panel comes in handy here if you are suffering from performance loss and want to tune your settings a little. All in all the performance is very good but it could perhaps use some small improvements.
Editors note [Calum]: I’m sure many of you are wondering about the other Manchester that was recently released by another developer on how that compares to this, especially when it comes to performance. Whilst I personally haven’t used UK2000’s Manchester, I have been actively using the other Manchester scenery by IDS. As of 4th February 2016, we’re currently on version 1.00, which I have experienced some very choppy performance. I’ve detailed my issues to the team, and was informed an update would be released. As a result, I can’t recommend purchasing the other one until these issues have been resolved. From what Daan is saying, the performance here seems much better.
Now some people may argue that some of these features aren’t anything special or new since they were also present in the previous version. I still decided to take them into account though, as we are looking at the scenery by itself here and not compared to any other version.
Let’s start with the buildings on the airport. These look great and textures are very crisp and nice. The same can be said for all the textures by the way, whether they be on buildings or on the ground. The textures are very detailed, sharp and look fantastic! Also very nice is the apron detail. There are vehicles (both static and animated), you can find containers on the aprons, trucks, GPUs, baggage loaders, pushback vehicles, animated smoke coming from buildings and much, much more. A particularly nice touch is the carpark just north of the airport at the end of runway 05L. This car park is so new that in fact most imagery data doesn’t even show it yet. Another very nice touch is the famous pub which can be found on the same end of that runway. I like it when developers go out of their way to do their research into an airport they’re developing so I can only commend UK2000 for including this.
Night lighting looks absolutely gorgeous as well. The lighting is exactly on point with no area having too little lights but also not over flooding the area. The terminal looks beautiful and there are lamp posts around the entire airport which is a very nice touch.
Manchester Airport is a beautiful and very detailed place. The performance is pretty good, although you may have to tweak your settings a little. There are also some things I’m missing about Manchester though. There is no SODE support, which would have been nice for the few dual jetways that Manchester has. Another oddity I noticed is that the AI traffic doesn’t seem to work properly. If I start my flight at Manchester I’ll get plenty of traffic, but no new traffic will come in. When doing a flight to Manchester there will be no AI traffic at all. By the way: make sure to turn your scenery custom objects slider all the way to to the max. If you don’t, the docking guidance system won’t appear.
Another point of critique is that despite how good a rendition this addon of its real life counterpart is, the development techniques of UK2000 scenery have been quite the same for a while and are starting to show their age. There are many sceneries out there with more custom details (mostly objects and buildings) yet better performance.
Despite this I’d still say UK2000s Manchester is well worth your money considering it’s not all that expensive to begin with compared to other scenery packages.