In 2019, UK2000 Scenery made the very conscious decision of taking a step back from scenery development to focus on creating new tools and texture sets to better position themselves in a world of detailed scenery packages. It’s no secret that whilst the UK2000 Scenery packages are adequate, they started to look dated compared to older products – hence the time out the team took to create a new set of tools. Fast forward through several months, and UK2000 Scenery has released several sceneries including Bristol 2019 HD.
Being born and raised in the UK city means Bristol holds a special place for me. Having also worked at the airport in a variety of roles also means my passion for having a high-quality scenery product representing the airport is pretty high. Let’s see if the new tools, texturing and changes to development means that UK2000 Scenery is producing top-of-the-line products worthwhile of the new price tag attached.
Bristol Airport sets itself apart from many other major UK city airports by being quite small in size. Despite the small footprint of the airport itself, it features many flights to destinations far afield and those a little closer to home. The airport only has a 6,598ft runway, yet the airport frequently sees 787 departures from TUI, along with medium-haul routes from easyJet’s A321 Neo and also Ryanair’s 737-800. The number of routes across Europe is relatively large but mostly restricted to those previously mentioned airlines. Bristol Airport is also home to Bristol & Wessex Aeroplane Club for those looking to do some flying in small aircraft or private jets.
Purchasing the product via UK2000 Scenery’s website was straightforward, but in 2019/20, their website and whole purchase set-up is really falling short. The purchase process is easy enough to do, but overall usability is really starting to show its age. After the installation process (which is a little confusing with the common library needing to be downloaded separately), you are presented with the standard configuration tool and also a single PDF document attached for some information on the product. This PDF is not really pertinent to the enjoyment of the scenery.
The biggest change in UK2000 Scenery’s development tool suite is the improvement in texturing. Whilst I can say that this is a marked improvement over their older titles, I certainly feel it falls below the standard it should be in this day and age. For those curious, I used the highest settings possible in the simulator when testing to get the best results. The groundwork is by far the best element of the new suite of textures with crisp and clear work throughout. The markings for taxiways, runway ahead markings and stand numbers are nicely detailed with environmental effects on them for that bit of immersion. The tarmac for the runway is pretty nice, but there are excessive tire markings on the threshold. There are plenty of other features included such as pedestrian walkways, ground service equipment bays and more all on the ground making for nice looking airport. Sadly, this is where my appreciation for texture work ends.
The buildings feel like a blast to the past with boring and dull artwork, with little special attention paid. In an age where developers are adding in dirt effects, air conditioning units and other finer details – it’s disappointing to see this lack of detail has been given to the airports. The airport is totally usable without these types of features, but it’s this lack of polish that simply distracts from the overall quality of the product. Considering that this is a new airport built on new technology within the UK2000 Scenery catalogue, it feels old and dated already.
Beyond the airport, there’s yet again lack of attention or care. The ground imagery used is very low-resolution, with no effort made to better the imagery and improve the overall quality. Car parks, roads and fields just look fuzzy and the developer has not removed any of the object imagery from when the photo was taken. For example, there are flat cars in the imagery with a 3D car placed on top. Again, it is this lack of attention given that makes Bristol 2019 HD feel dated already, despite being the latest from UK2000 Scenery. That being said, I do very much appreciate that UK2000 Scenery has invested time in the 3D modelling of newer buildings such as the new multi-story car park and the Hampton by Hilton hotel. The modelling is very well done, but again, it does fall short on the texture department.
Despite my grumbles with the artwork, the 3D modelling did have some redeeming qualities. The new terminal areas look great and there has been some nice attention to detail on some of the passenger sections such as walkways, railings and airport signage. There are also plenty of moving 3D vehicles such as Cobus passenger transportation, and fuel trucks. Again, whilst it’s a tick on the feature list, it lacks polish with zero animations such as spinning wheels or dynamic lighting on the vehicles themselves. For comparison, other products (Imaginesim’s Singapore, for example) use a system in which these vehicles are a lot more animated.
What was lacking in the 3D modelling was the inclusion of any added extras. I very much enjoy seeing developers create detailed or simplified versions of interior modelling. Especially at an airport such as Bristol where the vast majority of the infrastructure is transparent glass. The lack of any 3D interior modelling here is really apparent and again gives the airport this lifeless and dull feeling. Even areas such as inside the fire station are texture work and not actually modelled like so many other developers are doing today.
UK2000 Scenery has used dynamic lighting to light up the apron of the airport to good effect. There’s a nice balance of soft colours along with brightness to enhance the experience. As for PBR, the scenery feature list includes it, but the effect doesn’t appear all that obvious. Unlike other developers who are using it to make textures look life-like, it’s hard to find any good examples within the product. The scenery is also lacking other cool effects such as water build up on the ground or reflective materials on the huge number of glass panels at the airport.
Something that is worth considering when thinking of the value of the product is that the price does include the X-Plane 11 version. Great for those looking to use the product in both simulators, but not so for those looking for use in a single sim. Whilst the price for UK2000 Scenery airports isn’t amongst the highest in the industry, there could be a slightly fairer pricing model in place for those that use just one simulator.
To sum up my experience with UK2000 Scenery’s new Bristol 2019 HD, I would say it was average at best. It’s a functional product that serves the airport well enough to get by. That’s as exciting as this product from UK2000 Scenery goes. The overall polish and quality of the product feel dated. Whilst it is the most accurate rendition of the airport available, if this is what is deemed to be “HD” quality by the developers then I worry about the quality of future airports as we step into a new era for flight simulation.
- Accurately rendered version of Bristol Airport
- Some of the ground poly work is nice and crisp
- 3D modelling, for the most part, looks good
- Price does include the X-Plane edition, should you wish to use both (or the other)
- Lifeless and dull texture work for vast majority of the scenery
- PBR texturing doesn’t feel well-implemented
- Lacks polish and features to make it stand out
- No interior modelling in the airport