Aerosoft Corfu X Review
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Corfu X (V1.10)
For FSX Published by Aerosoft
Reviewed by Joe (“Mutley”) Lawford
November 2011

Introduction
Kerkyra, more commonly known as Corfu, is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea to the north west of the Greek mainland. The island straddles the border between Greece and Albania to the east and to the west Italy is less than 60 Nm away.  Due to its location, it maintains a verdant and lush vegetation quite unlike the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea which tend to be more barren.

The terrain varies. In the north Mount Pantokrator rises to 906m, in the centre, smaller hills rise to 576m while in the south, a series of hills not rising to more than 250m stretch down the island ending at the headland of Asprokavos (south) and Lefkimis (south east). Large open plains can be seen with many having characteristic switchback roads with hair-pin bends as they rise steeply into the hills then descend to the seaside.

Corfu has a long and rich history with its influences visible all over the island. Archaeological excavations have proved that the island has been inhabited since the 7th - 4th centuries BC. In it's long history it has been under the rule of many countries including, Italy, the Venetians and French. In the early 19th century the British gained domination of the island until 1864 when the British donated the Island to the then King Of Greece. Since then the island has been under the control of Athens.


Corfu Town

Corfu has been a very popular holiday destination ever since air travel became cheap enough for the masses. The airport is Ioannis Kapodistrias (ICAO: LGKR IATA: CFU). There is no ILS and approach is by VOR DME and T-VOR DME based on the airfield. In April 1965 Corfu Airport became "International" and the first flight, under the guidance of Air Traffic Control, was carried out with a de Havilland Comet 4B aircraft of Olympic Airways.

This is a much-loved island and a comprehensive flight simulation scenery package has been much sought after for years. This scenery was conceived by Emilios Gemenetzidis of LiVEinFSX and subsequently joint project managed and published by Aerosoft.

Delivery and Installation
My review is based on the download version costing €17.95. There is a boxed version now available at €19.99 plus shipping. (Nov 2011)

As always, the download servers at Aerosoft are blistering fast, I clocked my download at over 4mb per second so took delivery only 2 minutes later for 450Mb, hardly enough time to make a cup of tea!

The installation procedure is straight forward so long as you read the screens and follow the prompts.

Your FSX location is automatically detected and set in the installer.  Once the installer has finished it will prompt you to run the Aerosoft Launcher.

The Aerosoft Launcher is their new utility that gives you an overview of all Aerosoft's products installed on you PC along with quick links to manuals and updates. 

After the initial installation, the software has to be activated here otherwise it will not display correctly in the sim, even though the scenery layer can be seen in the scenery manager of FSX.

The user manual can be found easily from the launcher and also from the Windows start menu.

The manual has a brief intro about the island and plenty of technical advice on the graphics set up for your PC.  This is a very comprehensive guide and I would advise both new and experienced users read it.

The manual goes on to advise about "Corfu X Manager" This is a facility where you can turn on or off individual special effects if you find them to be too taxing for your PC. I think this is far better alternative than having to move your density and complexity sliders down thereby reducing all effects.

Finally, there is some terminal and runway information but it would have been nice to have seen an approach plate or two. I guess copyright considerations are prohibitive here but I found them easily enough from searching the web.
 
 Feature list
I always like to list the features quoted by the developer as it is their promise of what you will get and is one of their main selling tools for the product, so let's see what is on offer:

    • Photo real texture (0.5-1.0m resolution) for whole Corfu Island
    • Custom terrain mesh for the whole island
    • Photo-realistic scenery covering the main and the old town and both ends of the approach path
    • Fully custom 3D airport with all structures
    • Custom HD ground textures with full FSX material properties (specular shine/water reflection) at airport
    • Realistic approach lighting system
    • Detailed rendition of Corfu’s famous landmarks on approach routes
    • Advanced animations at the airport (flag/vehicle animations etc.)
    • Detailed representation of old town and harbour
    • 3D re-construction of the main ship port and rocky shores of the old town
    • Very high frame rates
    • Extensive manual (available before purchase)
    • Simple tool to configure the scenery

Airport scenery
Terminal and airside
The detail within the airport environs is very impressive. Anyone who has visited the island will immediately recognise the terminal building
and control tower. The passenger terminal has pretty much looked the same for the past 40 years, it is vastly undersized for the 2.04 million
(2003) passenger movements and badly needs upsizing. (Just search for RW passenger reviews!)

The apron depicts an airport badly in need of new surface! There are patches, stains, wear and damage all supporting this observation, it has a feel of a well used piece of real-estate.


Airside, the terminal buildings are fairly featureless, typically 1970's style, tired but functional. The arrival gates are to the left of the terminal and departures to the right. There are no jet-ways, aircraft park on the apron and mostly the passengers are bussed to the terminal.

In front of the terminal there are a few static tugs and ground power units. All the recognised ground handling agents appear to be represented by their logos on the tugs, GPU's and air stairs, most notably Olympic Airlines, Swissport and Goldair Handling.

Moving north, the control tower is not really modelled in any great detail but then looking at the real thing neither is that, however, I would have expected there to be an aerial array on top (As seen in some early development shots over on fsdeveloper.com) as you would see on the real thing and this would help to give more interest to the building. 
There are a few animated vehicles airside (1 coach, 2 4x4's and a tug) and 5 cars landside on a pre-set circuit course. The airside vehicles vanish and reappear at both ends of their track. One piece of routing makes the coach and the 4x4 drive over the helipad boundary and through any aircraft parked there. Hopefully this will be rectified at some point.

Past the control tower there is an enclosure where the air-stairs are parked along with some coaches, baggage trailers and airport clutter. This looks really good mainly because of the amount of objects and the highly visible brand names on view which gives it a real world feel.

The fuel farm is next up, this is well presented too, you will see local fuel agent EKO have a presence as well as the more noticeable Shell and BP brands. There are nicely modelled storage tanks and a couple of static fuel tankers, one is frozen in time showing it turning but not moving.

Conveniently located opposite the fuel farm is the fire station with a couple of trucks ready for action. Another believable well modelled building but fairly featureless except for the solar panels on top which are quite distinctive.


Now at the northernmost edge of the apron we appear to be on a GA parking area. This is overlooked by the old terminal which has more old  world character than the newer 1970's version, it is topped by the old sign and well portrayed.

The runway textures are excellent and very well edited to give a textured feel, there is some specular highlighting which is most apparent as the sun is going down behind the hills and in wet conditions.

Other airfield features
On the western side of the runway is a "Light aircraft apron", it is accessible by taxiway "E" as opposed to the "GA Apron" accessible by taxiway A on the eastern side. There are no ramp positions in the sim "Go to airport" feature so you will have to use slew to start your journey there. 

This apron is serviced by the Corfu Airport West Air Terminal. It  looks deserted so I am not sure if it is used in real life. On the apron itself is the only static aircraft included with the scenery, a Piper Cub. This is parked beside a hangar that the other 4x4 drives past then disappears.

Overlooking the southern end is an observation tower. Unfortunately it is placed right on the boundary fence, so the fence can be seen passing through the walls of the building. Maybe a move a metre backwards would cure this. It is dificult to find a real world reference so if the fence really does meet the side of the structure, then this would be more of a limitation of FSX and the fixed length fence panels it uses.

The airfield VOR is unmistakable but like the tower there are no antennae, no radial transmitters, so it looks derelict, dare I say the use of a default library object would have been better?

All around the airfield there are very nicely, if a bit brightly, modelled grassed areas, this helps to give more interest and depth to the airfield. At the southern end of the runway the grass looks more brownish yellow and more accurate to the general feel of the island. This kind of detail pioneered by Orbx is appearing a lot more now and is finely reproduced here.

Surrounding three sides of the airfield is a lagoon, at the southern end there are some very distinctive wooden fences that run out into the water.

Unfortunately the fence textures have a transparency problem that chop the clouds and trees up when viewed from a low angle. This is most noticeable in a light GA aircraft turning at the end of runway 17. In normal usage I don't think you would notice it but if you happened to be in the wrong place, e.g. at water level you will.

One of the main features of this airport is the approach into runway 35. The approach lighting gantries and lights look fantastic, especially when landing at dusk. It's quite obvious a lot of care and attention went into their design.

Lastly, another notable feature is the low level bridge where aircraft spotters can watch the aircraft flying in only 10's of metres of their heads. Having witnessed this myself I know what a scary experience this is!


Landside
Surrounding the immediate area of the airport are a few nice features, on the road passing the threshold for runway 17 there is a static feature of the traffic lights set to red, in the real world, this happens when a heavy Jet takes off or lands and stops the traffic being from damaged by the jet blast.  There are many vehicles and a Police car acting out this event.

As you can see below this produces quite a dramatic sight, also note the road signs showing the way to the airport.

Driving back towards the terminal, on the left, is a sports stadium with a very distinctive shaped and blue coloured roof, it's nice to see this included as it is a unique building and landmark.

Stopping at the arrivals and departures entrance, the covered coach shelter is well depicted, anyone who has passed through this airport on a package holiday will remember standing around here in the blistering heat waiting to get on an air conditioned coach!  Unfortunately there's no coaches waiting today so you will have to flag down one of the taxis making a circuit around the coach shelter.

Not far from the airport, on its south-eastern edge, is a yacht haven where there are many boats moored and a few others sailing. This is a switchable feature via the Corfu X Manager but I prefer to leave them on as it creates a nice lazy afternoon feel.


Another feature is the inclusion of the large Corfu Holiday Palace hotel. Some of its rooms overlook the runway to the north and west and would be a aircraft spotters delight. To the front of the hotel is a large pool which has been placed quite carefully using photo textures so you can see people swimming in the shallow end. The hotel is on a cliff and has its own beach at the bottom of the cliff with parasols. This is reached by a funicular railway running up and down the cliff, fully animated.

Corfu Town & Marina
The most well-known landmarks are modelled, buildings like the prison encompassed by a high circular wall, the Old and New Forts which really dominate the waterside areas and a couple of Greek Orthodox churches with their pretty bell towers. There are a few other buildings that have photo textures to give them an identity like Tweety's Restaurant and the Hotel Atlantis which has a bit more detail.

The Marina is another area to benefit from some custom well placed buildings, again, this gives you a nice feel for the area albeit not in great detail. There is a cruise ship and some cargo vessels visiting and moored by the quayside.

I think the amount of detail included with the town and marina is just right, the forts are very imposing and help give the town its identity. From the air you are going to see the landmarks you expect so you can't ask for more than that.
 
Photo Scenery &Autogen
The rest of the island has underlying photoscenery with seasonal trees and mostly generic houses. I couldn't recognise any more autogen buildings but I could recognise buildings that were displayed by the photoscenery, the hotel I stayed in for example.

The quality of the photo textures varies quite a bit, at 0.5 - 1.0 metre the resolution can be a bit course in some areas. The northern regions including towns like Ipsos, Kassiopi, Sidari and Paleokastritsa are not so clear, whereas the central region is excellent.

The Extreme south is like the north, not so clear as the central region. This could well be a budgetary decision by the developer as the price of high resolution photo textures for the whole island would have put this scenery into the commercial /Military training category. Unfortunately merging areas of different resolutions does cause some visual aberrations along the boundaries.  This is not too hard to accept when you remind yourself that you have only paid €17.95 for the whole island and airport and unless you are flying at 750 ft you are not really going to be affected.

Here are a few random shots taken on a couple of different days when flying around the island. Generally I am around 2000ft+ above the terrain, as you can see it looks good! (Tip: Use zoom feature on shots to see bigger image)


Kavos looking north

Heading south, down the west coast

The golf course is easy to spot

Paleokastritsa in the north west

Northern-most near Ayios Spiridhon

Near Pelekas

Mount Pantokrator, less aerials

Heading north towards Dassia
Outside of the airport and the town areas the autogen looks to be mostly generic Mediterranean style. There a couple of customised buildings added in too, but there are many landmarks which are not featured, most notably, the communication aerials array on Mount Pantokrator which is marked on aviation charts as an obstacle hazard and at 3315 feet I would have expected it to be featured.

There is only one season for the photoscenery, some of the trees do turn brown in the fall and bare in the winter with the Cyprus trees maintaining their dark-green colour. This does look very odd even if it is understandible, this really is then, an island for the summer season.
The water masking appeared quite crude in areas but is only an issue when flying low.  At higher altitudes the island does look a lot better with a lot of the issues above being less visible or important.

Mesh

The mesh is very good especially in the high areas and offered some very nice detail, there were a few sheer cliffs and steps especially in the northern and southern regions which let it down a little but overall very well done and adds a very accurate shape to the island.

Night Textures

Just about right, the airport aprons have flood lighting, as you would expect, blue lights around the taxiways. The terminal buildings and tower have good night textures too.

The roads running around the outside of the airports have lamp posts but not for very far, there is plenty of light pollution from the town and airport areas and very subtle light spots emanating from buildings. All the custom buildings have light maps for night usage.

From a height overflying the island you could certainly make out the headlamps on the roads and the densly populated areas with patterns that define the towns, that sort of feedback from the sim is very pleasing.

Performance
Definitely a plus point here, running at high density and complexity settings my system maintained its FPS fixed at 30 using FPS limiter to stop performance spikes. (See machine spec below).

Even with the more complex aircraft like the iFly 737NG, the screen action was very smooth and the developer must be commended for this.



Verdict

Overall, a very capable piece of scenery, it's very good in some areas but a bit below par in others. Anyone wanting a true and honest depiction of Corfu should buy this scenery without hesitation.

I would have liked to have seen more bespoke autogen of well-known buildings as well as more detailing on some of the airport objects like the tower and VOR.

I had to go out and find charts for LGKR, if for licensing reasons they could not be included then maybe links to online resources would have been nice.

Pros:
     •Accuracy of the airport including approach lighting
     •Corfu town and marina detail
     •Sim performance
     •Value for money
     •Overall Ionian / Mediterranean feel of the Island

Cons:
     •Variable photoscenery quality
     •Mesh: Cliffs and steps in some areas
     •Lacking important landmarks

I am pleased to be able to award Corfu X
a Mutley's Hangar score of 8.5/10


Joe Lawford
Review machine Spec:
Core i7 Extreme 965 @ 3.6 Ghz | 12Gb Corsair DDR3 Ram |GTX580 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit


      
      System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Internet connection for registration
  • 3 GHz CPU (Dual Core or equivalent advised)
  • 2 Gb RAM
  • 256Mb graphic card (512 MB recommended)
  • 450Mb Download size
  • 520Mb hard drive space