Penzance Heliport X Review
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Penzance Heliport X
For FSX developed by Southwest Design, published by Just Flight
Reviewed by Mikael Stockfors
October 2011

Introduction
After handing in my last review I kindly asked our editor if I could have something a tad bit smaller in size for my next assignment. His suggestion to take a peek at Penzance Heliport can only be seen as a nod of approval to my request because this has got to be the smallest scenery add-on I’ve seen, in more than one way. Firstly it covers a not so massive 1 km2 of land in the south west of England. Secondly, it’s only a mere 9 mb to download, and thirdly it won’t even cost you a fiver to buy (£4.04 at the time of writing).

But before we get on with what you actually get for your money, let’s take a short walk down memory lane to find out what Penzance is all about in the real world.

The heliport was built way back in the sixties and tallied up a construction bill of £88,000, and has since its formal opening on September 1st 1964, it served as a gateway to the Isles of Scilly with daily scheduled flights. Sadly the current owners have announced that they are selling the site to a supermarket chain, and services from Penzance will close in October 2011.

Download and installation
As mentioned before, the download is far from massive at about 9 mb, so you should have it on your hard drive in a fairly short time regardless of your connection speed.

The installation process is very straight forward after that. Just make sure you have your login credentials for the Just Flight shop ready, and follow the on screen instructions.

Documentation
  The documentation for the scenery is comprised of two PDF-files containing a total of 5 pages.

The manual contains 4 pages and includes an introduction of the developers, a short history of the heliport, a short list of features, recommended FSX settings, how to find the scenery in FSX and some information on the one custom animation that is included (more on that later).

The second file is an “approach chart” of rather low visual and aeronautical quality.
The scenery
So what do you actually get in this 24 mb of scenery?

Well, in my opinion you get a well modeled interpretation of the heliport itself. The ground textures inside the perimeter fence look sharp and by comparing the view in FSX with the top-down view provided by Google Earth, all structures on the heliport itself are where they should be, and the large building to the east is also present. (I wonder if B&Q sponsored it...Ed!)

All buildings look good and have rather good textures, even if I have a personal dislike of simulating an open hangar door by slapping a 2D-texture of the inside to a flat surface. But I’ve seen far worse examples of that solution than the one present here.

There’s also a firetruck and two luggage carts inside the aerodome. One of the luggage carts is animated. By tuning your NAV1 radio to 112.00 the blue Tug will run onto the apron with its luggage van in tow. A nice little feature, but the animation could do with some improvement.

As it is right now the orientation of the tug and the direction of movement aren’t really synced up, so it looks more like an airborne aircraft struggling with some side wind. It should also be mentioned that the animation only goes in one direction, so the only way to get the luggage truck out of the way for take off is by setting a different frequency in your NAV1, and the tug will instantly jump back to its parking space.

Scattered around the perimeter fence are a total of 4 people (3 static and one waving his arm), also of a pretty good quality compared to some other models of people I’ve seen in the FSX world. But I can’t help to wonder why the animated guy looks like he’s dressed for a polar mission when he’s on the south coast of England.

If the scenery had stopped here it could have had a rather good overall score, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The heliport itself only covers about 3% of the 1 km2 that make up the scenery. The rest is covered by photoreal textures that in my mind lacks a lot in quality.

The roads and coastline suffer from very jagged and pixilated edges, and the ground looks blurred even from altitude. The texture also feels like it’s rather on the bland side color wise. Sadly this takes a lot away from the scenery as a whole since this is the part of the scenery one tends to see the most of. Also, considering the small area covered, I feel that seasonal variation of the textures really should be a must here, even if it’s photoreal. This might of course be due to lack of available photos rather than by choice from the developer, but I feel it’s worth mentioning.



Verdict


A lot of up’s and down’s in this scenery, but sadly I feel that the downsides outweigh the upsides in my mind. However, the low price tag together with the good models and textures within the heliport itself keeps the grade above average.

I give the Penzance Heliport X a Mutley’s Hangar score of 6 out of 10.


Mikael Stockfors
Review machine Spec:
Intel Core i7 860 @ 2.8GGhz | 16 gb DDR III Ram @ 1600 mhz | GTX 560 TI OC 1GB Graphics |Windows 7 64bit Pro


        
       System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Pentium 2.5 GHz
  • 1 Gb RAM
  • 128Mb graphic card (512 MB recommended)
  • 9Mb Download size
  • 24Mb Disk space


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