Pacific Island Simulations: Rarotonga


P3D. Where do I begin? Now normally, this would have been Dom's review article. I suppose you could say he had developers he took care of and I had developers I would take care of. But now giving the fact that ADX is now a 1 man show, I just can't let these developers not get the love they deserve. Thus, today is the very first time I have had an experience with a product from Pacific Island Simulations. I must say, damn good stuff here. First impressions are everything and PacSim did not disappoint me by any means and many of you know how picky I can be. So you want to come with me to Rarotonga? Sorry, no island girls but you can bring beer! Bandwidth Warning!

[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped.  Click each image for full size resolution preview.] 

A first experience.

As i stated, PacSim was always Dom's project developer and I am very pleased to take over the rains here. If PacSim is going to keep churning out stuff like this, I am going to break the bank! As my first experience with this developer, the Rarotonga product is a neat surprise for me this year.

What do i mean by this? We'll as you all clearly know, ADX does a pretty swell job of keeping track of upcoming developments. So as such, I already knew what scenries I was looking forward to at the beginning of the year. But Rarotonga really snuck up on me. I guess you could say I didn't really expect it to be this good!

And it's really, very good! So all I can say at this point is I am sorry I did not take a chance on PacSim products earlier on. It's not like I don't already have most of their stuff. I just never gave them a chance in my own time. As for the blog, as i said: Dom always had them covered. We'll today I can effectively say I am a fan of Pacific Island Simulations!

Lets dig into the scenery!

I started out my flight jump seating on a JetStar A321 from New Plymouth New Zealand. This was the most fitting livery for the region as there is not yet an existing NZ livery for the Extended.

After a few hours of flying, we are on final. i am really excited about visiting the island for the first time. It's a very exciting approach with the runway threshold just 185 yards from the coastline.

Very nice water masking and colors. I can also already see the photo ground layer is pretty crisp covered with very nice autogen and foliage as well giving a very immerse island environmental feel even from the flight deck.

Love all the little details. They make a huge difference!

I think i'll stay here for the night! Very good attention to all the custom autogen.

 From above, we get a bigger picture. You can clearly see how good the work is.

I just can't stress this point enough, not just the airside needs to be given good attention. The parking lots and entrances need love too and PacSim did a great job here as well!

I just freaking LOVE all the different trees and scrubs! This is an island done right!

Great attention to detail. This is why FS people buy airport sceneries. We wan't things to be as realistic as possible and PacSim has really delivered.

Fences, light poles, good car objects in the lots, heck all this place needs is People Flow! I can see them in my head now. All those good looking island girls walking around the ramp!

The main terminal is present in a very realistic manner. Great texture work here!

In the above set, we see plenty of ramp objects present. It seems nothing was left out with tropical trees everywhere. This is how it's done!

This runway is waiting for you! Yes you! What are you waiting for! Runway 26 approach.

Just looks so good. the scenery really shows it's self off. I need not say too much.

Even at night, things really look good. Very nice night image. Not too dark. You can find this place on visual even in the dark.

And the airport and surroundings light up very well at night too! Come visit Rarotonga. You will not be disappointed!

 Final thoughts.

This was really only intended to be a typical ADX FirstLook article. But from time to time, the FirstLook's tend to expand outside their usual parameters. That's exactly what happened here. This is because the product surpassed my expectations by far. The better a product looks, the more I hit that Fraps screenshot capture key. As you can clearly see, I hit that key many times!

PacSim has clearly done an outstanding job with this project. Now usually at this point I am thinking about how the developer could have done better. What I would have done better? What I might have done differently? But I came up blank. So, I decided to ask myself: What might FlyTampa have done differently? Still, I came up blank.

Here is why: If you look at FlyTampa's Grenadines islands project, and compare them to Rarotonga here, the differences on a quality scale are so similar it's baffling.

Why am I baffled? because I just didn't expect the scenery to be this good. But is it perfect? Well no. The only issue I discovered with the scenery is building textures on some of the airport buildings. See the below shot:

Up close, you can really see how the textures lack depth and sharpness. What makes a FlyTampa airport stand apart here is with the building textures. Now some areas are indeed better rendered than others. But here, clearly, the textures could be quite a bit crisper, sharper. Would you agree?

But also note the building in the background is indeed much sharper in detail.

But this also brings me to my next point. 

Perhaps the lack of sharpness is for performance reasons.

FlyTampa has mastered the ability to bring very highly crisp and sharp objects into FS with extremely easy frame-rates. This is a skill set many developers are trying to master. If you compare FSDT's Vancouver airport vs FlyTampa's entire city of Dubai, you get my point.

So here, maybe many of the buildings in this scenery don't have that super crisp texturing method is due to those very smooth and easy frames the product delivers. And at the end of the day in FSX and P3D, performance is very important! Especially if you are NGXing it. But overall, the buildings and textures are far better than I expected and as such, they all look very good.

So my final thought?

If Pacific Islands Simulations continue on this track, continues to improve their skills with every future release, we honestly could be looking at another elite developer by 2014. I'll be watching PacSim very closely. No longer will these guys breeze under my radar.

You can purchase the product here:

The price is very reasonable too! Now you see there, the scenery looks even better!

Happy Flighting!

D'Andre Newman