Marcus Nyberg has returned with an emphatic display of his artistic talents in the form of three magnificently detailed Swedish airports all wrapped in to one single download. Kiruna Airport (ESNQ) is the title airport situated in the far north of Sweden in the province of Lapland. Dala or Borlänge Airport (ESSD) is situated approximately 113 miles northwest of Stockholm and serves both public and military flights. Visby Airport (ESSV) is on Sweden’s largest island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea and to the south of Stockholm. It is Sweden’s 12th largest airport and Gotland’s largest commercial airport.
This is also the inaugural outing of some new snow textures from Orbx. These textures can be witnessed at two of the three airports, ESNQ and ESSD.
Kiruna is a mining town towards the far tip of the Norwegian border. Kiruna is situated in the middle of the vast Swedish tundra however, it is vital to the Swedish economy. Kiruna is the key city in the northern inland part of Sweden and is an important source of iron ore as well as a popular tourist destination for hikers and climbers en route to the nearby Scandinavian Mountains which boasts the highest mountain in in Sweden, Kebnekeise.
Dala Airport is located in Dalarna County, just outside the city of Borlänge. This county is famous for tourism, however, as it is close to Stockholm, Dala Airport is primarily used for charter flights and general aviation, with commercial traffic being very limited. It also hosts a model airplane club and has a very active glider community.
Visby Airport is located in Gotland, an island located southeast of Stockholm in the Baltic sea. Gotland it is a hugely popular destination for Swedish nature lovers, tan-seeking beach goers, party people, and the Swedish political elite. ESSV itself is a busy airport made up of three main areas: Swedish military operations run out of the northern part of the airport, a buzzing commercial airport takes up the majority of space in the middle, and there is also a GA area in the southern region with a cross-direction grass airstrip straight under the approach to the runway..
Orbx ESNQ Kiruna Airport is designed to work exclusively with Microsoft FSX and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D and is available from Orbx Direct as a ‘download only’ product. The full download for this product is a healthy 3.27GB. The price at the time of writing this review was AUD$39.95 or £22.32 - a steal in my opinion! Installation is extremely simple as the FTX Central 3 application does all the hard work for you.
Note. To take full advantage of Orbx ESNQ Kiruna Airport, you will need to have Orbx Global Base installed.
What you will miss out on if you do not have Orbx Global Base installed:
• Blending of the airport photoreal into the surrounding terrain;
• Moving traffic on roads properly aligned to the photoreal ground terrain; and
• Enhanced FTX Global 3D lighting system with improved FPS in urban/township streets around the airport.
There are new unique 3D snow effects at ESSD & ESNQ but due to limitations within the FSX engine, this is only visible in P3D.
Each of the three included airports cover a decent, if not huge, area surrounding the main airports and each include some interesting points of interest. Kiruna Airport covers the airport, the town of Kiruna, and the iron ore mining area to the west of the airport. Dala Airport coverage is similar to Kiruna although the inclusion zone extends to the city of Borlänge from which the airport gets its name, but does not include the city itself. What it does cover is some extensive farmland surrounding the airport. Coverage for Visby Airport includes the airport boundaries, the city of Visby, and the old town and harbour areas.
Specific features of Orbx ESNQ Kiruna Airport include the following:Ultra-detailed renditions of Dala Airport, Kiruna Airport, and Visby Airport;
The attention to detail at each of the three included airports is once again testament to the artistic mindset at Orbx. Marcus has layered hundreds of buildings and objects on top of a photoreal ground poly which, in general, gives a great deal of realism to the scenery. I say ‘in general’ as some of the textures are ever so slightly blurred in some areas but not in others. With 30cm textures applied to the three airports and 50cm textures to the approaches gives more clarity and realism. The towns of Visby and Kiruna are by far the most building saturated areas. In most cases the buildings are not strictly replicated, however, the amount of buildings give the scenery depth and a sense of believabilitywhen flying over the cities. The buildings on each of the airports is a different story though. The custom terminal buildings, hangars, and such are superb, even though there is no internal modelling. (This is a personal bug bear of mine, and I know, I need to get over it).
The airport ground textures are superb, with oil patches, scuffs, and scrapes exactly where you would expect them to be. As for Dala and Kiruna, the newly introduced 3D snow textures add a whole new layer of realism to the scenery not seen outside of console scenery I believe. It really does add that ultimate feeling of cold, when you are positioned on the runway in the winter months awaiting takeoff clearance.
There are quite a number of custom buildings included at all three airports, none more so than the terminal buildings themselves. Marcus has recreated each airport in fine detail, including custom vehicles for the region, objects and custom grasses, flowers, and shrubbery that are natives of the Scandinavian region. It could nearly be said that the flora around the airports make the airports look slightly unkempt, but in all honesty they look in keeping with the area and Marcus has modelled them superbly. The textures used on the buildings are very well done and with the shading Marcus has applied, they really ‘pop out’.
Outside the confines of each airport there are various custom buildings and points of interest to look for. Most notably are the mining area outside Kiruna, the masses of red roofed houses at all three locations, and the town wall and abbey ruin in Visby, just to mention a handful. There are also various animated items to notice such as PeopleFlow, animated horses, and smoke stacks at the iron ore mine. I particularly liked how Marcus has modelled two semi hidden nissen hangars and the complete iron ore mine.
With the geographical location of these airports in Sweden, comes a huge variation in both texture and lighting. These screenshots were taken at midday on the 10th of each month and as is clear, there is very little light during the day in the months of November, December or January. Conversely, during the height of the summer months, there is very little darkness. There are full seasonal textures throughout the year at all airports but as previously stated, the 3D snow textures are only available at Dala and Kiruna airports and likewise the 3D textures are only available in the Prepar3D versions due to limitations within the FSX graphics engine.
Advanced baked ambient lighting is the key to these airports. The lighting is very good indeed and with each airport being slightly different, the lighting techniques used here add atmosphere and character to the dusk through to dawn period. Runway approaches are very well lit, including edge lighting, taxiway lights, PAPI lights, etc. Unfortunately, on approach to Dala and Kiruna in the winter months and with the 3D snow textures, some of the lighting is hidden under the snow, which is quite novel and fairly realistic in some parts of the world.
Performance on my system was excellent. There was no discernible downgrade in performance and no stuttering except occasionally when using dynamic lighting as I mentioned previously. My frame rates are locked at 31 fps within the sim and this was achieved throughout my time flying to, from and around all three airports, using the advised settings in the Kiruna user manual.
At £22.32 or 39.95AUD, I have to say that as this is a three airport package, it is extremely good value for money. Especially if you like to fly in the Swedish interior. With the added value of the new snow textures at two of the airports, airport winter textures have never looked so good.
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
Asus Maximus VIII Hero Motherboard;
Intel i7, 6700K, 4GHz 'Skylake';
Gigabyte GeForce GTX10800Ti 11GB GPU;;
500GB, Corsair Force 3 SSD (OS), 2TB WD HDD (Prepar3D), and 1.5TB WD Sata HDD (programs);
Windows 7, (64bit); and
Lockheed Martin Prepar3D Version 4.4.
Orbx’s ESNQ Kiruna Airport is stunning and oh my word, it delivers on so many levels. How much more realistic can it get? With Marcus’ newly introduced 3D snow textures, winter flying has never looked so realistic. Three extremely well modelled airports for the price of one is always a bargain. Some blurring of textures and the lack of interior modelling on the buildings are somewhat disappointing but there is so much more about this product that these issues are overshadowed.
For pilots wanting to add more fun places to explore or base themselves at in Sweden, the Kiruna triple pack has to be the best bargain since the local Ikea sale! .