Microsoft Flight Simulator – Kansai Airport Review (Technobrain)
Japanese third-party developer Technobrain has just released Kansai International Airport (RJBB) for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
As the largest international hub serving the Osaka area and western Japan in general, Kansai is certainly an important airport if you like to fly to Japan. It not only hosts many international flights to and from the country (passengers and cargo), but also many domestic flights to a wide variety of destinations.
Its position on an artificial island quite far from the coast makes it unique, along with the beauty of the longest airport terminal in the world designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano.
It’s currently available on Simmarket and the official sim market for $19.99 plus applicable VAT, but it’s worth mentioning that it won’t work on Xbox at the moment.
If you want an in-depth look at the scenery, you can watch an ILS approach and landing on runway 06L in the first video above, and a full flyby in various weather and lighting conditions in the second video below. Note that the landscape does not have a static plane. The passenger planes you see here are part of dynamic AI traffic solutions from some third-party developers.
Speaking of AI traffic, the airport generally works well with it, with planes navigating smoothly from the gates to all the runways despite the complex layout.
On the other hand, the boarding gates have not been correctly assigned to the airlines, so the AI plane will park quite randomly (but admittedly, this is a feature that is not yet widespread among developers). ). Another problem is that the loading ramps were not properly labeled as such and instead were identified as general aviation, which causes some issues with using a dedicated loading AI.
Published SIDs and STARs are ready to use and correspond to charts, and the same applies to instrumental approaches. The PAPI lights are also correctly calibrated on each track.
The taxiways are all set up as they should be, with all ramps numbered appropriately. All ground services are also available (including the elusive tanker trucks), so we envision a functionally very strong airport.
The orthophoto used as the basis for the artificial island of the airport is adequate, although a little blurry in places. Still, an absolutely fantastic job has been done with terraforming. Developers often find it difficult to work with man-made islands due to their precise shapes colliding with the organic terrain, but here the coasts of the islands are beautifully shaped and refined, while a lot of work has also been done on the passing roads. under the traffic lanes and join the two roads.
Technobrain also correctly modeled additional elements such as the piers that extend to the threshold of runway 24L and its lighthouses (although the ferry piers are sadly missing), the huge bridge that connects the airport to southern Osaka (and its modeling is particularly exquisite) and the tanker tie off runway 06R.
One thing that seems a bit underdeveloped are the tetrapods along the breakwaters that line the borders of the island. In the real world, these are very iconic elements of this type of airport, but the developers used them sparingly, resorting to a flat texture instead.
I understand that implementing all of them would probably have been problematic in terms of performance, but other Microsoft Flight Simulator developers (even freeware) have managed to create low poly/resolution tetrapods that are still very compelling and highly performing. I’m sure a developer with the experience and skills of Technobrain should be able to strike a better balance on this.
The texturing of the runways and taxiways is absolutely excellent, with beautiful and precise detail. All the marks that I have been able to verify are basically perfect, including the most subtle ones. They’re also beautifully applied, accurate but not cartoonish. This is definitely one of my favorite aspects of the airport.
Moving on to the iconic air terminal building, the modeling and texturing of the exterior is fantastic: clean yet realistic, with proper weathering and physical rendering applied.
Unfortunately there is no interior modeling, with limited use of parallax shaders instead. This is, in my opinion, the weakest point of this decoration. Super-detailed interior modeling isn’t something I consider mandatory for every airport (although most major developers have achieved excellent results), but the Kansai has absolutely huge glass areas right in front of you when you’re parked at the gate.
Due to the very nature and architecture of the airport, I would say that at least limited interior modeling would have been basically mandatory for best effect.
On the other hand, the catwalks look great, with top-notch modeling and texturing (to the point where you’ll even see details like the air conditioners inside) and animations that work very well.
One thing that may bother some is that the logos of real-world companies, such as the ubiquitous SMBC, have been changed (to MSBC) probably to avoid branding issues. This is something Technobrain seems to be particularly sensitive to, even though most other developers have been using real logos without fear of repercussions, and have done so for decades. Fortunately, a mod has already been released to fix this issue.
The superb modeling and texturing of the terminal’s airside areas extends landward, with great attention to detail, to the station and the architecture of the Nikko Hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel branding is also missing, which is a shame.
Animated trains complete the terminal and I love the details done under the elevated access tracks. This is very rare for an airport of this size in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
All of the other buildings also feature similar attention to detail, with excellent modeling, weathering, and PBR application across the board. Hangars, warehouses, ATC towers, radars and offices look great.
One missing element that I think would have made the airport even better is the rail line that connects the airport. His power poles are quite noticeable in the real world and are missing here, with the tracks simply painted over the rise. This is rather strange, considering that the railway is nicely modeled across the bridge, but doesn’t extend all the way to the station when it reaches the island.
Probably one of the best features is the Sky View aviation theme park and its observation deck, fantastically rendered and almost realistic.
I also really appreciated the light bridge approach. Not only do they look great, but they have their own custom lights that work great.
Night lighting is a bit uneven. While ideal for runways, taxiways, and aprons, the terminal is poorly lit, compounding the problem of a lack of interiors.
Snow cover is average, but not terrible, with Microsoft Flight Simulator’s own approach to modeling snow depth based on the color of base materials making it difficult for developers to achieve good effect on this front. On the other hand, Kansai airport looks great in the rain.
The performance is very generous. My PC (RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900x, 32GB RAM) at 1440p resolution and ultra graphics settings only loses 5-6 FPS, despite the huge fidelity difference (as you can see above). That said, this tells me that there would have been some overhead that could have been used to add more detail, such as better tetrapod coverage, the interior of the terminal, the rail, and the docks.
Ultimately, Technobrain’s Kansai Airport for Microsoft Flight Simulator is of high quality and has many positives, but it lacks a few things that would make it a truly top-notch product.
That said, it’s still by far the best representation of this major passenger and cargo hub available for the SIM card, making it very easy to recommend if you like to fly in Japan.
Table of Contents:
- Kansai Airport for Microsoft Flight Simulator
Kansai Airport for Microsoft Flight Simulator
Critic: Giuseppe Nelva | Award: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by the publisher.
- Fantastic modeling and texturing for all included buildings.
- The runways, taxiways and platforms look impressive and realistic.
- The terraforming is top notch.
- Detailed custom animated walkways.
- Some elements that are often overlooked are very well done.
- By far the best version of this airport on the market.
- There is no interior modeling at an airport that needs it.
- Changed or missing logos to avoid the use of real-world trademarks.
- Loading ramps are marked as general aviation and airlines are not assigned to specific gates.
- The emblematic tetrapods of the artificial island are rarely used.
- Night lighting is random.
March 22, 2022
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