Lightman Posted March 10 Report Share Posted March 10 Scenery Review: Dolomites XP12 By Stuart McGregor Some say that too much of a good thing is bad for you, however, when you are talking about the work of Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini, I am not sure that old saying is totally true as I have found myself back in the mountains again, this time in Italy and Austria with the recent release of their Dolomites scenery. This scenery pack covers an even larger area than the previous Alps scenery I reviewed a couple of months back, with somewhere around 11,000 square kilometres being quoted. These guys clearly like to go big! Talking about big, the Dolomites package itself weighs in at a whopping 9GB when unzipped (3.5 GB zipped), so a good internet connection is advised unless you are prepared for a long wait. Inside the package, you will find fifty-one (yes, I did say, fifty-one) separate scenery folders that you simply drop into your main Custom Scenery folder. I had no issues with the load order, however, just make sure everything sits above GLOBAL AIRPORTS in your scenery.ini file after you first run the scenery, just to be sure. If you already have other scenery from this area installed, a quick check is advised to ensure you have no conflicts. Although functional and simple to install, adding all those folders may not be to everyone’s taste, so I believe it is important to understand what you are purchasing from the outset if you are not familiar with the developers’ work. The Dolomites package currently retails for $59.95, which is the same price as other scenery packs the developers have recently released for X-Plane 12, and again, they are offering the same 40% discount if you have previously owned X-Plane 11 versions, such as Brenta Dolomites, Western Dolomites, Belluno Southern Dolomites, Cortina Cadore Dolomites, and Drei Zinnen Dolomites. Once again there is a lot on offer within the package, including seven airports, fifteen airfields and forty-seven heliports across large swathes of Northeast Italy and parts of Austria, but it is still quite a large investment in my opinion for a scenery package. As it states in the advertised information, the package covers Trentino Alto Adige, and as such includes the cities of Bolzano, Trento and their airports, plus heliports and airfields such as Loker, Sterzing, Termon, Vervò, and Corvara. The whole province and city of Belluno, along with its airport, are also covered, as well as heliports near mountain refuges and airfields, such as S.Giustina and S.Felice, Casera-Razzo (Friuli), Val Fiemme (Cavalese), and Agnedo (Val Sugana). The developers also mention that several of these airfields are particularly suitable for ultra-light aircraft. I will be honest and say that I’ll have to take their word for much of this, as I am not familiar with the area, although I did visit several locations along the way to get a true sense of what is on offer. One thing that really helped was the availability of a map located within the provided five-page manual. Strangely though, the manual doesn’t actually come with the download and was something I had to search for via the X-Plane forums. I did find this a little unusual, as an extra folder for documentation within one of the existing folders would have been handy, particularly as I am not sure that all users are frequent visitors to the forum and could therefore miss this. That being said, the manual was quite helpful, as in addition to the map and basic description of the scenery, there is information provided on the minimum advised computer specs as well as some of the known issues, e.g., scenery blur, no waves on lakes, and low fps in some cases with low-end computers etc. If you are considering purchasing this scenery, perhaps a more detailed read of the manual would be a worthwhile exercise (just so you are aware of some of the limitations). So, with scenery installed, settings set and map in hand, I began to explore this unique part of the world. Again, if you are perhaps not a regular mountain flyer like me, you simply can’t help but be impressed by the splendour and natural beauty of the landscape. From the majestic mountains to the beautiful and tranquil lush valleys laced with crystal clear waterways and lakes, the Dolomites really are a VFR pilot’s dream. As I am also a regular VR flyer, I again spent quite some time in VR through my various tests, and even though X-Plane 12 still has some way to go with respect to the overall VR experience, I really enjoyed it. Although not perfect, this didn’t detract too much from my experience, and again the fully immersive 3D feeling when in VR, really gave the mountains that additional level of realism. The extra added details and photographic textures are very nicely done at the various stopping points and across the general landscape. It is worth noting that there are some unique features in the Dolomites with respect to the chiselled shape of some of the mountains, and the needle-like appearance really does make the landscape stand out in my opinion. This is particularly true if you strap yourself into a helicopter or microlight, as this provides the best chance to really get up close and take in what is laid out in front of you. Another feature that also stands out (thanks to X-Plane 12) are the winter textures, and I believe there are no sceneries that benefit as much from this new dimension as the mountain sceneries by Frank and Fabio. Seeing the mountains in their full winter glory is just so special, it’s almost like having two completely different worlds; one is the tranquil lush green mountain pastures, and the other, is the harsh and menacing winter wonderland that snow and ice brings. X-Plane 12 has a bit to go before it is the finished article in my opinion, however, this really is a nice feature that makes me want to come back for more. I began my tour at LIPB Bolzano Airport, and travelled clockwise all the way around the map, stopping at several locations en route. These included XLIAS, XSTR, LIVD, LOKL, then down to XLICS, LIVR, LIDI, LIDB, LIDA, LIDT, TNVER, and then finally back to LIPB. Bolzano was a great spot to start from, as the airport is well-modelled with lots of details and nicely appointed photographic textures on the main terminal building. There is plenty of clutter about to make the airfield feel alive, and I loved the inclusion of people, that really made my day. Sure, they were all static, however, just having people represented is a great addition to the scenery, and it felt like I was off to a great start. My next stop was XLIAS, Alpe di Siusi to the northeast. This was the first of the small grass airstrips that I was to visit, and as such, there wasn’t a huge amount to see in terms of details, other than a few houses scattered about, a chairlift nearby which is a nice feature and a couple of light aircraft. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful spot as the backdrop of the mountains is simply breathtaking. From there I headed northwest to XSTR, Sterzing-Viiteno, another grass strip. This area is clearly a favourite with glider pilots based on the number of trailers located at the airstrip. Here the terrain is more rolling hills and peaks, rather than the hard sharp mountains I had seen previously. LIVD, Dobbiaco to the east, was next on the list and was another GA/glider grass airstrip. The scenery is very much set up for GA pilots, helicopter jockeys and glider pilots alike, as you can’t help but be taken aback by just how majestic and beautiful this part of the world is. The local buildings are nicely done and really add a special sense of attention to detail. There are an insane number of buildings scattered across the scenery, and having made a few of my own (much, much smaller) sceneries in the past, I can fully appreciate the work that has gone into this. The next stop on the tour was LOKL, Lienz-Nikolsdorf, close to the edge of the area covered, and going by the flags, we had now crossed the border into Austria. LOKL has an asphalt runway and a bit more detail than some of the areas we’ve visited so far and looks like another superb location for glider pilots. Sadly, I couldn’t find any people, which was a little eerie, but considering the additional detail, it wasn’t such an issue. Leaving LOKL behind, I headed onwards to another grass strip, this time XLICS, Casera-Razzo (great name and approach…) before heading across the mountains to the sloping grass trip at Passo Rolle, LIVR. Again, just looking around at the scenery is simply stunning, and this strip I believe would give most pilots a significant challenge due to its slope. I have a funny feeling that this strip must be used as a ski jump in the winter months… At this point, I decided to head north again up to LIDI, Lidi Cortina Ampezzo, before heading back south to LIDB. There are some nice details at LIDI, the people are back, and the nearby sports track is a nice addition. This airfield is one of the larger ones in the package and sits in a very narrow valley pinned in by massive peaks all around, so if you are looking to test your skills, this is one to try out. Just a few more stops now, and I found myself next at LIDB Belluno, another of the larger airfields, although it still has a single grass runway. Just next to the airfield, you will find the town, and this area is much less mountainous and more open. I liked the fact that not everything in the pack is set high up in the mountain peaks, and the variation of scenery makes a welcome change. I don’t believe mountain flying gets monotonous, however to a layman like myself, once you have been up a few mountains, they do all sort of merge into one, however, in this package, the variety of locations, details and scenery, makes you want to find that next interesting setting. The last few hops included LIDA, Asiago, LIDT, Trento-Mattarello (also known as Aeroporto G.Caproni) and TNVER. LIDT is a much larger airport than Asiago, with multiple buildings, asphalt runway, lots of clutter and people going about their business. This airport would be more suited to larger twin props and private jets, although the approaches are a challenge when you see how the mountains cut into the direct flight path. Trento-Mattarello was a great spot to set off from on my final destination, that being, TNVER, Campo di Volo Vervò Airport. This was another beautiful spot in which to take in the view, and again another very challenging runway to get in and out off. Good luck with this one…. So, as I headed back to LIPB Bolzano Airport, I had plenty of time to reflect on my journey, and I can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed my time back in the mountains. The whole package is simply stunning, and the developers have done an amazing job of creating so many details across this vast landscape. From the basic and simply defined grass strips to the more detailed airports, each one is unique and carefully crafted, and every one of them is different to its neighbour. Unless you are only flying heavies, there is something for everyone in this scenery pack, and my advice to you all, is to strap yourself into your favourite light aircraft or helicopter, or even a glider, find yourself some inspiring music to listen to, and off you go. Touring around in the summer you can almost feel the fresh mountain air, and if you want more of a challenge, set the date to the winter months and enjoy the ferocious winter winds and snow. As with all the mountain sceneries from Frank and Fabio, there are so many different elements to enjoy and numerous scenarios you can play out, and I believe that only the most cynical amongst us would be disappointed by their work. As far as system performance goes, I should just briefly mention I had no issues to report. My trusty 2080ti and 9th gen CPU coped well, and my fps were generally 30 to 50+, and even in VR with my Rift S, everything was always pretty much smooth. There was a little blurriness on a couple of occasions, however, this really didn’t detract from what is a very nice and well-constructed scenery pack. There is no doubt in my mind that the developers have again worked hard on this scenery release, bringing the best in mountain sceneries to our virtual world of X-Plane 12. If you have never tried this type of experience (and my previous Alps review wasn’t sufficient candy to tempt you) then this scenery is well worth considering, not least because of the sheer beauty and area offered. I personally believe that VFR GA, glider, microlight, or helicopter pilots will get the most out of this scenery pack, although I am sure those who like larger twin-engine regional aircraft or private jets, will also find something in it for them, particularly if they enjoy the challenge of navigating to the larger airfields. Maybe it is time to try something new… __________________________________ Dolomites XP12 by Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Dolomites XP12 Price at time of writing US$59.95 Customers who own any of the previous Dolomites XP11 packages can get 40% off this new package. Please check your original Dolomites invoice for the coupon code. Features: Included in the degree + 46+ 010, +46+011, +46+012, area Italy, Austria Mountain scenery with 3D models sixty-four groups Dolomites Seven airports, fifteen airfields, and forty-seven heliports Reproduced towns and villages with typologies of buildings and customized houses Photographic polygons/ textures as covered of terrain typical zone of great mountains. Polygons/textures 4K - area covered more 11000 kmq. Complete scenery of about 9GB, fifty-one folders, more than forty valleys, and more than sixty thousand placed objects. Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not for x-plane 11) Windows, Mac, or Linux 4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 3.5 GB Review System Specifications: Windows 10 64 Bit CPU Intel i9-9900k 64GB RAM Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Oculus Rift S Scenery Review by Stuart McGregor 10th March 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) Kiwiflyer 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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