Before we get started on the review lets listen to what the developers have to say about this release:
Australia Comes to X-Plane!
One of our favourite Aussie airfields, Broome is a highly-popular tourist destination situated in the rugged Kimberley region of North-Western Australia. A tropical oasis straddling the red desert sands and crystal blue waters of the world-famous Cable Beach, Broome is a melting pot of culture and history, richly sewn through its lucrative pearling industry and exploits during WWII.
So, with that enticer, let us go exploring!
Installation and Manual
The installation is simple and direct, handled through ORBX’s product management tool FTX Central. If you are a new ORBX product owner, you will need to grab this from their website and install. Once logged into your account you will see and be able to install the airport with a single click.
FTX Central serves as a single point of installation and update of the product. Though if you are a Mac or Linux user, things get a little different (apparently) with direct download and manual installation required.
There are no options for tweaking the scenery (unlike its ESP sibling). The addition of the folder to the X-Plane scenery.ini file is a little haphazard, so advanced users with lots of scenery may want to look it over to make sure it is not being overruled by any specific mesh or other addons.
The manual is simple and straight forward, showing off the total region covered by the addon as well as some information about the airport.
ORBX have been an established player in the scenery development space for flight simulation for several years now; having grown from a few small releases to being the premiere supply of scenery for ESP platforms and now bringing their expertise to X-Plane. It is almost fitting then that one of their earliest successes becomes one of their first X-Plane experiments.
The first thing that strikes me about the airfield is how well the team have captured the sense of being in Australia. Yes, there is a very high level of detail on the buildings and the hangars, but also there has been attention paid to the colours, the matching with the underlying photoreal and the flora that surrounds the airport. These details give it a sense of depth, that even without AI traffic or animations, give a sense of realism.
Heading along the line of hangars that serve the GA and charter services along the northern edge of the airport, a hive of activity is portrayed. Amongst this activity you can appreciate the custom modelling and accurate static aircraft for the airport and the region, and not something generic (complete with a Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft) definitely adds to the atmosphere.
Crossing the runway to the terminal we again get a sense of the meticulous detail of the airport, with people and signage all accurate and done in high definition textures, even enticing you to sample some imported American cuisine!
Alas though this is where that attention to detail does unravel this scenery just a little. As I mentioned earlier, Broome was one of the earliest offerings from ORBX, and whilst that has been quietly accepted by the ESP community, moving it across to X-Plane will lead to many comparing it to the airport as it appears today; and they will find quite a shock. There are several buildings, shelters and ramps missing from the airport layout as it appears today.
Further there is a static SkyWest Fokker 100 (again beautiful detail); however that airline has not existed since 2013 (being taken over by Virgin Australia to form Virgin Australia Regional Airlines). It feels like whilst a great work was done with porting the product over, a little bit of care could have been taken to update the airport to reflect its current state.
Whilst considering this, it also brought up a concern for rotary winged pilots. Broome is home to a wide variety of helicopter operations, from search and rescue, through mustering and charter services through to tourism scenic flights.
As such, Broome has a multitude of helipads and parking modelled; unfortunately though none of them are accessible when you create a flight. Something as simple as adding helicopter parking or start positions seems to have been overlooked by the developers.
The airport is covered in 7cm / pixel photoreal; while the town of Broome and the resort town of Cable Beach are covered by 50cm / pixel. The rest of the peninsula is covered by 80cm / pixel resolution photoreal.
Blended with this is a mixture of custom models and autogen that is designed to bring to life the feeling of a remote Australian community, something that has been effective. For low and slow flyers, these local landmarks will give you some opportunity to explore and enjoy the scenery.
The port to the south has also been beautifully modelled, complete with container ship unloading. The only disappointing thing there is that the model is not landable!
The whole package is borderline flawless when it comes to performance. There is no impact, despite the quite dense coverage of scenery and trees. Night performance is also spectacular, with an impressive use of the lighting capabilities of X-Plane 11.
Overall this is solid scenery for a unique location in the world. A gateway to beautiful countryside, the airport and the landmarks of the town are delivered in exquisite detail. By the same token, that attention to detail gives rise to my only slight criticisms, being that simple start / parking locations for rotor-heads has been overlooked; along with a chance to update the airport to its current helicopter operation centric state.
Still, if you are wanting a base to explore the Northern parts of Australia from, you would be hard pressed to find better.
If you'd like to watch a video review, by Tristan, check it out on his YouTube channel.
Where to get Broome International
You cen get this scenery at ORBX.
- Very highly detailed airport and surrounding area
- Smooth performance
- Old layout of airport
- No Helicopter start locations