It's cold, it's windy, it's dry (despite all the snow). It hates you, your family and it will try to bring your aircraft down. But it has penguins, gorgeous white plains and amazing bases for you to fly around. Can it be more fun? Yes, it can, with 3 moving ships that follow a schedule and where you can land at. It's a helicopter pilot's dream.
Antarctica X is Aerosoft's take at the most remote and nasty place on earth. According to the official website, getting information about the region was quite hard and the developer had to combine information from several sources and manually build textures and perform a lot of corrections.
They also had to go around the limitations of FSX due to the radical features of this specific area. Our planet is a globe so there's a lot that FSX can't quite chew regarding textures, tiles and a bunch of other technical stuff you really don't want to know about. The bottom line is: it was hard. But these guys did it.
Aerosoft Antarctica X features
Here's the official features list:
- The whole continent (as far as the simulator allows) in high definition terrain mesh, high detail aerial and satellite images and a coastline with millions of floating ice sheets
- 7 major research stations included in very high detail:
- McMurdo (USA)
- Rothera (United Kingdom)
- Sky Blu (United Kingdom)
- Neumayer III (Germany)
- Casey (Australia)
- Scott (New Zealand)
- Sanae IV (South Africa)
- A total of 47(!) runways/skiways and helipads all over the continent in various detail grades from the Russian hub to the newest Chinese skiway at an altitude of more than 13,000 ft (see manual)
- 3 extremely detailed icebreakers with helipads running on scheduled routes:
- RV Polarstern (Germany)
- USCGC Healy (USA)
- Fictious Icebreaker (we call it the MS LimeSim…)
- Many special (sound) effects and animations
- Created in cooperation with Antarctic researchers and pilots
- Includes a ski equipped DHC-6 Twin Otter, the ideal aircraft for the rough terrain (it’s the only continent without a single paved runway – although even larger airliners do land there!)
- Special tool to change season and settings
- Flightplan files based on real world flightplans
- Extended and detailed manual that includes many ideas for flights and several chapters on flying in Antarctica written by a pilot
- Owners of the Aerosoft Twin Otter Extended get 10% discount on the Antarctica X download version when entering the Twin Otter serial key during the order process (except for special offers)
In case you missed it: it comes with a free DHC-6 Twin Otter. Yep, you get a free aircraft thrown in.
Installation is quite easy. Once you download the hefty 7GB worth of scenery, you unzip it, double-click the installer and go from there. It's all pretty simple and the installer will do the rest for you.
After the installation finishes, you'll also have the Aerosoft Launcher in your computer, which allows you to configure your Aerosoft products and access their manuals.
For Antarctica X, you can indicate if you want to have some runways open or close. If you decide to close the runway at McMurdo, for example, you'll be able to access a moving ship: the USCGC Healy. It's the only way the icebreaker will appear in the scenery.
Truth being said, there's not a lot to see in Antarctica, right? It's all snow and water and some mountains and huge plains. But that's precisely what it makes it stunning and very dangerous to fly at. The Antarctica is not a pleasant place and you need to be careful at all times because a lot can and will go wrong. There has been a lot of accidents in this area so pilots are required to be on top of their games.
It's very easy to lose track of your altitude if you rely too much on your exterior references or even crash into the side of a cliff on a foggy day. You see your self surrounded by white: the snow below you, the fog around you and maybe even that mountain in front of you. Yeah, the one you didn't see.
You'll have vast plains, huge mountains, the ocean and some villages here and there - beautifully depicted in this scenery. The areas in which you find houses all seem pretty much alive, with people outside, ground vehicles, other aircraft and 3 ships for you to land. You'll need to consult the massive 100-page manual to see their schedules so you can find them. Once you do, it does bring another small layer of fun to this remote area.
This scenery is perfect for dual-engine helicopters such as excellent Cera's Bell 212 (which we reviewed here) which is a heck of a cargo and passenger hauler to be used in FS Economy for those great hops from station to station.
Aerosoft's Antarctica X provides you a rich environment in an area you would find sterile and empty. While flying in this scenery I found myself doing it carefully, planning everything with extra care and imagining myself being thrown out there in an inhospitable environment that could bring me down anytime. That's how involved I got.
Manual and tools
The scenery comes along with a 100-page manual filled with information about Antarctica, flight rules, navigation information as well as well as a plethora of other information. It goes way beyond the simple installation and general usage manual and gives you an amazing insight of this part of the world.
There's not a lot in Antarctica to get your frame rate low except the fact that you have visibility for miles and miles if the weather's clear.
The author of the scenery added a lot of buildings, vehicles and other goodies (such as chimney smoke, for example) which does have a bit of impact on the frame rate but not enough to ruin the experience. In fact I only had a 10FPS decrease on some graphic intensive areas and that still put me way over 40FPS.
No fuzz here.
Where to get Aerosoft Antarctica X
- Adds a lot of great visual features to an extremely remote (and deserted area)
- Bases are well built and they feel alive
- Frame-rate friendly
- Where are the penguins (seriously, I don't have anything else to complaint about)?
- It will make you feel cold.