• Review: Aerosoft - Aspen Extended

    Aspen Extended

    Publisher: Aerosoft

    Review Author:
    Gregory A. Goodwin

    Suggested Price:
    $25.99

    Buy Here

    Introduction

    Aerosoft's Aspen Extended (an update of their 2007 Aspen X scenery) was released in 2016. That update included the runway and taxiways that had been extended in 2011 at the real world airport, along with a complete overhaul of virtually all airport structures, 5m elevation mesh, high resolution photoscenery, etc. (see the full list of features below). Version 1.10 was released later in 2016 which included some extensive fixes and improvements including the addition of static private jets, improved seasonal blending of the photoscenery and optimization of model rendering. In 2017, version 1.20 was released adding P3D v4 compatibility. Although some parts of this scenery originated in 2007, is it is still an airport worth owning in 2020?

    Features

    • Up-to-date rendering of Aspen Pitkin County Airport (KASE), including extended runway and new taxiways, Fire Station (with Oshkosh Striker 1500), Fixed-Base Operator, terminal and hangars.
    • Fully baked high resolution textures with ambient occlusion shadows and light maps for all airport and town models.
    • 100 square kilometers of high resolution photo scenery (30cm, LOD17) covering the Aspen Valley, with full seasonal and night variations.
    • 5 meter (LOD13) mesh covering 2400 square kilometers of the Rocky Mountains around Aspen.
    • Tarmac and runway markings with realistic wet weather and specular effects.
    • All current VFR and IFR approaches.
    • Detailed rendering of the Aspen Valley Hospital and emergency helipad (CO50).
    • Dozens of custom local landmarks, including Aspen High School, Aspen Chapel, Aspen Recreation Center, Hotel Jerome and Benedict Music Tent.
    • Animated 'Silver Queen' gondola to Ajax.
    • Extremely dense custom Aspen-style autogen houses and mansions.
    • Static CRJ-700s in United Express and Delta liveries.
    • Realistic new runway and street lighting system.
    • Animated windsocks.
    • Compatible with Vero-FS 'Heart of Colorado' photo scenery.

    Installation

    Aerosoft's installer makes installation quite easy. The download size is 2.7 GB and it requires 3.7 GB of disk space once installed. I reviewed version 1.2 which, as noted, includes an option to install to P3D v4.

    Aerosoft - Aspen Extended

    My evaluation of the scenery is based on use in Prepar3D v4.5 hotfix. My system specs are: Intel Core i5 4440 @ 3.10 GHz, 16 GB DDR3 @ 665 MHz, GeForce GTX 1050 with 2 GB memory, running Windows 10 Professional 64-bit. I consider my computer to be an average system these days.

    There are already a couple of online reviews on this scenery that were done right after it was released in 2016. What I would like to do talk about how the scenery still holds up compared to more contemporary scenery and to talk about how it performs in P3D v4. I'm also going to talk a bit more about some of the challenges of flying into this airport as that is a reason you might be considering adding it to your collection. In fact, the tagline in the product manual is: "Only one usable runway direction, Located at nearly 8,000 feet, surrounded by mountains, often prone to bad weather. Are you pilot enough to handle this airport?"

    Coverage

    When you purchase airport scenery you expect to get a decent chunk of the surrounding world with the airport and Aspen Extended definitely delivers on this front. The scenery area includes the entire valley surrounding the airport along with three major ski slopes and the city of Aspen. The photoscenery extends further south than north of the airport for this reason, but it also provides you with appealing views when flying into the airport since you will always be approaching from the north.

    There are three seasonal changes in the photoscenery. Winter and spring are the same snowy scenery and summer and fall are the other two variations. There is also night lighting for the airport and surrounding city. The scenery is designed to blend in with the default landclasses but it also blends well with Orbx's global base shown in the images below. As you can see, the scenery uses natural breakpoints to define the edges of the photoscenery so that blends in and doesn't look like an unnatural rectangular swatch.

    Aerosoft - Aspen Extended

    The scenery includes three major ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highland, and Buttermilk. It leaves out the largest ski area near Aspen called Aspen Snow Mass, but including that ski area would have required the total scenery area to more than double in size. While that was probably too much to do back in 2016, it wouldn't be unreasonable today. Who knows, maybe in the next release?

    Aerosoft - Aspen Extended

    There is plenty of high-quality scenery surrounding the airport. There are many custom scenery objects around Aspen including ski lodges, the Aspen Valley Hospital and helipad, the Harris Concert Hall complex, the Aspen chapel, and the elementary and high schools to name a few. The other residential and commercial buildings are all typical of what is found in Aspen, a generally upscale resort town frequented by the rich and famous. Though you will not want to fly into or depart from Aspen at night, the night lighting of the town and airport is excellent.

    Aerosoft provides you with instructions on how to disable certain features including the animated Silver Queen gondola, the night lights in town and at the airport, and the static aircraft at the airport to improve performance. I didn't find any performance issues on my system with all of those enabled. In fact, the manual calls the animated Silver Queen gondola a "high resource" bit of scenery, but given how little effect it seemed to have on my system, I wish there were animated ski lifts on all the slopes - or at least static ones. A smattering of downhill skiers would also be fun to see.

    This leads me to one of the only minor complaints I have (and have seen from others) about the scenery - it is a bit of a ghost town. Except for AI aircraft, there is no life at the airport. There are no AI ground vehicles or people to be seen anywhere and the road traffic in town is very slim. I expect this is one case where the age of the scenery shows. Given the concern about performance described in the manual, these extras may have been seen as untenable at the time the scenery was first released. The flip side of this minor issue is that the scenery currently has very little impact on system performance, on a system like mine.


    1 Comment
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Excellent write-up Greg!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what looks to be a fantastic scenery!!

      Dom
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