An X-Plane 12 visit to the Society Islands
One year ago, almost to this exact date, we published a comprehensive review here on X-Plained.com about the Society Islands XP – Bora Bora and the Leeward Islands. Recently, Maps2XPlane have been working through their catalog of scenery packages for X-Plane 11 and updating them to X-Plane 12 so we thought we’d take a tour of the islands and see just how the X-Plane 12 environment affects them.
The updates the developer has been making were necessitated by changes Laminar Research made to the bathymetry data that caused some very bizarre visual phenomena along the borders between the scenery packages and the remainder of the X-Plane world. These anomalies occurred in every island package Maps2XPlane has created so now the developer is re-releasing these packages at no charge to current owners so they can continue to be enjoyed in the new version of the simulator.
The Society Islands were a visual paradise when they were released a year ago. Laminar Research has made much of the revamped X-Plane world as featured in X-Plane 12 including the lighting model and the water. Given that island scenery is so subject to both of these influences, I thought it would be interesting to take a visual tour of the update to see just how much of an effect the new sim version has on scenery. This package is a good one to survey since much of the greenery and autogen items were custom made by the developer.
On Maupiti, one of the most visually captivating areas is the dock and beach behind the airstrip terminal. This was the opening photo of the original review and a recapture of the same scene at the opening of this review shows us what we can expect as we re-tour the islands.
Here we can see the water, while still tropical, is a much more realistic hue and the sun sparkles off the waves. The lighting changes have resulted in much more accurate colors and enhanced details that are the result of realistic highlights and shadows. Given this is island scenery, light and water have everything to do with how realistic the experience of flying here feels.
A couple of views of the island show just how much richer and lusher the environment appears.
If you read my first review of these islands, you’ll recall that the one thing I felt could use some improvement was the use of X-Plane facades for the docks. While that has not changed (perhaps it may yet with a later update), the facades have been improved and that has led to an improved look for the quays.
Over on Bora Bora, the resort huts play a large role in the iconic views of this island. These huts benefit from the improved lighting environment and the water in the swimming pools looks more like water with improved contrast between light and dark areas.
Here’s a look at Bora Bora and the lagoon where you can really see the difference X-Plane 12 makes with this scenery.
Another place where the water improvements make a tremendous difference is one of my favorite locations in the scenery which is the canal at Raiatea. The blend of the banks into the water has a new level of reality that simply wasn’t there in X-Plane 11.
A defining characteristic of this South Pacific islands scenery is the rendering of the reefs tucked under the surf and this has become exponentially more enjoyable to fly over with the new transparency of X-Plane’s water. The movement of the water also complements the depiction of the breaking waves approaching the shore.
Lastly, here’s a look at the effects of the new lighting model on the nighttime illumination near the Bora Bora airport.
Society Islands XP – Bora Bora and the Leeward Islands remains a scenery package that will draw you in. It does so even more than it did when it was first released under the last version of X-Plane. Maps2Xplane has diligently corrected the mesh problems introduced by X-Plane 12 and created the perfect blend of the Society Islands with the remainder of the X-Plane world. Updating this package to work with XP 12 was definitely worth the effort since the efforts of Laminar Research have enhanced the Leeward Islands in dramatic fashion.
This is not the end for the Society Islands. Maps2XPlane has stated that the package will be updated to take advantage of the weather effects on the runways and aprons as well as some other new features of X-Plane 12.
These updates will be addressed when some “moving targets” being worked on by Laminar Research become more stable. Additionally, Maps2XPlane is currently at work on the long awaited upcoming release of the Windward Islands to complete the Society Islands experience. Given what we’ve seen here, one can only imagine what wonders will be unveiled upon the release of that package.
Society Islands XP – Bora Bora and the Leeward Islands is, more than ever, a scenery add-on that belongs in any tropics and island lover’s custom scenery folder.
Until next time, cheers and blue skies!
|Add-on:||Payware Maps2XPlane Society Islands XP12|
|Publisher | Developer:||Aerosoft | Maps2XPlane|
|Description:||Society Islands X-Plane 12|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 8.4GB (download)|
|Reviewed by:||Paul Beckwith|
|Published:||April 9th 2023|
|Hardware specifications:||- Ryzen 9 5950X CPU @ 3.40GHz
- 64 GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB GDDR6X
- Honeycomb Alpha Yoke
- Honeycomb Bravo Quadrant
- CH Products Pedals
|Software specifications:||- Windows 11
- X-Plane 12.04