It is always difficult for a designer, even of freeware material, to carry out a review of the competition. The impression may be left that one tends to downplay the results obtained. However, I will try to give a dispassionate opinion of Lago’s FS Portugal Mesh http://www.lagoonline.com/ENG/prodotti/pdt.asp?id=100020 . Personally, I think many people attribute too much importance to Meshes; they are, in their simplest form, the definition of terrain elevations. They should be allied to aerial photography (the famous “photo-realism”) or to the most recent technique made available by Microsoft – LandClass, which superimposes on the terrain type its characteristic 3D objects. This confusion leads many to complain that palm trees don’t exist in Northern Portugal and wrongly attributing this mistake to the mesh.
Firstly, I liked the fact that the author was sincere in indicating the information sources used and stating that no interpolation was carried out. This interpolation technique is a trick used many times by mesh authors in order to obtain higher resolutions than those from the information sources. The author states that the final resolution is 75m to 125m. Considering the simultaneous use of three information sources, it appears the intelligent approach was used to coordinate the various sources and so obtain a resolution greater than if each source was used separately.
I shall try to focus on some characteristic points of our country so as to confirm to what extent this mesh is reliable. All screenshots were taken with Landclass supplied by PPP (Perfect Portugal Project) and using my FS options. Obviously, better results may be obtained with settings maxed out.
Departure from Covilhã Aerodrome
A comparison between PPP and Lago meshes. As you can see, the Lago Mesh brought greater sharpness to the slopes, adding curves that don’t exist in PPP. However these curves may be obtained by interpolation (which was not used in PPP). The new elevations are in my opinion result of the greater resolution.
Serra da Estrela
Two photos of the “Torre” area with the Lago Mesh and the FS2002 default. Note the difference in the area that surrounds the tower, the appearance of new elevations and superior definition on the mountain slopes. Clearly, this area has benefited with the introduction of the mesh.
Baia de Portimão (zona Oeste)
In the Mountainous regions, the mesh clearly improved the scenery. Let us now see how this mesh fares in the real test for products of this nature: Coasts and Rivers. You can see above a shot of “Ponta da Piedade” (if I have got the name wrong, please forgive me) in Portimão. Here the first complicated problem appears. There are no cliffs and this is because the coast in FS is wrong, as it is more to the south than in reality. This difference of a mere few metres can turn a bank into a beach and vice versa. In comparison, a shot of Portugal 2000 from PTSIM is shown, in which a “synthetic mesh” technique has been used to produce the banks and cliffs.
Lisbon (South Bank)
It was to be expected that the results from both PPP and Lago would be similar as this is an area without steep gradients and the errors on the banks of the Tagus are not many. However, there are differences and which of the two is more correct I shall leave to your consideration.
Porto (Douro River)
As anyone who knows Porto will have observed, the actual layout in FS of the Douro River has been badly designed (it actually disappears some kilometres inland). Note that here the meshes are practically identical; although in PPP some corrections were made from the D Luiz bridge onwards to compensate for the layout errors. Strangely, the Pilar Mountain does not appear.
Finally, another Mountainous region in which differences can be seen in the Meshes, confirming the conclusions made for Serra da Estrela.
Lago’s mesh brought great improvements to the standard mesh and to a lesser extent, PPP. These improvements are only noticeable in the mountain areas, being below expectations with regards to rivers, coastlines and roads. With the launch of the SDK it is now possible (it already was, but much more complicated) to do things that up to a short time ago were a mystery and to resolve some of the problems that were described. I anxiously await the first scenery designs which will resolve this issues as the “bar” has been raised again in terms of quality. I will not give a classification to Lago’s mesh because I may be considered biased. However, the price makes it very appetizing at only 5 Euros. The problem for some may be the 76 MB download…. you be the judge.
José OliveiraPPP Team
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