What is Microsoft Flight
A New FSX?
Well no, not quite is the not so straight answer to that one I'm afraid. For those not in the know, FSX is the abbreviation for Microsofts Flight Simulator X (10). Wow, have there really been THAT many?
Well, when you think that the first one was released way way back in 1982! it seems more feasible doesn't it? And what a long way we have come from those early days, and not just in terms of the obvious, like the graphical representation of the planes and terrain.
So, after many years, and a massive modding scene, both free and paid for, Microsoft decided that it would be foolish to just keep on doing the same old thing time after time. A whole industry erupted making add ons for FS2009 and FSX, making millions of dollars, and it would appear that the big MS wanted a bigger slice of the pie than just shipping units of the simulator itself. Here's how they plan to do it, and most importantly, is it worth your time and money?
IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Please read the information in the last paragraph at the bottom of this page. Flight is officially dead in the water. This review is left here purely for reference.
Licence to print money?
Throw a stick into the gaming world and you will hit DLC, or downloadable content. Simply out, the game costs say $50. A few weeks later, the software house announces that for just $10-15 more, you can add to your original experience with extra weapons, planes, guns, levels, areas and so on. It's a nice little earner to be honest, with many players opting to extend their favourite games with DLC as soon as it comes out.
And this is how MS Flight has been launched, but with a difference.
The core game is free.
Let that sink in... Back with me? That's right, absolutely free. You can go to the download site, and pick up a copy of Microsoft Flight for nada, zip, zilch, zipperoo. As always though there is a but. What that gets you is one plane, the amphibious ICON, and the island of Hawaii. That's pretty cool in my opinion. You can test the game, see if your PC can actually run it, and get a feel for it. Then you can opt to purchase extra items as you see fit to.
Graphics and Gameplay
Lets get one thing straight, this flight simulator looks amazing! It's smooth, with good frame rates, and wonderful animation. Hawaii looks beautiful, and represents a great variety of scenery to fly around.
If you have a PC that meets the minimum specs you will be ok.
Gameplay is divided into searching for hidden icons, completing missions involving picking up and dropping off, and challenges like making awkward or off strip landings. All of these give XP, or experience points which can be used to unlock new paint schemes, and, well not much else at the moment!
If you think all this is starting to sound a bit like Test Drive with planes, then you'd be right i guess. It does feel similar, but is that a bad thing? It is a bit Xbox ish with accolades and achievements. You will however tire quickly when you realise the missions are very "samey." If you have played FSX Acceleration, you will be disappointed with the lack of variety and complexity on offer here.
One area that has come under more criticism from the community is the flight model. It too verges on the light side of simulation, almost arcadey. One example given is how hard it is to force a spin, and how easy it is to recover. In my opinion this criticism is a bit harsh. You have to go into this remembering that is it NOT Flight Simulator 11, which I guess is what the community wanted. Flight needs to be taking on it's own merits.
One area that I am sorely disappointed in however, is that the world feels so damn empty. The airports are empty, the harbours are empty, the skies are empty, and the roads are, well, you get the general idea. Is this how they managed to keep framerates so high I wonder? It just feels so lonely flying around the landscape...
DLC And Conclusions
With a nice gentle learning curve, this is a sim that kids and adults will love, even if they have not flown before. You can even (heaven forbid) fly with an Xbox 360 controller, but note that Track IR is not working at the moment, which sucks.
DLC available right from the start is a continuation of the Hawaiian Islands, with more missions and challenges, and a couple of new planes to fly. You get one more free with registering for Windows Live. The cost does seem a bit steep at the moment, but maybe they will listen to the fans.
Here's where they got clever though, to complete many of the missions, you NEED to buy one of the extra aeroplanes.
There is not a great deal of free content to be honest, but what is there is very polished and enjoyable. The truth is you have absolutely nothing to loose by trying it, if it's not for you, move on!
The Flight team have just announced that the next DLC pack is Alaska, and given the success of the Tweto family's amazing documentary series Flying Wild Alaska, I am not totally surprised, but I am extremely excited about the future of this new franchise, because it may not be the most complicated simulator, but it sure as hell is one of the more fun ones, and I for one, am enjoying it immensely!
If combat simulations are more your thing, check out my round up HERE
2012 has many great sim joysticks available, check them out HERE
If you are looking for the authentic FSX experience, check out http://zakmoonbeam.hubpages.com/hub/A-Noobs-Guide-to-FSX
Flight has stopped development. What that means is not yet clear as the Mighty Microsoft are not returning my mails asking what happens to us if they decide to turn off the servers at any point in the future, as this is on online only game. According to their website it's business as usual but a lot of us that supported them are rightfully angry as hell just now that they are closing down shop but still they aren't honest and are trying to sell full priced DLC that may not be usable soon.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 2013. Steam has removed Flight from its store and Games For Windows Live (GFWL) is officially dead. Whether or not we can play offline or not remains to be seen but this franchise is dead.
Flight! Development Stops!
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