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SummaryRealism takes over arcade
The GoodMany views are customizable and can be put anywhere on your screen. It is theoretically possible to play with multiple screens, but I haven't tried it.
The so-called "adventures" (read: scenarios) have realistic spoken air-traffic control instructions - no need to read instructions, just listen to what the controller has to say. But don't trust your co-pilot on handling everything even if he should: the guy can make mistakes!
Internet play lets you log on and share a flight with friends. Performance is decent even on an analog modem, and it is plain fun.
The BadPerformance was sluggish when I first played in 1997, considering what it had to show off graphically. Most "modern" computers will be fine.
While the rendered cities are extremely realistic and have all expected landmarks, don't be surprised if you do not see much known landscape as soon as you go in the countryside. This seems to be especially true outside the United States.
There is a total lack of printed documentation. Sure, the online help can keep you awake for hours reading about aeronautics and physics, but such a bold subject would have been so much more enjoyable if readable on paper.
And on a final note: boy is the Microsoft splash movie useless...
The Bottom LineTotal realism without any sacrifice: you have to invest a lot of time learning how to pilot the planes and the reward of being able to make a successful trip is priceless. There is no "instant action" button here; those who do not have lots of time in their hands will be warned.
While the hobbyist or professional pilot might find a lot of flaws, as an amateur I consider the game as exceptional. This is one of those rare Microsoft products I've actually bought, and even if I didn't spend as much time on it as I would like, it was worth it.
I strongly recommend that you purchase an analog joystick if you don't have one. It will make the game much more enjoyable. From my experience, my 12-year old Gravis does just fine and has found a second life.