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Written by  :  piltdown_man (155785)
Written on  :  Jan 28, 2012
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Simply superb!

The Good

This simulation is huge. The problem in writing anything about it is where to start.

The scenery is something I never paid any attention to until I recently loaded some additional scenery packs in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002. That showed the failings of the default scenery in general. Here the default scenery is similarly bland but in major cities it is excellent. I was particularly impressed with the New York skyline and the renditions of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. So there's detail where it matters and the space in between is good enough. One thing I noticed in this simulations default scenery that I haven't seen in previous versions (makes mental note to go & check later) was waves on the sea gently lapping against the shore.

The number and range of planes is excellent too and the detail again is first rate. Trying to fly 'The Spirit of St. Louis' is a real challenge. I'd read about this plane years ago and getting a chance to fly it in this simulation brought those stories flooding back. It's a real challenge. It, and all the planes, looks really good too.

Some of the add-ons I've got for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 were sold as applying to this version as well and they slotted right in - no problems. For me that's a good sign because it extends their useful life. Other add-ons were 2002 specific but this flight sim has an easy to use feature that enabled me to add additional scenery files manually so I've no need to buy scenery specifically for this game.

3rd party aircraft integrate into this package seamlessly too. OK, that's what's supposed to happen but I've had problems in other games when trying to use their official expansion packs which is why I feel that the smooth integration of 3rd party enhancements is such a neat trick to pull off.

Then there's the way the game controls are laid out and the ease with which a predefined flight can be selected or a new flight constructed and saved. Everything just works and is right where I expect it to be.

The depth of documentation is excellent to and it's readable and it's in a logical order. This is essential for me as a novice pilot and is much appreciated. I've recently loaded an add-on to an old simulator and, while it's obvious that the plane was developed by real enthusiasts, the number of acronyms used is simply bewildering.

Finally, the whole simulator is so accessible and yet it remains so flexible. I can get flying in minutes if I want to but I know that if I put in some effort I can increase the realism factor on the standard planes and by the use of imported planes. I've a Concorde add-on that comes with full instrumentation and to fly it properly involves the full 40 minute pre-flight checklist, pumping fuel between the different tanks in-flight to maintain trim, etc. My understanding is that this degree of detail is only possible because these controls are supported by the flight simulator.

The Bad

It's not something that I plan on using but when I tried, in 2012, to use the on-line gaming options they didn't work for me. Not surprising really and there are other sites dedicated to running virtual airlines that I could go to if I get sucked into e-piloting in a big way.

The Bottom Line

Great. Get it, even if you're not a total propeller head there's so much to do and it's so easy to get started that you won't regret it.
Added bonus - It runs under Windows 7 (well it does for me) yet it's considered an old game so it's ridiculously cheap.