The 2006 installment in Microsoft's great simulator series
Take the controls of a plane as it takes off from one of the many airports in the world and safely lands.
Your goal is to keep the plane that you fly from crashing, taking off and landing safely. There are menus that give plenty of details to follow so that you understand how the controls work. When you begin flying the planes, it doesn't appear like a typical flight game. The menu options and the details of the airport and the controls look more like a technical report than a simulated game. There are numerous types of aircraft to choose from aside from planes, such as helicopters and para-gliders. The controls are on the screen in front of you so that you have a closer look at what each control does or at the bottom of the screen so that you see the craft you're flying on the screen.
As you're flying through the air, you have to deal with some of the same issues that you might deal with if you were flying a real plane. You have to keep the wings level. The weather changes. It could be sunny one day and raining the next. You can see birds in the sky that you have to avoid as well as other aircraft that are in the sky at the same time. Air traffic controller reports give you an indication as to where to land and what to expect in the air. There are over 24,000 airports in the simulated game that you can take off from or land at depending on how long you want to fly. Take part in challenges and missions or fly freely through the air to get an idea of what it's like being behind the controls.
Flight Simulator X is a detailed flight simulation program that has been around for many years. It has been around longer than Windows, Office and even MS-DOS. Flight Simulator X is the culmination of 25 years of development by Microsoft programmers that has put into this realistic simulated flight game.
Users can navigate the entire world from an adjustable camera position to as high as 100,000,000 feet or zoom in and view the scenery from the plane as they fly over real roads, trees and structures. They can travel along shipping lanes, use navigation systems and get an idea of what it would be like to fly in a real airplane. Compared to earlier versions of Flight Simulator, the X version has more detailed imagery. The improvements made to the geographical details are clear to anyone who has played an earlier version. In fact, the detail rates at 6,000 trees per square mile.
In addition to better detail, environmental effects will also come into play. These effects makes Flight X Simulator even more realistic. Over 5,000 real-time weather feeds are monitored when the game is connected to the Internet to provide the user with a realistic depiction of actual weather systems. The way that the flight pattern is allowed to go and the obstacles that the user faces will change depending on these real-time conditions. Time of day, change of season, storms and other types of related weather conditions will affect the visibility and abilities of the user.
The X version has what is being called "structured experiences," which come in the form of 50 missions. These missions aim to help, instruct and engage users, helping them to move beyond basic flight patterns, routes and scenarios. They are also designed to entertain. Required newbie tutorial sessions and missions are also included to help new users become familiar with the cockpit. These aren't dry and boring tutorials. In fact, many include specific objectives. For example, there are search and rescue missions, faulty equipment situations and other scenarios. These scenarios encourage users to make quick decisions and test their skills.
The Pros and the Cons
Every game has its highs and lows, and despite over two decades of work, Microsoft's Flight Simulator X is not perfect. Below are some of the highlights and the low-lights of this popular game.