JUST ONCE I'D like a plane I'm on to have its crew fall ill, and for the flight attendant to calmly ask if anybody knows how to land a plane, so that I could push in front of any real pilots to announce: "I can land this plane miss, I've played Flight Simulator to bits!"
Well I say 'to bits', but to be honest I find that if you're not a hardcore flight enthusiast, interest in Microsoft's most prosperous sim (beating the Train Simulator series hands down, shockingly) goes from: "Wow, this is amazing, it's like I'm actually flying a plane'; to, "I'm bored, let's make gun noises and then find a building to crash into." And yes, we rolled back the in-game clock to the day before that day and they weren't there - Microsoft didn't just dodge the politicalcorrectness bullet, they steered clear of the entire shooting range.
Flight Simulator X is the biggest advancement the series has seen since polygons, and while it might not have become instantaneously appealing to normal people, Microsoft have taken steps to add some bizarrely creative missions to counteract the long-haul boredom the series radiates.
These include missions which involve flying government officials to Area 51 only to be buzzed by UFOs as you land, or an ordinary chauffeuring job for some Japanese execs turning into an action movie, with an actual James Bond wannabe as a co-pilot. This actually makes the simulation feel really exciting (in a geeky way), and some Pilotwings-style checkpoint and gate challenges in helicopters further this feeling of Flight Simulator X being more of a game than ever before.
Unfortunately, this is a Vista showcase which has arrived a few months too early. Visual enhancements such as actual 3D traffic on roads, boats, water effects etc will bring most machines to a crawl when ramped up to anywhere past medium settings. Still, when Vista and DirectX 10 do arrive, FSX will look magnificent. As it is, it remains the most exciting iteration of the series yet. Exciting, Flight Simulator. Look at them in that sentence together. Odd, isn't it?
Adjust flaps for FUN
- Infallible simulation
- Exciting missions
- The bit with James Bond
- Looks incredible
- Could do with a few more planes
- Really needs Vista