April 10, 2012

554 words 3 mins read

Microsoft Flight has taken off

If you’re a flight sim junky you probably remember the Flight Simulator series by Microsoft, which ended at Flight Simulator X about 10 years ago. Well I just happened to be messing around on Steam and I saw an advertisement for “Microsoft Flight” which was newly released. Now, being a flight sim junky, I immediately downloaded it and took it for a spin, and I was not disappointed.

My first hour of play was pleasant and enjoyable. The game starts you out in an Icon A5 (which is a sexy little sport plane), in the air, already going. Yes, you’re in a tutorial and I think it is great that they did that. My first reaction was to mouse fly but then the game said “Press button 1 on your joystick” and I remembered, oh yes… my 360 controller was still plugged in — so I flew with that. Yes, the 360 controller works perfectly in MS Flight — this shouldn’t be a surprise.

The tutorials only take about 20 minutes for all 3 of them and I they covered all the important parts of flying and getting around. Now I might know a thing or two about flying from all my time spent on flight sims in my youth, but this was a good refresher course nonetheless. Someone who has never flown a (virtual) plane will likely not feel overwhelmed.

After the tutorial was completed, I was put into the game proper and promptly surprised. Microsoft Flight has a lot of features in the game portion that bring me back to playing it more than most flight sims. Most sims have no purpose beyond the act of flying itself, so if you don’t invent a flight, it gets boring. Microsoft Flight provides you with all the reasons you could want to fly beyond free flight and they include: Missions, Jobs, and Challenges.

Here’s where things get even more crazy… it’s multiplayer capable. Correction, fully multiplayer ready. The game is (again, this shouldn’t surprise anyone) integrated into “Games for Windows Live” which means Xbox Live, but for the PC. So you get all the standard Xbox Live type goodies (like friends list, achievements, etc), but you also get a game that “just works” in multiplayer. I joined a random public game and was instantly flying with other people, heck, we could even voice chat.

One of the most surprising features of Microsoft Flight is that it’s free to play. Yes, folks, yet another free to play title to add to my list. They are currently selling 3 add-on aircraft and 1 additional territory. Since the game just released, it isn’t a lot of purchasable content, but I expect there to be a LOT more. There are also a number of achievements (e.g. Mach 1) that are not possible with the current assortment of planes.

Overall, I’m really quite excited. The game is a little more game and a little less realistic on the flight sim side, but I have seen a number of options that indicate it is possible to get the flight mechanics to behave MUCH more realistically. Really though, it’s targeting a more general audience and I’m okay with that. One day I might get to fly a real plane, until then I’ll skip the $75 for X-Plane and play Microsoft Flight.