#740 Microsoft Flight Simulator X

Posted: 13th December 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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107th played so far

Genre: Flight Simulator
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2006
Developer:  Microsoft
Publisher: Microsoft

And now for something COMPLETELY different.

We have been playing a lot of games with guns recently (since to be fair many games have an affinity for guns or at least some form of weapon) so today’s game is as far away as possible from these ‘violent’ games and tries to emulate a job which requires an insane amount of lessons.

In total there are 8 flight simulator games on the list and after a light skim it appears that this is the purest of them all. Time to don your Pan Am style outfits because this is Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

Our Thoughts

Let me add to the above that, despite what you might hope from the TV show, this is really just about flying planes, although several large passenger jets are included. A scary prospect when you consider our flying skills… The fact that it took you a lot of crashes to learn how to make a left turn really did make nervous at the prospect of an Airplane-style scenario ever occurring. Then again I managed to crash into a hot air balloon which is as stationary a target as you are likely to get when flying. The controls being stepwise, rather than returning to neutral automatically, when using the keyboard (like we did) did not help. After I got the hang of that, though, the little flying experience I had (one ‘lesson’ as part of a very fun day out at work during which I got to sit in the pilot seat for about fifteen minutes while the teacher did most of the work) did help a bit in finding my way around. Still needed the easier settings though. What may have helped in the long-run is if we actually owned a joystick rather than relying on the mouse and arrow keys.

I have to say though; before playing this I thought landing would be the hardest thing to do but no… it was taxiing! Absolutely, and I think we might need to look at getting one. Taxiing is marred by the similar issue with controls, which is fairly counter-intuitive compared to other vehicle games, making it take time. Even so, from experience, I do know it’s actually that difficult. My only experience involves sticky-tape, cardboard strips and imagination… never tried taxiing as I was too happy making swooshy noises. As I noticed surprisingly recently. Hey! I was getting stressed at the prospect of crashing in-game… it’s not my fault that I got so into it that I started screaming a little bit. It was a surprisingly immersive experience.

The game is simply ‘fly a plane around’, and it’s surprisingly good at making you do so and getting you excited over it, taking off and landing at your preferred airports, taxiing around, and more of that. It sounds boring, I know, but it works incredibly well. This is even despite the fairly lacklustre graphics. Then again since you basically have the freedom to basically where wherever you wish this is a very impressive undertaking by Microsoft. If you have the will and the patience you could fly your plane from Helsinki to Canberra… but it will mean you spend over a day doing so. Actually, not entirely… the game has a speed up time option, meaning you can set it to just go fast and leave the PC when you’ve got your plane set to fly in the right direction. But why do that if you want to play? Especially if you set the weather conditions to random or (more interestingly) to use actual weather readings taken from the internet. You would come back from a Parks and Recreation marathon to find your plane has faceplanted into a coral reef. Even so, despite that, for shorter flights or just random trips around an airport, it can be a great game. Especially if you have the proper scenery installed and fly over, for example, London, recognising the landmarks and seeing the places where you’ve walked before. Or the place where you were dragged to see 10,000 BC on the big screen.

Now, as said, this is an immersive simulation that’s a lot of fun to play around with. It doesn’t look the best, but plays well and feels incredibly accurate… the help file even has a separate section for “when you’re already a pilot”. But to make it last a bit longer, Microsoft added another feature for this iterations of the series: Missions. Aside from being used as tutorials, these feature tasks for you to undertake – fly from X to Y via Z – to test out your abilities and give you a goal when playing. There are also timed missions and one where you have to make an emergency diversion due to there being a critically ill passenger on your plane. Reminds me of a storyline fit for Pan Am (which by the time of publishing will have probably been cancelled).

This may not be the most engaging of games, but it certainly feels like a strong and probably vaguely accurate simulation, and that alone makes it engaging enough that, where we expected to play this for about half an hour each, we actually played this for nearly as long as the previously discussed Max Payne 2, which feels like an incredible accomplishment.

Final Thoughts

Sorry for the Pan Am obsession but since we started watching it the same weekend that we played this game it seemed like a truly happy coincidence.

It’s actually really great to be playing something that is so different that a year into making the blog actually makes you think twice about what makes a good computer game.