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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Microsoft Flight Part II

I've been playing Microsoft Flight for a few weeks now and I am enjoying it more than ever. The more I fly in MS Flight I have come to realise the flight model is much closer to a simulation than a just a game. I also think you'll have more fun flying with a joystick. I played the free version, upgraded to the full Hawaiian islands and downloaded the Maule. The Maule was one of my favourite planes from Flight Simulator X. It's from flying the Maule that makes me think Flight is more of a simulation. I started by flying the Icon A5 which is very easy and stable to fly (even when set to the harder flight settings). The wing on the A5 is similar to a glider which I believe makes it easy to fly.

What suspends my dis-belief even more in Flight is the ability to use radio navigation. All the VOR's, ILS etc are there for you. To find the navigation radio information go to the map, select "Legend" then you can tick a box that makes radio navigation beacons appear on the map. I got that tip from Flight's Facebook page. The Maule and Van's RV-6 both have navigation radios, plus the RV-6 has ILS/Glidescope. I have not tried ILS/Glidescope landings yet, but there is a landing challenge for the RV-6 in the game so get familiar with it. I love flying the Maule, then find an airport with a VOR and fly right to it.

Navigating in the Maule

The missions in Microsoft Flight are challenging and fun. Jobs at airports with various freight and charters reminds me of the kind of things my instructor pilots used to do. Flight also have Aerocaches. They give you XP and help you to explore and find interesting places.

Expansion packs and some new planes in Flight are based on Downloadable Content. It seems like this game shouldn't be based on DLC.  But with the Xbox games I play like Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare, Fifa and other all have DLC content. So why DLC with Flight? We are used to this on console games. It's has to be expensive to develop Flight, and even more expensive to continue development. Many of the past products like Flight Simulator X was released, had some service packs, an acceleration pack and that was it from Microsoft. There have been plenty of add-ons from other people but development of the game stopped after the service packs. Other models for flight sims could be like Aces High, where you pay a monthly fee to play. The company gets regular income and the game keeps developing. I welcome DLC with Flight. I hope people pay and Flight keeps getting developed and improved for many years to come. Microsoft have announced the Alaska DLC with 1.5 million square kilometres of scenery, new aircraft and new missions. I can't wait.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Microsoft Flight

Microsoft Flight launched on Leap Day. Flight is billed as an easy to fly game with no special hardware such as a joystick is needed, they suggest you can use the mouse to fly (HA).

I have used Flight Simulator products going back to the 80's with Sublogic's Flight Simulator on my Amiga to Microsoft's Flight Simulator X, with various versions in between. I love FSX with the ability to accurately simulate navigation, flight model etc.  If I want I can fly from Cleveland to Chicago in anything from a DC3 to a 747. One the eve of Flight's release I flew from Yellowknife to Hay River (North West Territories in a DC3).

Microsoft Flight is not aimed the hard core FSX simulator  fans (even though I am one of those). It's a fun and easy to fly game based on what a sport pilot licensee might expect. I've played Flight for a few hours and plan on flying it more. It is fun, but I am using my Logitech joystick with it.  Flying with a mouse is an aberration. The flying experience is based around the big island of Hawaii, I did buy the DLC which gave me the rest of the islands and more missions.  Not sure yet if I will buy the extra planes. The first plane you fly in is the Icon A5,  which should be released in the real world in the near future and was designed for the Sport or leisure pilot. The interior looks more like a sports car than an airplane. For me the dash of the A5 is a bit simple, but it's nice you can land on a runway or on water.  Probably the best part of Flight is the detail in the scenery. Limiting the game to a small area probably helps in this area. The game is free, why not download it and give it a go. I'll let you know in a few weeks if it's so good I bought the extra planes available.

Let's hope we don't have to wait for the next Leap day for a new Flight Simulator from Microsoft.