* Prices may differ from that shown
I have been into Flight Simulator for fourteen years now, starting with Microsoft Flight Simulator 5.1 in 1995!
Flight Simulator X (or ten) is the latest in the line of Flight Simulator Software from Microsoft. The version talked about here is the Gold edition, which brings you the "Deluxe Edition" and "Acceleration Expansion Pack" together and features 24 aircraft compared to 18 in the Standard Edition (some with the Garmin 1000 suite), 45 high-detail airports compared to 40, 38 high-detail cities compared to 28, and 51 structured missions compared to 30. The Acceleration Pack adds yet more missions.
Before I get started with this mega sophisticated software, I should say this is not for the faint hearted! Nor is it for anyone who doesn't like aircraft - big time! Furthermore, If you have anything less than the following spec computer, you will struggle to run it, even with the sliders put back... Dual Core Processor or AMD equivalent, 3gb ram, Nvidia 8800 Graphics Accelerator Card, 150gb Hard Drive. Also, I would not class this software as a game. More as a training tool to learn to fly.
Okay, let's start by giving a bit of info on how realistic this simulation software is, compared to flying in real life. On a percentage scale I would give Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) 78% accuracy. Why not more? The answer to this question is very complex.
Firstly, the aircraft cockpits do not completely represent what you get in the "real" cockpit. Microsoft have chosen to limit the amount of buttons, switches and gauges that are working or can be used. In other words all are visible, but not all are usable, but there's enough to get your aircraft from a to b. The graphical standard of all the cockpits and of the exteriors of the aircraft are by far improved over previous versions, but still lack lustre. That said, there are a plethora of third party companies offering far more sophisticated addons, where almost everything in the cockpit does work - I will talk about this later. The cockpits themselves can be viewed either in 2D (flat panel view) or in Virtual Cockpit (3D) mode - 3D being far more realistic. The dynamic handling of the aircraft leave something to be desired and, once again, third party add-ons do much better, that said there is a big improvement over FS2004.
Secondly, I'm going to talk about the scenery. This is a debate that many simmers will have different views on. Do you need to have realistic scenery, to learn to fly a plane on a simulator? The answer is no, but to have realistic scenery gives you much more immersion into believing you're actually flying. Microsoft have certainly improved the scenery in FSX over FS2004, but, it still falls a long way short of being true to life! Once again our third party companies have assisted us with this problem and there are add-on scenery/texture/land terrain packs available with detail down to 1 metre per pixel!!
Thirdly, comes the weather. The weather engine in FSX is certainly a working one and gives you wind, rain, snow and cloud and spray on the tarmac with reflection. But not particularly accurately... Winds and weather patterns can change very abruptly, especially using the downloaded real weather from meta stations. To fix this, yes, once again, third party add-ons. Don't get me wrong though, if you're not savvy to what the weather should really be doing, then you'll think the weather engine in FSX is pretty cool!
Fourthly, Air Traffic Control. This has never been a Microsoft strong point, since it was introduced. The controllers are all American - not realistic for the world that exists outside of the USA. The controllers are somewhat limited to their vocabulary, again not very realistic and what you say to them is produced by the software itself, not you're own voice. Once again there are remedies for this through our friends in third party land and, depending on how much you want to spend, it can be made extremely realistic, with voice recognition through a mic.
Fifthly, airports. There are about 28,000 airports included in FSX, dotted over the world from mega airports like Heathrow and New York JFK to tiny ones like Lasham Airfield in Kent. But to be fair to Microsoft, to give realistic detail to all 28,000 would be an impossible task and I doubt you'd be able to fly to everyone of them in your lifetime! So, yes, again third party add-ons are the order of the day, with literally hundreds of airports and airfields available to add on in incredibly realistic detail. As mentioned earlier, Microsoft have highly detailed 45 airports. All the others vary in detail with default buildings and vehicles. But, all the runways of all the airports are accurate in length and angle.
Okay, so you've bought a copy and want to install it on your pc. First things first. FSX will run on Windows XP 32 bit and 64 bit editions, Vista 32 and 64 bit and Windows 7. Windows 7 users are still exploring the pros and cons at this time, but I can say there have been issues with the security side of Vista and Windows 7 affecting FSX. These can be overcome by turning off User Account Control (UAC).
The install is on two dvds, so you must have a dvd rom fitted to your pc, not a cdrom. The install will take about 40 minutes. If you are thinking of putting this on a laptop, then make sure your laptop has plenty of ports to plug in hardware such as joysticks, yokes and pedals - you cannot fly planes using the keyboard, the bare minimum required is a high end joystick. Once FSX has been installed, an icon is placed on your desktop and you can double click it to get started. FSX loads the main menu quicker than FS2004 did, because the main menu is outside of FSX. You then choose your aircraft and location etc, to get to go flying.
There is no book manual with this software, instead the instructions are all on screen in the main menu. If you are a beginner, yes, it will seem daunting - it took me six months to learn to fly a Cessna 182 way back in 1996 on FS 5.1 - but persevere and you'll win through! There are many Flight sim Communities out there, both on the web and for real, so there's plenty of advice to be had for free!! There are a host of "missions" to carry out in FSX - some are actually lessons and will help you to get in the air.
So you've now mastered some flying and made your first landings - albeit, bumpy ones!! Where next? Some simmers are content with keeping FSX as it is, but most want to expand it and make it as realistic as possible! Adding to FSX is merely a process of choosing add-on software and hardware and installing and then learning how to use it. That said, add-ons are not cheap and take up masses of space on your hard drive. Good quality add-on aircraft can cost between £15 and £45 each and can be up to 400mb. There are hundreds available - There is also a huge selection of freeware available on various Flight Sim websites - but, be warned, freeware quality varies tremendously and you, invariably, have to put the software into FSX manually. Scenery packs and airports cost from £10 up to £30 each or there's freeware. Hardware is available and any amount can be spent up to £50,000!!! But to start with I recommend you get a set of pedals and a yoke - cost about £210. This will allow you to fly with a good degree of realism.
Other important things that you will need to purchase in addition to FSX are, FSUIPC (by Pete Dowson) which is an add-on software utility that allows you to use third party aircraft in FSX and also allows manipulation of the FSX engine. A good sound system with 5.1 surround speakers. A head phones with microphone.
Other features of FSX are the ability to take off and land on water with float and amphibian aircraft. Ability to create mechanical failures of the aircraft you are flying, to create emergencies. Ability to fly online and see and here other aircraft and pilots and air traffic controllers. Aircraft can be started from cold and dark cockpits or with the engines already running. Full navigation, communication and Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) are featured in the cockpits of many aircraft. Working GPSs. Numerous warning sounds in cockpits. Artificially Intelligent (AI) Aircraft flying around you (this can be upgraded to real world timetables using third party add-ons). Sound variances when moving around the cockpit. Altitude affects fuel mixture. Ability to alter difficultness and realism of aircraft handling. Realistic crash sounds. AI aircraft sounds. Moving vehicles at airports and on most roads. Working push back tugs for large aircraft at airports. Flying is real time - i.e. it takes 5 hours to fly to New York from London. Clock can be set to PC or sim. 24 hour flying day or night. Reflections on water, glass/windows and on metal parts. Sun glare. shadowing from buildings, vehicles, trees, aircraft and aircraft own shadow on itself. Runway, taxiway and parking area lighting at larger airports. All aircraft lights work - landing lights, taxi lights, strobes, navs etc. Aircraft can break up under undue stresses. World map with Nav Data base including way points, NDBs, VORs, ILS info.
Later on, when you become confident, you will be able to join virtual airlines and join VATSIM (Virtual Air Traffic Simulation) for real air traffic control within FSX (online with other pilots).
This has been a short, yes short, introduction to the world of Flight Simulator X. If you love flying, this is for you. Enjoy.
Now i am an avid aviation nut ever since i first went on a plane i was hooked on flying and always dreamed of piloting a jumbo jet, but i know thats not going to happen, so i got flight simulator x.
whenit comes to something like flight simulation it has to be real no ifs nuts or maybes. Microsoft Claim its as real as it gets, and i has to be said they done a pretty good job i mean after all anything has to be better than the fly series that is as much fun as sticking pins in your eyes but this, this is good. We have moving traffic now so on approach to heathrow you can see the traffic on the M25 in all its glory. Fly over the african jungle you will see wildlife, and the weather is just brilliant download real world weather and land in galeforce winds at gatwick had my palms sweating and some other side effects. but where this sim really shines is online, Microsoft have totally revamped it. you can now select a session from a list and join. If you have FSX Gold edition you can go online as a Air Traffic Controller you really cant get a better experience that waitng at the gate and asking a real person permision to pushback taxi and takeoff. While the planes havnt really changed alot in detail from fs2004, there are a few changes. the triple seven is gone! not quite sure why thats like taking sweets from a kid, or a bone form a dog, you dont do it. It has been replaced however with the airbus a320 yeah....anyway. It has a new mission structure which again is quite fun to play through and makes good you use of some highly detailed terrain and airports.
Sadly though as always with these type pf games you have to have a processor and memory the size of Russia to get the most from it. A quick tip though Service pack 1 for fsx does make a big difference in performance especially if you have a duel core Processor.
overall if you want the closest thing to flying an aircraft, its this.
X plane is its only real competition and personally i dont think it comes close. FSX is the queen of the skies.
Flight Simulator puts any ordinary person in the place of the pilot in the cockpit. They can perform missions or fly casually anywhere around the world.
The game is good for anyone who really enjoys and has a facination in Aircraft. With neally all the worlds airports, air traffic controls, superb multiplayer, different aircraft to fly, different aircraft to download... your unlikely to give this up easily.
I have split this review into sections which I beleive a game like this much have in order to be good. Each section shall be rated /10 along with a comment.
If you have a PC which has a good graphics card then you can have all the graphics at max. (Geforce 9500 is what I use whichi s rather cheap). When you have graphics at max the whole planet looks so details. The ground looks like it would if you were really flying over in a real aircraft.
Airport detail is also good but could use a little more detail but overall, they're brillaint graphics.
In order to play your going to have to learn loads of new controls, just do you can stay in the air. This can be quite hard if you haven't played any of these flight sims from microsoft before. Though, there are tutorials for you to learn but they only cover the basics. Such as for landing aircraft at an airport, in the tutorial you landing a very small light aircraft. If you then try and use the same technique landing a Boeing Passenger jet it so much more of a challenge and can get fustrating. Though I'm able to do it, why shouldn't you.
They aslo have plenty of missions for you to complete which you can spend time on. So its not just a boring simulator but has some very tough challenging missions for you to complete.
When playing of free mode you can fly anywhere you want in earth, such a vast game world and the whole planet seems to be to scale. So in real life, if it took you an hour to fly to Amsterdam, it'd take you an hour to fly there ingame.
For the size of the whole world and all the programing that had to go into this game its worth the price. Also as in Gold you get an exspension pack of Flight Sim Acceleration it's very much worth it. The only problem I see with this price is that it isn't too much different to its previous version Flight Sim 2004. Just more missions and a little better graphics. If I were going to be the first to decide which gmae to buy I'd proberbly buy FS 2004 as its cheaper and does nearlly exactly the same thing. Though overall its a good price for the game.
Requirements: 10/10 (don't need a brillaint computer to play)
1 GB RAM for XP and Vista- does work on Windows 7
Processor atleast 2.0 GHz or more
15GB Hard Drive Space
Multiplayer: atleast 56.6kbps but I recommend atleast a fast broadband connection
Direct X 9
128 MB Video Ram
Haven't yet found any major glitches. Only very small graphical
Many planes, the whole world to travel and you can also download free content for the game.
A lot of things that can be donew in this game, from roaming the wohle planet and seeing major landmarks you've never seen before. Donig missions to earn badges or just pretending your a pilot. A great game for a very decent price.