rates: On my 5-year-old computer (which I
used for the beta), my FPS were usually 30 to 50
FPS, which is roughly double what I got in FSX (with the AI traffic disabled). Flight
scales pretty well, but if you have the graphics set
too high, you'll end up with some of the scenery
becoming low-resolution, as you fly over it (since
your system can not keep up). If this happens,
try reducing Shadows first (high CPU and GPU load,
for little visual difference), and then Scenery
Density (high CPU and GPU load, for just more
objects in the distance).
I feel more like I'm actually flying with
Flight than with any other Civilian flightsim I have
used. And my older brother was really into flightsims, so I
was pretty much raised on them (including
Microsoft Flightsim, X-Plane, Fly!, Flight
Unlimited, ProPilot, and more). Immersion is a very
intuitive thing for me . . . if what I see and hear
while I'm playing any game feels real, then the
game succeeds for me (as far as the immersion part
goes). You can even exit your aircraft and
"walk" around your aircraft (1st person view only) .
. . or even take a walk through the scenery (you
cannot enter buildings, with the exception of some
hangers). If you get too close to an object, you
might get stuck (generally, running backwards, away
from the object will release you).
The scenery is VERY good, including
the shorelines, the mountains, the 3D objects (such
as trees and buildings), and the textures, shadows
and lighting. The trees even sway in the wind. The one weak area for me was the
appearance of the fair weather clouds (but the
clouds were among the bugs that were fixed in
the final build . . . that we did not get a chance
to beta test).
Pilot Profile: Your
progress as a pilot is tracked. And detail
statistics are recorded of things like the number of
landing you have made (as well as the number of
You can even select your virtual pilot/avatar: 3
male pilots, but just 1 female pilot (During the
beta, I lobbied hard for gender equality, but I was
very outnumbered). Your avatar is only visible in
the exterior view (when you are in your aircraft.
Passengers are not visible.
Your aircraft remains where you last left it in the
game. If you are in Free Flight mode (which is
what I use the most), you can increase the realism
The cockpits and the instruments are among the
best I have seen, and the flight model just feels
right to me (I'm not a real pilot, but I have flown
as a passenger). From what I understand about
things like stalls, they are actually done
realistically. Turbulence and buffeting are
also model, as are wind lift at ridge lines.
Fuel usage is modeled, which you need to keep an eye
on, since you can run out of fuel (and an
aircraft will not start up without fuel).
Check Lists (Q key): These are
very well done and are dynamic (items are checked
off as you complete that procedure correctly).
Using the aircraft's checklists is the easiest way
to learn how to properly fly that aircraft.
Radios: The radios
do work (there just isn't any ATC chatter). In
multiplayer, press the Tab key to talk to people on
a certain frequency (other players who have their
COMM radios set to your frequency) or Shift-Tab to
talk to all in that server. You can also do
ILS approaches by tuning your NAV radio to the
correct frequency (if your aircraft ins equipped
The sounds are extremely well done.
Sounds are VERY important with a flightsim, since
all we have to simulate flight are the visuals and
the sounds (unless you have a wicked expensive
virtual flight chair that adds motion). The
wind sound increases when you lower a flap, or lower
the gear, or open the cockpit. When you bump
over a rough runway, you hear it (and you almost
feel it, if you have the head bobbing effect
enabled). When you're on the water (in the
Icon A5) you hear the water lapping against your
Overall, it works quite well. There are
some things that I'm not thrilled with, as I would
prefer that there were a lot more choices in many
areas . . . but this is not really the fault of the
interface itself, which felt well organized and is
quite attractive (to me).
Mouse in Cockpit (assuming mouse flying-mode is
off): Your mouse wheel is used both
to zoom in and out, and to interact with your
aircraft (like tuning your radios). Place the
mouse arrow where you want to zoom into, and use the
wheel to zoom. When the mouse arrow is placed
on a switch or dial, the wheel will rotate the dial
or toggle the switch (switches also toggle just by
left-clicking on them). You can also hold down
the left mouse button and move the mouse to rotate
dials (which can be faster than the mouse wheel).
Holding down the right mouse button, and dragging
you mouse will rotate your view point. Holding
down the mouse wheel (center button), and dragging
you mouse will move your view point (up/down, and
right/left). Views are reset by pressing the
This worked pretty well during the beta
testing when we stress tested it. MP is
limited to 16 players per session. You can
either join a current public session, or start your
own session . . . which can be public (open to
anyone) or private (only your MS Live friends can
join). You can text each other, or if you have
a headset (or a microphone and speakers), you can
talk to other players in your session. [See
radios notes above.]
Missions and Jobs (Airport Job Boards):
Most are very well done in my opinion, and add
a lot of immersion (and make you feel a lot less
alone in Flight's virtual world). Your passengers
react to the way that you fly, and rough flight
(and/or landings) can damage your cargo.
Challenges: I personally don't
like the "Gold Rush" or "Challenge Courses" . . .
they are both way too arcade-like (and do not
promote safe flying habits). I do like the
"Landing Challenges" . . . a LOT. They have
actually made me a much better virtual pilot.
I really like the way that things like your Vertical
Descent are rated (note that this is based only your
overall landing descent rate, not just your rate at
Aerocaches: I personally enjoy
the aerocaches, and having an "Aerocache of the Day"
helps in keeping Flight interesting (something that
I find a bit lacking in FSX). I really like
that the aerocaches are mostly to show points of
interest that is present in the scenery (such as
historical locations, and popular tourist spots). My
only real complaint is that aerocaches are sometimes
put in a location that requires very dangerous
flying to retrieve it with your available aircraft.
I get that you are suppose to get out of your
aircraft and walk to retrieve some aerocaches, but
that is not always possible for some locations,
where the only sensible way to get to the aerocache
would be with a helicopter (which are not yet
available in Flight).
Not-so-Good (what is missing):
Flight is being released as a free
core, and made to be expanded (through DLC which you
can purchase). So it is being released as an
unfinished product, that will grow over time.
I'm sure that at least some of the "missing"
features will be expanded/added at some point.
These "missing" items are only based on what is
included (and expected) in civilian flightsims (like FSX
and X-Plane 10). I fought hard during the beta
testing for all these features to be included in
Flight (I still have no idea if any of these
features will ever be added).
Flight has no Air Traffic Control,
which means that you cannot use your radios to ask
for clearance, get directions (to nearest airports),
or check the weather conditions (ATIS - Automatic
Terminal Information Service). The lack of an
ATC has been my biggest single disappointment with
Planner: A Flight Plan is generally
associated with an ATC (but it is a separate
feature). A Flight Plan is your expected
flying route (such as your flight path between two
airports). With Flight, unless you are in a
mission or a landing challenge, you are pretty much
on your own in finding your way to the airport (or
landing strip) that you want to land at. (The
Icon has a very basic GPS/Moving Map, but only the
larger airports are displayed on it).
Flight currently has no moving AI aircraft,
boats, vehicles, or wildlife. This make
Flight's virtual world a lonely place and makes it
feel less real, which is a real shame. For me,
a plausible flightsim world requires AI aircraft at
the airports, moving traffic on the roads, and
moving boats on the water. The only way to
currently see other aircraft flying is to be in a
Scenery: Flight comes with only the
"Big Island" of Hawaii for free. You can
"The Hawaiian Adventure Pack," which includes the
other seven main islands of Hawaii. Microsoft
plans on releasing additional DLC scenery in the
future. But no one knows how large these
scenery areas will be, if they will be connected (as
in you will be able to fly from one scenery area to
another), or if the entire world will ever be
available (or in what degree of detail).
Aircraft: the free Flight core only
includes the Icon A5, which is a
Light Sport Aircraft. When you sign in to
your Games for Windows LIVE
account, you will also receive the Boeing Stearman aircraft (an old
Bi-plane). Additional aircraft will be
available as DLC (or may be included with some DLC
scenery). But all the current DLC aircraft are
only small prop aircraft (no jets or helicopters or
large airliners yet).
Weather: Flight currently only has
selectable Theme Weather. You can set the time
to Real World Time, but you cannot set the weather
to Real World Weather. But the selection
choices are fairly good; there are currently 10
different types of weather you can select:
- Among the Giants
- Clear Skies
- Dense Fog
- Fair Weather
- Inclement Weather
- Isolated Thunderstorms
- Low and Threatening
- Storm Cells
- Stormy Weather
Button/Axis Assignments: Flight's
key assignments and axis assignments are easy to set
up, but are quite limited. This was a
constant complaint during the beta testing, and has been expanded in the released version, but
I doubt that it was expanded enough to satisfy
Hopefully this will be added in the near future.
No Damage Modeling:
For instance, if you hit a tree, your wing will not
be ripped off. And if you land too hard, your
landing gear will not break off. But
crashes are modeled pretty well. If you hit a
tree, your plane will crash. If this happens
on a steep slope, your aircraft will slide down the
slope. If you crash in water, your aircraft
might sink (if the water is deep enough). And
then you get the Crash pop-up window.
Damage: The aircraft are not damaged by
overstressing them, such as going too fast, or
pulling too many g's).
Failures are Not Modeled:
There is no option to set up
random failures, such as instrument failures.
No Instant Replay: You cannot
playback that perfect landing that you finally made.
Final Thoughts (updated
Flight was obviously a major
disappointment, but hopefully this will be a lesson
for developers: flightsims are a unique product . .
. they are NOT games (even through they can
sometimes include some gaming features - like the
missions in FSX.. In my opinion, the only reason
that Flight failed, is that someone at MS had the
bright idea that Flight would sell better if they
made it into more of a game (instead of focusing on
making it into a full-featured flightsim).
Is There any Hope for Future Flightsims?:
Flight was initially viewed as the
successor of MS FSX, which is still the most popular
flightsim. FSX is getting old (it was released in
October of 2006), so after 7 years, it is time for a
replacement. FSX was never very optimized, and its
performance was tied directly to your computer's CPU
speed. It didn't really matter how good your
graphics card was . . . unless you had an
Intel processor, overclocked to 5MHz (which requires
serious water cooling), you're never going to have
decent frame rates at maximum settings.
my new gaming computer arrived in mid August, I
immediately ordered X-Plane 10 (I own X-Plane 9, and
v.10 was seen as a major upgrade). Unfortunately I
was also disappointed with this sim. At some point
it may become the sim I was hoping for . . . but it
is not there yet.
The "other sim" out there is Prepar3d (P3D).
Lockheed Martin bought a license to use and further
develope Microsoft's ESP, the visual simulation
software platform that FSX uses. (LM is one of the world's largest defense
contractors). When version 2.0 was released on
November 25, 2013 I decided to give it a try (it has
a 60 day full refund policy). P3D v.2 was way better
than I expected and, after my first flight, I knew
that I had finally found the fightsim that I had
been looking for. I am now using version 2.2 and P3D
still isn't the perfect sim and it still has a few
bugs and needs to be better optimized, but it is the
best one for me. [Version 2.3 is currently in early