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MS FLIGHT Review


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#1 Tom_Weiss

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 06:20 PM

Microsoft only released FLIGHT yesterday - but I could not wait a day longer to post my review, it is a short review of a freeware game that Microsoft hopes will broaden the appeal of flight sims to a whole new public. To read it, please click on the image bellow

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for more info about FLIGHT as well as where to download it, please read here



#2 Tom_Weiss

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 06:22 PM

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Over the past year a lot has been written and in many forums about FLIGHT and now that it has been released we all know what it is : FLIGHT is a very nice arcade-style little game. FLIGHT was developed by Microsoft to appeal mostly not to the casual flight simmer but to players that don't want to be bothered with the intricacies of a flight simulation and want quick gratification from a pleasant stress free game experience.

I could stop right here as we are a website about Flight Sims and FLIGHT clearly isn't one , it is a game - but since I already started this review let me give you a brief idea of what it is all about.

FLIGHT is above all a departure from what Microsoft has been doing for a long time with the 20+ year old Flight Sim series and it is a radical departure. Gone is what MS calls the ´eco-system´ of independent retailers and developers that thrived and made MS Flight Sim what it is and in comes the world of LIVE, where Microsoft plans to sell itself DLC ("Downloadable Content") for FLIGHT. No outside developers will take a share of this market in the near future.

So lets start the review.

This game is free to download and after you finished downloading a 1.5GB+ installer all you have to do before running the game is to log in ( and to do that you will need a hotmail account as Log in is via LIVE ) once that is done the game starts - and the player is immediately invited to spend some money buying add ons by just looking at the menu screen.

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the FLIGHT game that you downloaded is just a shell of the product with one of the Hawaii Islands and a couple of airplanes available and nothing more than that, you will need to add content to give it more playability and for that you will need LIVE. MS did a great job of seamlessly integrating MS Marketplace into the FLIGHT overall experience, you will be reminded constantly of what is available to be bought.

For 1600 MS points or US$ $19.99, the Hawaiian Adventure Pack can be purchased (a 850+ MB download) additional aircraft like the Maule M7 can be yours for 1200 MS points or $14.99 , the cockpit-less P-51D Mustang yours for 640 MS points or $7.99.

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One US dollar buys MS 80 points, buy a scenery and 2 planes and you spent US$ 43 .




For the purpose of this review, I decided to leave the US$43 in my pocket and fly , I mean, play with a Boeing PT-17 Stearman - which comes for free as part of the FLIGHT download.


The player can engage in three activities - you can see that I am using MS nomenclature, I can go play a Mission, a Challenge or engage in a Aerocache Hunt, or simply play a Flight, I can also buy the Hawaiian Adventure pack, as an icon with a link is conveniently placed on the map.

The player can also choose the type of plane he or she wants to play with - included amongst the options are the Maule and Mustang, with the price tag attached for easy reference.

Liveries are unlocked as the game progresses, rewarding the player with several new liveries as challenges are met, no free liveries for the lazy gamer ... so unable to select a livery I wanted, I had to play with the stock US Navy livery.

On the Main Menu you can set the level of realism that the game has - I chose to play the PT-17 in an as real a mode as the game would allow. I also maxed out the graphics.

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unlike in FSX - there is no real time weather , you choose the weather you want to fly in

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(before starting this free flight I had to finish a tutorial where I learned the basics of flight in FLIGHT : up, down, left and right as well as the increasing and decreasing of speed as needed, this was done by flying around balloons, landing on water with my seaplane and on an airport, as soon as these important skills were acquired, FLIGHT let me proceed to the next stage, which to me is playing with the PT-17)

the game has a profile page - where your career can be tracked and a list of awards and achievements displayed , in my brief career I already had many achievements to be proud of : First Spin, Coconut Bra, first Flight and Free as a Bird. I also won two awards: Fledgling Career and Crahstastic.

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FLIGHT clearly uses the FSX engine tweaked and improved to bring it up to date, this was done by stripping FSX of all those things that made it a resource hog so that FLIGHT is left with a bare bones code that allows it to run far more smoothly than what would be possible in FSX, so that even a simple PC with an average graphics card can run the game well.

The environment is an improvement from the one that came with original FSX when it was released - in reality FLIGHT looks much more like a highly detailed map add-on than a new game with a new engine.

I could even go so far as to say that what all that Microsoft did besides stripping the FSX code and creating that map, was to give the graphics engine FSX Directx9 and Directx10 compatibility and then call the end product : FLIGHT.

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The Hawaii Island map in FLIGHT looks good but not up to the standards of say an FSX install that has an ORBX scenery. The sea and sky also look good , again we are not talking of REX 2 or FEX quality , the end effect is that they provide a pleasant environment for the gamer to fly-play over on his way to collect another achievement.

The flight model is very accurate and realistic - for an arcade style game ...

http://youtu.be/fT4jqLjc6yw
who could imagine that a bi-plane could do that ... move over Flanker !


This flight model (or lack of any) allows the player to feel like a true pro, this is done by providing just the right touch of realism : no one expects a biplane to go vertical and accelerate, the airplane eventually comes to a halt and starts a gentle motion from which the player can recover by doing ... nothing, it also possible to spin while stalling - this is all very comforting to the player and provides a feel of achievement ... who would think that flying was so easy !

It is important to caution the player that what he is playing is a stripped down flight model devoid of any aerodynamic behavior, after all - FLIGHT is about the magic of flight not about simulating the actual behavior of flying, not by a long shot.

So I finally come to the conclusion of my brief review of FLIGHT :

FLIGHT is a wonderful way for someone who otherwise would never have bought a flight sim to get a feel of what flight sims are all about - ´Grandparents and grandchildren will sit together and play these, and grow up with them over time´ (*) - and at first with very little or no expense, there is no need for an expensive Joystick here, play this game with the arrow keys or a mouse.

Since the developer rightly understood that the target public of this game could not be bothered with understanding the actual mechanics of flight much less with that thing called flight model or aerodynamics , they created a facsimile that provides a feel of powered glide.

The game is a pay as you go DLC experience - but it is free to download. FLIGHT is a bit expensive, in my opinion, as MS asks $43 for a couple of planes and a small scenery.

It really is a bit too much, can you imagine how much buying the Continental USA will set you back ?

I am also too old (51) to enjoy the arcade side of this FLIGHT game ... it took me very little time to discover that this product is just that: an arcade experience meant to entertain those that find the learning curve of a flight sim too much of a challenge. But I am sure that even flight simmers can find the MP very interesting and that many others will appreciate the fact that Microsoft FLIGHT allows them to feel like an ace pilot from the get-go.

(*) http://www.mcvuk.com...t-flight/091961



#3 VIKBELL

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:57 PM

Thank you for the review

#4 sniperwolfpk5

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:01 AM

Nice. I like the way you reviewed the Flight

#5 Tom_Weiss

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:21 AM

:)

by the way - MS announced that they will release Alaska, another DLC

FSX costs US$30

Flight costs US$43 + Alaska, lets say that they sell Alaska for US$ 20 = US$ 63

and no ATC, no real time Weather, no REX2 textures ... this will end up as one expensive game.

#6 JD_LincsUK

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 08:27 PM

My thoughts exactly, Tommy.

Thanks for the review - you saved me a large download and probably some cash I would have spent to see if it got any better.

I wonder if this will crash & burn, and if it does if that will close MS flight sim ventures completely.

#7 Tom_Weiss

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:43 PM

:)

most developers seem to think that FSX will around for a long time as a kind of flight sim OS - Microsoft sure is paying attention to that, maybe in the end they will make Flight into FS11, they seem to be quite optimistic about their future.

and of course there is Prepar3D ...

#8 innerloop

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:35 AM

Nice review Thomas.
I also read the interview from Joshua Howard. Its clear from what I read that the devs of Flight are "indoctrinated" to Microsoft and even though they know its a big step back from what they were doing before, they will defend FLIGHT and try to use exaggerated wordings to bring it up to a level that doesn't belong.
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#9 Tom_Weiss

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

'Indoctrinated' they are :D

they are painting themselves in a corner, if they keep simplifying the flight models, soon they will end up running out of what to do because a Zero will behave very much like a Mustang and every new release will feel like the one that came before.




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