flight simulators, over the past few years, brought anything new to the
flight simulator genre. Improvements have certainly been made, but
nothing has made me feel the way I used to about each new flight
simulator release. Back in the day when you could count on seeing
something entirely new every time a flight simulator was released. I
vividly remember the first times I saw semi-realistic flight physics,
damage, terrain that didnt resemble patchwork quilts, and all the other
features that Ive taken for granted over the last few years.
Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight, Microsoft has provided us with one
of their most solid products to date. Though, unfortunately, and again,
for the most part I dont believe they have made any major leaps in the
genre with this release; rather, theyve created a solid product with a
few improvements and a couple of new frills. And that is why Im so
thrilled about the inclusion of the historical aircraft. Not only is it
appropriate, but its bringing something a little bit new.
historical aircraft provide challenges of a sort that flight simmers
never get. We usually get our thrills out of flying high performance
aircraft that will fly at nearly any attitude. Now we can get our
thrills from aircraft that dont climb, turn poorly, and are extremely
underpowered. We all know that there is a plethora of additional
aircraft available out there for the Flight Simulator franchise, but
they very rarely achieve the standards of realism in appearance and
flight physics set by Microsofts programmers with the aircraft included
in the game.
historical aircraft include: the Wright Flyer (doesnt turn), Curtiss
JN-4D Jenny (too slow), Ryan NYP "Spirit of St. Louis" (cant see a
flippin thing), de Havilland DH-88 Comet (hope you got some runway),
Douglas DC-3 (them gear are really slow), Ford Tri-Motor (why cant I
loop that bugger?), Lockheed Vega 5B and 5C (them gear are narrow),
Piper J-3 Cub (could whip the Jenny in a slow race), and Vickers F.B.27A
Vimy (really, really doesnt want to climb).
that most everyone out there familiar with aviations past has their own
opinion as to which aircraft should included in the representative
sample of the most significant aircraft of all time. And this argument
could go on for a long time, as I imagine it did when the Microsoft
staff was kicking around the idea of including historical aircraft.
Since Im writing this here review allow me to put my two cents in: If
youre going to include race aircraft wheres the Gee Bee R-1, the
Hughes H-1, the Travel Air Mystery Ship, or any of the Schneider Cup
racers. I would like to have seen some of my favorite aircraft like the
Beechcraft Staggerwing (a luxury cabin biplane that also happened to be
a very accomplished racer), the Cessna 195, and how about the Curtiss
Robin, both civilian aircraft that would do excellently at representing
their respective eras of general aviation? Anyway, Im sure you have
your own feelings about this as well.
the historical aircraft, FS2K4s contemporary aircraft include the
Beechcraft Barron 58 and King Air 350, Boeing 737-400, 747-400 and
777-400, Bombardier Learjet 45, Cessna C172SP, C182S Skylane, C208
Caravan Amphibian and C208 B Grand Caravan, Extra 300S, Mooney Bravo,
Schweizer 2-32 Sailplane, and, the Bell 206B JetRanger and Robinson R22
Beta II helicopters. I have still yet to see a good taildragger included
in the game (the Extra doesnt really count as its as much as a rocket
as anything). Come on guys, hook me up here, not all of us like to fly
those planes you certainly need somewhere to go. And there are over
24,000 airports included with FS2K4. Im still enamored with the ability
to fly all of the little airstrips that Im familiar with. Since
Microsoft brought about this feature with flight Simulator 2000, I have
simmed into almost every airport that I have flown into in reality, just
to see their resemblances. And, since Idaho has the most active
backcountry flying scene in the world, excluding Alaska, there are a lot
of really cool little strips to fly into, and a lot of them are included
improvements made here is the dynamic weather system, which can be
updated live via the Web to "mirror" your locales current weather.
Graphics have also made a noticeable improvement. The areas that Im
familiar with are picking up uncanny resemblances to the real world.
However, something went horribly wrong with the Teton Range in Wyoming.
Anyone who has flown around the Tetons will be sorely disappointed by
their showing here. Oh well, theres bound to be some oversight in a
project of this scale; they cant get everything perfect.
really dig the inclusion of virtual cockpits, which allow you to operate
most of the aircrafts controls within the cockpit screen via the mouse,
as it adds another excellent layer of realism to the flight simulator.
Unfortunately, it can be really difficult to juggle the stick, the
keyboard and now the mouse. The virtual cockpit does relieve the
keyboard of some of its duties but it is still required in the clutch,
and the virtual cockpit does take some time to get used to, however
natural it looks.
has also backed up the FS2K4 package with some excellent supplementary
materials, flight lessons, articles, and assorted applicable stuff.
Without the addition of the historical aircraft is it worth it? In my
opinion, not particularly. However, I have had so much fun, and
encountered so many new challenges flying the historical aircraft that,
overall, I believe the game to be outstanding. MS Flight Simulator 2004:
A Century of Flight is Microsofts best flight offering to date.