|Release Date||August 18th, 2020|
**A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review purposes**
Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of the longest-running video game series around with the first game coming out in 1982. It’s been 14 years since Flight Simulator X came out in 2006 and players have been hotly anticipating the latest game in the series. I didn’t really understand the hype behind this game having never played a game in this series before. It didn’t take long for me to understand that technology has advanced so much since that last release that this game offers some truly unique gameplay that you won’t see in any other game.
Asobo Studio really brought our planet to life in Microsoft Flight Simulator. The combination of real-world data from Bing satellite imagery and Azure cloud computing brings you into planet Earth unlike ever before. I had dreamed of a game that would put me into the real world when I was young. Some games came close like Grand Theft Auto re-imagining New York or Miami but it was nothing like this. Flying around your hometown and seeing all the landmarks that you know so well in a little Cessna is unlike anything you can experience anywhere else unless you are a pilot yourself. Even then, you can’t travel around the world and see everything you want to see as you can here.
The base version of Microsoft Flight Simulator features 20 planes and 30 hand-crafted airports. There are plenty of different types of planes to choose from and I found it particularly fun to fly the Airbus even though it was a bit more difficult to maneuver than some of the smaller aircraft. The rest of the 37,000 plus airports in the world are still in the game and they seem to look like their real-life counterparts from the ones I’ve visited. My hometown airport was perfectly recreated in all it’s basic glory. It’s equally as amazing to visit a hand-crafted one like JFK in New York that feels so alive.
As bad as I am at actually trying to start the engines on the plane and play with all the settings, I was absolutely blown away at how every knob and instrument works exactly as it should right down to the Garmin instruments that work exactly as they would in a real plane. I’ve seen so many games where the screen will just be a display and have a static picture. That doesn’t happen here, everything has a purpose and it takes a long time to figure out what everything does and in what order to do it. Luckily, there are plenty of assists that you can use if you just want to fly around and sightsee.
If you do want to learn more about the ins and outs of flying, there is a flight school featuring the Cessna 172. This helps teach the terminology and how to control the plane. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played this series before (like me). I only wish that they could have added flight school in some of the other planes because there is a vast difference between a 747 and a Cessna. There are also landing challenges if you want something to work at after your finished flight school.
I love the fact that you can fly in real-time conditions with live air traffic. You’re not going to see every plane in the sky but the game does a good job mimicking what’s going on in the airspace around you for the most part. It was cool to play the game at 3am and feel like I was flying below the moonlight in the rain in real-time. It makes it feel like you’re actually inside the plane. Of course, you can also toggle different weather and time of day if you prefer to do that as well. I really enjoyed flying through my hometown of Windsor along the Detroit River as the sun was setting and the moon was just coming out with the rays bouncing off the water. It looked incredible. I tried not to get too close to some of these landmarks because they can be a pretty low resolution in many areas but this is a game to be played from 10,000 feet or above.
Some of the issues I ran into with Microsoft Flight Simulator had to do with the initial install. The client opens in its own window as a 90s game would have which is weird to see in this day and age. The screen then starts playing music and it had to download 92GB of additional data. This is to be expected with everything going on in this game but I was annoyed that the client would just disappear randomly. I left the client for 10 minutes, went back and it was gone. Put it back up, was downloading, left again, came back, and it happened again. The third time was the charm and it downloaded fairly quickly for such a large file, but I was annoyed. If I had left it overnight, I would have been disappointed to know that it just didn’t download.
The other issue that I had with the game had to be with the jitters here and there and the texture pop-in that would happen randomly. I would like to say that I’m not knocking the game because of this. The game is constantly streaming and loading data and it does a really good job with it, it’s just something to be aware of. I was using an SSD and even increased the cache size to 16GB from the default 8GB and it still had its issues here and there. It wasn’t constant or anything but it was noticeable when going into areas with a lot of structures and this was on a 12-core Ryzen 3900x, 2080ti build with 32GB of memory.
I don’t feel like I need to say much more about Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is less of a game and more of an experience and I think this review is going to reflect that. I think everyone should at least fly around a little bit on here and just take in all the scenery. It’s truly incredible to be able to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice with no airspace restrictions or worrying about borders. It’s flying for the sake of flying and that’s exactly what this game is supposed to be.
|Incredible to see the real-world around you||Long load times/Odd installation process|
|Live local flight, weather, traffic data||Performance issues|
|Customize it to be as in-depth or simple as you want it to be|