Microsoft Flight Simulator
Asobo Studio / Xbox Game Studios
Most people don’t realize that there was a forerunner version of the Microsoft Flight Simulator that debuted almost four decades ago. Home computers, at that time, were closer to something you might find in Fred Flintstone’s house, than any of the modern PC beasts you see these days. Therefore, the original Microsoft Flight Simulator looked very…well…primitive.
Today’s version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is an entirely different animal. It was developed by a French studio, Asobo, that utilized highly accurate geographic data that is pulled directly from Bing Maps (Bing is a global cloud computing network). That means you’ll get to see some beautiful sights, such as lofty, snow-capped mountains; rolling foothills; lush, sprawling forests; and of course, many bodies of water—both minor and major.
If you’re the more serious flight-sim type of person, you’ll probably want to step into the hardcore simulation mode. In this mode, each and every flight has to be planned out. That means lots of engine and flight equipment checks; the usual pre-flight taxi rollout to the runway we’ve all experienced in our lives—you get the picture. Heck, even the flights themselves have to be meticulously plotted and planned out, just like in real life. If this sounds a little too granular, don’t worry, the game comes with eight full-on tutorials that introduce you to things such as the basic flight instruments to general flight physics.
If you’re feeling more casual, you can simply jump to the world map (from the game’s start screen) and pick out any location on the map you’d like to see. When you find a favorable spot, you can click on it and presto, you’ll be plopped right down in a plane at that location In this mode, you’ll be assisted with many of the plane’s controls so that you don’t have to worry as much about the minutia; this is more of a chill mode.
Personally, I started out casually since I wanted to see all of the amazing scenery I’ve been hearing about with regards to this sim. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Simply put, this game is jaw-dropping-ly gorgeous, especially if you have a powerful rig and are able to set the game’s graphics to Ultra which renders the visuals in a photorealistic fashion.
Whether I was doing crazy barrel rolls through the city of Paris in a minuscule Savage Cub propeller plane, flying low right over the beautiful Greek island of Crete, or slicing through the air along the phenomenal California coastline, the sights to behold are second to none. For those who feel stifled from current world events, this can be a great way to take a vacation and explore the world from the safety of one’s home.
I have a book by author William Langewiesche, titled: “Inside the Sky: A Meditation on Flight,” that I’ve read three or four times. It’s main book blurb reads: “Now he shares his pilot’s-eye view of flight with those of us who take flight for granted–exploring the inner world of a sky that remains as exotic and revealing as the most foreign destination.
Langewiesche tells us how flight happens–what the pilot sees, thinks, and feels. His description is not merely about speed and conquest. It takes the form of a deliberate climb, leading at low altitude first over a new view of a home, and then higher, into the solitude of the cockpit, through violent storms and ocean nights, and on to unexpected places in the mind.
In Langewiesche’s hands it becomes clear, at the close of this first century of flight, how profoundly our vision has been altered by our liberation from the ground. And we understand how, when we look around, we may find ourselves reflected in the grace and turbulence of a human sky.”
That entry epitomizes the Microsoft Flight Simulator. Amid all of the incredible views and scenery, there’s a certain point where one enters into a Zen-like state of ultra-clarity where you feel truly present and the outside world drops away. The only other title that has come close to this is the outstanding American Truck Simulator, where the long hauls between cities give you time to marvel at the smaller, in-between spaces filled with the beautiful mediocrity of life.
Simply put, the Microsoft Flight Simulator is more than a game—it’s poetry in motion. Pick a departure point and a destination, take off, and behold France’s sublime Southern Coast, the lonely beauty of Siberia, or the lush rain forests of Brazil, it’s all in one package for your to explore to your heart’s delight.
The Microsoft Flight Simulator has some pretty amazing graphics that make its grand flight simulation gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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