Microsoft Flight: A perfect landing or a grounded take off?
So recently I found myself presented with a conundrum, I had to decide between buying a flight joystick or a flight simulator game, as I only had enough money for one. Even knowing one was essentially worthless without the other (at least for me seeing as I tend not to get on very well with keyboard operated games!) I opted for the joystick. And it was lucky I did because soon after while browsing through the “Free to Play” section of Steam I discovered Microsoft Flight. For those of you who don’t know what Microsoft Flight, it is a flight simulator developed by Microsoft (without wanting to state the obvious!) officially released on the 29th of February 2012. Seeing as I had nothing to lose, I downloaded the game. So how did it fare?
If you want the answer for the question at the op, then its neither. I hate to sound ungrateful considering it's free, but I have to measure it against other flight simulator games on the market and when comparing duration, realism and variety, the game unfortunately falls short. However this is not to declare (pun intended!) that the game is poor. I thought it was a fun and rewarding experience which actually has a lot going for it. Like, for example, a vivid and colorful landscape and graphics which really raise the bar for other Steam releases, free to play or not. Also the planes look extremely good and the crazy attention to small details made them look like the real deal. All of these combined really suck you into this "universe" making you want to experience more of it, explore the island and see the game through to completion. In fact if I had to rate the game on visuals and presentation alone it would be an easy 9!
My initial impression I got as soon as I booted up the game was that everything about it screamed "relaxed casual gaming experience". From the soft guitar tune on the start up screen to the sunny weather on the last stage (by the way the music and sound effects actually took me by surprise and I found myself really enjoying the music also if I had to say it was reminiscent of any video game music it would be Endless Ocean for the Nintendo Wii) . This can be a positive for some people like me who craved for a casual introduction into the world of flight simulator games or a very negative aspect of the game for those who wanted something in greater depth. You will have to come to your own conclusions on that one (but its free so why not try it anyway!). All I can say is if you like casual gaming you will get on very well with this title. However I must say that I struggled a bit with the controls using the joystick. As for the keyboard controls, they work but there's no joy whatsoever, so I would definitely recommend using a joystick.
Now let's talk about the variety of planes in the game. If you are looking forward to be behind the control panel of a Boeing 747, then you are in for a disappointment. I too was very disappointed to find that this game featured only small planes. No big planes, no commercial airliners, nothing. And that can only be counted as a negative towards the game, even if it is a free. Even if the number of small planes is vast, that doesn't really affect the lasting appeal of the game. 10 missions and you are done, that's the whole game. But then again, it's free!
The gameplay is its biggest attribute. The gameplay or the simulation was simple yet made operating the planes easy to understand and the missions assigned were very clear cut as well as enjoyable. It didn’t consist entirely of flights from point A to point B, it actually included mini games that tested your pilot abilities which also allowed you to improve your rank by gaining experience points and unlocking achievements (I do have to say it is very rewarding to perform a manoeuvre that the game deems worthy of extra experience points) .The core of the game contains 10 missions and I do not have a bad word to say about them, I thought the difficulty settings were just right (at least for me, a beginner) and the progressions of the tasks you must perform are well thought out and allow you to process a lot of information throughout the game in small manageable blocks. This allows you to progress as a pilot. I thought it was a great “pick up and play” game because there is no deep involving story line or anything like that. You just turn it on and your away performing any task whether it be collect 25 gold rings or perform a landing with no runway! Long story short I found the missions to be well thought out, entertaining and most importantly a great deal of fun!
Now I should elaborate on the fact that this is my first experience of a flight simulator game and thus I cannot speak for the die hard fans of the genre, but I am assuming that it wasn’t challenging nor was it intensive enough to appeal to hard core flight game fans. I am assuming this because I found most of the game to be fairly easy to moderately difficult therefore I digress that it must have felt like you could have played the game with one hand (what you do with the other is your business!).
And as I’m getting to the end of this review I usually ask the question: Is it worth the money? But in this circumstance the question is irrelevant because the game is free! Try the game even is you don’t think its your thing. You never know, you might surprise yourself.
Having played the game I can safely declare that the game served its purpose (at least its ulterior motive that I’m sure the crafty developers at Microsoft planned). It left me hungry for a more in depth flight experience via their add-ons available via steam. So I guess now I have to break the bank on my next payday!
To really experience the game don’t be afraid to break the bank!
Bottom line: Microsoft Flight is a great introduction into the world of flight simulator games. It will leave you hungry for more. A fun and rewarding experience which lets itself down by only having 10 measly missions and not enough variety in the planes that can be operated. However considering it free all my complaints fade into insignificance.
Microsoft Flight was reviewed on a PC using the free digital copy on Steam. Microsoft Flight is now available for free on Steam.