Microsoft Flight Review

Fly the much friendlier skies with Microsoft Flight, which is more structured than its simulation-heavy predecessors.

Names in gaming generally don't mean a whole lot. Let's face it, many are cliche, vaguely embarrassing, or some incomprehensible amalgam of both dreamed up by a focus group. That is not the case when it comes to Microsoft Flight. This revival of the famous flight simulation series that has been dormant for more than half a decade drops the dreaded "S" word from its title in an attempt to draw in those scared off by the rather somber reputation of its exacting forebears. The name change is not just for show, either. The game refreshes what was once a frightening encounter with knobs, dials, and eventually terra firma. Diehard simmers won't like the changes, but Microsoft Flight is a success in its own right. It has converted a demanding simulation into a free, easygoing game where you get to play pilot in sunny Hawaii.

Microsoft Flight may not be as tough as its predecessors, but pulling off a soft landing still isn't exactly easy.

Aside from part of the name and the long association that Microsoft has had with flight sims, there are very few connections between the new game and 2006's Microsoft Flight Simulator X. That game was the last in the venerable series, which made its debut way back in 1982. Whereas the old series focused on the grueling realism of flying, right down to letting you take the helm in a 747 pulling the red-eye out of New York bound for Tokyo, this fresh start feels a lot more like a game, with many changes geared solely to make the experience more accommodating.

The global reach of the earlier franchise has been distilled to the much easier to handle Hawaii, with your tasks focusing on short hops between rural and small-city airports. There are just two planes to fly in the Icon A5 and the familiar Boeing PT-17, which was last seen dusting crops in old movies. Controls are now mouse based, although you can plug in a flight stick if you prefer. And, as noted, the game is absolutely free to download initially via Windows Live, although you soon need to look into the conveniently available downloadable content if you want to get the most out of your flyboy experience.

Most importantly, everything in MS Flight has been given a tight structure. While you can do the "slip the surly bonds of earth" thing and fly around for fun, the majority of the game deals with specific assignments that earn you experience points, achievements, and such goodies as jazzy plane paint schemes. Instead of the fantasy land of MS Flight Sim where you could pretend to be running long hauls for TWA or whatever, here, you're never anything but a freelance rookie pilot doing grunt work. Still, there is something to be said for being led by the hand, especially if this is your first time playing any sort of flight simulator. So after wrapping up the brief but informative tutorial flights, you're set free to take on challenges like flying through successions of rings, landing on ever-smaller runways (including a few barely there patches of asphalt surrounded by jungle), and even taking jobs offered up on the bulletin boards of Hawaiian airports.

Hawaii isn't nearly as stunning here as it is in real life.

There isn't a whole lot of depth here, though. Once you complete the couple of hours needed to wing through the stunt-flying and landing challenges, you're left with taking repetitive jobs at airports. You fly nervous tourists on sightseeing jaunts over volcanoes and waterfalls or run guys over to a neighboring airport for expensive burgers, but that's pretty much it. The jobs recycle over and over, so you fly to the same few locations and listen to the same three or four sets of canned passenger audio. Variety is lacking here, and the Hawaiian scenery is oddly dull. If not for the occasional bit of lava and the ocean off in the distance, you could be winging your way over central Illinois. Most of the landscape consists of nondescript trees and urban wastelands loaded with strip malls.

There isn't much life out there, with no other planes, pedestrians, or cars to be seen. Even crashes are boring. Planes always stay intact, so even the most horrific plunges into volcanoes take place without a satisfying ball of flame. Frame rates are good, at least, which makes the game a solid performer for midrange systems. Don't look for any excitement in the audio, though. While the basic sound effects are realistic and fitting, if a bit muted, you have to listen to the same three or four passengers ad nauseam during sightseeing runs. The sleepy music seems to have been stolen from an elevator ride in hell. You don't expect driving rock music in a game like this, but the developers could have done better than this audio barbiturate.

These 650 pounds of ducks aren't going to deliver themselves!

The tight focus of the game design and those always-available jobs keep you going for four or five hours, however, which is pretty impressive for a freebie. Aerocaches can add to the lighthearted fun and the longevity, too. These floating icons are a lot like their terrestrial geocache cousins in that they can be discovered by happenstance or by digging around for clues to their locations online. They add a scavenger-hunt element to gameplay that can keep you flying for many hours, scouring the landscape in an effort to collect them all. Multiplayer is also available, although there doesn't seem to be much point to it other than to fly around together and chat. Finally, flight-sim newbies can get more time out of the game by experimenting with its sim characteristics. If you shut off crutches like the heads-up display and aspects of the easy-on-you physics that keep you from slamming into skyscrapers, you could be playing gratis for days.

Still, being presented with the same milk runs over and over again eventually wears thin. After finishing that half-dozen hours or so, the game starts pushing you in the direction of the DLC, which at present includes a 1,600-point Hawaiian Adventure campaign that lets you fly over the entire island chain, a 1,200-point Maule M-7-260C Orion plane good for cargo and passenger jobs, and a 640-point P-51 Warbird geared for stunts. If you want to keep playing new stuff, you need to pony up some cash. You need to spend 1,200 points on that Maule Orion at the very least because you need it to fly any of the cargo and passenger jobs, even on the starting island. That's a little pricey for a single plane.

It seems kind of chintzy that you don't even get to do all of the activities on the main island as part of the free game, although you can't fault the progression here from a purely marketing perspective. You get a fair bit of free content initially, and then you get nudged into buying a plane for longer cargo runs (with the likes of cats and monkeys, strangely enough) or passenger trips for things like medical emergencies. Then you might start thinking about how cool it would be to take this ride on over to Maui. More DLC adventure packs are also on the way, including an Alaskan one.

It's possible that you might actually transport dairy on one of these milk runs.

As the old saying goes, the free initial version of Microsoft Flight is here for a good time, not a long time. Serious flight simmers may be turned off by the easygoing nature of everything, along with the game-first approach of the structured missions and stunt-flying challenges. But all gripes aside, Microsoft achieved its goal of making a (somewhat) realistic flyer for everyone. You also get top-quality content here for a freebie, providing a lot of aerial endeavors over the main Hawaiian island before you hit the end of the runway and need to either cool the engine or take off with the DLC.

The Good
Quality, free-to-play flying
Much more user-friendly than its MS Flight Sim predecessors
Missions and challenges give you goals to achieve
The Bad
Abrupt end to free content forces you to shell out cash to play more
Watered-down simulation features make for a shallow flight experience
7
Good
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42 comments
topgun182
topgun182

Microsoft just mailed it in. I bought my first PC because of the original FS1. In fact, I was playing the Sublogic version on Atari. I have had every version since. Once again, some bean counter decides to go the casual route and alienate the hardcore fans. I mean, what can we do? I'll tell you. Keep putting up with FSX and FS9, because I'm not buying a ticket for this flight. Now where is my X-plane?

Jason210
Jason210

The only people who praise this game are either Microsoft shills or those who don't know what a flight simulator is.

msfsx
msfsx

I cant believe all those easy lifers , free game nothing to read nothing to learn just graphics and that is all. But try FSX with accusim aircraft from a2a simulations, put your head down to study and learn e.g what is pitch propeller, what it takes to start a jet engine, what is Central of gravity and how it is effect the flight and so many others things that made MS FS a constant learning and testing library, the reward i got from MS FS is that " I did it, i make it happens almost like real life pilot. I got some real life training last winter for flight and boy how many things i already new because of that MS FS. We the old school FSX gamers or simmers are mostly peoples that we wanted to fly that was our dream but for several reasons it was not possible to accomplish, MS FS kept that dream almost alive  and that is what we miss from the new one, guys is not all about graphics is beyond that. As for expenses, for me ms flight is very very expensive, just compare what you get from FSX with almost the same amount of money on basic installment, unless if you buying only graphics. The ACES team were ACES,and i wish that they will continue giving us the opportunity to live our dream. Those guys i would pay again and again for what they can do , because it takes really big guts to  create the life of a real pilot on to just a cd.

JawDroppin
JawDroppin

Where is the A380, 747-8 ??? The jumbo's are missing - I was hoping it would be out by now some many months after its release, but still nothing!!! FAIL FAIL FAIL!!!

vassagus
vassagus

Gamestop thanks, this is a fair revew, better that the review from IGN.

 

I'm so tired of microsoft's haters (most of them are using windows). At least we have a new generation of flight games. People allways talk about the freaking old flight simulator or xplane. But, i installed both, and graphics are horrible. Airplane inside, horrible, user interface, sucks!!. This game, is amazing, the airplane inside looks amazing, playing with joystick, its so fun, a you feel really free. The game, needs improvement, yes. but, we have to wait. No one, absolutly no one, is making such a great game like this. 

 

Please stop talkin BS about the game, if you don't like it, well don't play it, but making bad reviews, about, will eventually stop the development of the game. 

soulmaril
soulmaril

What kind of an idiot will play this thing for fun. It is not a game but it is not a simulator either.

 

If I am a fun player, obviously I will not spend my time for this complexity. If I am a simulator pilot I will definitely sh!t on it. Besides I wont like to pay money for every virtual cm. just to play more. Pay and play (sounds like some kind of masochist). :S.  Who can be so dumb while there is tons of great games out there for fun play.

 

Hahaa... Why to waste time and money for nothing. Go play Hawk or something else and have fun.

 

I really courious about whose idea was to destroy MS-FS for making this and call it a new business model. How did he/she come to this conlusion as if this will be a better business. What where they thinking!

 

Being a big company is something, ignoring the consumers is another. Well done microsoft. If you have this potential for all other products you are marketing then It is no surprise while majorities turned to OS X.

Jason210
Jason210

I get sick of hearing people saying "It's a fun, game, it's not meant to be a simulator so quit moaning". That would be valid criticism IF Microsoft were still producing the original Flight Simulator series, that ended with FSX. But they are not - they stopped producing and released this dumbed down piece of junk instead. So what if it's free? Horse manure is free. It doesn't mean that I want 5 tons of horse manure dumped on my front garden does it?

 

Microsoft Flight is a big fail, despite what Gamespot or anyone else says, and the end of the MSFS series was a huge blow to many hobbyists all over the world, as well as the 3rd part business that provided so many excellent add-ons for that series.

 

 

XxgunsxX
XxgunsxX

I agreed To many gamers or fans of microsoft fight games simulators this one and a pure fking fail don't get me wrong it's good to kill time but I want the old simulators i want to flight any where in the entire world any airport just like they did on flight simulator x don't know what happen to Microsoft they fail n bad I don't like free games cus free= fail

darrenecm
darrenecm

Consider the effort, time and money spent during development of a game. Your average AAA game costs (here in the UK at least) about £39-45 for the 4+ years of development it probably took to create it. Now look at the DCL prices for the various items available at launch for Microsoft Flight. If you buy all the aircraft addons and the Hawaii expansion pack you spent ~ £35, Fairly close to the AAA price tag. Now does anyone seriously think you have a product whose quality and value for money is fairly close to a AAA game once all the DLC ios installed? I certainly don't think so. I don't mind the free-to-play model for Microsoft Flight but the developers and publisher need to make sure that if I buy £40 worth of DLC, the resultant quality and gameplay experience I end up with once all the DLC is installed is very close to what I'd get if the game had released under the normal pricing model for a title. The aircraft DLC for this game should be available at a fraction of the current prices (I'd say less than £1) given what they add to the game. Microsoft Flight Simulator shipped with a huge world, and lots and lots of aircraft at around £39.99 and yet with all the DLC installed for Microsoft Flight, you end up with comparatively little. Come on Microsoft (and all other free-to-play publishers), we're not stupid. Rethink your DLC pricing and stop nickle and dimeing everyone with poor value for money, peicemeal content.

bugside
bugside

What I used to love about Flight Simulator was to pick a monument somewhere in the world, take of from the nearest airport and go visit. Or fly over my house with a 747. Or land a hellicopter next to the Statue of Liberty. Or fly under the Eiffel Tower. Don't care how good they made them islands, if it is restricted to a couple of islands how much fun can you have?

BrassBullet
BrassBullet

If I want mouse "flight" I'll fire up Microsoft's own Freelancer, at least that has a game attached. Generally I'm fine with the DCS simulations being offered by Eagle Dynamics, or FSX if I want something civil. If I want something free, I use Orbiter.

sbdb
sbdb

@CUDGEdave Don't tell people what they are supposed to like. Just because you think it's a fun game, doesn't mean that you have all the answers. "Who cares it's free" OMG, seriously...how gullible can one be. Hasn't mommy taught you that nothing in life is free. "Free" games like this are made to be boring....unless you buy more stuff. Or do you really think that a lot of expensive developers sat down to say: "Let;s make a game for free, since I have nothing better to do".

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

What moaners! Its a fun game and NO it's not a real sim(I have Xplane 10 and man it's good) Who cares it's free,quit whining.

Scoopser
Scoopser

[continued] It's just a few things that make the "starter pack" feel a bit too "starter" for my taste, but I have no doubt MS will unleash lots more of the potential "smouldering" under the surface of the current state of the game.

Scoopser
Scoopser

@Snaptrap My point exactly; that's why I said "as of now". Even though it takes time to build/rebuild a new game engine, build up new mechanics based on a completely different business model, it is my personal opinion that they could have implemented a few more mechanics available at launch, since the underlying core, as you point out, is already there. For instance, they could have enabled the autopilot feature in the Maule; it's one of the few instruments they've actually provided graphically, but that you can't interact with, which sort of interrupts my immersion in the game. (Yes, I'm aware FSX has lots of instruments and buttons you can't interact with, but it's built on a whole different business approach, and therefore cannot be compared directly with Flight.) That being said, I think some aspects of the business model is a great approach to the market, providing a free "starter pack" to get you interested and not overloading potential newcomers with advanced technical features and so on, frightening them. Adding these things later on by DLC's or even free updates is a great way to gradually introduce more advanced flight mechanics for the gamers.It also enables a more streamlined and focused development process for the development team which of course can lead to better refined and quality products/updates.

dastardlymutley
dastardlymutley

Great fun that this game is, that is exactly what it is, a game, NOT a simulation. Should MS still be developing the original Flight Simulator series, I could easily accept this as an FSX offshoot aimed more at the casual audience. I can't see the longevity of this series going more than 6 months

mvaiks
mvaiks

I've been playing MS Flight Simulators since the time they were available on cassette tapes from Microsoft for the Apple II. From what I seen, the franchise is pretty much dead to me. The realistic simulation was the hook that keep me playing.

skipper847
skipper847

Where are the 737, 747 etc. Where is ATC. Where is the world. 1.0. Worst game ever even though its free its still very poor.

darth_3pio
darth_3pio

I've been playing MSFS since 2004: A Century of Flight. Jumped at FSX for the DirectX 10 support, and yet you'd think that my history with the franchise would make me despise Flight. However I've been enjoying the heck out it, the thing is, I don't just play Flight Simulator, for if I did I may just be that little bit annoyed. With a large games collection spanning a wide number of genres I fit right into the Microsoft Flight target audience.

Dasim64
Dasim64

I find it hard to believe they're still making these things. I bought one of the earlier versions a few years back and it was boring as hell. This is definitely geared towards a very niche crowd and that never equates to big sales. I guess it's good for those who like this sort of stuff but I have a hard time believing they can make much of a profit from it.

duhbomb
duhbomb

If i had paid for it , I would be looking for the receipt ! ***thoroughly disgusted *** Its not a simulator at all , just an arcade game......(w/out guns)

mutley89
mutley89

I played the closed beta with the extra content and it did nothing for me. At the moment it's lacking airliners which is my main interest and the severe lack of terrain outside of hawaii is another huge drawback. It's a shame because it runs really well. If they had this engine running flight simulator X they would have a perfect flight sim. As it stands i'll stick with X.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@jonaslauvlid Besides Pilot Wings, there's not many games that it compares to. Unfortunately PW was not used as a comparison model. Also with this game being online, it can easily be updated to feature advanced simulation controls. They put a lot of work into the core of this game so I imagine they were thinking to the future.

MasterTheHero
MasterTheHero

Wow, thought this was going to be a serious sim to replace X with better performance and graphics, guess I was wrong.

Scoopser
Scoopser

@Snaptrap Yes, Flight was never intended, at least as of now, to be a real simulating experience, so comparing it to e.g. FSX wouldn't be quite fair as you point out. However I still think you should, in some ways, compare it in some degree to similar games to get a perspective on what you get, like one does with other game genres. I.e. it's hard not to keep in mind what Modern Warfare 3 has to offer when reviewing Battlefield 3 or vice versa (yes, a bit shallow comparison, but it's just to point out what I'm saying). And in that perspective I personally have to somewhat agree with GS saying it's a bit shallow; it feels a bit stripped.

Nagash_thegod
Nagash_thegod

I've really been enjoying this. Bought the Maule too with some free MS Points I had. Completely agree with the review, but 14h in over the last couple of weeks and I think it's worth the 10GBP or so it's cost me. It's not a fantastic game, but it's enjoyable, runs well on my med-spec laptop, and has a lot more longevity than a lot of indie and XBLA titles out there.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@Kevin-V They didn't intend for it to be a hard core simulation. Because it's online, they had to make it more friendly to casual players. Going into the review with the thought of comparing it to SFX is ludicrous. This is Microsoft Flight, not Microsoft Flight Simulator 2012.

KillerJuan77
KillerJuan77

I have, excuse for me liking it's fairly accessible gameplay which will allow people to easily start with flight sims (They'll start doing simple stuff to later play more challenging missions with all the sim features like advanced physics, wind, etc.), it's many challenges, it's great presentation and the many ways to play the game without even requiring a joystick (I use a Logitech Joystick which worked perfectly with the game but even the mouse control is solid). Unlike many people I don't really care about how "hardcore" a game is if it works well for every type of audience (Both the experienced and the newcomers) and I think it's a great way to start with flight simulators, especially if you can't run FSX (Even now the game is insanely demanding).

Sorciere_basic
Sorciere_basic

This should have been on 3DS and been called "Microsoft Pilot Wings" RIP Flight Simulator.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@Snaptrap -- @KillerJuan77 -- Compared to previous MS Flight Sims, there is very little hardcore about MS Flight. I presume you have plaid previous MS flight sims? In any case, we have a separate review of the Hawaii Adventure Pack.

Tixylixx
Tixylixx

Eurgh this game has been so dumbed down, why would anyone play it over FSX with mods?

KillerJuan77
KillerJuan77

@Snaptrap Exactly, the game is as hardcore as you want it to be, specially with the paid content.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

Gamespot must've played the poor man's edition.

Jason210
Jason210

@topgun182 

This is all history isn't it though? The good news is that Microsoft is no longer the powerhouse it once was and by attempting to control the games market, it is only hurting itself.

Also there is Prepra3D, which is a Flight Simulator, although it's not made for entertainment purposes, it can be considered FS11.

Jason210
Jason210

 @msfsxI wasn't just for people who were unable to accomplish a dream of flying in reality, it was also educational,  a way of learning about a technology and history. You mentioned A2A aircraft. I have many of those. They give you an excellent insight into the technology of the era. You can say the same thing about Rail Simulator and Silent Hunter series.

 

What pisses me off is that the market is flooded with dumb games but there's very little for the discerning gamer.

 

MCPC1337
MCPC1337

 @JawDroppin Microsft just wanted to do General Aviation, unlike the previous Flight Simulator series which had a little bit of everything.

 

Flight was always meant to be a single prop GA "game"

Jason210
Jason210

There's more to a simulator than pretty graphics. I don't mind if Microsoft want to bring out a simplified flying game like this, but people are upset because the original Flight Simulator series ended with FSX - and this is its heir. If there were an FX11, as well as Flight, then I don't think there would be so much negative criticism.

Jason210
Jason210

@topgun182 @Jason210 

"A flight"  is what I do when I go on holiday... :-)

Microsoft Flight was a failed attempt by Microsoft to create a dumbed down version of their earlier Flight Simulator that they could sell piecemeal.

Its total and utter failure is just further evidence of Microsoft's stupidity and inability to understand its customers - which was again exemplified with the release of Windows 8.

MCPC1337
MCPC1337

 @Jason210 People are/were upset with flight specifically because Flight suited an excessively narrow niche and failed to attract the sought after "casual gamer"

 

MSFS 1-10 were always profit makers because it was boundless, simmers the world over were satiated with geographic desires courtesy of a simulated globe. Not an island, not 2 US states, but the whole wide world.

 

MSFS also appealed to a far broader aviation demographic, General Aviation, Commercial, and Helicopter by including a sample of everything and encouraged third party development to fulfill every armchair pilot's dream..

 

Flight made absolutely no sense from a business standpoint, ACES always paid for itself and put more back into Microsoft's wallet, but Microsoft closed down ACES citing financial reasons (guess too much money in the company's coffers was the problem.) So with that pesky profit generating studio out of the way Microsoft wanted a new "game" that would take the Flight Sim concept and 'make it better'.

 

In the gambit to make a better Flight "game" Microsoft went with the "Playstation Strategem" (pull desired features and only provide a minimum) and the result was the free to play MS Flight which made the FSX DEMO look like Game of the Year.

Jason210
Jason210

Very well put. There seems to be only three options available at the moment. (1)Continue struggling with FSX; (2)Try X-plane; (3)Try Prepare 3D.

 

So far I have continued to use FSX. X-plane is still not really up to scratch yet, and I believe there may be a fundamental problem with it as it's written in C of all programs, which is a procedural language.

 

The only really possible way forward seems to be through Prepare 3D, but the license conditions have so far put me off.

Microsoft Flight More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    "Microsoft Flight" is a flight simulator set to launch twenty-eight years after the debut of "Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0."
    5.1
    Average User RatingOut of 147 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Simulation, Flight
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
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