Microsoft preps Flight Simulator X for takeoff

Tenth installment of aviation approximation franchise scheduled for arrival at retail by the end of the year.

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Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates used his Consumer Electronics Show keynote address tonight to officially unveil the latest addition to the company's long-running Flight Simulator series, Flight Simulator X.

The 10th installment in the series, Flight Simulator X is scheduled to touch down with a holiday 2006 release window courtesy of developer Aces Studio. Microsoft is saying that the game will be fully optimized for its upcoming Vista operation system, and promises that it will "set the standard for technological innovation, incredible graphics, and realism for the genre."

Going beyond simply replicating the physics of flight, Flight Simulator X will also attempt to reproduce some of the distractions real-life pilots must deal with every day. For instance, light glaring off of reflective paint, glass, and chrome will hinder players' visibility.

As in Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight, Flight Simulator X will include a variety of planes from the de Havilland Beaver to the Cessna 172, as well as more than 24,000 airports. Finally, Microsoft has indicated that the game's online experience will be improved, allowing players to enjoy "a connected world."

Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage.

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