The new flight simulator from Microsoft is free to play with extra content to buy in game
Three years after development of Microsoft Flight Simulator was stopped, Microsoft Flight has been released. The change of name is significant as this is not the serious simulator of old but a more accesible game that is also free to play.
The download here is simply an app to download the full game. This download weighs in at 1,485MB so it could take a while to download. You will also need a Microsoft Live account. That's not really a problem as there is no cost to sign up.
There is just a single aircraft available when the game starts, the Icon A5. It is a small amphibious two-seater that can land on water or on a runway. It is quite slow so it's a good starter aircraft but advanced pilots may find it a little limiting. Online registration on Games for Windows Live gives access to a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 biplane.
Extra aircraft must be bought from the Marketplace. There were only two available when we wrote this review, the Maule M-7-260C, a short take off and landing capable monoplane, and the P-51 Mustang fighter from World War Two.
Starting Flight for the first time gives the option of running through some tutorial lessons. They offer a good introduction to flight controls and are well made.
Once the basics are covered there are also missions to attempt. There are even acheivements in Free Flight as there are hidden trophies called Aerocaches to be be found. Successful achievements earn experience points that count towards your pilots' level.
The Heads-Up Display that appears onscreen is well designed and includes all the important information such as height and speed. A wind indicator is also useful and a warning appears when the aircraft gets too slow and is about to stall.
The dropping of the 'simulator' from the name shows the different focus. This is a game, which is good if you find the recent detailed flight simulators such as A-10C or Cliffs of Dover too challenging to learn. Those more serious about flight may find this limiting quite quickly, in which case we'd recommend picking up a copy of Flight Simulator X. It's still available and we hope that it continues to be so.
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An accessible flight game but serious simulation enthusiasts are likely to be disappointed
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