Microsoft Flight (Free-to-Play) PC Review
Peter Donnell / 5 years ago
I’m not really the biggest fan of flight sims, yet when ever one comes my way I can’t help my self from tinkering with them, the latest incarnation of the famous Microsoft branded flight sims comes in the form of Flight, a free-to-play game which allows you to take to the sky for the sum price of nothing, to some extent at least, but I’ll talk more about that in a moment. Microsoft has been putting out flight simulators since the 80′s with so many incarnations over the years to count, the now discontinued hardcore simulator they used to make had so many expansion packs, updates, user generated content, mods and plenty more things I’m sure, but this is more back to basics and is clearly aimed at a much wider audience in terms of content and playability.
The first thing I noticed about Flight was how accessable the game was, finding my way through the menus, various setup options and content available was much easier and a lot less daunting than previous flight simulators, within a minute of booting the game I had my Xbox 360 controller hooked into my pc and was flying my first lesson.
Your spoilt for choice when it comes to controller set-ups, with quick and easy support for a 360 Controller, Keyboard/Mouse, Flight stick, or more serious flight sim equipment if you own it, I did try my old flight stick with the game and it worked great, but I’ll stick with the 360 controller for this, that way I can sit on the couch and play on the big screen.
The instructor in this game is superb, slowly guiding me through the various steps of my missions and lessons, within the first 10 minutes of gameplay I was doing fly-bys of a cruise ship for some tourists, taking off, landing and even a wonderfully successful water landing with a couple of gentle compliments from the instructor.
While the game does have a free play mode, were you can pick an aircraft, take to the skies and do what the heck you like, it does also offer challenges and missions, upon entering these you are given small tasks to complete, such as go from A to B or fly through hoops, all sounds a little dull, but as far as what exactly can be done in a plane it’s more than enough to keep you entertained. The game does however score you on your abilities, meaning you can level up your overall rank as a pilot by performing a tidy landing, being quick, hitting all your objectives and even bonus points for showing off, which is great, but trying to earn too many bonuses also resulted in a lot of crashes.
Graphics are decent enough, although some of the textures on things like runways do occasionally look like garbage, but the odd fuzzy texture has always been fairly common place in games, when your up in the air everything looks just fine. The only problem I did notice is you do feel rather lonely, while there is a play with friends option, I didn’t see any other traffic in the sky, so it seemed a little odd having all these airports just for one tourist plane.
There are only a couple planes on offer at the start, a fairly simple yet manageable one prop job, the does little to excite but is very easy to fly and much faster stunt plane that makes for some good barrelrolls, but any other planes have to be purchaced as DLC.
You have a small Hawaiian island to poke around in the core game, while this is enough for someone like me to pick up and have a quick loop the loop plane crash, it’s not really that big a place for a flight sim, again you can purchace DLC to get the full set of Islands, but while Microsoft’s marketing department harps on about realism and scenery, it’s often a bit dull looking and I’m pretty sure previous games in the series have looked better.
The DLC on offer obviously does add more missions, planes and islands to the game, but it’s really expensive for the little it provides, with signs that there will a lot of small DLC packs with slightly inflated prices for this title that, I don’t think that formula is going to go away any time soon either, which seems a little at odds when they have put more emphasis on this being more a game than a simulator.
A lot of the most successful F2P games offer a fair amount of content for free, with many micro transactions for short term perks, rental of content and customisation options, then a premium pack for discounts and a bundle of content on a month to month basis. With Flight your going to have to be pretty serious about the game to fork out any extra cash in my opinion.
This really can’t be compared to the Microsoft Flight Simulator heritage, gone is the hardcore simulation and this is more about the pleasure of flying, for a free game it’s worth a Sunday afternoon of tinkering and if by the end of the content, which can be done in 4-6 hours if you put your mind to it, that include going back and getting some higher scores, if you then feel you want more, then at least there is the DLC option, it’s still cheaper than if it were bundled as a retail release.
It would be nice if there was more starter content on offer with this game, when compared to other free-to-play games this one does feel a little empty, but it’s difficult to critisise something about it’s content when you don’t have to pay a penny for it.
There may better F2P models out there, but what content there is available is very well presented, tutorials are superb and the game is very enjoyable, I won’t be buying the DLC personally, but had there been more content on offer from the start or even rewarded for progression and a micro transaction option, this game would have our eTeknix Gamers Choice award based on the quality of it’s current content.