Microsoft Flight, the latest in the long running simulator series, is an impressive free to play title full of things to do, that looks great and is suitable for players of all levels.
Take off is easy
Microsoft Flight is easy to play right from the start. The tutorials are excellent and they don't assume you have any experience. Simulator purists might dislike this new casual feel, but realism can be increased whenever you want.
To start with all the activity centers around Hawaii, but more locations and planes will be added over time - some of this will be premium content and some not, but there have been no detailed announcements yet. Every mission you complete earns you experience points, which open up more things to do. If you sign into Microsoft LIVE, you'll get a Microsoft Flight Pilot Profile which displays your achievements
Like Nintendo's PilotWings, Microsoft Flight is a gentle game. For example, your second mission will see you landing your instructor next to a yacht so she can play ukulele at a wedding! This chilled lifestyle feel reminds me of an even more laid back Test Drive Unlimited (which shares Hawaii as its location). Enjoying the scenery and simple flight is essential, and made easier by the attractive island and beautiful skies.
Challenging whatever your level
Increasing the realism and changing the flight conditions in Microsoft Flight can make it significantly more exciting. Darkness, fog, rain or wind make accurate flight more difficult and you can get extra points in many missions by doing acrobatic maneuvers.
In Microsoft Flight's free flight mode, you are limited only by your fuel tanks, but they do take a long time to empty! The two planes included in the beta test are small and easy to fly - we'll have to see what Microsoft studios have in mind as far as jumbo jet flying goes!
Microsoft Flight is the most accessible version flight simulator yet. It looks great and is easy to pick up and play. Whether it can recapture fans of the original series, which was anything but casual, is yet to be seen. Check out the demo for 2007's Flight Simulator X (FSX) for a comparison.