The flight sim that has all the PC pilots panting is Flight Unlimited. Take this one-player graphical beauty skyward and you'll know what it means to soar like a bird. But don't expect to target enemies or to undertake missions: Flight Unlimited is the aerobatic pilot's flight sim.
In Flight, you get your choice of aerobatic planes, including a glider. Like an armchair barnstormer, your only purpose is to fly stunts of increasing difficulty above breathtakingly beautiful 3D photorealistic terrain. You're rewarded with extraordinary internal and external views, as well as an instant replay of your stunt. Flight has a 3D cockpit with working instruments that adds to the game's realism.
Download Flight Unlimited
Well, OK, Flight Unlimited isn't exactly a game. I mean, you don't get to solve any mysteries, take on any intergalactic conspiracies, dodge flaming rockets, or blow anything up, but it's still cool. Very cool, in fact. "C'mon," I can hear you saying, "it's just a flight simulator. Those are boring at best." Au contraire. Fly it and see. Basically, for anybody who wants a break from the vast crop of -- let's face it -- all-too-often mundane games out there, or who has ever been fascinated with the amazing view of the earth miles below from an airplane window, this is your chance to get an entirely new experience from your computer. This isn't just a flight simulator -- it's pretty damned close to flying. The graphics are superb, photo-realistic images that have been sewn together by Looking Glass Studios so that instead of blocky, polygon, "oh, is that supposed to be a mountain?" graphics, you get, say, Sedona, Arizona, right down to the individual housing developments, rural roads, and dusty landing strips. And you get to buzz around Sedona (or Maine, France, Florida, Germany, California, Glacier, etc. -- all of which are included, plus 3 or 4 more locations) in one of four stunt planes or a sleek soaring glider, all of which behave with excellent accuracy and a wide variation from plane to plane -- one of many features which makes this sim a great value.
Excellent and intuitive ... everything, and I mean everything, is straightforward and usually as easy as a click on an icon or a walk through the virtual flying center that allows you to select from a group of scale model planes to pick your real one, walk over to the chalkboard for a flying lesson, or spin the globe to bring up a map of locales around the world from which you can take off into the wild blue yonder.
Wow. I mean, look at these screenshots! Does this look like your father's flight simulator? See anything blocky? Me neither. Ever. But this also means that it's time for a reality check on your video card capabilities; while Flight Unlimited ran decently even in hi-res, 1024x768 full-screen mode, it did have a noticeable decrease in performance when running with the control panel and side views turned on. Still, in all the screenshots in this review, it ran well enough always to maintain a sense of realism and satisfaction -- largely due to Windows 95's ability to cache video memory. I would definitely recommend doing a gut check on your video capabilities before buying this (or any other flight sim these days), but if you can run it, get Flight Unlimited first (unless, of course you want to enjoy other flying sims or games first -- you'll be spoiled once you take the yoke on one of Flight Unlimited's planes.
Perfect -- from the throaty growl on the Sukoi's engine firing to life to the ghostly sound of the wind running over the ailerons on the glider, the sound in Flight Unlimited did every justice to actually being there.
Inside the plane, outside the plane, watching from the ground as you soar overhead, circling chase camera -- you name it, Flight Unlimited has not only a dozen different viewpoints from which to fly, but a number of realism factors which you can easily set both on the ground and while in flight -- a fantastic touch that allows you to have complete control over your flight at all times. Everything from G-forces to sun glare to wind speed, tensile strength of your plane, etc., can be adjusted. You can even hit the TAB key for a miraculous second chance after plummeting a bit too close to the earth while trying for that third loop at the end of your aerobatic maneuvering. Plus there's a video recorder option that lets you record and edit every flight you take.
486 DX2/66, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, mouse, SVGA video, sound card, 32 MB HD space
Recommended:486 DX4/100 or higher, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, joystick, SVGA video.
Reviewed on: Pentium 75, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, SideWinder Pro, ATI Mach 64, SoundBlaster AWE 32
The folks at Looking Glass have got this one exactly right. If you even think you might be ready to check out the new generation of flight sims, you really owe it to yourself to take a look at Flight Unlimited. But once you look, you'll want to fly, and once you fly, you'll be hooked. Like I said, it's not a game per se, but it is an absolutely first-rate sim -- well conceived, designed, and executed. Score it a 94 -- best of its genre, hands down. If they figure out a way to do the (nearly) impossible and make it fly smoothly at 1024x768, I'd give it a 100.