Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: Century of Flight

Platform: PC
Rating: 8/10
See also: Simulator Games

Without a doubt Microsoft clearly has outpaced any competition with their flight simulator series and continues to increase the distance with Flight Simulator 2004. Out pacing the competition does have its issues however, as Microsoft must now convince you that their latest release is significantly improved from their last. The good news is that Flight Simulator 2004 offers a number of new features and improvements that brings the experience to a new level while not losing the formula that continues to bring success.

The improvements to Flight Simulator 2004 include expected updates like increases in aircraft, airports, and additions like GPS units. Flights can still be set up to numerous places all over the world in an array of possible craft ranging from helicopters to passenger jets. Also new this year is a wide variety of historic flights such as the Wright Brothers first flight, Charles Lindbergh's "The Sprit of St. Louis" flight, or Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega flight. After flying some of these aircraft, a better feel for the magnitude of these early achievements will also be gained, as you'll see first hand why some of these first flights were lucky to just get off the ground. In addition, all of the different aircraft have that same realistic physics engine that captures the essence of an actual flight specific to each individual aircraft from take-off to landing. Other options like the learning center are also available to teach the finer points of piloting and helping those unfamiliar with flying become accustomed with the different terminology.

The real highlight however is the improvement to the graphics engine. The scenery is improved along with general detail enhancements but the weather system is quite remarkable. You can see weather patterns develop and even fly through thunderstorms that achieve a realism that almost justifies the game by itself. In addition, real-world weather updates are available from the Internet, adding a new dimension to the game.

Although not an action oriented game, Flight Simulator 2004 will still appeal to a broad audience because of the realistic experience it offers. Few games are able to bring this level of detail and accuracy together as Microsoft obviously allows resources to be available to have a high quality product. Unless you have no interest in flying whatsoever, Flight Simulator 2004 will give a unique experience that is worth the price of the game.

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