Overview crazy game of Flight Simulator
The lull that had lasted more than ten years since the release of the legendary Microsoft Flight Simulator X was suddenly broken in the summer of 2019: a trailer for the new part of the series was shown at E3. A huge fleet of aircraft, all airports in the world, photographically accurate landscapes, realistic controls, dynamic weather changes - in a word, the dream of any fan of flight simulators. However, some of them were suspicious of the fact that the development was entrusted to Friv5Online Games Studio, which had no previous experience in creating crazy games of this scale.
But, as practice shows, experience is not everything. Thanks to cloud computing technologies and satellite maps, the Friv5Online team did something almost unreal: they recreated planet Earth at a 1: 1 scale. Do you want to land a plane on the street next to your home? Or fly to the place of your next trip, which was postponed due to the coronavirus? Everything is at your service.
Another thing is that the casual player will not immediately find what else to do here: MSFS is still a niche project with a fairly high entry threshold and specific gameplay. There is no traditional "career" mode, no plot, no pumping, and all the planes and the map are open from the very beginning. You will have to entertain yourself on your own - and if avid fans of flight sims need only this, then beginners can simply get lost in such a huge sandbox.
Let's figure out together what the new MSFS is ready to offer to different types of players - and whether it was able to adequately continue the Microsoft Flight series.
I must admit that the Friv5Online team tried to do everything possible to make MSFS as comfortable as possible for newcomers. This can be seen already at the first launch of the crazy game, where they offer to select the level of the desired simulation. You can set the setting "I am a real pilot, just do not interfere", or you can specify "help me in everything" - then the control will be facilitated, and the crazy game will give all the necessary prompts during the flight.
There are several modes in the main menu: free flight, tutorial, daily mission and challenges. In training - eight lessons on a Cessna 152 aircraft: from a simple horizontal flight to the first independent journey along visual landmarks between two airfields. The lessons themselves were designed not in the form of a boring tutorial that you want to click faster, but in the form of a dialogue with a player with a little bit of humor.
But, as it seemed to me, this short training may not be enough for beginners who are not at all familiar with flight simulators. How to fly other planes? How to use the sophisticated autopilot? What is the best way to tune the joystick if there is no preset? We'll have to act by typing - or look for explanations on YouTube.
The tests were divided into three categories: normal landing at a beautiful airport, landing with strong winds and landing at one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Depending on the terrain of a particular challenge, a suitable plane is issued for it, and in a short briefing they tell what kind of place it is and why it is considered difficult among pilots - a kind of small excursion.
Then it's up to you. While loading the missions, they show a small schematic tutorial with directions: where to fly and what speed to withstand in order to get on the lane. And although the planes change with each task, you simply do not need to know them thoroughly: the speeds have already been given to you, the controls are like in the tutorial. Just fly, enjoy the beauty and try to get exactly on the runway. Personally, it was not difficult for me to complete many tests and get a good score - albeit not always the first time.
The map in Microsoft Flight Simulator simply amazes with the level of elaboration: mountains, forests and plains, rivers and lakes, countless small villages ... Well, where can we do without large cities filled with cars and sights that are easy to recognize even from the air? And flying over some savannah, you can see wild animals and birds under the belly of the plane. All this became possible thanks to the Microsoft Azure cloud service, which collects data from Bing maps and generates the crazy game landscape using Blackshark.ai algorithms. The accuracy and quality of generation does not raise questions, although sometimes there are minor flaws.
So, some nine-story buildings in my hometown have become three-story buildings, and large buildings are sometimes displayed as mounds. There are problems with structures associated with a drop in water level: hydroelectric power plants, locks and bridges over rivers. Algorithms clearly have difficulty digesting such map elements and do not accurately recreate them - it cannot be done without human intervention.
Of course, the first thing I did was fly over my own city - and although it is not very large, it was transmitted almost without flaws (not counting the above). Found on the map and my house, where I am now writing this review, and my school with a football field, and even a dacha in the village.
All this obeys a precise grid of heights: there are quarries in the form of deep pits on the map, and mountains several kilometers high, through which not every plane can fly. The Himalayas, Alps and Pyrenees look impressive and do seem rocky and inaccessible - at least from a distance. But if you fly up close to them, you risk being disappointed: instead of the expected sharp peaks, there are only rounded hills on their tops. However, this is still a simulator of a pilot, not a climber, so such inaccuracies are hardly a serious reason for nagging.
There are a lot of aircraft in Microsoft Flight Simulator: from small propeller-driven aircraft, which are designed for low flights over short distances, to large airliners that can stay in the air for up to sixteen hours. And, despite such a variety, each plane is adequately designed both visually and in terms of behavior in the air.
Special attention was paid to the cockpits: each switch and device are located exactly where they would be located in a real aircraft, and show all the relevant information. There is a radio for communicating with the dispatcher, an on-board computer for programming the flight, and a weather radar for avoiding thunderstorms.
Large liners lack a fully functional cockpit, and some of the switches are not available, but for planning flights between airports (and liners are actually used only for this) there are more than enough of them. The developers explained the lack of detailed study by the fact that it is simply impossible to spend a lot of time on each specific aircraft. So here we have to wait for future updates: many major aircraft manufacturers promise to release their products in MSFS.
Of course, after the very first takeoff, I asked myself: "What if I crashed an airplane into a building or the ground?" Alas, nothing special will happen: there will be just a black screen with the words "You crashed". This is understandable: many aircraft manufacturing companies have agreed to present their real ships in the simulator, but they probably do not want to see their precious designs turn over or break into a cake because of careless players - this is simply not good for their reputation. Therefore, Friv5Online Studio abandoned the depiction of wrecks: after all, they come to the flight simulator to fly, and Just Cause already exists to enjoy the explosions and destruction .
Free flight mode is set up as simply as possible: choose what you want to fly, where and with what weather. The flight, by the way, does not have to be planned specifically from point A to point B. You can just poke at the airfield or on an empty space, click "I want to take off from here" and start the flight. If you set the starting point at the airport parking lot, the plane will be completely turned off; if on the runway, it is pre-wound and ready for take-off. And if you choose a random place far from the airport, then you will be immediately in the air, and the plane will be under the control of the autopilot until you turn it off.
Thanks to the fact that the map is generated from photographs, the simulator for the first time has all the runways of the world: from unpaved areas somewhere in the fields of our immense to clean runways at major airports. And if the algorithm, for some reason, did not recognize the crumpled grass of the flying club as a strip, then it will still be visible on the ground, and it will be possible to sit on it - unless the crazy game will offer you a special mark that this is a landing point.
The problem is that there are more than 45 thousand airports in the world, and it is simply impossible to handle each of them by hand, and the algorithm sometimes makes mistakes. For example, on my first flight from the Samara airport Kurumoch (UWWW), the working lane was marked as closed, and closed - on the contrary, as functioning. It is here that ordinary players around the world come into the business of finalizing the project: I have already sent a report to the developers about this error.
Another satellite-based feature of MSFS is weather. Clouds, rain, snowfalls and rainbows are not just textures for the surrounding world, but a set of real objects that are generated on the map. For example, if you flew under a cloud from which it is raining, then because of the water there really will be no visibility under it. As soon as you fly out from under the cloud, the rain will stop - but you can still observe it from the side. This technology of procedural precipitation generation is used for the first time in a crazy game of this genre.
Air flows also interact with terrestrial objects (mountains, depressions and buildings) according to rules close to real physics, so turbulence over megacities or mountain ranges is not uncommon. And with a strong wind, huge waves appear on the surface of the water.
In one test, I caught a very strong downdraft just in front of the runway, which nearly smashed my plane into the ground. Full throttle, nose to yourself - and go around! And the first flight through a harmless cloud turned C172 into an ice. I had to go down a bit to melt the ice on the wings and glass ...
Real weather conditions are downloaded from the servers of the Swiss meteorological service Meteoblue, and they can be tracked in advance on the map: clouds, cyclones, and precipitation with wind are immediately visible there. In an interview , Meteoblue employees noted that they themselves were amazed at the amount of their data that they managed to recreate in the simulator. For years, they saw the fruits of their labors only in the form of diagrams and computer animations - and now they have the opportunity to see the weather in 3D.
If you fly low and slowly, all navigation is about finding visual cues on the ground, checking them against the navigator's log and counting the time between checkpoints. Although it is not necessary to repeat all these procedures every time, you can use modern technologies: plot a route in the on-board computer, turn on the autopilot and enjoy the scenery. And the magazine? Let it fill itself!
But the larger your plane, the faster it flies and the higher you need to climb in order to fly from point A to point B in the shortest time. Therefore, large airliners fly mainly by instruments, and pilots do not look for landmarks on the ground: they are often simply hidden under a layer of clouds. Instead, navigation points, stations and routes are used for flight, and each airport has aerial entry and exit procedures.
All this data is stored in a navigation database that comes with the crazy game and is updated with data from Navblue, a company that makes software for real aviation. When planning a flight, you choose the starting and ending airports, set the route criteria, departure and approach patterns, flight altitude in accordance with your aircraft. After that, the route is automatically loaded into your on-board computer - it's that simple!
Having mastered Garminka once, you will love her forever.
It is difficult to imagine a flight simulator without online: hovering over the planet alone without any visible goal can quickly get bored. Therefore, MSFS has built-in multiplayer where you can meet friends or random players - or even create a separate lobby with them to fly together at some airport. Moreover, the lobby master adjusts the time of day and weather for all other participants - and they, for example, compete in who can land the plane more accurately.
There are even dedicated networks for virtual pilots. VATSIM and IVAO allow you to completely immerse yourself in the atmosphere of flight: register, install a client, connect - and you can take off. True, in order to join such a community and play by its rules, you will need to independently study the rules of the network, learn how to fill out a real flight plan, and learn how to communicate with the dispatcher using special terminology and jargon. It will take a lot of time to figure this out.
But such flights take the simulator to a completely different level: they force you to study more material about your plane and read about the procedures used in real aviation. And later there will be an opportunity to try yourself in the role of a dispatcher - and this can drag you into the world of flight simulators for many years.
There is no doubt about whether Microsoft Flight Simulator was able to adequately continue the famous series: many of the technologies used in MSFS are the first time we meet in crazy games, and from a technological point of view, this is a clear breakthrough. The strongest side of the new simulator is its huge potential for development and change. The local world will not remain the same as it was on release, but will be constantly updated thanks to satellite maps and player improvements. Over time, new aircraft and helicopters will begin to appear - both from "native" developers and from third-party manufacturers. Inevitably, new challenges, tours and in-depth training will appear; multiplayer air traffic will continue with themed events and live dispatchers online.
But it is much more difficult to form an unequivocal opinion about whether MSFS is ultimately needed by someone other than fans of the genre. There is no need to worry about the latter: they will probably be stuck in Microsoft Flight Simulator for many years - there would only be enough money for an extended edition and add-ons. As for the newcomers... The Friv5Online team clearly tried to lower the entry threshold, but their creation is still a purebred flight simulator with all its narrow specifics. In order to really have fun in such a crazy game, you need not only to go through the training mode, but also to understand at least some real aviation.
In addition, this genre requires a serious investment of time and money: planes, airports, additional peripherals (pedals, steering wheels, VR glasses) - all this is not cheap and not available to everyone, and the crazy game itself will cost a lot of people. So if after reading this text you are not fired up with an obsession about a new hobby, but are just slightly interested, then it is better to wait for discounts or use Xbox Game Pass.
Good luck with this challenging genre - and we'll meet you in the sky!
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