Microsoft Flight for Windows PCs is now available as a free download from the Xbox.com marketplace, offering both experienced flight simulator pilots and first-time fliers the chance to soar over a virtual Hawaii as never before. With its new, super-detailed graphics engine, awesome selection of fun missions and hunts, and planes that handle great everything from mouse-and-keyboard to full-on joystick-and-throttle setups, it’s both a great introduction to flying on the PC and a fun and different experience for veteran sim pilots.
A Quick Test Flight
The main Microsoft Flight download is free, and it gives you a good taste for the game, with the “Big Island” of Hawaii, the Icon A5, and the Boeing Stearman all included at no charge. You can sample the game’s missions, try aerocache hunting, or just explore the island from the air. (And did I mention there’s Gamerscore to be had here?)
If you’re new to flying the Icon A5 is a great introduction. The real-life plane is designed for the new Sport Pilot certification, and it’s super-stable and easy to fly in reality as well as in Flight. It’s amphibious, and can land on a runway or in the water.
Once you sign in to LIVE from the game, you’ll unlock the free Boeing Stearman. This WW2-era biplane is a trainer, so it’s also rather stable and easy to fly, but unlike the Icon, you can actually do aerobatics such as spins in it.
Flight supports multiplayer with up to 16 planes, and it’s a blast to join in with friends, doing canyon runs in the mountains, trying to get on each other’s tails, impromptu air races, and more.
The early missions and challenges train you to fly, land, and do aerobatics, and feature awesome voiceover work. Later, you’ll start doing cargo and passenger runs, with ratings on how happy your passengers are. (Then again, there’s an achievement to be unlocked for scaring enough of them.) A sampling of missions and challenges are included, and a bunch more unlock once you add the Hawaiian Adventure Pack.
Adventures, Planes, and More
While you can get started with Flight for free, there’s some serious fun to be had with the optional add-ons. The Hawaiian Adventure Pack adds the remaining Hawaiian islands, as well as the Vans RV-6A, a speedy, maneuverable little homebuilt plane that’s my favorite in the sim so far. All of the islands look great, but Oahu is particularly impressive, with an amazingly detailed Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and Ford Island, Diamondhead, the Punchbowl, and more. I’ve flown over the island in a glider in the real world, and Flight does a great job of recapturing that experience. (Downtown is detailed enough that, after I landed the Icon on Waikiki Beach, my son grabbed the controls and used the keyboard and mouse to run around downtown, first-person-shooter style. It was oddly quiet without the crowds of tourists, but looked great considering the scenery’s geared for viewing from the air.)
There are also a couple of cool optional planes available. The P-51 Mustang is a warbird version of the classic World War II fighter. It’s a basic model with a beautiful exterior, but no cockpit, so it’s designed for flying from the outside. What it does offer is awesome performance, and I’ve particularly enjoyed its speed when I’ve been trying to locate the Aerocache of the Day quickly before leaving for work in the morning.
The Maule M-7-260C is a higher-priced and more detailed plane, with a detailed virtual cockpit and a full set of instruments. This short-takeoff-and-landing plane is great for getting into those tiny, treelined airfields and exploring the Hawaiian backcountry.
You’ll notice there are “Preview” versions of both planes available as well. These will let you view the exterior models on the ground before buying, and more importantly, they’ll allow the planes to show up if you’re flying in multiplayer and others are flying them, but you don’t own them. (And did I mention there’s an achievement you unlock for downloading a plane, preview or full?)
A Word to Pro PC Pilots
As a seriously hardcore flight simulator fan (I was Simulations Editor for Computer Gaming World magazine back in the 1990s, when new flight sim releases were frequent enough to actually justify that job title!), I was curious about Flight, since the new direction it has taken makes it a very different experience than more recent versions of Flight Simulator.
I’m happy to report that Flight is a blast even for hardcore sim pilots. Though Flight admittedly has a very different scope than Flight Simulator X, it has improvements in many areas that makes it blow away its predecessors as a VFR flight experience. The scenery detail is just amazing, particularly in the Oahu area featured in the Hawaiian Adventure Pack. Flying around Pearl Harbor, the Punchbowl, Waikiki Beach, and other areas I’d actually visited was amazing, as was cruising over the ridges where I went for a real glider flight years back. And the ground detail makes for an unprecedented sense of speed when you’re cruising the treetops.
And even though Flight can be easily controlled with a mouse by first-time pilots, the flight model is really impressive, and it fully supports USB joystick/throttle/rudder pedal setups. With a bit of wind in the skies, you get those little bumps and pushes in the air that you always feel when flying in a real small aircraft, instead of the smooth-as-rails flight of some older sims. And just check out the aerobatic modeling! Take the Stearman up a couple of thousand feet, pull the nose slightly and throttle back until you stall. Then kick hard-left rudder and see how many times you can spin – and if you can recover in time.
Flight definitely has a different scope than more recent editions of Flight Simulator, with an emphasis on visual flight in a smaller, but dramatically more detailed, area. If you still want to fly FSX as well, it’s available for instant download right here on Xbox.com, and both sims coexist just fine on the same PC.
Take Off, Eh?
So what are you waiting for? Go check out Microsoft Flight right now, and then come back and join your fellow virtual pilots in the Comments section below.
Hopefully has some good achievements, creative at least. Would've wished for better graphics but maybe some future mods?
looks great, im gonna check this
Played it, pretty fun.
X-Plane by Laminar Research has had stuff way more advanced than this for years. I used to be a Microsoft Flight Simulator Pro 2002/2004 user until I found X-Plane and I never looked back.
I think they could put in their own plane ideas and possibly get a contract with a major plane manufactuer
they should bring back the airports and planes from flight simulator x and put it in microsoft flight.
This depressed me a little bit, I thought they finally made a decent flight sim for xbox!
Fun game so far
Turn off the in-game assists and use the Stearman for a closer simulation experience. You can manually set the levers and switches in the Stearman. I think too many people are just using the Icon with all assists turned on then just *** about the game.
i love this game !!!!!!!!
cant wait to try it out :D
how can i make my account online it was offline i don't why
Track IR!! Please why doesn't it have it? I know Beta testers who said that MS Flight Devs have the SDK, Natural Point has said they will support the product. I already Bought the Islands but I'm getting bored with the hat and mouselook this Title needs Track IR for the Community to start liking this title and right now they are very critical
Game? Flight Sim? What the hell is it?