|FSX Soon to be released|
| ||September 10, 2006|
|Flight Simulator X (FS10) is forecasted to be released within the next month. The latest Beta has been widely distributed by Flightplanet.com. Of course the FSX Demo was distributed by sites just about everywhere.
The Demo was a nice preview of what's to come. It was a good gesture of Microsoft to allow the many anxious fans to have some release from their much anxiety and anticipation. Many people were craving all things FSX.
There were lots of negative comments about the demo. Some of the main negative centered around Microsoft's reference to missions. People were afraid of the missions being taken as games. Many Flight Simulator fans look at Flight Simulator as much more than a game. Having missions and goals would resemble Halo or some of the other popular games (not being much of a gamer it would take some research for me to name a few). The simmers look forward to emphasis placed on aerodynamics and technology.
As for my opinion, I'll mention the bad first, then I'll mention the good points. The bad point is what I consider a bug (a flaw), the same the plagued FS9. This is, what I consider a bad judgment on the part of the programmers, to have the program restart the session after a plane crash. This "feature" impairs the functionality of the Flight Analysis utility that's available in the program. If you have a plane crash, you can't run the Flight Analysis program because it will restart, and thereby, all your flight data is lost.
Most of my suggestions (that I wrote in the survey distributed by Microsoft) were implemented. I had strongly suggested allowing users to share the cockpit as crew of passengers. I'm glad to see the shared cockpit is receiving a lot of welcome from the flight community. However, the restart feature was the most important one on the list. I'm thinking maybe I didn't make enough noise on the matter for it to be taken serious enough. Hopefully this will be fixed in the first patch that might be released in a few months.
On the missions... first I'll mention that the "restart bug" doesn't plague the missions. So, I'm sure they can see a problem with the restart, and the merit of being able to explore their missions. I wish they had showed the same respect for the user's free flight missions. On their missions a crash will bring up a screen that says "Mission failed - Press ESC to end mission". From there you can run the Flight Analysis to see where you went wrong (thought it will be obvious for us pros). A mentor can discuss the merits of the flight with his student. This feature to give the user control, rather than restarting has lots of merit.
Now that's the bad about FSX. The restart bug is the only bad that I have to mention. The missions are good. They appear to be a replacement of what was called Flight Lessons in FS9. The missions are easier and less aggravating for a new user than the Flight Lessons. When running FS9's Flight Lessons and doing everything you can imagine to try to complete the task, the Flight Instructor would soon say, "Since you're distracted, we'll end this lesson". The Mission's instructor is more forgiving and patient. The other aids such as the compass in the upper left corner of the screen is also a plus.
The merit of the Missions is easier to see in the Beta as compared to the Demo. The demo included (I'm sure for entertainment) a mission of dropping sand bags which made simmers think Microsoft was trying to present Flight Simulator as an arcade game. Seeing the progression of the many mission in the Beta shows a different light.
The 5.1 sound system is nice. It would be nice if the sound didn't stop when the program isn't in focus. I had meant to mention that on the survey but don't recall if I did or not. It would be nice not to lose the sound of the program's built-in ATC or the other inspiring engine and scenery sounds if you happen to task switch to a different application on a long flight.
The program has lots of neat enhancements. Running it with the sliders moderate I am able to get good frame rates. The resource is there to appreciate expanded hardware. I would prefer, as they have done, to build in the potential for the hardware the client might upgrade to, rather than just focus for the current hardware, and have the client have to wait for a new FS upgrade after they having upgraded their hardware. The current 3000 mHz machine I have now is nearly two years old. I have upgrading my computer within two years since I got my first machine back in the 80's. So many computer enthusiast would be upgrading hardware anyway.
Microsoft has delivered a great frame base for the add-on developers to work with. Considering what third party developers did with FS9, I'm in awe to consider what's in store for FSX.
Over all, I would consider Flight Simulator X definite step forward for the Flight Simulator community. If it's not too late and the restart flaw is patched before release, it would have 10 out of 10 a star rating in my book. The program has only one flaw. I will give it a 9.
| ||by L. D. James|