Miraculous flights through a nerd’s paradise: PETER HOSKIN reviews Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC, Xbox, £59.99)
Verdict: Come fly with me
Thousands of planes flew last year, carrying millions of passengers to hundreds of airports.
You may not have noticed them because, thanks to Covid, they weren’t in the air. They were on computer screens.
Last August, the 2020 edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator — the first new title in that venerable series for almost 15 years — was released on PC.
It was less a game, more a miracle: a means of flying detailed recreations of actual planes across a detailed recreation of the actual world.
Last August, the 2020 edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator — the first new title in that venerable series for almost 15 years — was released on PC
This week it has landed on Xbox — and it’s still rather miraculous. Although the console (in its various forms) is not as powerful as the most powerful PCs, it is well up to handling the hefty demands of MSFS (as we wannabe pilots call the game).
It’s surprising how much has been retained in translation, even where compromises might have been made.
For instance, you can still flick every switch and paw at every dial in the cockpit, but doing so on the Xbox will leave your hands and mind in knots.
Yet when you fly over Everest, the sun piercing through clouds shaped by live weather data, you tend to forget these small problems. This is a nerd’s paradise. And a pretty fine place for first-time flyers, too.
It was less a game, more a miracle: a means of flying detailed recreations of actual planes across a detailed recreation of the actual world
I feel like a shill for mentioning it, but an addendum about one of the ways you can access MSFS on Xbox. It’s called Xbox Game Pass, costs between £7.99 and £10.99 a month, and gives you access to about 100 games across various devices.
These include Microsoft-owned titles — such as MSFS, the hyperkinetic driving game Forza Horizon 4, and the (re)masterful Halo: The Master Chief Collection — as soon as they come out, as well as games shuffled into the service from outside. Hollow Knight is currently on the roster, and Hollow Knight is a melancholy masterpiece.
There’s an increasing number of these Netflix-style services; indeed, Netflix itself is planning to get into the gaming, er, game.
But Xbox Game Pass is going to take some beating.