Flight Simulator – Flying High on your Lounge
A Flight Simulator on a console? Surely you can’t be serious?
I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.
Sorry for the bad joke folks, I couldn’t help myself. But do you know what isn’t a joke? The amazing achievement that is Flight Simulator on the Xbox Series X. If you had told me 10 years ago that we would see a proper, honest-to-goodness flight sim on a console I would have assumed you were caught in some sort of fever dream. Yet, here we are on the precipice of one of the most amazingly stunning games ever imagined being released on an Xbox. What’s even more amazing is that very little is lost in its translation from the PC to your TV, in fact for some people, this will be their prefered way to play.
Now I reviewed Flight Simulator when it was first released on PC last year. I raved about it and it was one of my games of the year, so I will try to avoid territory I have already covered here and focus on the Xbox experience. So I guess the first question is, does it still stun players with its beauty and tech wizardry? The answer is an emphatic yes.
It is clear the tech boffins at Asobo spent a lot of time making sure that console players were just as impressed as those on high-end PCs. The game runs at a delicious 4K 30FPS. Now I know that these days 60FPS is the target for a lot of things, but let me tell you, it absolutely was the right call to focus on getting 4K 30 perfect as opposed to pushing for the extra frames. When you are flying past Christ the Redeemer as the sun is setting over the ocean you will be too stunned to even think about FPS, you will just be in awe. This is a game like no other when it comes to sheer graphical power and is quite possibly the best-looking game ever seen on a console. I was worried that the switch to the TV would hurt the looks, but honestly, unless you have an absolute beast of PC, it probably looks better.
Where the game makes a few concessions for console play is in the controls, which is understandable. Most people playing this on the Xbox will just want to use the controller to take to the skies and that is a perfectly fine option it just gets a little clunky at times. Don’t get me wrong the actual flying is perfect on a standard Xbox Controller but the more detailed actions are fiddly due to the need to use a thumbstick to steer a cursor. This means that going the fully-fledged, in control of all systems, ace pilot mode may be too much without some extra bits and pieces. But the good news is that Flight Sim supports keyboard and mouse, along with a range of USB joysticks and goodies if you have access to them. That being said, if your Xbox lives on the big tele in the lounge room, all that extra stuff may be a little on the awkward side.
Thankfully though there is a tonne of things that even the most casual of pilots can enjoy. The joys of simple, scenic flights cannot be overstated. Taking a small prop plane and flying past the Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids at Giza or even your local sporting ground is an undeniable thrill. There is a sense of wonder, a feeling of deep calm that comes with these moments, moments that no other game can recreate. This feeling of exploration, of adventure, of escape rings especially true in these times of snap lockdowns and limited travel. The ability to fly anywhere in the world is an experience like no other and one that rings true regardless if you play the game with all the assists on or as a full-on simulator.
The other slight downside to Flight Simulator on the Xbox is the sheer size of the game. Clocking in at about 100gig, with HD city packs running roughly 2gig each, it takes up a huge portion of the Series X HDD space and even more of the Series S. This isn’t such a big problem on PC where large drives are comparatively cheap to buy and easy to install, but on Xbox the cost of extra space is pricey. That technical black magic comes at a cost and that cost is your HDD space.
So with the Xbox release of Microsoft Flight Simulator, both Asobo and Microsoft have exceeded all expectations and delivered the most complete, compelling and (importantly) welcoming flight sim ever made to the comfort of your lounge room with almost no compromises. I cannot recommend this game enough, it is a technical benchmark, a deep and detailed sim, a wonderful way to escape the world and a pure joy to experience. Even if flight sims aren’t your thing, I am willing to bet that Microsoft Flight Simulator is.
And I am dead serious… don’t call me Shirley.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was reviewed on the Xbox Series X with code kindly supplied by Xbox Australia