MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR Steam Edition
Recently “Airware” mentioned the pending release of Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) Steam Edition to the Steam gaming client. It’s nice to see this classic sim given a longer lease on life. Integration with Steam brings some convenience for users, who can now store Flight Simulator in their online library and take advantage of Steam networking in multiplayer mode. The release is actually of the FSX Deluxe Edition, incorporating the Acceleration expansion pack.
Yet experienced players may be somewhat disappointed in the result. The team tasked with landing FSX into Steam apparently had limited control over the source code. Therefore the gameplay is unchanged, and this re-release doesn’t really advance the title. The lack of enhancements means that FSX plays the same on Steam, and more important looks the same, amid competition that seems to escalate the stakes every year. In the translation to Steam, not all the original third-party add-ons have retained compatibility, and Steam appears to have dropped the software development kit that allowed users to extend FSX.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to recommend this product. People new to Flight Simulator can still take advantage of this sim’s tremendous versatility and enjoy aspects of flying, planning, navigation and systems-failure training. And FSX maintains the ability to let you fly anywhere in the world.
While new expansion content is available, some of its has been of middling quality. I picked up one of the new add-ons, a pack called Around the World in 80 Flights ($16.99). The player flies a Lockheed Electra 10E around the globe, but outside of the Electra, there’s no new content or scenery or missions—it’s a set of flight plans. Though I appreciated having those pre-made flights, I can also sympathize with criticisms that this didn’t feel like much content.
War Thunder Update
The free online game War Thunder (warthunder.com) continues to impress. Its developers have released a stream of new content and refinements. The most recent updates have been substantial, adding aircraft not available in other sims, such as the Focke Wulf Fw-200 Condor, Hawker Sea Hurricane and Hawker Sea Fury.
The terrain graphics and special effects keep getting better. But perhaps the best feature is the audio component. The new cannon reports will make players smile, and ambient audio of nearby aircraft provides functional and entertainment value. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great way to play some quick dogfights.