“I won a Coconut Bra!”, I yell as I guide the Icon A5 down alongside the yacht off the coast of Hawaii. “I won a Coconut Bra?” I question as my passenger disembarks onto a clearly computer generated yacht. In fact, this question has been at the top of my mind since I started testing the demo version of Microsoft Flight, released on February 29th.
Icon A5 cockpit in Microsoft Flight
The second question I have been asking is “do pilots in the real world win coconut bras for successful landings?” My answer to this is no, unless they are subject of a bad joke. So then the third question becomes, “what is Microsoft Flight?”
Simulator vs Game
The purpose of any simulator is to replicate real world conditions to a reasonable exactness that would aid the user in experiencing the real world so that they can learn, learn to react to unknowns, and gain first hand experience. The purpose of a game is entertain, often with the objective to collect prizes and achieve a goal.
The Icon Exterior with the cross-hairs for situational flight information.
I believe Microsoft Flight to be a major disappointment for flightsim enthusiasts and virtual pilots because my experience with the demo is far more representative of a “game” than a “simulator”.
To support this fact, I offer the community the following evidence:
- With the demise of the coveted ACES Team, the “simulator” genre has been picked up by Microsoft Game Studios, who’s purpose is to develop games, not simulators.
- Flight has been distributed through the Microsoft Gaming – Live network. In order to get it, you install the gaming distribution files on your computer.
- The word “game” has replaced references to “simulator” that were found in FSX. In fact, “game” is the most prevalent word throughout the software package.
- I am unable to locate settings to adjust aircraft realism and more intricate commands to control more specific systems for the aircraft.
- I won prizes as I continued to “play” the game. A ukulele and coconut bra add a certain amount of entertainment value not found in the real world aviation experience.
- Where did the real planes go? No Cessna? No Piper Cub? This isn’t about aviation is it?
- The cross hairs that appear on the screen to help navigate by mouse cheapen the pilot experience. As does the HUD across the top of the screen (although having it there is growing on me).
- Flying in Free Flight mode was numbing… where is the crosswind? Where are the usual slight tweaks required to keep the aircraft on course? Its like driving a stick shift and then switching to an automatic (Save the Manuals).
I will stop there as you get the drift of where this is going. Microsoft outright abandoned real world arm chair pilots with this release. After flying a few hours in the demo, I am NOT inspired to make the purchase of the full software. In fact I would rather buy a new add-on for one of the other beloved “simulators” that reside on my computer: FSX, FS9, X-Plane 9, and X-Plane 10.
A fitting end to a numbing flight, I crashed into a hangar post while parking.
I will say this though. I think Microsoft will sell Flight to bunch of beginner gamers that think they can brag about being an arm chair pilot after earning their coconuts bras in Flight. For me, I will stick with a true simulator and wish Microsoft the best and hope their coconut bras are fitting well.
PS: Do you think Bill Gates earned a coconut bra yet?