by Take 2 Interactive
No other genre is more specialised than that of flight simulators. For those who can look at the cockpit of an aeroplane and no what everything means these pieces of software are a delight while for the rest of us it all seems double Dutch. This highlights the main problem for developers of flight simulations. Do they opt for complete realism and isolate most of the gaming community or do they create a semi-simulation that gives easy access to the masses. It is fair to say that FLY!2 is an outright simulation.
FLY! was considered a real gem and a worthy opponent to the giant Microsoft Flight Simulator series. It had a far lower price tag than MS Flight Simulator yet it was equally as good. It came with a very good manual and beginners had plenty of info to guide them through their first flights. Why am I telling you this? well FLY! 2 hardly has manual (a leaflet of 36 pages compared to the FLY! manual which had 288 pages). Sure I know the DVD packaging that modern day games come in is the reason for this streamlining but there isn't even a suitable manual in Acrobat format on the CD/ROM. This error is compounded by the fact that there is no tutorials within the simulation. As a result of these two oversights it is very difficult for beginners to get into FLY! 2 which is a massive shame. A keyboard layout guide would have also been nice as not everyone owns a state of the art joystick with 13 or more buttons.
Graphically FLY! 2 is the best of the flight simulations at the moment. The cockpits are excellent and the aeroplane/helicopter models are superb. The terrain graphics are OK, not fantastic but they are improved from the original FLY!. What is a shame though is that there is no virtual cockpit as this adds to the realism no end and gets away from static views. A realistic damage model has been implemented in FLY! 2 so those experts out there will be happy that the planes no longer bounce off the terrain.
I have to say that although FLY! 2 has the shortcomings that have been mentioned above it is a damn fine flight simulator. It contains over 100 global cities and plenty of aircraft to choose from. The Pilatus PC-12 jetprop, Bell 407 Helicopter and Flyhawk 172 are but three of the included aircraft and there are many more to choose from and they are all modelled superbly. Full dawn/dusk effects are in place and even the major star constellations are supposed to be visible.
If there is one thing I have noticed with flight simulators over the years is that very few of them actually subtitle the radio messages which is something that is absolutely essential for the deaf gamer/pilot. Flight Unlimited 3 had this feature but MS Flight Simulator 2000 didn't. Happily FLY! 2 does and it is on by default as the screenshot below shows.
This is a major plus for deaf gamers, and for experienced flight simulator users I would recommend FLY! 2 over the competition solely for this feature (as it at least equals the competition in every other department except catering for complete beginners).
To add value to the game FLY! 2 comes with various editors that will enable you to import terrains (some of which can be downloaded from the official website) and aircraft models. The simulator also comes with some premade adventures that will test your expertise to the full. Of course there is the option to plan your flights and you will be hard pressed to think of a location that this game doesn't have.
At just under £30 for FLY! 2 and around £45 for MS Flight Simulator I would recommend FLY! 2 but with one exception, if you are a beginner you may want to first get a flight simulator that has in built tutorials and when you are comfortable with it then come back to FLY! 2. Until Microsoft reveals Flight Simulator 2002 then FLY! 2 is the flight simulator of choice for the experienced.
Overall Game Rating: 7.6/10 It's unwelcoming stance to the beginner let FLY! 2 down but to the familiar it is well worth it.
Quality of text: 6.5/10 The subtitled radio messages are brilliant but the poor manual and general lack of documentation let this simulation down for the beginner.
Graphics: 8/10 Aircraft models are excellent which contrasts against the average looking terrain.
Interface: 8/10 Pretty much the standard Windows interface.
Gameplay: 8/10 Experts will love it but beginners will feel very lost.