Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 Professional Edition
Flight Simulator is probably the longest running series on the PC. For over two decades it has been respected by pilots and enthusiasts alike. Like all good series Flight Simulator has continued to improve. Of course the main reason for its popularity are its fans and their dedication in creating custom aircraft and countless utilities. There are literally thousands of add-ons that can be downloaded. Of course Microsoft acknowledge this and this version includes an extensive aircraft editor that enables you to change any feature of the included aeroplanes, including the flight dynamics. There is also the Gmax editor that enables you to create any item for the simulator.
If you are familiar with the series you'll be impressed with the improvement this version has over the 2000 one. The graphics are much improved. There is now an excellent virtual cockpit camera view and unlike those in other simulations it actually has working instruments. You can look around in the cockpit far more smoothly in this version. In the 2000 version there was a slight lag when you cast your vision to the left or right. In fact the whole is now, incredibly smoother and attains a higher frame rate than FS2000 ever could. This is probably due to the enhanced 3D game engine.
One of the major advances this time around is the auto-generating scenery. In FS2000, apart from the cities, the terrain was like a pixelated patchwork quilt. In FS2002 a random collection of buildings are generated in your immediate vicinity and this creates a much more satisfying experience, especially when flying great distances. Remarkably it doesn't harm the frame rate which is amazing to say the least.
Microsoft have also been proud of the fact that FS2002 has interactive air traffic control. Pressing the ' key activates this air traffic control panel. You have a list of numbered options such as requesting to land or touch and go. You press the number key to ask your questions and respond. Both your question, responses and the controllers feedback are all given in text which is great. To add extra spice to this feature you also have other 'intelligent' pilots in the air and on the ground. This means that landing strips can be busy and you'll be unable to land etc. You can alter the percentage of other pilots in the setup menu.
As per usual there are a number of new aircraft. There is the Boeing 747-400, the Beech Baron 58, the Caesura Skyhawk 172, Cessna Grand Caravan and most important of all is the Cessna 208 Caravan on Amphibious floats which enables you to take off and land on water. The Cessna 208 Caravan offers a whole new experience and Microsoft have acknowledged this by including a manual on how to fly the aircraft.
Speaking of manuals, one disappointment with FS2002 is that all documentation comes in electronic format. All manuals are in Adobe Acrobat format. If like me you want these things in front of you as you struggle to get to grips with aircraft, you are going to have to purchase a few reams of paper and a couple of ink cartridges. FS2000 had a proper manual so why couldn't FS2002. It's going to cost you at least a further £20 in order to print all the important documentation off.
FS2002 come with a new and improved Ron Machado's Ground School. This is where you learn how to fly from scratch. The tutorials are excellent, or at least they would be if they were subtitled. A brief action request appears in text but a large amount of information is missed by the deaf person and it shouldn't be this way. The way the tutorials work in FS2002 is that you read up on the required skills (electronic format again) and then take part in the lesson so in theory you shouldn't be in the dark about why you are doing what you are doing. However this isn't giving deaf gamers full access to the FS2002 experience (even if this problem only exists in the tutorials).
If you haven't purchased a Flight Simulator product before, maybe looking at the price and thinking how can it be worth such an amount? The answer really is that it is worth every penny to anyone and everyone who is interested in learning to fly an aeroplane. Compare the cost of flying lessons to the price of Flight Simulator and you can see that the price of this software is very reasonable indeed.
Of course FS2002 retains all the excellent features of the early versions such as logging on to the Internet to obtain real time weather and so on. However Concorde is noticeable by its absence. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 Professional Edition is the premier simulator and the finest you can buy. It has problems with the tutorials for deaf people but this can be overcome by reading the instruction (electronic) manual.
Overall Game Rating: 8.9/10 It is still the flight simulator of choice for enthusiasts and pilots alike. The range of aircraft is fantastic. The editing software that comes with the simulator is also top notch. It is just a shame that the tutorials were not fully subtitled.
Deaf Gamers comment: If you are keen to purchase a flight simulator then I would recommend FS2002. Despite the awkwardness of the tutorials it still is the finest flight simulation that you can buy. The text feedback on the air traffic control is most welcome and will please deaf virtual pilots. If the editing software is not essential to you then you may wish to save some money and purchase the standard Flight Simulator 2002 instead which is around £39.99.