Top positive review
400 people found this helpful
Excellent flightsim - one of the best sims on the market
on November 30, 2004
I am in love with aviation, and therefore FS has become a part of my computing experience. I purchased FS 1998, and though it was a tolerable product, I in no way felt that it was a great simulation of flight. It just didn't have the look and feel of flight. However, I was blown away by the progress made in FS 2002. Though the clouds were not always realistic (modeling gave them a two-dimension look that was disconcerting to say the least), I thought that the overall experience was pretty good.
I saw FS 2004, and I thought it was probably mot much of an improvement based on reviews I had read. Let me just say that the first reviews I read were wrong. FS 2004 is a major improvement over FS 2002, and it stands as a all-time great product for aviation buffs like me.
1. Weather: for the first time, flying on FS2004 simulates almost perfectly the experience of actually flying. Clouds have the mist look when you fly through them. The weather systems seem to generate randomly, just as in the non-virtual world. Also, I like the weather themes that can generate snow conditions, thunderstorms, and fair weather with high altitude stratocumulus clouds. In short, the weather is a fantastic approximation of reality. FS 2004 truly represents a quantum leap in simulations. (although IL-2 still has the best clouds).
2. ATC: FS2002 had the feel of real ATC but with some stupid problems. For example, if you fly using IFR (instrument flight rules), and you failed to reach your assigned altitude, the ATC would terminate their services (what the heck is that about?). If you wanted to fly at a different altitude you couldn't. Also, you couldn't change you IFR route, or change from VFR (visual) to IFR in flight. FS2004 makes those changes. For the first time you can change your altitude, you can change your route, and you can switch between IFR and VFR. Yea!.
Another big improvement is the ATC feel itself. For the first time, I actually feel as though I am flying in a populated world. Lots of traffic at big airports, just like in reality. Fly into San Francisco International, and you may just see airplanes lined up to land. This is a big improvement.
3. GPS: In FS2002, the GPS was very basic and frustratingly difficult to use. It was based on a second generation hand-held, and consequently, there were few features. The GPS in FS2004 has lots of features, is far easier to use because of a new interface window that you can access in flight (see above), and you can switch to terrain features and in-flight messages. It is a more realistic approximation of a GPS device you would use in flight.
4. The World: FS2004 adds signs at airport runways so you can see where your going! It also adds more features to the world around you, such as construction cranes, and different buildings not seen in previous models of FS. Although I have noticed a new "Chick-fil-a" looking restaurant, I can state definitively that no such place exists in San Diego, CA next to the Lindbergh field runway. However, the scenery looks a lot better than FS2002. Little details really add up and make flying in FS2004 much better. The airports really look great. Denver International Airport looks very realistic now, as does Seattle-Tacoma. ( I would rate more but I just haven't had the chance to fly all over to world yet!)
5. Computer: For some reason, FS2004 sees to run better on my machine than did FS2002. No "slide shows" (bad frame rate) that I have found yet, and the computer seems to run better with FS2002. I like this very much. I haven't added to many third-party add-ons with FS2004 yet, but it just seems to function better than does FS2002, so perhaps FS2002 had some unresolved frame rate problems.
6. Open architecture: In general, MSFS has open architecture which allows aviation geeks like me to add-on scenery, and hundreds of planes, general, military and specific airlines as well. Most of the products and downloads I have found are excellent and work well with FS2004.
Given how I feel about this product, I have very few complaints.
I wish the ground textures were better. However, you can either download or purchase products that have photo-realistic scenery, so you can really fly though England of Southern California and really recognize the ground.
Also, I wish the airports had more realistic aircraft in them. Sometimes flying through LAX, I realize that Cessna would probably not be at that airport. I have even taken off from major airports with DC-3's lined up for takeoff - what is this the 1940's?
However, these are minor problems, and overall Microsoft FS2004 is an excellent product and is well worth a purchase.