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Microsoft Flight Simulator II

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Released: 1984

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: PC - DOS

Publisher: Microsoft

Developer: Microsoft

Submitted by: Ian Marks

I know some people will dispute that Microsoft Flight Simulator II is a game at all. As the title suggests it’s more of a simulator. However I spent many a happy hour of my early teenage years flying out of Meigs airport in Chicago. I daydreamed that if I took a flight to Chicago and the pilot suffered a fatal attack of wind or something, that I could answer the ‘can anyone fly a plane?’ question with a positive answer. Shall we go to Meigs airport I’d say, I know the runway there.

I’d dispute the non-game tag too. In those days you made your own entertainment. Trying to land on the Hudson Bridge in New York was always fun, if impossible. Pretending to take passengers between different airports. Viewing your plane from many angles as it dive-bombed into the ground.

There was also a game where you had to shoot down German pilots in a bi-plane. I mean who doesn’t want to shoot down German pilots in a bi-plane. I certainly did. It was like being Hannibal from the A team when he was in The Blue Max.

For someone who’d cut their teeth on Flight Simulation for the ZX Spectrum it was a miracle of a game. Realistic looking instruments and more importantly proper scenery. Bridges, tower blocks (including the Twin Towers which if you were really skilled you can fly between), airport control towers, runways and the cherry on top was the Statue of Liberty… ah many the happy hour crashing into her head.

It was very complicated and I never ever worked out the radio system and navigation beacons. But it was fairly easy to get up in the air and muck around. Recently I played Flight Simulator X on a very swish computer at work. It looked to be the most detailed simulation I’d ever seen, everything portrayed in miniscule detail, thousands of controls to work out. What did I do? I chose to fly a 747, got it airborne, put the engines on full and made it go up like a rocket till the stall warning came on it dive-bombed and the wings fell off… then I watched my crash from many different angles.

The more technology changes the more it stays the same.