Flight Simulator 2004: A century of flight was first released there was a lot of speculation over how much the game would improve. This was for two main reasons. Firstly the previous game in the series, Microsoft flight simulator 2002, had been so good. In flight simulator 2002 there had been a lot of improvements in both graphics and gameplay. This meant that there was little room for improvement. Also there was no competition as other flight simulators had stopped releasing new games. This meant that there was no motive for improvement.
Despite this, however, FS2004 had many new features. In fact the basic idea behind the game has changed and this is reflected in the title A century of flight. This portrays the fact that the game is now based around planes through history, starting with the Wright Flyer. This means that there are many new planes that are accompanied by appropriate missions that are basically a chance to relive famous flights from throughout the century. These missions aren’t very exciting though as they tend to be extremely long flights in planes that have appalling handling. The game does have an inbuilt function to increase speed that time passes but this is essentially useless on most of the missions as the planes don’t have any form of autopilot. This means that you end up with a 30 hour flight over boring sea graphics.
As well as being boring the missions aren’t historically accurate either because the airports used in the actual flights no longer exist so the flight has just been relocated to a nearby airport. Despite these missions being boring there is still plenty of fun to be had just by making your own flights up. This feature is quite good as you are able to set the plane, airport, time of day and weather conditions for your own little flight. Another little fun gimmick is the ability to periodically update the weather conditions to the real ones at the place you are by allowing the game to connect to the internet.
As far as aircraft go there are many new ones that allow a more varied experience. There is also one new helicopter which is much more stable to fly than any of the previous helicopters. The airports have also been redesigned with new taxiing information that makes the whole experience more realistic.
It is the sky, however, that has had the most work done on it. Previously flight simulators had put all their effort into ground graphics but finally Microsoft put some work into the sky. There are now many different types of clouds that are affected by the lighting conditions. This means that you are able to have a glowing red sunset.
Despite the fact that there is no written manual with Flight simulator there is a very good electronic alternative with a great search function that allows you to easily search for any topic you want. There is also an in game kneeboard that provides extra information when it is needed.
There is little sound at all in the game that can become quite boring. The only sound is from the air traffic control, which is quite realistic but doesn’t make up for the lack of music.
Overall it is a good update from FS2002 but isn’t really worth buying if you already have FS2002. However if you are new to Flight Sims there has never been a better time or game to get started.