Flight Simulator was originally written by Bruce Atwick and was published by a company called subLogic. I believe that they were responsible for versions 1 and 2 before they sold the product to Microsoft. The original versions were very smooth, even on my crappy computer for the time. I found it very realistic (I have my pilot's licence so I'm a pretty good judge), but once Microsoft took over, I found that the realism decreased and the software required a top of the line games machine to run with any smoothness whatsoever.

Microsoft Flight Simulator not only excells in simulating the experience of flying a real aircraft, but also provides the user with hours of trippy entertainment that can usually only be found in games that carry a fantastic theme, or in other Microsoft software (one may instantly recall the infamous BSOD).

Some examples:

- The Jesus Approach. In most versions of FS you can practically land on the water. All you have to do is just approach the sea a bit slower and a little less steeper than you usually would. Sometimes this doesn't work, but worry not, for the M$ developers have once again done it with their unique :

- Crash effect. Have you ever seen a plane crash ? maybe not. But the flight simulator dev team sure have. Everything becomes fuzzy, blinking white screens with the silhouette of the crashed aircraft quickly appear and disappear from you vision, Awful screeching noises everywhere, little gray polygons flying aimlessly towards the sky, etc. Kinda makes you sit paralysed in front of your computer, amazed by the forces of nature.

- Really, you have to play it. Drugs are for the weakly hearted. This is, as Microsoft marketing department so wisely printed on the game box, 'The Real Thing'.

And my computer is fine, i'm sure.

Microsoft Flight Simulator has been kicking around since 1984. It has, at some times in its eventful life, been used as a demonstration for the capabilities of the IBM PC (and compatibles). In recent years, there has been some competition in the civil aviation sim field from the Flight Unlimited and Fly! series. Conversely, Microsoft have branched into military flight sim territory with Combat Flight Simulator.

FS has the advantage of a large library of third-party add-ons (such as new planes and scenery) and a dedicated fan base. The flight model is pretty realistic, good enough (so I'm told) for budding aviators to practice on (but no substitute for actual flight time). In my opinion, the graphics are pretty sucky in all versions, but they are not the main point of the exercise.

Gnarl suggested that I mention the story of Flight Sim's involvement in the attack on the World Trade Center. The fact is, there was no involvement. A couple of tabloids in the UK (the Daily Mail, of course) as well as numerous usually more rational news sources reported that the terrorists might have rehearsed using Flight Simulator. (In actual fact, they practiced using real planes, at a Florida aviation school.)

New versions of the game have the WTC towers removed, although there is apparently some fan effort to reinstate them, although I'm not exactly sure why. They're gone, and it's supposed to be a simulator - therefore, they should be removed, for accuracy at least, if not as a gesture of tact.

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